Apple’s biggest notebook has been given the aluminium unibody treatment. But is it still the best 17-incher in town?
The last time we saw this much aluminium was when we hitched a ride on the back of a Land Rover. Not content with treating us to the MacBook’s unibody chassis, Apple has now stretched it to 17 inches with its new MacBook Pro.
While huge, the MacBook Pro 17in is not at all heavy, and even though the price brings tears to our eyes it makes a lot more sense than the 15in model. As pleasant as the smaller version is, it offers little more than the 13inch MacBook for a lot more money. If you're willing to look beyond Macs, Dell, Sony, Acer and Asus all have reasonable competitors in that class.
Add two inches to the screen size, though, and Apple is way out on its own. There's simply no other 17in notebook that does what the MacBook does, nor do any come in as light and attractive a package.
With the whole line-up now complete, it's not an overstatement to say this is Apple's best notebook range ever. Let's recap the common features that make them stand out: there's the strong but light aluminium unibody, the large multitouch trackpad and powerful Core 2 CPUs, which make the desktop as perky and responsive as a Labrador puppy.
And speaking of the desktop, there's nothing to fault in the way it's rendered: the thin, LED-lit screen is as richly coloured and sharp as you could hope for – although it's worth noting some people have had to reinstall the OS to adjust the brightness properly.
Images are sent to the panel by the same dual graphics configuration as the 15in version. There's a low-power GeForce 9400 chip for general work, and a higher power GeForce 9600M for more intensive tasks – but this is still not a solution that we're easy with. For the extra cost and complexity it adds, the battery-saving characteristics of the 9400 are just not worth it.
Incredible battery life
The Pro shares its siblings' other fault too: there's no native support for HDMI, DVI or even DisplayPort – all require an extra adapter to connect here. We could always do with more USB ports and a bit more hard drive space, too, and the battery is – in the best Apple traditions – non-removable.
That latter point, though, is more than made up for by our final piece of praise – and we've saved the best 'til last. The battery life on this machine is astounding. Never less than six hours and often considerably more, it's incredible for a 17in machine.
Apple even claims the battery is designed to last three-times longer than a normal laptop before it starts to fail. Throw in the fact that it has a fairly decent set of speakers and a virtually instant boot time, and there's simply nothing to compare.
Apple MacBook Pro 17in 2009 review
The perfect finish to the new MacBook line-up, the Pro is an unrivalled aluminium powerhouse