Apple announces king-size MacBook Pro, less DRM for iTunes

How many exciting new goodies did Apple have in store at its latest Macworld keynote? Not too many, apparently. Phil Schiller announced only one notable hardware product this morning: the 17″ MacBook Pro, a bigger and badder version of the 15.4″ model that came out in October.

The 17″ MacBook Pro has a 1920×1200 display with a 700:1 contrast ratio, and Apple offers a matte finish option for an extra $50. Aside from that, the $2,799 starting price gets you a 2.66GHz Core 2 Duo, 4GB of RAM, a 320GB hard drive, GeForce 9400M integrated graphics, GeForce 9600M GT discrete graphics, and a battery Apple rates for up to eight hours of run time. As you’d expect, the machine has the same aluminum design as the other new MacBooks, too.

You can already pre-order the 17″ MacBook Pro from the online Apple Store, although Apple quotes a three- to four-week delay for shipping.

Earlier in the Macworld keynote, Schiller also made some noteworthy announcements related to iTunes. The online music store should now include DRM-free songs from all four major record labels (not to mention countless independent labels), and in April, Apple will switch to a flexible pricing scheme. Instead of the perennial 99 cents per track, songs will be available from 69 cents to $1.29. Oh, and iPhone 3G users can now purchase songs from the iTunes Store via their carrier’s 3G connection, as well.

Last, but not least, Schiller announced new versions of Apple’s iWork and iLife software suites. iWork ’09 users will also be able to share documents online using the new beta. For complete coverage of the Macworld 2009 keynote, check out the liveblogs at both Engadget and Ars Technica.

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