2008.09.28 - 2008.11.04
Well, I never thought I'd own, but through an odd sequence of events I am writing this on my new MacBook Pro. The specs are as follows:
This is a very nice machine. The retail price for it when new was $1999CDN, making it a very high-end machine. Luckily for me, I was able to snag it for $945+$279 for AppleCare. This was a screaming deal, but it did come with broken wireless that I had to fix.
This is my fourth Apple laptop. So far I have owned a 12" iBook, 12" PowerBook, 13" first-gen MacBook and now this 15" MacBook Pro. I'm not a big fan of this type of larger machine, but I still feel that Apple still doesn't have a model to replace my old 12" PowerBook. For me, it was a perfect blend of form and function. Alas, it is five years old now and I left it quite a while ago. I'm still not terribly pleased with Apple's Intel transition but there's no denying that these machines are much faster than the old G4 PowerBook line.
Back to the MacBook Pro. I've decided on a two-laptop setup: My much-loved HP 2133 Mini-Note for a nice, small, flexible day-to-day machine and the 15" MacBook Pro for home and for when I need a powerful, no compromise computer.
The MacBook Pro is a lovely machine, with a great high-res 1440x900 display. Graphics are handled ably by an Nvidia 8600m. This is by far the fastest computer in my collection. The stock system came with a paltry 120GB drive. Thankfully, Computer Depot slipped in a new drive when the machine was in for the wireless repair, so my model now has 4GB of RAM and a 320GB 7200 RPM hard drive. It flies.
Of course, the build-quality is spectacular. Given the size if the machine, I would have thought that there would be room for more ports. The MacBook Pro has but two USB ports, a FW400, FW800, DVI, ExpressCard slot and the DVDRW. Most of the right-hand side is empty. There certainly would have been room for a very welcome extra USB port. I also greatly wish that Apple would concede and add support for SD cards. (While I'm wishing, why not throw in eSATA, though I doubt that will ever happen.) Sadly, Apple seems intent on removing ports, not adding them, so these changes are unlikely.
The keyboard is even nicer than my HP Mini-Note, though I sorely miss the insert key. The automatic backlight is fantastic and is the one thing that I felt was missing from my 12" PowerBook. It's great to finally have this.
I get a very solid 5 hours of battery life under normal use. Of course, I tend to run with screen brightness down and not doing too much in the way of CPU-intensive activities. (Flash, DVD playback, games etc. all negatively affect battery life, of course.) The battery life under OSX is significantly better than under XP. The machine is also faster to wake from sleep. These are not terribly surprising results.
The bottom line is that this is an expensive but fantastic machine. It could easily be your only PC but it's not small or particularly light. I wouldn't recommend one unless you wanted Mac OSX, there are far cheaper PCs out there with more bells and whistles. Compared to the new MacBooks and MacBook Pros, I still prefer this one. The 8600 video card is about the same on benchmarks as the new 9600, and because of the better battery in this machine, the older MacBook Pros get an hour more of battery life than the new ones. On top of this, you get a FW400 port and, most importantly to me, a matte screen. Comparing to the MacBook, you can still pick up one of these low-end last-gen MacBook Pros for about $1600, which isn't much more expensive than the new high-end MacBooks. Honestly, I think this is a better option. Again, you get better battery life, more ports, not much more weight and better graphics performance.
To me, the new MacBooks are an improvement over the old MacBooks, but the old MacBook Pros are a better bet than either. This is especially true if you can snag one for the price that I managed. (Unlikely, I know. Sorry.)