MacBook Pro Core 2 Duo Review

It’s been a little over a week since I got the new MacBook Pro Core 2 Duo. During these days, I’ve been using it daily, testing each one of its features to comment a little bit on my “first impressions” about the new Apple laptop. Packaging and documentation

As always, the Apple product boxes are designed in a simple and useful way: Protected by corks and thanks to a very simple opening, the first thing we see is a small box with the documentation, the cables and the remote control. When we discover a second cork cover, we find the laptop. My first impression was that it was very thin, protected inside a soft paper envelope and closed with a label.

MacBook Pro Core 2 Duo Review
MacBook Pro Core 2 Duo Review

The documentation comes in two separate “envelopes”. In one it says “All about the Mac”, where Apple updates us on what a Mac is, a basic use of the laptop and the operating system. All in perfect Spanish, with images and very well explained, without great complications.

In the other envelope it says “Everything else”: we will find the two Tiger installation discs and some warranty documentation.

Exterior design

The laptop comes with Mac OS X installed and updated to version 10.4.8, so I didn’t have to install anything else. I just put my data in the customization process and everything was ready to use.

The latest version of iLife (the 06) is already installed, as well as programs as amazing as Comic Life, to create comics with our photos. To check that the iSight works, I launched Photobooth, and I was really impressed by the quality of the camera for something so small and embedded in the cover. Next to the lens is a laser-microperforated LED on the aluminum, which makes it so that when the camera is off, you don’t know it’s there (it’s totally invisible).

MagSafe, the magnetic battery charging system, is also a very curious: The connector has two light points, which shows the state of charge of the notebook. If we pull it, the connector separates magnetically from the laptop without moving it even a millimeter. To put it back in place, simply move the connector closer to the MagSafe slot and it will automatically dock.

The battery also has indicator lights to show the level of charge in the device, simply by pressing the button next to it, without having to turn on the MacBook Pro. The battery life is also quite good, from about 4 hours to 5 hours with everything activated and working (Bluetooth mouse, AirPort activated and internet browsing)…

Another thing that often makes a good impression is the amazing backlit keyboard that works via an ambient sensor: When the room light is reduced, the laptop keyboard is backlit with white light.

Heat, noise and stuff

What I have been most concerned about is the level of heat and noise from the laptop, which presented problems at the first review. I installed the CoreDuoTemp to know the temperature of the processor, and in normal state, it tells me that it is between 39º and 45º, depending on what we do. Remember that this is the temperature in the core of the processor, not in the case of the laptop, which is kept at an absolutely normal level with this temperature. The area that heats up the most is the row above the function keys (NOT the function keys, but the space above them), which does heat up (although it doesn’t burn at any time). As an example, I tried the Quake IV to give the laptop a boost. It turns on the internal fans and the heat increases, although as I said, not to alarming levels. As you can see in the image, the temperature after playing the game for half an hour is 55º (I had just left the game, maybe in the middle of the game it will rise about two or three degrees more). The speaker area is a little warmer (but not annoying), and the area above the function keys is quite hot, although I personally think I’ve tried PowerBooks that are hotter than this.

In short: the areas that get hottest are the dissipation areas, where the speakers and the top of the function keys are located. However, I have not noticed alarming temperatures as in the previous review and the heat is acceptable for a laptop of these characteristics. I appreciate how they have treated the heat in this new MacBook Pro.

As for noise, it’s a delight: In normal condition, you can’t hear ANYTHING. Not even close to the ear. After even working all day with him, nothing. Where I live we have warm temperatures, around 20-25 degrees. The fans are activated, for example, by playing Quake IV, and you can hear them (of course) but very little and light years away from desktop computers or other laptops that look like old washing machines. An excellent job, of course, of heat dissipation and noise level.

Negative points

As “upgradeable” things, I would ask Apple for a bigger Enter key, a DELETE button instead of the useless Enter button next to the right apple… and I don’t know what else. The system works amazingly well (normal, for a 2.33Ghz Core 2 Duo with 2GB), and I have had absolutely no problems with it in this first week. I have installed Parallels to test Windows XP and Windows Vista and they went perfect. Windows XP works almost in real time and Windows Vista almost as well, although the graphical acceleration is not activated because you know that Parallels does not have drivers for it. Conclusion

I love my new laptop… I really think it’s a machine marvel, and that the combination of Apple hardware and software makes for a great laptop to enjoy computing with. Plus, it’s awfully nice… anywhere you take it out you’re sure to get noticed.

If you’re thinking about getting a Mac, and you like the MacBook Pro… take a look at this new machine: you won’t regret it.

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