High-tech hot topics: MacBook Pros, Motorola Xoom reviews, Thunderbolt

Hot topics in the tech blogs for the week ending February 25 include Apple's updated MacBook Pro range of laptops, reviews of Motorola's Xoom tablet, Intel's Thunderbolt technology, Apple iPad 2 press conference, and Amazon launches commercial-free instant video for existing Amazon Prime members.

MacBook Pro family
Apple updated its MacBook Pro laptop range adding high-speed Thunderbolt data transfer technology, next generation Intel Sandy Bridge Core i5 and i7 processors and FaceTime HD cameras to the 13",15" and 17" laptops. "These new models aren't exactly revolutionary with the same basic unibody casing, layout, and batteries," said CrunchGear's Matt Burns before adding that "[w]ith prices set at the same levels as the previous models, there's no reason to hate on the latest. They're just more computing bang for your credit card buck."

Motorola Xoom reviews
After getting some hands-on time with Motorola's Xoom tablet, bloggers reported that the Android-powered device is "the first truly comparable competitor to Apple's hit iPad." "Motorola's hardware and Google's new software are impressive and, after testing it for about a week, I believe the Xoom beats the first-generation iPad in certain respects, though it lags in others," said Walt Mossberg, while Engadget editor Josh Topolsky said "it outclasses the iPad in many ways. Still, the end user experience isn't nearly where it needs to be."

Thunderbolt
Intel held a press conference to unveil its next-generation wired connection technology for HD video and high-speed data transfers, Thunderbolt. Apple's MacBook Pros are the first devices to incorporate the "screaming-fast" transfer technology which theoretically enables them to transfer a full-length Blu-ray disk in less than 30 seconds.

Apple iPad 2 press conference

Apple sent out an invite to journalists to a March 2 press conference where the company is largely expected to unveil the second generation iPad. The invite prompted a torrent of iPad 2 rumor recaps. As TechCrunch's MG Siegler puts it, "rumors of Apple rumors now leading to rumors of counter rumors." The main improvements expected to show up on the iPad 2? A thinner design, a FaceTime HD camera, and a faster processor. A full rundown on the iPad 2 rumors can be found here.

Amazon Prime commercial-free instant video

Amazon announced that its Amazon Prime members now have access to "unlimited, commercial-free instant streaming of more than 5,000 movies and TV shows" for no additional cost (the Amazon Prime membership is currently $79 per year).

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