Apple MacBook Pro Refresh Coming This Week: Report

Apple is getting ready to debut five upgraded versions of its MacBook Pro notebook line, according to reports.

Speculation continues to grow that computer maker Apple is readying a refresh of its line of MacBook Pro notebooks. The Mac blog AppleInsider reported the company issued strict warnings to its retail partners not to open any sealed containers that arrive to their stores, which some say suggest the updated notebooks are contained inside.

"According to those same people briefed on this week's shipments, Apple's major European distributors ran out MacBook Pros near the top of the month, regional resellers have not been able to place new orders for the notebooks for over two weeks, and Apple has not shipped a single unit of its own to the channel during the same period of time," AppleInsider reported on Sunday.

The possibility of an impending wave of new MacBooks was also heightened after technology blog Engadget reported major big box retailer Best Buy had released five stock keeping unit (SKU) tags with an availability listed as "Coming Soon." The five SKUs and corresponding price points (the notebooks will be priced at $1,199, $1,499, $1,799, $2,199 and $2,499) lend credence to earlier rumors that Apple will debut five price points instead of the current six.

In addition to the MacBook price point rumors, speculation is also building that Apple will be using Intel's Light Peak technology on the updated notebooks. Light Peak is a high-speed optical cable technology designed to connect electronic devices to each other. Light Peak high bandwidth starts at 10G bps. The technology also has the ability to run multiple protocols simultaneously over a single cable, enabling the technology to connect devices such as peripherals, displays, disk drives, docking stations and others.

Light Peak consists of a controller chip and an optical module that will be included in platforms supporting this technology. The optical module performs the conversion from electricity to light and vice versa, using miniature lasers and photo detectors. Light Peak also includes a controller chip that Intel will provide. The controller chip provides protocol switching capabilities to support multiple protocols over a single cable.

Today, if you want to plug a display into a PC, you'd need a display cable plugged into a display connector. Likewise, if one was to plug a projector into a PC, a different projector cable and connector would be needed. Not so with Light Peak, because the Light Peak controller implements multiprotocol.

Apple is also rumored to be developing a smaller, cheaper version of its popular iPhone smartphone that would target less high-end consumers and allow the company to better compete with low-cost alternatives provided on the Google Android platform. However, Apple told The New York Times that a smaller iPhone was not being developed, disputing a claim made by The Wall Street Journal, which quoted a source in an earlier article describing the new iPhone to be about half the size of the iPhone 4.