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Apple WWDC: A MacBook with 5.1 Million Pixels

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Today, at Apple's annual World Wide Developers' Conference (WWDC), the company announced a whopper of an increase in display resolution: Several new MacBook Pro laptops will now sport 220 pixel-per-inch (PPI) displays, for a screen resolution of 2880x1800 on the 15" MacBook Pro.

Not only is the PPI count of the new displays better than the latest iPad, which itself sports a 1080p-capable resolution in a nine-inch display, but the new MacBook Pro is almost 25 percent thinner than the current MacBook Pro.

Apple's relentless pursuit in shedding the "legacy" support—in the form of optical drives (CD and DVD burners), FireWire 800, and the bulky Ethernet port, the latter two being replaced by Thunderbolt dongles—allowed the company to thin down the input side of the chassis. But another reason the new MacBook Pros are thinner is that the new displays are integrated into the top portion of the chassis, with the solid aluminum block creating a rigid structure for the denser displays.

Streaming Media covered recent codec advancements, such as those claimed by ATEME, that signal the advent of 2K, 4K, and even 8K streaming content, but until today's announcement, the best resolution on the market for laptop screens was a mere 1920x1080. 

We'll delve into the implications for streaming media producers on our sister site in an article tomorrow, but one key additional point is that the new MacBook Pro sports dual Thunderbolt connectors, each capable of 10Gbps transmit rates, as well as dual USB 3.0 (SuperSpeed) ports, each capable of 5Gbps transmit rates. These massive throughput options, coupled with the higher resolution screen and newer nVidia graphics cards, provide a compelling argument for portable streaming production in a very thin package.

At the same time that Apple announced the MacBook Pro units, sans optical drives, the company offered updates to its solid-state disk (SSD) MacBook Air ultra-thin laptops as well as two speed-bumped MacBook Pro units that still sport optical drives. The latter is probably a legacy hold-out for those who need to burn optical disks, but Apple's push toward SSDs for the new, thinner MacBook Pro units matches drive size with the legacy MacBook Pro units (500GB vs 512GB, 750GB vs 768GB, with the larger gigabyte-sized drives being the SSD variants).

One other area of interest for these new MacBook Pro laptops is Mountain Lion, or OS X 10.8, which will ship within a month's time. While the new MacBook Pro will start with Lion, and users will get a free upgrade when Mountain Lion ships, there are a few compelling reasons for other MacBook Air and MacBook Pro users to consider the $19.99 upgrade to Mountain Lion.

One of the primary reasons has to do with Safari's integration across Mountain Lion and iOS 6, the upcoming operating system for iPad, iPhone, and iPod touch devices: Safari now supports the ability, via iCloud, to synchronize tabbed web browsing—in real-time—across all Mac and iOS devices that use Mountain Lion and iOS 6, respectively.

The practical benefit of this appears to be a way for users to begin browsing on one device and switch to another, picking up at the same point in the browsing history on any device. For streaming services that use HTML5-based video players, this might also translate in to an ability to pick up viewing of content at the same location on any device. If so, this operating system-level of integration will make the viewing experience across portable, laptop, and desktop devices much more seamless.

We'll take a deeper look at a few additional features in iOS 6—including the ability to move a URL from Safari web browsing directly in to an application that's just been downloading from the Apple App Store—later this week.

All MacBook Air and MacBook Pro devices mentioned above are shipping today; Mountain Lion will ship in July, and iOS 6 will ship sometime in the third quarter.

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