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MacBook Pro Review
The previous MacBook Pros were very good indeed. They delivered consistent professional quality and great features. Therefore, the review of the next generation MacBook Pros is something nice.
An initial look at the latest models shows nothing new. It’s not disappointing: the sturdy casing and smart design are exactly what you want from a superior laptop. The keyboard looks tidier – the result of some minor tweaks – but other than that, everything looks as impressive as ever.
This may suggest that any internal changes are also small. Not like that. When you fire up the MacBook Pros and start putting each model through its paces, you soon realize you’re working with machines that exceed expectations.
To begin with, the processors are Intel Penryns 45 nanometers. These are significantly faster than the 65nm Meroms installed in the older MacBook Pro and easily beat the Meroms in all benchmark tests.
The standard processors for the two 15-inch MacBook Pros are Intel Core 2 Duos 2.4 GHz and 2.5 GHz. 17 inch has 2.5 GHz. Allied to these are the upgraded 200GB for the 15-inch 2.4GHz and 250GB for the 15-inch and 17-inch 2.5GHz drives.
Of particular interest to the multimedia user is the doubling of video memory in all three MacBook Pros. The 15-inch 2.4GHz has an NVIDIA GeForce 8600M GT with 256MB, and the 15-inch 2.5GHz and 17-inch 2.5GHz have the same GPU but with 512MB.
2GB of RAM supports the above technology across the range. The overall results are laptops that easily cope with advanced graphics and audio applications.
HardwareEach of the three MacBook Pros comes with standard equipment, such as:
- Dual-layer 8x slotted SuperDrive
- iSight camera
- AirPort Extreme and Bluetooth® wireless connections
- stereo speakers
- FireWire 400 and 800 ports
- USB 2.0 ports (two on 15-inch models; three on 17-inch)
- DVI port
- Audio ports
- Gigabit Ethernet port
- ExpressCard/34 slot
There are also hardware “extras” that help the MacBook Pro stand out from the crowd. These include a powerful lithium-polymer battery; an ambient light sensor that illuminates the keyboard in dark conditions; and an energy-saving LED backlit display.
These screens are mercury-free and anti-glare and have resolutions of 1,440 x 900 pixels for the 15-inch models and 1,680 x 1,050 pixels for the 17-inch models. With both you get bright, natural and sharp images.
Perhaps the best hardware extra of all, is the new MacBook Pro tracker. This now has the multi-touch functionality that has proven so popular on the iPhone. By tapping, swiping and rolling your fingers on the trackpad, you have incredibly fast and positive control over MacBook Pro’s creative software features.
Multi-touch creates a small problem: the size of the keyboard may seem a little small for someone learning the right gestures. That said, once you get the hang of multi-touch, it’s not difficult to work within the confines of the keyboard.
As with all new Macs, the MacBook Pro comes with the best operating system around, Mac OS X v10.5 Leopard. If you’ve never used Leopard before, you’ll be amazed by its capabilities. If you’re already a Mac user, you still have something to cheer about, because the new MacBook Pros boost the speed of Leopard and the apps that use it.
Among these applications is Apple’s latest version of the world’s fastest browser, Safari. It comes with the usual suite of updated Apple software such as Boot Camp, Mail, iChat, iTunes, DVD Player, iPhoto and iLife ’08.
Experienced MacBook Pro users can load their favorite apps on these latest models and immediately notice improvements in speed. For example, you can set up Photoshop CS3 in roughly eight seconds on a 2.5 GHz 15-inch. You will then go on to find that Photoshop runs 20 – 25% faster than a 2007 2.6GHz MacBook Pro.
Compared to a 2006 MacBook Pro, the differences are even greater. Overall, you can experience about 50% speed increase in a variety of applications. This is good news for everyone who wants maximum performance from a laptop.
With any laptop designed for professional use, it’s always worth looking at the manufacturer’s options, because some people will need a buffer zone with extra speed and power for specific applications.
MacBook Pro configuration options are unlikely to disappoint you. To give you extra power, you can request a 2.6GHz Intel Core 2 Duo processor upgrade for the 2.5GHz 15-inch or 17-inch models. As for RAM, you can upgrade any of the three MacBook Pros to 4GB.
On the 17-inch MacBook Pro, you may want to increase the hard drive to 300GB to provide extra space for space-stealing graphics applications. Similarly, you can ensure the perfect clarity of your images by looking for a 1,920 x 1,200 pixel display for the same model.
Finally, if you prefer a glossy matte display rather than anti-glare, you can request this when placing your order.
With all these improvements packed into the same shells as previous MacBook Pro models, you can expect a price hike. If you do, you will be wrong. The new MacBook Pros are undeniably better machines, but prices across the range haven’t changed. The older MacBook Pros were good value, but the latest incarnations are simply great for the price.
Want the best laptops from a major manufacturer? Look no further.
- Faster than the previous generation MacBook Pro
- Double the video memory
- Smooth, multi-touch features on the trackpad
- Improved battery life
- Great configuration options
- More for your money: no price increase compared to older MacBook Pro equivalents
- The trackpad may be a little small for first-time users
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