Gizmodo thinks the next round of MacBook Pros will just be suped up versions of the Air – with no optical drive and no hard drive (SSD only). While I agree the optical drive is dead, and FireWire will be dropped in favor of Thunderbolt, I wouldn’t be so fast to dismiss good old-fashioned hard drives just yet.
MacBook Pros still need more storage than SSD’s can supply at a remotely reasonable price. I think even Apple realizes that a lot of pros still need 500GB – 1TB, and $1500 is too much to pay for *storage* space, which is what most of big drives are used for. I expect hybrid drives, or perhaps a combo SSD+HDD. If I can have a 128GB SSD for my boot drive with all my apps and files I access most often, and I could still store all my big files & archives on a HDD, it would be the perfect balance of speed, storage & price. Or perhaps (ideally) Apple will change the game again and release a custom hybrid drive with 32GB or 64GB built on (most max out around 8GB), to manage all the caching automatically, so my 1TB drive will feel as fast as an SSD for booting & all the files I use most, while retaining the high capacity at a reasonable cost per GB.
I agree that the optical drive and FireWire are both dead – that will allow them to increase battery capacity while slimming down the profile quite a bit – that optical drive is by far the 2nd biggest component in the current machines (after the battery of course). Ethernet port could go either way – you can get an adapter so it’s not a big deal if they drop it.
Whatever the new Pros look like, I have a credit card waiting for them. My pre-unibody Pro is really showing its age, and I would have bought a new one already, but I’ve been waiting for the new optical-less models since last fall. And the wait is killlllling me!