Neowin Reviews: Apple MacBook Pro, late 2008

On October 14, Apple refreshed its notebook line, redesigning their MacBook and MacBook Pro lines completely. Among the biggest new additions touted were a "precision aluminum unibody enclosure" (a fancy way of saying the bulk the enclosure is one part), upgraded internal hardware, and a new glass, buttonless trackpad as the biggest new additions. I had been planning on replacing my older MacBook Pro for a while before that, and this seemed like the perfect opportunity. And so, we present to you, Neowin's review of Apple's new MacBook Pro.

Please note, comments are disabled until the last page.

Unboxing



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Apple did a very nice job with the box for their new MacBooks. Once you open the very efficiently designed packaging, you're greeted by a small tab, underneath which sits the machine itself. Pulling on the tab slightly removes the laptop from its holder just enough to slip in and pull it out. Apple wrapped the laptop in a translucent plastic, presumably to protect it.
Under the laptop is another layer of equipment, including: a box which holds the manual, recovery CDs, and warranty information, the power cable, and (if requested), the adapters for their mini DisplayPort. Also included is an extension for the power cord, which you'd be insane not to use: the default cable doesn't move very far, and I'd much rather have the power brick sit on the floor rather than hanging off my power bar. To use it, simply remove the adapter originally connected (it's the same kind as you would see on an iPod power adapter, and I'm pretty sure that if you have the iPod traveler's kit, you can use those adapters in other countries), and slide on the extension. It just about doubles the length of the cord.

One thing that disappointed me a little bit during the ordering of the laptop was that Apple does not include the DisplayPort adapters: rather, you must pay $31 for each one. Now, this was fairly standard before, but with these laptops, Apple is implementing a new standard that hasn't really caught on yet. So adapters are a must, and many, if not most, people will hook up to an external screen at one point or another, be it an external monitor or a projector. This is a Pro laptop: the least you could do is include the Pro accessories that I will undoubtedly use at some point. Regardless, I coughed up the $62 for the adapters, and can now plug into a VGA or DVI screen effortlessly.

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27 Comments

Commenting is disabled on this article.

Two words (for some reason no one thinks of this...) Gigabit Ethernet. If your previous laptop is a MacBook, it probably had Gigabit. The new ones all do. A simple short Cat 5 network cable is all you need to use the migration assistant at speeds with a sustained data throughput close to - and at times faster than - firewire.

Also, while the two graphics processors don't work in tandem under Leopard, that doesn't mean they won't with Snow Leopard. And THAT operating system has been rumored to allow the main CPU to pass processes to the GPU (so perhaps the "unused" GPU could be doing some other hardcore number-crunching...)

I wished Neowin had an option to indicate the number of pages, tell us what's on that page, and let us skip to that page, and indicate comments on every page.

The glass screen is quite durable actually, I am happy they went with it. I have a 3 year old Gateway CX2620 TabletPC with a glass screen, the glass goes to the edge as well and I bend it (to turn it) and put my hands on it all the time when I write. Hasnt broken or scratched yet. Though watch the edges, dust somehow is able to get in, even if it looks fully enclosed.

I used one of the new ones in our local Apple Store. They are simply amazing. The trackpad was a little hard to get used to as it will require more effort to press. When I tried to double click, I would only single click. I prefer the tap method though.

Also, I have the Eve icon for Adium too.

My biggest problem with this otherwise lovely laptop is it's relatively low resolution screen. I mean this is touted as a 'pro' machine, yet it's screen is only 1440x900. It's not HD compatible. I do a lot of video editing on my laptop, and I need a resolution of at least 1680x1050 to work comfortably. It is almost criminal that apple harp on about 2 video cards, top end specs etc etc, then supply such a weak screen resolution. It has stopped me ever considering switching from a Windows based laptop to a Mac.

They should refresh the 17" version at some point, which will meet your needs.

Personally, I would hate to have 1680x1050 on a 15" screen.

bmaher said,
They should refresh the 17" version at some point, which will meet your needs.

Personally, I would hate to have 1680x1050 on a 15" screen.


1680x1050 on my 15" screen from a DELL laptop that is 5 yo. /sigh @ Apple

1680x1050 @ 15.4" on my dell is perfect...i couldn't and wouldn't go any lower...the screen on my 3 year old dell is much better than half the new lappy screens out there...brighter and higher res.

Something to note is that you can use a standard Ethernet or crossover cable to transfer files using the migration assistant. This can either be connected directly from one computer to the other or via a router. (yes you can connect the two computers together via a standard Ethernet cable without a router)

I was about to point this out, but you beat me to it.

And about FireWire 800: I can hardly find any devices that still use FireWire 400, especially external drives. Every external drive I've seen with FireWire in the past few years have had 2 FireWire 800 ports, and sometimes a FireWire 400 port. Sadly I have an early 2006 iMac with only FireWire 400 ports, but one of my external drives conveniently came with a 400-to-800 cable, so now I can daisy-chain all the drives that have two FW800 ports.

bdfortin said,
And about FireWire 800: I can hardly find any devices that still use FireWire 400, especially external drives. Every external drive I've seen with FireWire in the past few years have had 2 FireWire 800 ports, and sometimes a FireWire 400 port. Sadly I have an early 2006 iMac with only FireWire 400 ports, but one of my external drives conveniently came with a 400-to-800 cable, so now I can daisy-chain all the drives that have two FW800 ports.

If you're buying external drives alone, then I'm inclined to agree - nearly all that I've seen come with two Firewire 800 ports and a Firewire 400 port. If you're trying to build your own external drives it's another story. Take a look on Newegg for external enclosures that support Firewire. The slim few that have Firewire 800 ports are double (or more) the cost of those that have Firewire 400 and no Firewire 800 ports. The fact that Firewire 400 to 800 cables exists doesn't make this terribly outrageous, but it's disappointing that they dropped Firewire 400 from the Macbook Pro.

Arguably, it's even worse that they cut Firewire out of the Macbooks entirely. Unless Target Disk Mode can work through ethernet now...

The two graphics cards absolutely baffle me. I guess nVidia couldn't make a 9600M with power saving features as strong as the 9400M?

Is it true that if your keyboard gets messed up its a major replacement? The machine does look really nice though.

wow, nice system. hopefully it brings you lots of enjoyment I saw the videos from apple.com and i'm deifnitely jealous of you!

Sorry in advance for the quality of the photos: it's late here, and I wanted to get this out, but I think I forgot to bring the ISO down from a very high setting. So everything is grainy and bright.

I didn't have an issue with the ISO, I had a problem with your aperture settings. If you're doing a product review and you're trying to show us detail, turn up the aperture to give a less shallow depth of field (use something between F6 to F11, depending on the sensor type of your camera). Using an extremely shallow depth of field is great for advertisements and attempting to inspire intrigue and show something in an artistic manner, but when you're trying to show us, say, the hinge, and we can barely see an inch of it clearly before the depth of field drops off, it's not very effective.

Otherwise, nicely done.

Yeah, that was a big problem also. Everything would've turned out a lot better had I been able to take the pictures during daylight. For example, these pictures of my time capsule, that I intended to put to use, were much nicer. This lens is also much different for me, ramble ramble.

Lessons learned, I suppose. I'm sure I'll have another chance to redeem myself