It would appear that Apple’s 17in ‘desktop replacement’ MacBook Pro is dead – long live the MacBook Pro with Retina Display. But why was it killed off and will we miss it?
As you might have noticed, Apple has refreshed its entire laptop line, from the MacBook Air to the 13- and 15-inch MacBook Pro. The one that’s missing is the 15in Pro’s bigger brother, and it’s likely to remain absent.
Why was it killed off? Most of our digital devices - laptops included - are moving towards ever slimmer models. Along with Sony’s super-slim and light ultraportables, the original Air was one of the pioneers in this regard, and we’re seeing it becoming mainstream thanks to Intel’s Ultrabook movement.
For many, a 15in laptop is the biggest footprint they’re willing to carry around, and this is also still the best-selling laptop size around, with 13-inch laptops hot on its heels. Unless they need the chassis space for powerful components (like in a gaming or workstation laptop), the only reason people usually opt for a 17in laptop is because they want a high-resolution screen – which brings us neatly to our next point.
Arguably, the main reason the 17in MacBook Pro is no longer with us is simply because it’s no longer needed. Now that Apple has finally been able to cram desktop-like specs and class-leading connectivity into its 15in laptops and, more importantly, a crazy resolution into its 15-inch MacBook Pro with Retina Display, the main reasons to get a slightly larger laptop are simply not that compelling anymore. After all, why settle for 1,920 x 1,200 pixels when you can have 2,560 x 1,800 of them – and on a machine that’s nearly 1kg lighter to boot?
So is there anything we will miss about the MacBook Pro 17 inch? Mainly just its potential. A MacBook Pro 17 inch with Retina Display could have added in more of everything that makes the 15in model so great. Better speakers, a numeric keypad, that now missing Gigabit Ethernet port, the option for even better GTX 680M graphics, and maybe even longer battery life. Not to mention that the 2,560 x 1,800 Retina resolution would be just a touch more usable with the extra two inches of screen.
But basically, that’s all wish-fulfillment. The original didn’t have better speakers or an extended keyboard compared to its smaller siblings. Apple still might not have included an Ethernet port on the larger model, and it certainly wouldn’t have gone to the expense of having another custom ‘Retina’ IPS panel made for another laptop when it didn’t have to.
While we think less choice is rarely a good idea from the consumer’s point of view, in this case the death of the MacBook Pro 17 inch actually makes sense. And, unlikely as it might be, there’s nothing to say that Apple won’t re-introduce a larger laptop down the line: a 20 inch MacBook Pro with the Panasonic Quad HD (3,840 x 2,156) IPS display which we already speculated might be used in the 2012 iMac would certainly have its share of fans…