Apple’s newest offering for the MacBook Pro is quite the portable powerhouse. And in true Apple style, no compromises are made. The machine screams. Yes, complex graphics weep at the very sight of the Nvidia 9600M GT. And to top it off, the machine is designed beautifully. It’s fast, powerful, beautiful, bright and loud. If it was a person, it would be a guy who wears a suit everywhere, including (but not limited to) work, the store, your place, and even when no one is looking. But instead of dress shoes, he wears Chucks just so everyone does a double take, only to find out he’s that much more awesome with every glance.
For me, the MacBook Pro was all about discovery. From the moment you open the lid you’ll be figuring out things about the machine on a constant basis. It only adds to the fun of getting a new piece of technology, as if it wasn’t enough fun in the first place. I mean really, what’s not fun about a better processor, two improved GPUs, more RAM, a better and brighter screen, a new and larger trackpad, and a design that drips with style? Okay, okay…besides the price.
The first thing to do after hitting the power button on every new Mac is set it up. This was actually far easier than I had anticipated it being, but still took some time since I transported a lot of files from my older machine. I let my old and new notebooks connect to each other over wireless N, which worked fantastically. Two hours later, the Mac was ready to go.
But during that two hours, there isn’t much that you can do, not much besides look at the thing. But that’s not so bad with a laptop such as this. First off, there’s the design. The MacBook Pro has been redesigned with the unibody technique of making notebook cases. This allows for a sturdy, yet very thin case carved out of solid pieces of aluminum. No bending, just carving, so the structural integrity of the enclosure is superb.
The chicklet keyboard is very nice. The keys are black so they won’t get so noticeably dirty, and have a better feel than the standard Apple keyboard keys. It’s hard to describe, but it just feels better. They are also backlit as well, which doesn’t sound like that big of a deal until you’re alone with it in the dark. The backlit keys really make computing in the dark much easier.
Then there’s that new trackpad. It’s bigger, made of glass, has one less dedicated button and is multitouch enabled. There are some great new multitouch gestures. With these new gestures you can trigger Expose, switch active applications, or clear your windows to see the desktop; all are a welcomed additions. Still though, I find myself wishing for a real button or two, but I normally use an external mouse, so I won’t complain too much. It’s actually not that bad, and I’ve forced myself into using the trackpad this whole week just to get a feel for it. I’m glad to report that it wasn’t a painful experience; actually, I rather enjoyed it. That’s not to say I’ll be eBaying my MightyMouse, but I won’t be so sad the next time I’m without it.
Now, let’s get this screen business out of the way. Sure, it’s got a piece of glass on it, and yes, it does reflect light. But for me, this is a non issue since I don’t often use my notebook in an area where this would be a problem. And might I remind you that many of us Apple users have been carrying around an LCD covered by a piece of glass (iPhone) in our pockets for the past year or so and it hasn’t been that much of a problem. I could still see this being a minor headache for some, but you’ve probably made up your mind already. Still, you can adjust the screen’s position with more freedom than previous generations. Plus, the viewing angle is pretty good, so if you do need to adjust for some reflection issues, the picture won’t wash out or go negative on you. This is unlike my old white MacBook, so you can imagine that I’m used to less than this machine has to offer. As a result, this and other features just blow me away.
Remember how I said the new MacBook Pro is all about discovery? Well, here comes discovery number one; the default brightness for the machine is not full brightness. I suppose I should have guessed this. In fact, it’s closer to half. But the kicker is that coming from a previous generation MacBook, I didn’t notice. After about an hour of playing around, I decided to make sure the brightness was all the way up. My jaw dropped as I squinted into the light. This thing is so bright! It’s by far the most beautiful notebook screen I’ve seen, and makes watching HD video a true pleasure. The black levels are great, the viewing angle is good, and the brightness…oh the brightness. What can I say? It’s a huge improvement over the old MacBook, and I love it.
Now one of the most obvious physical differences between MacBooks and MacBook Pros are the speakers. The speakers on the MacBook Pro get some case space to the sides of the keyboard. Again, I’m used to having a hard time hearing the old speakers over pretty much anything. Even maxed out, my old MacBook speakers struggled to top some of the louder ambient noises that occupy my everyday life. Discovery number two. I was testing out the sound on the machine by playing some music, which sounded pretty good. This time I was ready for the surprise. Yup, the speakers were also not set anywhere near their top output. Not only is this guy bright, he’s loud too. This is actually a huge upgrade for me, since someone around me spends copious amounts of time vacuuming…you know who you are. The surprising thing is that I can actually hear the sound over the roar of a standard vacuum cleaner. Now, notebooks aren’t known for having the best sound around, but these are actually pretty decent. It’s safe to say that no one is throwing out their Bose speakers, but they make me happy.