Apple may well be renowned for its striking designs and while the move to Intel's chipset may be a major technology change for the company, they haven't used it to change the basic style and shape. Finished in the lightweight aluminium chassis of previous G4 machines, the only difference is the inclusion of a 1.3MP iSight webcam above the screen. Weighing in at 2.5kg, it's still a lightweight machine that is built to last and feels great in the hand but it's no longer unique at this weight class, so we were expecting Apple to have shaved the weight a little.
More impressive are the little touches we've come to expect, such as the light-sensitive backlit keyboard and scrolling touchpad. Detecting ambient light levels, the keyboard adjusts the power of its back-lighting for ease of use in dark conditions.
So what of the specification? The move to Intel means that you can now get a dual-core processor in an Apple machine, in this instance the Core Duo T2500. If you've only ever used Macs before, the naming and numbering conventions may be strange but this chip runs at 2GHz and brings with it a 667MHz front side bus, so it's quicker than you'll be used to. With twin cores, you can run routine apps in the background while concentrating in the foreground on main tasks, whether they are simply answering email or task heavy programs such as design or music. With a gigabyte of DDR2 memory and a 100GB hard drive running at 5400rpm, high-performance is guaranteed.
One curious aspect of the Pro is that Apple hasn't moved over to Super-TFT screens. So, while the 15.4-inch screen offers a resolution of 1440x900 pixels, which is high enough for most people, you don't get the contrast such screens offer. Graphics are more state-of-the-art, with ATI's Mobility Radeon X1600 offering plenty of power for the form factor. This is a great mainstream GPU that can handle the latest design applications with ease.
There used to be a line of thought that if you wanted a notebook with a battery life that never gave out, then you'd opt for an Apple, it's OS and components work so much better for some reason. So, it was interesting to see that the MacBook Pro suddenly sacrifices this performance for more power. We got to use the Pro for a little under 2 weeks and regularly got just over 3 hours of use from a single charge. Sure, you'll find that the battery only takes a little over an hour to recharge but it means Apple no longer has that “well, they last longer than Windows notebooks” claim to them.
The styling of the machine is still Apple, though. To this end, you'll find a slot-loading dual-format recordable DVD optical drive, Gigabit Ethernet and 802.11g Wi-Fi. The MacBook Pro also includes its own control unit. Resembling an iPod Shuffle MP3 player, the design doesn't match the laptop chassis, but multimedia usability is vastly improved for music and video use.
Unless you're really interested in the idea of Apple moving over to a new platform and what it means to the computer market, the story doesn't quite live up to the headlines. In many respects this may sound like a negative mark, but we were expecting more from such an occasion. Don't get us wrong, this is a stunning machine that offers power and performance and comes with Apple's usual flair for style and panache.
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