Objects of Desire: Apple MacBook Pro

June 8, 2010
By Dan Havlik

Objects Mac Book Pro

Ah, here's a product we have little trouble endorsing: Apple's latest refresh of its already excellent MacBook Pro laptop line. The 15-inch and 17-inch models, which are the sizes we recommend for photographers, come with faster Intel Core i5 or i7 processors with noticeably improved overall performance.

In the model we tried out, a 17-incher with the 2.66 GHz i7, we were able to blaze through tasks in Aperture 3, whether it was viewing and editing images, trimming video clips, or exporting files for Web galleries. HD video playback, in particular, was sparkling thanks to the NVIDIA GeForce GT 330M graphics card.

Speaking of graphics cards, these laptops perform a neat trick which reduces power consumption. If you're working on video, for example, the computer will automatically switch to the faster "discrete" NVIDIA card for graphics. And when you're doing something less graphically intense, such as checking e-mail, the laptop will turn to the slower but more energy efficient "integrated" Intel HD Graphics processor. This is a great way to save battery life which Apple rates at eight hours for the 15- and 17-inch models. Truth be told, that's a generous estimate and really just applies to light wireless usage. Expect about four to five hours during a typical photo-editing workout.

The integrated non-removable battery is one area where we have some misgivings about Apple's MacBook Pros. While we understand it was meant to make the laptops sleeker without reducing battery life, it's limiting for heavy users. Also, we haven't had the best experiences with Apple's batteries in the past and the thought of having to send the whole computer in if there's a battery issue gives us chills.

Otherwise, the 17-inch MacBook Pro is a great photo machine. The anti-glare matte screen option (which costs an additional $50) is a must even if you don't expect to be editing photos poolside. We'd also like to recommend the solid-state SSD drive option—they're more durable and read data quicker—but paying an additional $1,300 for a 512GB SSD is just too rich for our blood.

One of our favorite features in the new line won't cost you anything extra. It's called "intertial scrolling" and allows you to gently flick a page with two fingers to automatically scroll though it. Believe us, it really does wonders on 100-page PDFs.

Cost: $2,549 (17-inch model tested)

Further information: www.apple.com

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