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Wednesday, October 15, 2008, 06:00 am PT (09:00 am ET)

Apple's next-gen 17-inch MacBook Pro due in a few months

Apple on Tuesday introduced its next-generation 13-inch MacBooks and 15-inch MacBook Pros but was unable to ramp production of its new 17-inch model, which is now expected to make an appearance by early next year.

In a series of last minute reports received by AppleInsider leading up to Tuesday's events, people now proven to be familiar with the matter had attempted to reset expectations for the 15-inch model's larger cousin by explaining that it would take Apple "several months" to release the systems to manufacturing.

While those people provided little color on the issue, a report published by MacNN earlier this week noted two problems that appear to have plagued the new notebook. Specifically, the site reported that the "initial run of 17-inch models have both optical drive and display issues, which will delay shipments."

Since then, AppleInsider has received corroborating reports that there was some form of delay affecting the new 17-inch models, which would have ideally made their debut this week had matters played out differently. Those people reported sightings of the larger model undergoing tests in Apple's labs, and as would be expected, they resemble a slightly larger version of the new 15-inch MacBook Pro.

As avid readers may recall, this isn't the first time that a 17-inch MacBook Pro missed the first boat out of China. The situation was nearly identical back in 2006 when Apple introduced its first ever MacBook Pro at the Macworld Expo in January.

Like this week's introductions, the 2006 MacBook Pro represented a major architectural design overhaul that delivered the first Intel processors in an Apple notebook. The Mac maker elected to focus its resources on completing the higher volume 15-inch model, which it began shipping with faster processors than initially announced a little over a month later. In late April, about three months after the 15-inch MacBook Pro made its debut, Apple introduced the first 17-inch MacBook Pro.

In the meantime, Apple has refreshed its existing 17-inch MacBook Pro, which now comes standard with a high resolution 1920 x 1200 LED-backlit display and a larger 320GB hard drive or an optional 128GB solid state drive. The model includes a 2.5 GHz Intel Core 2 Duo with 6MB shared L2 cache and retails for $2799.