The new Apple MacBook Pro is 17" of all new system architecture, but at what price? Every single benchmark I’ve seen rates applications using the Apple ‘Rosetta’ dynamic software translation technology as running slower than they do on PowerPC based Macs. A lot slower. How about Photoshop CS2 being 50% faster to complete benchmarking tests on a 12" PowerBook compared to the 2.16GHz MacBook Pro for example? If ‘legacy’ apps, yet to be updated to function fully on the Intel driven platform, are truly important to you then the harsh truth is that you’d be best advised to hang fire until they have been. You might even save some money as the MacBook Pro might have been discounted by then. Currently Apple will sell you one for $2799.
On the other hand, if you are using software that has been Intel optimized, such as all the standard iLife 2006 apps, then there really is little reason not to be excited about what is quite possibly the best mobile Mac yet. The infra-red remote control for the multimedia management software is neat, as is the Apple invented MagSafe magnetic power connector that will detach rather than pitch your MacBook off the desk if the power cable is snagged. The addition of the Apple Sudden Motion Sensor, designed to protect the hard drive if it does fall, brings even more peace of mind.
The dual processing core powered MacBook Pro is, fittingly, more than twice as fast a 1.67GHz PowerBook G4 – although the claimed ‘up to five times faster’ is pushing it a bit. It’s slimmer as well (just 2.59cm), has a brighter screen (67% more so according to Apple) and there’s even a webcam built, Sony sub-notebook style, into the uppermost bezel. I should point out that not everyone is going to like the brightness of the screen as it comes at the expense of glare. Gone is the standard Apple anti-glare coating, replaced by a glossy finish which is very reflective. The upside is evident in the crispness of colors, especially the deep blacks and bright whites, but the reflective glare takes some getting used to. Not so the ATI Mobility Radeon X1600 graphics processor with dual link DVI support and 256MB of GDDR3, powering the widescreen format display, what’s not to like about that? Especially when it simultaneously supports full native resolution (1680 x 1050) on the built-in display and up to 2560 x 1600 pixels on an external display, both at millions of colors.
The tech specs are just as impressive throughout: 2Mb of on-chip L2 cache running 1:1 with processor speed, a 667MHz frontside bus, 1GB of PC2-5300 DDR2 RAM, 120GB 5400-rpm Serial ATA hard drive, 8x Slot-loading SuperDrive (DVD+R DL/DVD±RW/CD-RW), built-in 54Mbps Airport Extreme WiFi, enhanced data rate Bluetooth 2, and 10/100/1000Base-T Gigabit Ethernet. Hold on, I’ve not finished yet. There’s also a FireWire 400 and a FireWire 800 port, no less than three 480Mbps USB 2 ports and an ExpressCard/34 slot. Add the 68-watt-hour lithium-polymer battery, the integrated charge indicator LEDs are really very cool indeed, which keeps it all going for up to 5 hours, and you’ve got a very impressive package indeed. With a 15.4 x 10.4 inch footprint, and weighing 6.8 pounds with both battery and optical drive installed, the MacBook Pro is a heavyweight only in performance terms.