Apple MacBook Pro 17-inch i5

So, you know you want a computer with a big screen but you want to be able to move it around reasonably easily. So a desktop machine like the iMac 27-inch screen computer is right out.

Well, there are plenty of Windows PCs on the market, but the most stylish laptop is still the MacBook Pro which, of course, comes loaded with Mac OSX 10.6.4 Snow Leopard. If you're a Windows die-hard but want a better-looking laptop, you can splash out on the MacBook Pro and install Windows, since all Macs with Intel chips can run both systems. This is handy if you have some key programs which aren't available for Macs.

We've looked at the latest 15-inch MacBook Pro – this week we'll tackle its bigger brother. As handsome and well-built as you'd expect, the screen and base perfectly weighted so the bottom stays put when you lift the lid. The 17-incher weighs 2.99kg, so is on the edge of portability.

The keyboard is outstandingly good: comfortable, well-spaced and enjoyable to use. It is backlit so you can see it easily even in low light, which is useful as the lettering is white on black keys. There's the now-standard large, glass trackpad with multi-touch so it reacts differently according to whether you touch it with one, two, three or four fingers. Perhaps the next iteration will have a five-finger option, too.

The screen is great: glossy, with high 1920 x 1200 pixel resolution though you can opt for a matte screen instead if you want, but you'll pay extra for this. It's so big that you notice it not just because it takes up so much of your vision, but because dragging something from one edge to the other is a bigger movement.

Strangely, the 17-incher lacks the SD memory card reader of the smaller 15-inch and even 13-inch models. This is a shame as it's a handy addition and if the littler ones have space…?

Like the other MacBook Pros, this model has a built-in instead of a removable battery. A pain if you're on the road for too long and it runs out of juice just when you can't get to the mains. Still, it's a big battery so it'll give you most of a day easily. And of course, to be extra sure, you could also carry a HyperMac - the Mac laptop battery which gives peace of mind, looks good, and will even charge your USB gadgets, too.

Speaking of which, the three USB sockets are neatly in a line, as on the 15-incher, which can be a little too snugly placed if you have big thick USB attachments like 3G modems and some USB sticks. And none of the three is the useful recharge-my-gadget-while-the-computer's-off sort. Apple is sometimes late with these kind of enhancements, but can we have one next time, please?

Like its smaller-screened brother, this MacBook Pro has a speedy 2.53GHz Intel i5 processor and it shows, along with 4GB of RAM. It launches programs much faster than last year's model, and every bit of processing feels noticeably faster, which is highly enjoyable.

It also has the Nvidia GeForce GT 330M which takes care of the demanding graphics, whilst the in-built Intel HD graphics take care of lesser tasks. This uses Apple's auto-switching feature, so you aren't draining the battery running the graphics card when you don't need it.

Verdict

This is a tremendous piece of kit. Of course it's not cheap as Apple stuff rarely is, but your money buys you handsome, super-efficient and enjoyable computing. It's a real pleasure to type on the keyboard, the screen looks magnificent and it's fast, fast, fast. What more could you want?