Apple MacBook Pro

MacbookAs Intel continues their virtual monopolisation of the world computer processor market, should someone call the ACCC or should we be over the moon that new Apples are considerably less in cost than their Motorola-driven predecesors, while leaving their clock speeds in the dust?

Before you jump on the Apple gravy train, slam on the breaks. There is one little talked-about downside. Apple laptop users of the world used to be able to snigger from behind our hands at PC users and their 2-3 hours battery life as we got (in some cases) a full day’s work out of one charge.

Speculation (or propellor-capped reverse-engineering) on whether Intel’s chipsets are hungrier for power than Motorola’s G-series was belongs in a geekier magazine than this one, but testing under normal conditions yielded less than three hours of battery life.

There, we had to find one downside. Because the 2.4GHz, 17-inch MacBook Pro is an absolute screamer. What’s more, it surpasses the Motorola-driven laptops of old on every level, and for over a thousand dollars less than we used to pay.

The hard disk is 160Gb. In practical terms we ran two heavy-use user accounts — both of them crammed with settings, utilities and software for creative pros — and stored about 20 full movie files before we managed to fill it up.

The 17 inches of screen space means the native 1650×1080 screen resolution (1920×1200 maximum — HD TV size) gives you room to move. It’s the closest you can come to having an external cinema display and still have enough room for all your palettes and windows.

The sound is great and befits the digital media device Apples wants all its products to be, the bass as deep and resonant as you’ll hear from internal computer speakers, but we keep wondering how long it’ll take before Apple adopts the glassy finish now standard on most PC laptops. Beside a brand new Toshiba or HP, the colour looks flat and dull.

Transfer speeds are astonishing. Transferring a little under 7Gb of data to be backed up took several hours on an older system and just 40 minutes via USB on the MacBook Pro.

But the real test came using the creative applications like Photoshop and Dreamweaver. The first incantation of the Intel-driven Macbook was great for the native video and photo editing and sharing applications that came with it, but hardcore design data crunching was a big let-down.

The reason was called Rosetta, the software bridge that funnelled computations through a sort of filter for the Intel chip to process them. It meant a level of double-handling that slowed things down badly.

Apple, Adobe or someone in between have evidently bought their specs up to speed, because the Intel chip made short work of Adobe Creative Suite 3 — the fattest and most memory-intensive from Adobe so far.

So if you found the same limitation and held back from the Intel-based MacBook for that reason, you don’t need any more reason to upgrade now.

RRP $3,999