Hands-On With the New MacBook Pro

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Over the weekend, I bought myself a brand new 15-inch MacBook Pro. Having previously owned a 2008 model, non-Pro MacBook, I knew it was going to be faster, but I didn’t realize just how much of an improvement it would really be.

Speed

The new Pros are extremely tricked out; even my entry-level model, with no upgrades at all, comes with 4 GB of memory and a quad-core Intel i7 processor. While I haven’t tested anything too intensive such as working in Photoshop or Premiere, I did carry out my usual test of how well a machine can cope with my general usage by opening every application on my Dock at the same time. All the other Macs I’ve owned struggle to keep up when I do this. A lot of the time, I’ll get the spinning beachball of doom if I do that on my iMac. On the new Pro, however, every application opened instantly, without even a hint of slowdown.

It might be because it’s still fairly new, but it also seemed to awake from sleep almost instantly, whereas I was expecting a considerable delay like on my old machine. Since the new model still has a standard HDD, most of the gains must be from the processor and RAM.

The Hardware

Cosmetically, the new Pros are no different from the last generation, but personally, I think that’s a good thing. At the moment, the Thunderbolt port feels kind of useless, since there aren’t any peripherals that support it yet, but I least I can still output to a secondary display using it.

The rebranded FaceTime camera now supports HD, but like the iSight cameras built into its predecessors, it doesn’t cope too well in low-light conditions. On the plus side, it now supports widescreen video.

I haven’t been able to get the full 7 hours battery life which Apple advertises, but I always keep my brightness maxed out and Bluetooth turned on, which is a drain on the battery (Apple’s tests are carried out with brightness set to 50%, and only one application running). I’ve still managed to get 5 to 5½ hours with normal usage, which is definitely impressive for a powerful machine like this.

Smooth

One thing I’ve noticed about my new machine is how smooth everything seems. For example, when you close the lid and the Mac goes to sleep, the Apple logo on top doesn’t just switch off, it fades off. Same thing with the backlit keyboard — when you turn the brightness down, it fades rather than changing in stepped increments. And as I mentioned, even resource-heavy tasks seem to go off without a hitch. Darrell may be willing to wait, but I wasn’t, and if you’re looking for a much better, faster portable Mac experience, neither should you.

 

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