1. Great Colour and Contrast on Screen
2. Great Build Quality
3. Amazing Design
4. Amazing Battery Life on Mac OS
5. An SD slot finally
6. Silent and Light
1. Poor connectivity
2. Looks given a priority over ergonomics
3. Poor Windows driver support
4. Gets really hot sometimes
Apple has always been associated with producing sleek, cool and gorgeous range of laptops. Their latest range the MacBook pro is no different. In fact, their new product the Apple MacBook Pro MC118B/A takes things to a step further. The slim and compact laptop is powered by Intel Core 2 Duo Processor of 2.53GHz. The 15.4 inch TFT screen has a resolution of 1440 x 900 pixels, ensuring crystal clear images. The device provides a memory of 4GB DDR3 SDRAM and a 250GB SATA Hard Disk drive with a spindle of 5400. The NVIDIA GeForce 9400M Shared Video Memory graphics processor makes it great for casual gaming. Do these statistics mean that the device is not only good looking but also good in terms of performance? Read on to find out.
Benchmark for Build Quality:
The MacBook Pro MC118B/A Laptop uses the familiar uni-body design carved from aluminium. This high quality workmanship is still a standard by which other laptops are measured for their looks. Once you hold a MacBook Pro in your hands you would realise how ultra rigid the body of the device is. The notebook does not have any crunching or portioning parts present in the chassis. Try clamping the MacBook Pro in a vise and bend it, you would find no sort of flex anywhere on the notebook. The screen does flex a little bit but consider its thinness it was expected; that perhaps is the only negative detail here. Otherwise, it features one of the strongest unibody chassis in the market.
Clutter Free Design:
It has a sharp design and has no panel lines or breaks except on the bottom. Apple switched to an internal battery for the model instead of a cover and release bar simplifying the design even further. The lid of the notebook features a white apple logo that lights up when in use. The case can be shut and has a magnetic latch making opening and closing the lid pretty easy. There are a few ports on the sides of the Pro. However, simple upgrades such as changing the hard drive or battery means a few additional steps on the Pro. One needs to unscrew all the screws on the perimeter of the notebook to have access to the user serviceable components. While it is not difficult to do so, most users would find it hard when compared to the rather easier expansion on other notebooks.
Visually, one would not find much difference between a 13 inch laptop and the 15.4 model being reviewed. However, this one feels larger when on a lap and; there are many 15” laptops in the market such as the Asus UL50 that are bigger than the Pro. We still find it remarkable that a 5.56 pounds laptop can be this flat. Its weight is pretty common for laptops of its size with the heaviest the Dell Studio 15 weighing around 6.34 pounds.
Another important aspect when it comes to overall user experience is the display size. The larger it is, the more we can “See” things on the desktop. The MacBook Pro MC118B/A features an outstanding 15.2 inch display. The 16:10 display offers a resolution of 1440 x 900 pixels and has a brightness of 230 cd/m². The brightness is excellent for viewing in brightly lit rooms. The pictures look great because of the glossier screen and a 60 percent jump in colour gamut. The anti reflection surface allows one to use the notebook even in direct sunlight. There is a brightness sensor that automatically regulates brightness. It can also be adjusted manually. The viewing angles are average with colours starting to show inversion when tilted to 20-25 degrees. The horizontal angles are far better than the vertical ones up till the reflections over power the screen. One can order a laptop with a higher resolution of 1680 x 1050 pixels with a glossy or anti glare finish. The extra resolution is lovely. The antiglare works great but the colours are not as good as they are in the other version.
Comfortable to use:
Though there is not much of a size difference in between the 13 inch and the 15 inch models, the latter is far more comfortable to work on. The fore arm rests easily on the laptops so the sharp edges do not pinch us (Yes, the Mac’s sides are actually sharp enough to pinch). While the 13 inch model is easier to manage in crowded places, the 15 inch scores more when it comes to comfort.
Amazing Backlit Keyboard:
The MacBook Pro MC118B/A Notebook Computer features a full size backlit chiclet keyboard design that is a normal size for a 15 inch laptop. It is very pleasant to use and is silent. The travel depth is decent and the spacing lets one type comfortably without having to move hands more than they need to. For most people keyboards are overlooked. However, for people who type a lot, they would find the Apple laptop keyboards easier to use followed by the HP Envy and models in the Sony Vaio family. The keys are customised for a MacOS X and hence Windows users would have to get accustomed to it. But here is the best part about the keyboard: Backlit keyboards that can be activated manually or with a light sensor. It is also fully adjustable and can be brighter or dimmer depending on how you want it. It is a pretty handy feature and we would prefer upgrading our PC to have one with a backlit keyboard than a better soundcard or Bluetooth.
One key Glass Touchpad:
The MacBook Pro line features some of the biggest touchpads out there. It is a large glass surface with no separate touchpad buttons. It is very smooth and fingers slide easier than they do on a plastic surface that most laptops have. The reason it is big is perhaps it is because of the multi touch gestures present. The whole surface can be clicked on and one can even set zones such as the lower right for a right click and so on. The touch sensitivity is amazing and has no lag whatsoever even at default settings. However, the touchpad’s movement in the Windows OS was rather choppy. The touchpad often mistook a slight pressure increase in the touch as a double click opening up applications as we moved over a list in the start menu.
There are speakers present on either side of the keyboard making it a better device than the 13” model that has its speakers in a not so convenient position. While the audio is sufficient it is not loud. Their enclosed position makes it sound like a mono speaker. So the best option is to use headphones. Hooking it up to a stereo for surround sound is another option available if you are not content with the soft audio of the notebook.
While we are all praise for the workmanship, the connection options are not so great. The notebook features 2 USB ports, one mini Display port, LAN and Firewire 800. While eSATA is the best when fast external storage is the criteria, more Mac targeted storage devices offer Firewire. However, the Firewire 800 port is not backward compatible with the Firewire 400 devices. The Pro also features a headphone jack and an SD card bringing it to the level that most PCs have been present for a number of years. The inclusion of SD card has been welcomed by users as it had been something they had been expecting for quite a long time. Unfortunately, the slot is not multipurpose and supports only full size SD cards. The absence of Express card slot has infuriated many a user for most people depend on them for expansion. The MacBook Pro has a slot loading optical drive which means one cannot read mini discs on the drive.
The Pro features the iSight camera at the top of the screen bezel and has a camera indicator light included as well. This indicator lights up when the camera is on thus saving one from doing embarrassing things when on cam. The cam performed wonderfully well even in low light conditions. However we noticed little refresh lag most of the time.
This model of the MacBook Pro features both Wi-Fi and Bluetooth making it highly portable and handy for users who would want a wireless affair.
Bluetooth: Bluetooth 2.1 EDR
Wi-Fi: IEEE 802.11b, IEEE 802.11a, IEEE 802.11g, IEEE 802.11n (draft)
Handy Battery Indicator:
The most notable feature of the MacBook Pro is the miniscule but highly handy battery gauge meter present on the side of the notebook. Pressing up the button would light up a number of LEDs present showing the current level of charge. If all the 8 indicators are lit, the laptop is fully charged. This is handy considering you would not have to switch on the notebook to know how much charge it has.
The MacBook Pro MC118B/A provides 4 GB DDR3 SDRAM with 1066MHz and a 250GB SATA hard drive disk with 5400rpm. The default memory of 4 GB is sufficient for most users out there. One can even upgrade to 8 GB but that is totally unnecessary for most of you guys out there.
The 15 inch MacBook Pro performed as expected in our benchmark tests with the 2.53GHz Intel Core 2 Duo processor leading the 2.4 GHz processor found in the 2008 version. The MacBook is perfect for Web browsing, working and multimedia playback. There is present the NVIDIA GeForce 9400 graphics, which was also present in the earlier version. The NVIDIA 9400M scored above 2100 marks in the 3DMark 06 test. Thanks to this graphic card, one can play newer games such as Quake IV at lower resolutions. With some tweaking of resolution and detail settings, the game Portal delivered 40 frames per second at 1280 x 800 pixels resolution. This is a major pro for users who are into light occasional gaming.
Great for Movies:
Other than gaming, the system was able to handle both 720p and 1080p HD movie decoding with ease making it perfect as a home theatre hub. Even though the 15 inch screen is not really wide, it is still a great platform for watching Blu-ray movies at full resolution.
A step forward in Audio:
The stereo loudspeakers present in the MacBook Pro are louder than the speakers in the G4 PowerBook. In spite of a clear step forward in terms of audio quality when compared to the PowerBook, the maximum volume is not really convincing. The audio is clear only with less bass. The analog and digital audio ports offer great quality and attaching an external sound system would be great.
Most Apple laptops have always lost points when it comes to heat output. When under stress, the entire system acts as a huge heat sink making it unfriendly for one to place it on the lap. For normal daily activity, the MacBook Pro stays relatively cool by shedding heat into the air. But when under intensive load for long periods of time, the Pro becomes unbearably hot with the keyboard and back recording a temperature of 105 Fahrenheit. Because the device is made of aluminium, it easily transmit’s the heat outside making the device very warm.
When the computer is cold, there is no active cooling mechanism in place and hence there is no noise audible. But during intense usage, the 2 internal fans start running at full speed to cool the CPU and GPU. At that point the noise is still low enough at 33.7 decibels. Interestingly, the minimum noise the notebook produces is 33.5 decibels, 0.2 lesser than the maximum. However, we did notice the laptop whining, producing a silent constant and unpleasant noise.
Battery Life in Mac OS X:
Excellent is one word that describes battery life of the MacBook Pro. Perhaps that is an understatement as well. The laptop lasted a solid 9 hours when in ‘Idle’ mode (with minimum brightness, Wi-fi and Bluetooth switched off). The Idle mode is a fictitious case and in reality, the battery never runs that long. It lasted an equally impressive 7 hours while doing tasks such as Web browsing, editing text documents etc. When we put the display at maximum brightness, enabled the 9400M and turned on both Wi-Fi and Bluetooth, we got around 6 to 7 hours of battery life. This is perhaps the longest lasting battery in a notebook of this size.
Battery Charge Time:
It takes just 2 and half hours to re-charge the battery and that is pretty fast. Even the lesser powered Sony Vaio Z takes 3 whole hours to reach full charge. The Vaio takes about one hour 50 minutes to reach 80 percent charge whereas the MacBook Pro does it in one hour 20 minutes.
Battery Life in Windows:
The Battery Life in Windows is not as impressive as it was in the Mac OS X. In Idle mode it lasted a little under 4 hours. Browsing the web drained the battery life in roughly about 3 hours 37 minutes. So in reality, the battery can last anywhere between 3 to 4 hours even with the usage of 9400M. As you can notice, the battery life in Windows is very short when compared to the values in Mac OS X. We suspect the problem lies in the poor Apple driver support in Windows. We were unable to manually turn off the backlight of the keyboard which could be turned off only using the sensors. Even the GPU was always ON and the Bluetooth seemed to be on in spite of being turned off. So if you would want to use Windows on the MacBook Pro, you will not be able to fully benefit from the battery.
The Current consumption when not under load shows a great value when compared to most notebooks in the market. However under load the notebook’s consumption is still below average. The minimum and maximum consumptions are 19 and 53 watts respectively with the laptop consuming around 25 watts at normal brightness.
The MacBook Pro 15.4″ Laptop has a standard one year warranty on parts and labour. There is also a 90 days toll free telephone support on the notebook. One can extended the warranty to three years by shelling out extra cash.
The MacBook Pro is a great notebook with an amazing design. It has a great display and the new Intel Core 2 Duo processor performs wonderfully well. Most people would not care a damn about the driver support inside Windows or its sharp edges. If you are a Mac OS X user, the choice is easy. You only have to choose between the size, speed and price amongst the various models available. For people who want to use Mac OS, they should decide if they are ready to switch. If they think the OS is as good as it looks, this is a great choice too. If you are a Windows user, the choice is tough. While there are laptops that can be called as competitors to the Pro, they sure are inferior to the design of the Pro. Then again, we have not really found a PC as a substitute for the Pro as of yet.
Apple MacBook Pro MC118B/A – Technical Specification Table
|Model||Apple MacBook Pro MC 118B/A|
|Dimensions||36.4 x 24.9 x 2.4 cm|
|Display type||WXGA+ TFT Active Matrix|
|Screen Size||15.4 inches|
|Screen Resolution||1440 x 900 pixels|
|Input method||Keyboard, Trackpad|
|Processor Type||Intel Core 2 Duo 2.53 GHz|
|Hard Disk Capacity||250GB|
|RAM Capacity and Type||4 GB DDR3 SDRAM|
|Bus speed||1066 MHz|
|Hard Drive Capacity||250GB|
|Hard Drive spindle speed||5,400 RPM|
|Storage Controller Type||Serial ATA-150|
|Graphics Card||NVIDIA GeForce 9400M Shared Video Memory|
|Audio||Audio Input Type: Microphone
Audio Output Type: Sound card, Speaker(s)
|Video memory||256 MB|
|Optical Drives||CD / DVD Type: Dual Layer DVD±RW
Optical Drive Read Speed: 24x (CD), 8x (DVD)
Optical Drive Write Speed: 24x (CD), 4x (DVD+R Dual Layer),
4x (DVD-R Dual Layer), 8x (DVD+R), 8x (DVD-R)
|Optical Drive ReWrite Speed||10x (CD-RW), 4x (DVD+RW), 4x (DVD-RW)|
|Removable Media Slots||Card Reader|
|Operating System||Apple Mac OS X 10. 6 or Windows 7, Vista|
|Networking||Networking Type: Bluetooth, Integrated Wireless LAN,
Data Link Protocol: Bluetooth, Ethernet, Fast Ethernet,
Gigabit Ethernet, IEEE 802.11a, IEEE 802.11b, IEEE 802.11g,
|Security features||Slot For Cable Lock|
|Integrated Video Camera||Yes|
|Expansion Ports||1 x IEEE 1394a (FireWire), 2 x USB 2.0, RJ-45 (NIC)Expandability1 x SD Card Slot|
|Battery Life||7 hours on Mac OS
4 hours on Windows