New Macbook and Macbook Pro review of reviews

While everyone’s getting excited about whether or not the iPhone 5 is due to appear very soon, or whether it might just be a white version of the iPhone 4, and the rest of the Mac fans are immersed in the excitement of the iPad 2, don’t forget that Apple has also just released a new MacBook and MacBook Pro.


Under the shiny hood, the Core 2 Duos and Nehalem processors of their predecessors have been replaced by Intel’s Sandy Bridge Core i5 and Core i7. In the 15″ and 17″ MacBook Pros, these chips have four cores, the 13″ has either a dual-core i5 or a dual-core i7.

Over at Ars Technica Jonathan M Gitlin had all but decided he’d never need another MacBook with a shiny new iPad on his desk, but… “I had no plans to upgrade, but then fate did its thing and I ended up walking out of a well-known big box retailer with a shiny new 13″ i7 MacBook Pro.”

As well as the unibody design and the now included card reader he also explains the new Thunderbolt connection:

“The interconnect will eventually leverage the bandwidth potential of fibre optics rather than copper to allow data speeds of 100 Gb/s. For now, since Apple has implemented it using the same port design as mini DisplayPort, we’ll have to settle for copper cables and a mere 10 Gb/s, if you can call that settling.”

At MacWorld, James Galbraith also pointed out how the webcam has been upgraded:

“new integrated webcam called FaceTime HD, which replaces the iSight Webcam found in the older MacBook Pros… There was a noticeable difference in image quality between the FaceTime HD webcam and an iSight webcam in last year’s MacBook Pro. When we held up a document to each camera, the text was much easier to read on the high-resolution image transmitted from the new MacBook Pro.”

But Tech Radar wasn’t blown away by it: “It’s a bit underwhelming, to be honest. For a start, the call doesn’t come in at HD resolution for the person you’re calling by default (even if they’re on a compatible Mac), and there’s no option to automatically enlarge, unless you go fullscreen. But the actual quality of the video isn’t really any better, on balance.

Both the MacBook and MacBook Pro are made from the same unibody construction design, which creates a far more solid-feeling laptop. In fact the chaps at Gizmodo surprised themselves by being able to review the two side by side: “From the glass-bezel screen to the front side bus, these computers finally deserve to share the name MacBook. They’re brothers, one a pro, the other a vastly accomplished amateur.”

Over at PC Pro, David Bayon hails the MacBook Pro as a ‘magnificent piece of hardware’ and explains why the 13in is his favourite of the new releases: “Of the three new models, it’s the MacBook Pro 13in that’s sure to elicit most interest from the Apple-curious mainstream. That’s partly due to its beautiful design – now with much faster components inside – but it’s just as likely to be down to its price. Starting at £999 inc VAT, it’s at least approaching affordability.”
Matt Wartman at the Telegraph seems to be equally enamoured with the machines, saying: “Apple’s new MacBook Pro line is extremely powerful and beautifully designed. It’s a desktop replacement for professionals.” And what has impressed him most is the processor upgrade:

“The processor upgrades, some to Intel’s top-of-the range i7 models, will make a difference to every consumer: upload a large number of photos or try to edit video and the faster graphics and CPU make their presence felt instantly. Viewing a few hundred images from a good DSLR camera now seems effortless at a decent resolution. Four concurrent video streams is perfectly possible.”?

All well and good, but what about the negatives? Well, battery life has never been one of the standout features of the Apple laptops, and James Galbraith explains the deal with these latest models: “Apple says the MacBook Pro battery should last up to 7 hours. Apple changed the way it tests battery life, so it’s hard to know whether 7 hours represents an improvement over last year’s MacBook Pros. For the old models, Apple claimed up to 10 hours of battery life for the 13in MacBook Pro, and between 8 and 9 hours for the 15- and 17in models.”

At ZDNet, they pointed out the lack of support for Windows XP and Windows Vista. “If you”re running Window XP or Vista on an older Mac and are moving up to one of the new notebooks, then you will have to put a Windows upgrade into your budget.” Personally, I can’t see why you wouldn’t buy a far cheaper Windows laptop if you want to run Windows, but hey, maybe that’s just me.

If you’re tempted, the MacBook starts at prices from £867, the MacBook Pro from £999.