A Revolutionary Notebook: The History Behind the 17-inch MacBook Pro

12 02 2009

Since the new seventeen inch MacBook Pro hasn’t reached customers hands, take a look at the new features introduced in the latest model and more importantly, what it means for new Apple notebooks to come.

Unibody MacBook Pro 17"

On January 7th, 2003 Steve Jobs took the stage at the Macworld Expo and declared 2003 the “Year of the Notebook”. Alike the 2005 “Year for high-definition video”, after a few years, the industry caught up with Jobs’ prediction. Last quarter, Apple sold 2.524 million Macs of which, 1.796 million were notebooks- which equates to 71 percent. In the beginning of 2009, well over 36 million households owned one or more high definition TV- compared to 5 million in 2005.

In October 2008, at the “Spotlight on Notebooks” media event held at the Cupertino Campus, Apple introduced a redesigned 13 inch MacBook and 15 inch MacBook Pro- leaving the 17 inch unchanged. It wasn’t until three months afterwards, at the 2009 Macworld Keynote, until Apple took the wraps off of the unibody seventeen inch MacBook Pro. Not only did the new 17 inch MacBook feature a new unibody enclosure and the redesigned trackpad, but also an eight hour battery life and Matte display option.

The eight hour battery life comes with the addition of a 95 watt-hour Lithium-Polymer battery. By utilizing this technology, Apple achieves a significant space improvement over the Lithium-Ion or even Nickel Metal Hydride in some low end laptops. However this not a new technology- Apple has been using Lithium-Polymer battery for a number of years to create more dense and compact batteries.

17-inch MacBook Pro Adaptive Charging

The true innovation is in the hardware and software design of the battery system. A new recharging system dubbed “Adaptive Charging” closely monitors the charge of each cell and provides the optimal current required to recharge them. This monitoring system will allow users to get over 1000 charging cycles instead of industry standard 300.

Although many are quick to criticize the idea of a non-user replaceable battery, the change does allow for a smaller laptop design. The same argument has long been applied to the iPod, iPhone and MacBook Air- but seem to have little effect on the sales. While some may disagree with making the battery non user-replaceable; it is clear Apple is making the move toward Adaptive Charging and internal batteries.

Just as the original 17 inch PowerBook G4 exclusively featured a backlit keyboard with ambient light sensors, the once exclusive feature eventually trickled down to the consumer line MacBook. Within a few years, as the component price drops, all of Apple’s notebooks should see the switch to an internal battery as they gain the Adaptive Charging technology and intern a thinner profile.

Since the 17 inch MacBook Pro hasn’t reached users hands yet, we don’t know what the real battery life numbers will be. But regardless of what the numbers turn out to be, any improvement in battery life is welcome. The 17 inch laptop has brought us countless innovations that eventually trickle down to the entire notebook line.

For more information, check out:

Closer look at Apple’s new battery

Introducing the longest lasting Mac notebook battery ever

PowerBook G4 Commercials:
Big and Small
12 and 17 inch PowerBooks