Apple today exceeded expectations when it launched its first portable Mac based on an Intel dual processor - and in a rumour-busting move, it replaces the PowerBook, not the iBook.

Professional users may have to take a rain check on purchasing the new machine, which runs up to four times faster than a PowerBook - many pro apps, including Final Cut Pro, haven't yet been re-tooled to work with Intel processors.

This may be a moot point - the new MacBook Pro won't be available until February, and Apple CEO Steve Jobs promises Apple's pro apps will be upgraded to work with the new processor architecture by March.

Intel Dual Core Inside

The new Intel Core Duo processor delivers dual-core performance and offers a breakthrough power-efficient design - the design is such an improvement on previous processors that Apple claims the MacBook Pro is up to four times faster than the product it replaces, the PowerBook G4.

The new MacBook's also lack an internal modem, which may annoy travelling types who aren't always near a wireless network.

The MacBook Pro notebook computer features the all-new Intel Core Duo processor which delivers up to four times the performance of the PowerBook G4.

The computer is encased in a stunning aluminium enclosure. It's one inch thin, weighs just 5.6 pounds, includes a built-in iSight video camera and is also equipped with the Apple Remote and Front Row software Apple first launched with the iMac back in October 2005. An Intel-based iMac has also been released, which is available now.

Keeping it MagSafe

The new notebook also features an all-new, patent-pending power adaptor attachement. This is called a MagSafe magnetic power connector, and eschews the plug and port of existing adaptors in favour of a new design that will not harm the MacBook if someone trips over the cable.

MagSafe is a magnetic power connector that magnetically couples the power cord to the MacBook Pro. It safely disconnects from the notebook when there is strain on the power cord.

The screen's amazingly bright, 67 per cent brighter according to Apple - or as bright as an Apple Cinema Display.

"MacBook Pro delivers dual-processor desktop performance in a thin, sleek notebook," said Steve Jobs, Apple's CEO. "The new MacBook Pro, with its Intel Core Duo dual-core processor, delivers the performance of not just one, but two G5 processors in the world's most stunning one inch thin design."

The MacBook Pro ships with iLife '06 and also includes Apple's Photo Booth application that lets users take quick snapshots with the built-in iSight.

Under the hood power

The notebook also offers a completely new system architecture for faster performance, including a 667MHz front-side bus that is four times as fast as the PowerBook G4 and 667MHz DDR2 SDRAM memory expandable to 2GB that is twice as fast as the PowerBook G4. Each MacBook Pro ships with ATI Mobility Radeon X1600 PCI Express graphics, with either 128MB or 256MB of dedicated GDDR3 graphics memory. Each MacBook Pro includes built-in Bluetooth 2.0+EDR (Enhanced Data Rate), integrated AirPort Extreme 54Mbps 802.11g WiFi wireless networking, a scrolling TrackPad and Apple's Sudden Motion Sensor.

Every MacBook Pro ships with Mac OS X version 10.4.4 "Tiger", a new release in which all the operating system's applications run natively on the Intel processor. It also includes the software translation technology called Rosetta that lets customers run most Mac OS X PowerPC applications.

Pricing and availability

The new 15-inch MacBook Pro will be available in February through the Apple Store, Apple's retail stores and Apple Authorised Resellers. Visitors to the Apple Store can pre-order MacBook Pro, beginning today.

1.67 GHz, 15-inch MacBook Pro,

This model costs £1,429 (including VAT). It offers:

15.4-inch widescreen 1,440-x-900 LCD display with 300 cd/m2 brightness;
1.67GHz Intel Core Duo processor;
512MB of 667 MHz DDR2 SDRAM, expandable to 2GB;
5,400rpm 80GB Serial ATA hard drive;
A slot-load SuperDrive (DVD±RW/CD-RW) optical drive;
PCI Express-based ATI Mobility Radeon X1600 with 128MB GDDR3 memory;
DVI-out port for external display (VGA-out adapter included, Composite/S-Video out adapter sold separately);
Built-in Dual Link support for driving Apple 30-inch Cinema HD Display;
Built-in iSight video camera;
Gigabit Ethernet port;
Built-in AirPort Extreme wireless networking and Bluetooth 2.0+EDR;
ExpressCard/34 expansion card slot;
Two USB 2.0 ports and one FireWire® 400 port;
One audio line in and one audio line out port, each supporting both optical digital and analogue;
Scrolling TrackPad and illuminated keyboard;

1.83 GHz, 15-inch MacBook Pro

This model costs £1,779 (including VAT). It includes:

15.4-inch widescreen 1440-x-900 LCD display with 300 cd/m2 brightness;
1.83 GHz Intel Core Duo processor;
1GB of 667MHz DDR2 SDRAM, expandable to 2GB;
100GB Serial ATA hard drive running at 5400 rpm, with Sudden Motion Sensor;
A slot-load SuperDrive (DVD±RW/CD-RW) optical drive;
PCI Express-based ATI Mobility Radeon X1600 with 256MB GDDR3 memory;
DVI-out port for external display (VGA-out adapter included, Composite/S-Video out adapter sold separately);
Built-in Dual Link support for driving Apple 30-inch Cinema HD Display;
Built-in iSight video camera;
Gigabit Ethernet port;
Built-in Airport Extreme wireless networking and Bluetooth 2.0+EDR;
ExpressCard/34 expansion card slot;
Two USB 2.0 ports and one FireWire 400 port;
One audio line in and one audio line out port, each supporting both optical digital and analogue;
Scrolling TrackPad and illuminated keyboard;

Additional build-to-order options for the 15-inch MacBook Pro include the ability to upgrade to a 120GB (5,400 rpm) or 100GB (7,200 rpm) hard drive, up to 2GB DDR2 SDRAM, Apple USB Modem, and the AppleCare Protection Plan.