Apple Readying Ultra-Thin 15-inch and 17-inch MacBook Pros?

Apple's MacBook Air ultraportable notebooks have been incredibly popular, but are only available in 11- and 13-inch models. That may soon change. Rumors have emerged that the company is already in the late testing stages of producing new ultra-thin 15-inch and 17-inch notebooks, although there's a possibility that these new additions will be branded under the MacBook Pro series instead of Air.MacRumors first got word of the development, which was later corroborated by TUAW, both claiming to be informed on the matter by insider sources. They expect that the new ultra-thin notebooks will, like the MacBook Air, eschew optical drives for integrated SSDs. It's highly likely given Apple recently eliminated optical drives from its revamped Mac Minis and is one of the world's largest purchasers of NAND flash memory.

It's believed that these ultra-thin notebooks will eventually replace the entire MacBook Pro lineup. But to ease the transition, the ultra-thin 15-inch model may be introduced first, to test the waters. It will be interesting to see whether or not Apple can ultimately deliver an MacBook Air-like notebook with the power and performance of the MacBook Pro. The new notebook is expected to arrive before the end of this year, in time for the holiday season.