June 9, 2009 Apple has given its MacBook Pro line a quick touch up, most notably increasing processing speeds, hard-drive capacity and battery life, as well as adding SD card slots to the 13 and 15-inch models. The 13-inch model has also undergone a name change – the MacBook now joins the MacBook Pro family – and has had its Firewire port restored.

The new built-in battery added to the 13 and 15-inch laptops extends its lifespan by 40 percent to seven hours on a single charge, without adding to the thickness or weight of the machines. The 17-inch MacBook Pro, which already featured Apple’s innovative in-built battery technology, has had its battery charge more modestly lengthened by an hour to eight. Batteries will also need to be replaced less often – every five years instead of two.

According to Apple, the adaptive charging and advanced chemistry of its built-in battery delivers up to 1,000 recharges before it reaches 80 percent of its original capacity, which it estimates is about three times the lifespan of conventional batteries.

The 13 and 15-inch models have also introduced faster processing speeds – important if you work with a lot of multimedia or graphic-heavy applications. The top-of-the-range 15-inch machine offers a 2.8GHz Intel Core 2 Duo system, up from the previous top of 2.53GHz. Apple also has 2.66GHz and 2.53GHz 15-inch models.

The 13-inch models come with either a 2.26GHz Intel Core 2 Duo system or 2.53GHz. Previously the best MacBook processor came with a 2.4GHz engine. The processor in the 17-inch has been ramped up from 2.5GHz to 2.8GHz.

Storage has been also boosted. The best 13-inch MacBook Pro has 4GB of RAM and 250GB hard drive. Previously, it was 2GB and 250GB. With the 15 and 17-inch laptops, the 320GB hard drive in the top models has jumped to 500GB.

Both 13 and 15-inch MacBook Pros have had their ExpressCard slot replaced by SD cards, although the 17-inch retains the ExpressCard. The LED-backlit display also has been improved with 60 percent greater color gamut.

The 13-inch model also sees the return of a FireWire port, the previous absence of which drew much fire – so to speak – including an opinion piece by Gizmag’s own Tim Hanlon.

Importantly, too, prices have come down. The cheapest 13-inch MacBook Pro costs USD$1,199. The entry price for the 15-inch MacBook Pro has dropped USD$300 to USD$1,699. The top 15-inch model costs USD$2,299. The higher-specced 17-inch has also dropped USD$300 to USD$2,499.

Apple has brushed up its two MacBook Air models as well, boosting their performance – the processor speeds have increased from 1.6GHz and 1.86GHz Intel Core 2 Duo system to 1.86GHz and 2.13GHz respectively – and made them more affordable, starting at USD$1,499.

Finally for the environmentally-minded, every MacBook Pro has an Electronic Product Environmental Assessment Tool (EPEAT) Gold status and achieves Energy Star 5.0 requirements.

For more information about the new laptops, visit Apple’s website.

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