MacBook Pro

October 1st, 2009 Desktop

Price: $2,399

If it’s been awhile since you looked at a new Mac, now might be the time to take the plunge. If you’re sick of being shackled to a desktop model and having to scrounge for a loan notebook every time we’re on the road, it might be time to follow the consumer trends and invest in a laptop. The 2.53GHz Intel Core 2 Duo chip, 4GB of RAM and 250GB Hitachi hard drive left our usual test system in the dust.

So it’s tempting to think ‘it’s a new Mac, it does what my old Mac does, only twice as fast’, and for many people that will be enough of a selling point. Other upsides are the continuing low price point, which is more competitive than ever against the Windows world, and the increasing number of Intel-only applications we’re seeing.

But Apple engineers have been tweaking and adding new features besides the obvious, and the new MacBook Pro contains several that are worth mentioning. All displays in the 13, 15 and 17 inch range have a wider colour gamut. Together with the nVidia GeForce 9400M graphics processor, it promises not only a much brighter and richer image but faster graphics processing when it comes to playing games, watching movies or editing video — Apple claims you’ll see five times the performance of an older system.

Perhaps acknowledging the grumble of protest that accompanied the abandonment of a Firewire port in previous models, Apple has put it back, and there’s also an SD card reader so you can slide your camera or mobile phone’s memory card straight into the system.

We used to be really impressed with Apple’s battery life, but when the company jumped into bed with Intel it was a little disappointing that it seemed to bring the power specs into line with PC contemporaries along with the price. It’s therefore great to see things have improved again. As you always can when it comes to promises about batteries, take Apple’s claims of 7 hours with a pinch of salt — you might get that while idling. But we still worked for a much longer stretch than any PC has offered, watching a movie on a full charge with battery life to spare when it was over. To make the proposition even more attractive, Apple says replacing the battery is cheaper than ever, costing the same to buy a battery and have it fitted as it used to for a new battery alone.

Recent improvements in the opposing camp (see September Desktop for our Windows 7 review) are threatening to bridge the gap between Mac and PC, but with the new MacBook Pro, Apple manages to stay in front.

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