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Thoughts on the sad but inevitable end to the 13″ non-Retina MacBook Pro

Sections: Features, Laptops, MacBook, MacBook Air, MacBook Pro, Macintosh/Apple Hardware, Opinions and Editorials, Originals

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It’s doesn’t come as a a surprise. In fact I’ve been predicting it for over a year. But it was still sad to read the report from Digitimes’ Aaron Lee and Joseph Tsai that Apple is expected to end production of the non-Retina 13-inch MacBook Pro in the second half of 2014, according to unnamed sources in the Taiwan-based upstream supply chain.

MacBook Pro

More intriguingly, Lee and Tsai say Apple will replace the the aged unibody MacBook Pro line (the form factor of which dates back to October 2008) with “thinner models equipped with a Retina display.” The long-rumored Retina MacBook Air perhaps? There’s already a 13-inch MacBook Pro with Retina display, and the non-Retina Pro model isn’t even Apple’s price leader 13-inch laptop— that title currently belongs to the 13-inch MacBook Air.

Whatever, it means Apple will no longer be selling any traditionally conventional laptop model with a hard disk drive and internal optical drive—features that will admittedly be missed by a shrinking cohort of veteran Mac laptop fans. So, if you’re one of them, better grab one of the soon-closing-out models while you still can. Apple stopped producing a 17-inch MacBook Pro in 2012, and a 15-inch non-Retina 15-inch MacBook Pro in 2013, so the old 13-incher’s imminent termination is truly the end of an era in laptop computing.

13" MacBook Pro

As I noted, I’m sad to see the old unibody machine go; I’d prefer to have an on-board optical drive, and I’m not convinced that the speedier access, silence, and shockproofness of solid state data storage are worth the trade-off in drive capacity one has to give up, but I didn’t put my money where my mouth is when I upgraded to a 13-inch MacBook Air last fall. If Apple had put Haswell CPU silicon in the non-Retina Pro, I probably would have landed on its side of the fence, but they didn’t. I don’t upgrade my anchor hardware very often, so when I do I like to get a computer that doesn’t look much different than the one it’s replacing. More a decision based in aesthetics than engineering as except for its form factor, the late 2012 unibody Pro is a totally different and much more modern machine than my old MacBook.

I’m quite pleased with the MacBook Air, which is the base 1.3 GHz Haswell Core i5 model with a 256 GB storage drive upgrade. It’s fast, light, and silent, but it had a tough act to follow.

MacBook Air

Digitimes’ Lee and Tsai also report that Intel will will be pushing the ultra thin and light form factor even farther with second-generation ultrabooks powered by next-generation Broadwell processors with better power consumption and support for Ultra HD panels and WiGig wireless technology in the fourth quarter of 2014. We can anticipate Apple to do something similar with “thinner models equipped with a Retina display” MacBook families come late October.

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