“On Friday I received one of the first 15.4in MacBook Pros to be given to any journalist. I’ve been buzzing ever since,” Tom Dunmore writes for Stuff Magazine. “The 1440×900-pixel screen is particularly impressive: it looks brighter than my G5 iMac’s LCD, although to get the best out of it you need to be seated directly in front of the display. It’s not that the viewing angle is awful; it’s just much dimmer when you’re viewing from the side or above. Still, as I type this I’m working in direct sunlight without any problem.”

“Of course, the real difference between the MacBook and its Powerbook predecessor lies beneath the tastefully brushed aluminium exterior; for inside this new machine is an Intel Core Duo processor, running at 2GHz,” Dunmore writes. “The MacBook certainly runs at a blistering pace: boot time, for example, is under 30 seconds… In standard use, the MacBook performed snappily – no spinning ‘beachballs of death’ to report, and the Safari web browser launched instantaneously. iTunes flies through CD rips at around 15x-20x playback speed (in high performance mode) and you can seamlessly scroll through thousands of snaps in iPhoto without the slightest glitch. Of course, Apple’s consumer software has been rewritten for the Intel chips, but most third party software is not yet ‘Universal’ (optimised to run on both old PowerPCs and new Intels). This makes no difference in productivity apps like Microsoft Office, but Photoshop runs at around half the speed of a G5 desktop, and Final Cut Express feels a little slow. Both are perfectly useable, though – and still run significantly faster than on my two-year-old 867MHz G4 Powerbook.”

“On its first full charge, with a lot of disc spinning and installation going all, the MacBook Pro managed to survive for just over two and a half hours. And that was after choosing ‘better battery life’ from the battery drop-down on the menu bar (the other options are ‘better performance’ or ‘normal’). Full recharge – while the MacBook was being used – took about 90 minutes,” Dunmore writes. “The MacBook Pro does nothing to damage Apple’s appeal as a status symbol. But nor does it mark a great leap forward for the brand – the design is the familiar, as are the functions. Battery life is acceptable. Performance is roaring with Universal applications, but less so with unoptimised software… For now, all I know is that Apple’s going to have to send the heavies around if it expects to get this particular MacBook back… If you’re after a drop-dead gorgeous laptop that runs consumer applications brilliantly, that excels in entertainment and productivity software, and that’s truly future-proofed, then it’s worth joining the queue.”

Full article here.

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