Apple spreads Force Touch trackpad to 15-in. MacBook Pro

Apple adds its new Force Touch trackpad to the laptop to match the move made in March on the smaller 13-in. model.

Apple today refreshed the 15-in. MacBook Pro, adding its new Force Touch trackpad to the laptop to match the move made in March on the smaller 13-in. model.

Prices for the 15-in. MacBook Pro remained unchanged: $1,999 for the configuration with a 2.2GHz quad-core Intel Core i7 processor and 256GB of flash storage; $2,499 for the notebook powered by a quad-core 2.5GHz Core i7 and 512GB of storage space on the SSD (solid-state drive).

Against expectations going back to last year, Apple eschewed Intel's latest generation "Broadwell" architecture, the more power-efficient processors made using a 14-nanometer fabrication process, and stayed with the 22-nanometer "Haswell" CPUs.

While Apple made minor modifications to other components -- it substituted an AMD Radeon R9 M370X discrete graphics card in the $2,499 model for the previous GeForce GT 750M from Nvidia -- the biggest change was the introduction of the Force Touch trackpad, a technology most expect to further infiltrate Apple's hardware.

The pressure-sensitive trackpad, which also features some limited haptic feedback, has been lauded by some, panned by others. Apple has altered several of its first-party OS X apps to take advantage of the Force Touch -- a harder touch on a file icon in the Finder, for instance, displays a preview of its contents -- but users are waiting on third-party app support.

Apple has now inserted the Force Touch trackpad not only throughout its Retina-equipped MacBook Pro portfolio, but also in the new Retina MacBook, the ultra-thin, ultra-light that starts at $1,299.

Also on Tuesday, Apple reduced the price of the Retina 5K iMac by 8%, or $200, to $2,299, and introduced a lower-cost model at $1,999. The latter went with a slightly slower processor -- a 3.3GHz quad-core Intel Core i5 rather than the 3.5GHz chip -- and replaced the 1TB Fusion Drive, a hybrid that combined the high performance of NAND flash memory with the storage capacity of a traditional platter-based hard disk drive -- with a standard disk drive of the same capacity.

The price gap between the Retina 5K iMac and the non-Retina 27-in. iMac, previously $700, now stands at $200 on the low end, $500 on the high. The Retina 5K iMac remained the most expensive iMac, however.

For the iPhone, Apple introduced a $39 docking station that accommodates the new iPhone 6 and 6 Plus, entering a market crowded with third-party alternatives, including Hengedocks' $99 Gravitas, a heavyweight that doesn't move when the user yanks out an iPhone or iPad.

Apple's new 15-in. MacBook Pro and re-priced Retina 5K iMac are available today at its online store, retail chain and select authorized resellers.

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