Apple's Oct. 18 Unleashed event unveils powerful new MacBook Pro systems

Powered by the latest M1 Pro or M1 Max chips, the new MacBook Pro machines come in 14-inch and 16-inch models with up to 64GB of memory and as much as 8TB of storage.

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Image: Apple

At its third launch event for 2021, Apple unveiled a few new products, including the third-generation AirPods, additional colors for its HomePod Mini and a cheaper Apple Music subscription. But the star of the show was the 2021 MacBook Pro with two different screen sizes, Apple's latest M1 chips, beefier audio, a 1080p camera, a Liquid Retina XDR display and longer battery life.

SEE: How to migrate to a new iPad, iPhone, or Mac (TechRepublic Premium)

Though the new and enhanced features on Pro models can benefit anyone, Apple specifically touted the new MacBook Pros as designed for developers, photographers, filmmakers, 3D artists, scientists and music producers. For people looking for a new notebook and leaning toward a MacBook Pro, here's what the new lineup offers.

SEE: Apple Unleashed 2021: New AirPods, 2021 MacBook Pro and more (free PDF) (TechRepublic)

2021 MacBook Pro

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Image: Apple

Available in 16-inch and 14-inch flavors, the 2021 MacBook Pro comes outfitted with the latest Apple M1 chip. Buyers have a choice between the new M1 Pro CPU and the new M1 Max CPU.

M1 Pro chip. The M1 Pro processor is equipped with eight high-performance cores and two high-efficiency cores that Apple claims delivers a 70% faster CPU performance over the original M1. The chip includes a graphics processing unit (GPU) with as many as 16 cores for a graphics performance twice as fast as the M1 chip, according to Apple. The M1 Pro offers 200GB per second of memory bandwidth, three times the bandwidth of the M1 and supports up to 32GB of unified memory.

M1 Max chip. The M1 Max CPU boasts the same 10 cores as the Pro version but beefs up the GPU with as many as 32 cores for a graphics performance four times as fast as the original M1. The Max edition offers up to 400GB per second of memory bandwidth, twice that of the M1 Pro, and supports as much as 64GB of unified memory. With the more powerful GPU, faster memory bandwidth and greater unified memory support, the M1 Max is aimed at video professionals and 3D artists who work with graphics-intensive applications and content.

Display. The Liquid Retina XDR display provides up to 1,000 nits of sustained brightness and 1,600 nits of peak brightness. The ProMotion feature already found on the iPad Pro and iPhone 13 Pro gives the new MacBook Pro an adaptive refresh rate of up to 120Hz. The 14-inch Pro provides an active screen area of 14.2 inches, while the 16-inch model delivers a screen size of 16.2 inches.

Camera. The new MacBook Pro systems come with a 1080p FaceTime HD camera. The beefier camera takes advantage of the neural engine of the new M1 chips to enhance video quality.

Audio. Sound quality also is improved with the new MacBook Pros, thanks to a high-fidelity, six-speaker sound system that delivers 80% more bass. Studio-quality microphones are designed to provide clearer calls and recordings.

Ports: Both of the new MacBook Pros come with three Thunderbolt 4 ports, an SDXC card slot, an HDMI port and a better headphone jack. Most interesting is the return of a MagSafe port with faster charging of up to 50% in 30 minutes.

Keyboard. The Magic keyboard built into the new MacBook Pros jettisons the Touch Bar, which never quite caught on. In its place is a full-height row with physical function keys, including a wider escape key.

Battery life. Apple beefed up the battery life with the new MacBook Pro machines. The 14-inch model offers up to 17 hours of video playback, seven hours more than with the previous MacBook Pro edition. The 16-inch model kicks in up to 21 hours of video playback. As two examples cited by Apple, developers working in Xcode will be able to compile up to 4 times as much code on a single charge, while professionals editing images with Adobe Lightroom Classic will snag up to twice the battery life compared with the prior MacBook Pro.

Options. If ordering either of the new MacBook Pro machines, you choose the M1 Pro or M1 Max chip, the number of cores for the CPU and GPU, the memory (16GB, 32GB, or 64GB), storage space (up to 8TB), power adapter, and selection of preinstalled software.

Price and availability. The new 14-inch MacBook Pro starts at $1,999 for most customers and $1,849 for educational users. The 16-inch variety starts at $2,499 for most customers and $2,299 for educational users. Both of the new MacBook Pro models are available for preorder at the online Apple Store and the Apple Store app. The systems will reach customers who preorder and will pop up in select Apple Store locations and authorized resellers starting Tuesday, Oct. 26.

SEE: Why I am buying Apple's new MacBook Pro (TechRepublic)

2021 AirPods

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Image: Apple

The third generation AirPods inherits the spatial audio and Adaptive EQ previously found on just the AirPods Pro and AirPods Max. Both features aim to deliver more dynamic and consistent sound as the music plays. A contour design attempts to better fit your ears, however, the third-gen AirPods still use the old one-size-fits-all approach rather than the replaceable ear tips used by the AirPods Pro.

The new AirPods are resistant to sweat and water, a force sensor helps you better control music and phone calls, and an extended battery life offers up to six hours of listening time and 30 hours of total time when you factor in the charging case. Priced at $179, the new AirPods are up for preorder and will be available starting Tuesday, Oct. 26.

Apple Music

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Image: Apple

Apple has unveiled a less expensive subscription of its Music service. Priced at $4.99 per month and available later this fall, the new Apple Music Voice plan offers many of the same content as the pricier plans, including access to 90 million songs, tens of thousands of playlists, personalized mixes and genre stations.

But with this new plan, you're limited to accessing music through Siri. You subscribe through Siri and request music through Siri via your AirPods, iPhone, iPad, HomePod mini or CarPlay. On the downside, this lower priced plan does not include the spatial audio and lossless audio, on-screen lyrics or music videos from the more expensive subscriptions.

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