Ars Technica: Apple MacBook Pro ‘an extremely solid machine, an important step forward’

Ars Techinca has reviewed Apple’s MacBook Pro in their usual comprehensive fashion. Some snippets:

“In addition to the keyboard backlight, OS X also has the option (enabled by default) to also adjust screen brightness automatically depending on ambient light conditions. This, at first, seemed equally as awesome as the automatic keyboard backlight adjustments, until I was sitting in bed last night typing up this review while cats and other resident humans were circling around me causing ever-so-slight shadows here and there—enough to have my screen brightness be automatically dimming and lighting again every few seconds. Needless to say, this got to be obnoxious rather quickly and I opted to turn it off in the System Preferences. It saddened me a bit, but it had to be done. I wish there was a sensitivity slider for the ambient light sensors so that such a subtle difference in lighting wouldn’t have my screen brightness going up and down like a speaker system display,” Jacqui Cheng writes for Ars Technica. “While on the topic of screens, the display on the MacBook Pro is nothing less than stellar. It’s extremely bright, crisp, and the colors look great while still staying true to the Mac color profile. Unfortunately, it has 60 fewer pixels of vertical resolution than its predecessor, running at 1440×900 instead of 1440×960. An quick test of Pixel Tester 2.11 made sure that I had no dead pixels, much to my delight! LCD nitpickers, I believe, will be pleased with the brightness of the screen; however for my sensitive eyes, I usually run it on the lowest or second-to-lowest brightness notch for the large majority of my everyday use.”

“I ran three battery life tests from full 100% charge down to 0% charge with constant use, no sleeping, at the second-dimmest (hey, that’s average use for me!) screen brightness, but with everything else set to default computer settings (AirPort on, Bluetooth on, etc.),” Cheng writes. “I have mixed feelings on the results. On one hand, an average time of 3 hours and 17 minutes is not necessarily bad (in fact, many of my PC-laptop-using friends were still jealous to hear even this number). However, it’s not as good as it could have been. I had been hoping for an average of 3:30 (even though I did hit that mark once), as I frequently got 3:30 or even up to 4 hours on my old 15″ PowerBook and my 12″ iBook.”

“OS X, as you can expect, feels extremely (X-TREMEly?) fast on the MacBook Pro—certainly much faster than I, as a longtime Mac user, am used to on a Mac. Most apps, such as Safari, Mail, and iTunes launch in between a half a bounce to one full bounce. System Profiler, which typically takes about 800 years to launch on a G4 machine, comes up instantaneously. iPhoto scrolls ridiculously fast, even with a library full of around 2,000 8MB photographs,” Cheng writes. “Spotlight certainly finds things much quicker than my dual G4 tower, and all is right with the world. The slowdown begins when you start trying to mess with Rosetta apps, which shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone. Photoshop is perfectly usable, but not in any way up to the speed it could be running at if it were in Universal Binary.”

“All in all, the MacBook Pro is an extremely solid machine that makes me happy to be back in the Apple Pro notebook world after a six month hiatus in 12″ iBook-land. The Intel switch has been an important step forward for Apple in general, but particularly for ensuring that its pro lines of hardware keep moving forward, technology-wise, and at a competitive rate. Unfortunately, however, most pro software is not yet available in Universal Binary and is not expected to be for a little while (Adobe is estimating sometime in 2007, for example), but Rosetta is usable enough to get by in the interim if you don’t mind the performance hit,” Cheng writes.

Full article, a must-read if you’re thinking about getting a new MacBook pro, here.

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Related MacDailyNews articles:
Mossberg: Apple’s MacBook Pro gives users a ‘much better OS with vastly better built-in software’ – March 02, 2006
New York Times’ Pogue: Apples MacBook Pro a ‘beautifully engineered, forward-thinking laptop’ – March 01, 2006
Apple MacBook Pro a ‘drop-dead gorgeous laptop’ – February 27, 2006
Macworld posts Apple MacBook Pro 2.0GHz first lab tests – February 22, 2006
Apple PowerBook G4 1.5GHz vs. MacBook Pro 2.0Ghz Adobe Photoshop benchmarks – February 22, 2006
Apple begins shipping MacBook Pro notebook computers with faster 2.16 GHz Intel Core Duo processors – February 14, 2006
Adobe: no native Intel Mac support until 2007; Photoshop could be 14 months away – February 01, 2006
Computerworld: Apple’s MacBook Pro ‘fast, really fast – looks like a real winner’ – January 28, 2006
Analyst: Apple seeing strong sales of iMac Core Duo, MacBook Pro, 5th generation iPod – January 25, 2006
Apple: expect MacBook Pro shortages – January 19, 2006
Use the ExpressCard slot to add FireWire 800 to Apple’s new MacBook Pro – January 15, 2006
Apple MacBook Pro, ExpressCard and EVDO – January 14, 2006
Apple introduces MacBook Pro; up to four times faster than PowerBook G4 – January 10, 2006


  1. Rememeber when looking at the X-Bench 2.1 scores, they are based upon a Dual processor 2 Ghz G5 PowerMac at baseline of 100 per score.

    So with a score like 60, basically the Mac Book Pro isn’t much to write home about performance wise, it doesn’t even come close to a two year old PowerMac at 100.

    It might not even run Quake 4, but a two year old DP PowerMac G5 will.

    For a $3000 or so investment, a Quad is a much much much better price for longterm performance deal than a MacBook Pro, less fragile, more upgradable, bigger screen etc.

    If portability is a must, a small cheap laptop will do the job and not much sweat if it’s lost, stolen or dropped. Heck even a Palm/Treo may do.

    I see so many Mac users who have turned their Powerbooks into desktop machines literally because they were so busy showing off their new toy to others and when that wore out, wound up chaining the thing to a desk with expensive external hardware and watch beachballs kill their productivity.

    Buy a Quad, then a cheap laptop. Best combination. RAID 0 the boot drive of the Quad with a couple of 150GB RaptorX’s (Quad only, 74GB Raptors for other PowerMac’s)

    Laptop hard drives are slow pigs, which makes Mac OS X a slow pig.

  2. Yeah, macdude. Instead of spending $3000 for an all rounder, you would advocate spending $5000 and waste a lot of time synchronising stuff between the two. Great advice, insn’t it?

  3. I’m just trying to warn ye, I had laptops for years and every two years dropped another $2500 or so on a new Powerbook.

    Since getting a PowerMac, I realized what a complete utter fool I was buying those laptops when only a very small amount of the time did I actually take it somewhere.

    Of course there was the time that somebody tripped over a cord and the Powerbook G3 went flying and smashed to bits only a week after I had it.

    Then there was the replacement that melted and warped because it was forgotten on the passenger seat.

    Forget laptops. Trust me.

  4. Then of course is the way you look to others sitting there tapping away on your laptop, ignoring healthy human conversation.

    It’s totally pathetic to watch, no wonder geeks get picked on in school.

    I see these morons who come on vacation and are sitting there with their laptops, ignoring the pretty girls, people having fun right outside their window.

    It’s so pathetic it’s sick.

    Most people I know don’t admit they have a computer, or if they do, sort of shrug it off quickly. It’s because they don’t want to appear pathetic. To show that they have a life other than computers. Not like sick folks here who regergatate the same Apple rethoric over and over again.


  5. Hey MacDude!

    You got a photo of you watching a movie on a transcontinental flight on that PPC Quad?

    I’ll make a donation to MDN if you send it in and MDN posts it.

    I need a good laugh today.

  6. Yet another slow, overpriced computer from Apple. Just how long do the users have to wait before they can use their computer at full speed? It is insane that Apple is forcing users to work with slow computers that have security problems with no compensation. It is unfortunate that Apple users have to wait until 2007 before their apps get faster. However, for those that want to save money and have their apps run at full speed now can purchase an intel computer from HP, Dell, IBM, or any other source with fast, safe, and secure Windows XP.

    Good thing for Steve Jobs there are so many Apple suckers around.

  7. I’ll admit that adding user control to the ambient light sensor response logic sounds like a good idea.

    However, the real “problem” wasn’t with the ambient light sensor, it was with the cats. I strongly suspect that putting the cats in another room would have solved the ambient light problem and would help keep the cat hair out of the keyboard, too. The next thing you know this guy will complain because his Macbook Pro shorted out because he used it while taking a bath or going scuba diving.

  8. Mac Realist – come clean with your PC alternative to this “slow, overpriced computer from Apple” that uses a 2 GHz Intel Core Duo. Provide dimensions, weight, performance (SpecMark will be fine), battery life, features and cost. With respect to Universal Binaries, most apps will be around sooner than later (M$ being one notable loser exception). Of course, what should we expect from a company that has taken so long to almost release XP SP3 (I mean Vista). They named it “view” for a reason – you can only see it, not actually use it.

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