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Planning on buying a MacBook Pro? Wait until later this week

Consider this a public service announcement: if you're in the market for a MacBook Pro, right now is about the worst possible time to buy one. Wait at least until this coming Thursday, February 24. Multiple indicators point to the MacBook Pro line being refreshed on that date.

We heard in December that the MacBook Pro line will be upgraded in the first half of 2011, and the current lineup started seeing supply shortages in late January. Over the past couple weeks, we've heard from multiple sources that the MacBook Pro will be upgraded in March, possibly as early as March 1 -- later reports have bumped that date up to later this week. After an initial production hiccup, Intel has shipped its next-gen "Sandy Bridge" processor, all but certain to debut in the forthcoming MacBook Pro update. Multiple reports from various sources point to supply shortages of the current MacBook Pro and new model numbers showing up in inventory databases.

Now, AppleInsider reports that third-party dealers have been told to expect sealed shipments from Apple, expected to arrive as early as tomorrow. All of this points to imminent upgrades to the MacBook Pro -- possibly significant upgrades, as the new Intel processors are supposed to be much more powerful than the current lineup. Additionally, it's possible the new MacBook Pros may include a new "high-speed connection technology" based on Intel's Light Peak, with data transfer speeds far exceeding those of USB or FireWire.

Even if you're not interested in these new bells and whistles and believe the current MacBook Pro would suit your needs, it's still worth waiting until the new models debut later this week, because the current lineup will almost certainly be heavily discounted. Watch this space or this one if you want to pick up one of the current models on the cheap after the new models launch. Take our word on this, if you buy a MacBook Pro before Thursday, you're going to want to kick yourself later.

Update: If you've seen this post too late and have already taken the plunge on a new MacBook Pro at this worst of all buying times, there's still hope. You can return the product within 14 days of your purchase for a full refund, and Apple no longer assesses restocking fees if you do so. If you're far outside of that 14-day grace period, you're pretty much out of luck; if you're only a day or two beyond it, you might be able to get a manager at your local Apple Store to work something out with you as long as you're nice about it.

Update 2: It looks like Apple has the right idea this time around; several tipsters wrote us and said Apple's instituted a 3-5 day shipping delay on MacBook Pros. This could mean that if you order a MacBook Pro today, you'll end up with one of the new models expected to debut on Thursday, but the safe bet is still to hold off on a purchase until the new models come out.

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