Put the 2010 15in MacBook Pro next to last year’s model and you’d be hard-pressed to see any difference. But put on your x-ray specs and peer through the aluminium unibody chassis and… well, you’d still be hard-pressed to see much difference. Unless you can tell the difference between Core 2 Duo and Intel Core i5 (or i7, depending on your budget) chipsets.
Switch it on, though, and you’ll notice the difference straight away: this is one nippy little customer. Boot-up into Mac OS X 10.6 Snow Leopard is as quick as you like, and once you’re in the user experience is slick, fast and intuitive – just as a Mac should be.
Turn it off and close the lid and if you’re anything like Stuff’s art editor, you’ll comment at length on the ‘nice action’ of the magnetic latch.
It goes on and on and on and…
Headline news on this model is battery life – Apple claims eight to nine hours from a single charge, and this was borne out during testing.
We managed to play a full-length DVD two and a half times before it conked out – and Spotify streaming via Airfoil just went on and on. We reckon you’d be able to watch two movies and do some work on a flight from London to New York, and the MacBook would still be going when you landed.
This longevity is partly down to some clever graphics-switching tech: if you’re performing normal laptoppy tasks, the MacBook Pro uses its bog-standard Intel HD graphics processor on the main chip. Do something that requires heavy graphics lifting and it switches to a separate super-fast Nvidia GeForce GT 330M powerhouse. Nifty.
The 1440x900 pixel screen’s another eye-catcher. Available in either glossy or anti-glare finishes, it’s a vibrant, pin-sharp affair.
There’s also a hi-res (£80-£120 extra) option available, which bumps up the resolution to a massive 1680x1050 pixels. We’d be wary of going for this unless you’re eyesight’s pin-sharp though, as it will reduce text size.
Hi-def but no Blu-ray
Which brings us on to our first gripe – while having all that resolution is all well and good if you’re a video- or photo-editing type, or you download a lot of hi-def content from the web, there’s no Blu-ray drive to take advantage of it for the rest of us. At this price – and in this day and age – we’d expect that to at least be a spec option.
And while we’re moaning, why is there no USB socket on the right-hand side of the machine? Makes plugging in and using a wired a mouse a bit of a chore. There’s no Firewire 400 either, but we can just about live with that.
Many fingers make light work
In use we’ve no real complaints. The multi-touch trackpad lets you pinch, swipe, prod and twizzle all over the place, and now features inertial scrolling (using two fingers) for more natural control over windows – a nice touch.
Apart from the weirdness of having no right-hand USB port, there’s a pretty full complement of connections – including Gigabit Ethernet, Firewire 800, two USB 2.0 sockets, audio line-in and out (which also works with 5.1 systems) and an SD card slot for file transfer.
In short, we’re happy – it’s mostly an under-the-hood update, to be sure, but this machine has been given a new lease of life. Just get that Blu-ray support and irksome connectivity sorted, Apple, and the MacBook Pro would be close to perfect.