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I haven’t ever reviewed a Laptop and it is more of a surprise that I am reviewing an Apple one on our site. Reasons are simple; no one else has ever sent us one to review! This review is focusing on the latest MacBook Pro 15” 2.4 GHz model.
Design wise I can’t fault the laptop one bit; it looks gorgeous in so many ways. The sleek Aluminium casing looks great and the weight is just 2.45 kg (5.4 pounds) There are also hardly any screws on show at all. Opening up the laptop once again shows what great designers Apple have at the company, there are no pointless stickers advertising companies like Intel or nVidia,it is all just clean and neat.
At the top of the MacBook pro you have the LED Backlit 15” screen, just above that you have a really tiny iSightcamera that is integrated well into the casing. The main part of the MacBook Pro is under all of this, with the keyboard put between the two stereo speakers. Below that is the new Multi-Touch trackpad, a little bit smaller than that seen on the MacBook Air but it works just as well. Basically this is everything you will see when you open up the MacBook Pro – its sleek and stylish and compared to most other laptops, doesn’t fill up the outside with pointless buttons and stickers that you don’t need. (Wireless on and off buttons take note, why have them when its done in software)
On the side of the MacBook Pro you have on the left, the power connection (the excellent magnetic one), a single USB 2.0 port, line in and line out audio which allows you to connect various equipment up to the MacBook as well as output Dolby Digital sound, just below that is the ExpressCard slot.
On the right you have a USB 2.0 port, Firewire 400 & 800 Ports, Gigabyte Ethernet and finally a DVI connection if you want to connect it up to a monitor or television. The only thing I would have liked to have seen here was a HDMI port but we can’t have everything and the DVI connection is sufficient when connecting it up to a television and running in higher resolutions than the MacBook produces itself.
The MacBook Pro power adaptor with MagSafe connector is a magnetic connection instead of a physical one. So, if you happen to trip over the power cord, you won’t send MacBook Pro flying through the air. The cord simply disconnects, without damage to either the cord or the notebook, why other companies have not taken this great idea on board yet surprises me as it works perfectly.
Before we get on with the rest of the stuff let’s talk about the display itself. The MacBook Pro 15” we are reviewing here is 1440-by-900-pixel resolution. You can choose to have either Matte or Glossy screens (I have the Glossy model here). All of the new MacBook Pro’s are LED backlit, which means a lighter and better power efficient screen. They are also better for the environment as well as coming on straight away from sleep or from them being turned off. I have always been a fan of Apple displays and the MacBook Pro is no exception, it looks excellent and is so easy on the eyes when writing or viewing photos and webpages.
The new MacBook Pro also has the advanced trackpad with Multi-Touch enabled on it. It is hard to describe without you having your hands on it but when I say it works perfectly I’m not exaggerating. Scrolling, for example is done by using two fingers on the pad to scroll up and down, to right click you simple tap with two fingers. It really is excellent and much better than any other trackpad I have ever used.
The MacBook Pro also has a built-in ambient light sensor that adjusts the keyboard and display brightness, again this is well hidden under the casing and you wouldn’t even know the sensor is there. The display adjusts the display on the fly and there hasn’t been one time during my hours of playing around on the Mac in which I wanted to adjust it myself, once again it was nigh on perfect. The keyboard also has a backlight that works well and is great when you are lying in bed using the laptop at night.
The MacBook Pro is powered by an Intel Core Duo 2 processor, the one in our 15” review unit is a 2.4GHz one, but you can have 2.5 or 2.6GHz if you prefer. The MacBook Pro also ships with the NVIDIA GeForce 8600M GT with 256MB of GDDR3 memory and dual-link DVI, the higher end models come with 512MB of GDDR3 SDRAM, but for the 15” model it is more than suitable for all of the work you are likely to do on a laptop like this.
Performance overall is excellent, the Apple OS 10.5 is a good performer anyway on a range of hardware and on the Core Duo 2 it flies even with just 2GB of memory. The graphics card means you are unlikely to play many games on it, but in saying that there are too few games out on the Mac to worry about that. I have had multiple applications such as Safari, Word 2008, iChat, Microsoft Messenger, NetNewsWire, Mail and Unison without so much as any slow down at all.
All other features of the Mac OS work just as well here as they do on any other Mac such as Dashboard, Spaces and Expose. The keyboard also has shortcuts for those features too as well as media related options for volume controls and the Eject button for the slot loading drive.
I have forgotten to mention that the MacBook Pro 15” also comes with a built in AirportExtreme card running at 802.11n speeds if you have the router to work with it and a Built-in 10/100/1000BASE-T Gigabit Ethernet card, setting up wireless networking on the Mac is easy and done during the first setup of the machine.
Battery time on the MacBook Pro has been excellent, compared to a Sony Intel Core Duo 2 laptop running at a lower speed, the MacBook outdoes it by an extra hour and a half of battery time though the Apple laptop makes use of the new Penryn powered processor which makes things a bit more efficient. The figures that Apple quote are 5 hours of battery time, for me it is more like 4 and a half hours but it is pretty close and this is once again with a number of applications always open.
The MacBook Pro comes with a 200GB hard drive and 2GB of RAM, for the size of the drive and all the stuff that comes with it the laptops is a lot lighter than I expected it would be. The MacBook Pro is also almost silent, the fans a low unless running really high taxing applications and I can honestly say that I have never heard them get any louder than they are at default. The only noise that I tend to hear from the laptop is from the Hard Drive when it parks and some clicking noises now and again, nothing that most users will take any notice of. The 2GB of memory is fine for most applications on the Mac, though 4GB is well worth getting if you can afford it, just don’t buy it from Apple, get it direct from Crucial or risk paying our 3 or 4 times the amount you should do.
So overall as you can probably tell I am very pleased with the MacBook Pro 15”, if I can find any fault it is that it lacks a flash card slot and the price is still a little high for a lot of people. The thing is in my view you are getting what you pay for, a fantastically well made and superbly designed laptop that does everything most people will use a laptop for. If you want a laptop for gaming though, this isn’t for you, if you want one to use with the Internet, photos, RSS, chat, general writing and video editing, this is almost perfect. Other companies take note, this is how to design a laptop.