Jason Snell is one of the lucky ones who have already been able to get their hands on the new MacBook and MacBook Pro and in his analysis for Macworld we found some really interesting details that we had overlooked until now. Below you’ll find a fairly free translation with a summary of the most important. If you are considering getting one of these laptops, you can’t miss it…
The Look and Feel
The big differences between the MacBook and MacBook Pro lines have disappeared with this update. MacBook looks like the 13-inch version of the 15-inch MacBook Pro with the same black keyboard introduced in MacBook Air. Actually, the only difference is the larger area on either side of the keyboard with the Pro’s speakers. In your hand, both feel firm and resilient despite their light weight.
At first glance the screens of both models seem very similar (and also to that of the Air). The LED backlight is remarkably bright making these laptops very convenient even in broad daylight. So much so that the (mandatory) presence of a Glossy display doesn’t become that critical.
The new manufacturing process used by Apple makes the holes in the MacBook Pro speakers much thinner, but the holes in the MacBook speakers remain virtually intact so that the sound bounces off the screen. In general, we can say that the speakers sound more or less the same (for better or worse) than those of past generations.
Although the old Pro model had most of its ports on the left side, some were placed on the right side. Now, the MacBook Pro joins the MacBook lineup to leave them all together on one side . Both use the same previous-generation MagSafe power connector (different from the slightly redesigned Air to fit its unique shape), an Ethernet port, two USB 2.0 ports, audio input and output, and the new Mini DisplayPort . As we have seen in Apple, the DisplayPort is an emerging new video standard that competes with HDMI, however, Apple has been the first to use a “mini” version of it, being unclear at this point if it is a proprietary variation developed by Apple itself or something we will see in other computers and displays to come. At the moment there are DVI and VGA adapters so you can still use your old displays without problems.
In addition to the ports shared by both models, the MacBook Pro has a single port FireWire 800 (compatible with FireWire 400 via an adapter) and one ExpressCard slot hidden behind an aluminum cover. Both models have the SuperDrive on the right side (the old MacBook Pro had it in front) and yes, the MacBook joins the Air in offering no FireWire connectivity at all (very bad).
One of the most vaunted features of the new laptops is their buttonless glass trackpad (the trackpad itself is clickable). Although it’s a bit puzzling at first, it’s very easy to use by moving the cursor with your index finger while you click with your big finger . The trackpad is sufficiently advanced not to be confused with the presence of both fingers on it at the same time.
The trackpad is painted in the same colour as the aluminium body and although it’s softer than the old school ones, the feeling of moving your fingers around it is a bit disconcerting: there’s friction but you hardly feel any texture and it definitely doesn’t feel like you’re touching a glass panel.
In addition to the old gestures supported by the previous multi-touch trackpads, some new ones have been added with up to four fingers (move them up and the desktop will be displayed, move them down and Expose will be displayed) The new preference pane allows you to activate the right button to differentiate between one corner or another when clicking so the trackpad without buttons is actually a trackpad with two hidden buttons underneath it (too bad it doesn’t support “mapping” additional buttons).
At 2.04kg, the new MacBook is slightly lighter than the previous version which, together with the features that until recently were exclusive to the Pro, will make many who were considering buying the Air think twice even though it is still lighter (1.36kg). As for the MacBook Pro , it definitely hasn’t followed the same diet as its little brother and is somewhat heavier than the previous model, although not heavy enough to be really appreciated.
The new MacBook Pro includes the same energy-efficient NVIDIA GeForce 9400M graphics found in the MacBook and MacBook Air, but it also features a much faster and more powerful GeForce 9600M GT. As WhisKiTo mentioned, to switch from one card to another we have to enter the Economizer panel of the System Preferences (watch out for the new icon with an energy saving bulb ) and choose between “Best Runtime” (9400M) or “Best Performance” (9600M GT). Unfortunately, the change requires logging out of Mac OS X which makes the process a little less smooth than we would like.