Monday, March 27, 2006

MacBook Pro 2GHz - Review

Using a laptop as my main graphics workstation is often both a blessing and a curse. Having the option of closing the lid, walking to the train, opening the lid and picking up where I left off has saved my bacon on so many occasions. It also means that I know longer have to cough up almost £2000 every three years, as I am free to use my laptop at home, installing games, storing my iTunes and iPhoto collection, etc. The curse comes in the form of having to sacrifice a certain amount of processing power for portability. As of last Friday I am no longer cursed!

1. Expectations
The MacBook Pro is as an almost identical form factor to the PowerBook that it replaced, hence all my expectations focused on the three major interior differences, The Intel CPU, Front Row (with remote) and the powerful ATI X1600 GPU. Back in January I read reviews of early Intel Core Duo PCs, they seemed to be able to holded their own against the fastest desktop Athlon based PCs so I was expecting an abundance of raw processing power. FrontRow looked slick and I was keen to see if it would be useful on a laptop. The ATI X1600 is an astonishing GPU for a portable machine, so I was hoping for graphics to rival the XBOX 360!

2. Observations
I’ve been using the 2GHz, 2GB Macbook Pro for just over a week, here are my observations, in chronological order. Please excuse the odd nature and sentence structure of my observations, I literally just added them to the list as they occurred to me . . .

The Universal (Intel optimised) stuff from Apple is very very quick and snappy. iSquint is amazingly fast, as is Handbrake. Great battery life! (3:45). Loading times for most apps is fast. Safari is quick. Build quality is perfect. Fan is very quiet and hardly ever seems to be audible. Strange graphical slowdown for the first few hours (UI). It really does feel like 2 processors, especially when you are running a *intense* app like Acrobat. Very very quiet, “oh so quiet!” DVD playback is the best I’ve ever seen. Usually run with the display at about 80% brightness. Keyboard is very nice, very bright. Apple file transfer app is perfect! Crazy fast DVD ripping. I mean crazy, crazy fast! Finally got Q running and Windows 2000 is running in emulation at about the same speed as a 1GHz PC. Front Row is lovely to use, and I can easily see how Apple could offer a movie and TV show download service using Front Row as a front end. The remote is cute, very Shuffle like. Games look wonderfully detailed, ever PowerPC games running in emulation are faster than my home iMac G5.

3. Conclusions
The MacBook Pro is a wonderful success! It’s the fastest PC I have ever used (I’ve not had the chance to play on a quad core G5) in the most beautifully designed case I have ever seen. The screen is bright and super sharp. Comparing the MacBook Pro to any other laptop is difficult as no other laptop at this level of performance (officially) runs the Mac OS. However early reports from those who have installed Windows XP on the MacBook Pro (something now possible because the MacBook uses the Intel Core Duo) suggest that it could well be the fastest Windows laptop in production too. If the process of installing Windows on a MacBook can be made simple, would there ever be a reason to buy anything other than a MacBook Pro?


At 12:16 pm, Blogger Paul said...

So I take it you like it then!? ;-)

It's got everything that a Laptop needs to have and more. Can't wait to take a look at it.

At 12:34 pm, Blogger James said...

Hehe, yeah I know it is a tad *gushing* but what else can I say, it’s really is that good. I can not think of anything I don’t like about it, not one single thing. All the faults of the PowerBook, the main one being hampered by an old CPU, have been rectified.

At 1:09 pm, Blogger Paul said...

What about the Maglite plug thing?

At 4:43 pm, Blogger James said...

The Magsafe thing? That works very well. In fact, it’s so powerful that you only have to get near the socket and it jumps into place!

At 12:10 pm, Blogger James said...

Here another thing, all the basic everyday Apple apps, Launch in 1 bounce of the dock.

At 2:00 pm, Blogger Paul said...

So how about games...??


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