The Japanese web site, Macotakara ( says Apple is working on a thinner, lighter version of the 15-inch MacBook Pro. I think they’re on the money.

In fact, within 24 months, I predict that the Apple laptop line will consist of the MacBook Air (11-inch and 13-inch models) and the MacBook Air Pro (15-inch and 17-inch models). Yes, a 17-inch MacBook Air model.

Though Apple has filed a patent ( for slimmer laptops with optical drives, I think the portable Mac’s future is in devices without built-in portable drives. Those who need them will buy the US$79 standalone SuperDrive that Apple currently offers for the MacBook Air.

Apple’s future MacBook Airs will feature Intel’s next-generation Ivy Bridge processors, which are slated to arrive at some point in the first half of 2012. Intel confirmed last week that it has begun volume production of its 22nm Ivy Bridge processors, and systems powered by the new CPUs should be available next spring.

The MacBook Air Pros would be thinner than the current MacBook Pros, but be hefty enough to accommodate Ivy Bridge processors and a dedicated graphics cards. And though Ivy Bridge will support USB 3.0, I don’t think we’ll ever see USB 3.0 on any Mac. Apple has decided the future of connectivity on its computer line is Thunderbolt.

In fact, its Thunderbolt technology that will make the MacBook Air Pros possible. Thunderbolt technology will enable fast external storage, multiple external displays, specialized peripheral devices, and the ability to attach external housings that supply conventional PCI Express slots for expansion cards.

— Dennis Sellers