Lack of new features makes Apple’s new model a let-down
Apple's 2011 Macbook Pro laptops retain the sleek, beautifully engineered aluminium bodies and excellent screens of their predecessors, but this new model leaves a lot to be desired.
In fact, little has actually changed – it looks the same as the previous model. The one we looked at is the 13in one with a 2.7GHz Core i7 processor and 4GB of memory, at almost £1,300 the second-cheapest in the range (a 13in model with a slower processor is £999).
This Macbook Pro model makes use of integrated graphics so there is no dedicated graphics card; instead the graphics are produced by the main processor. Though the Core i7 processor has dedicated graphics hardware it's still not as powerful as a separate graphics card. What would make this laptop faster and better is the inclusion of a dedicated card such as the ones on its more expensive siblings.
Performance was impressive, but for £1,300 (£50 more than before) we think it should be even faster.
Apple has a history of adding strange ports and sockets to its computers before they are found elsewhere. The new one here is called Thunderbolt and designed for high-speed data transfer. It's fast but few other products currently support it.
It uses the same socket on the new Macbook Pro as the Displayport connection for attaching a monitor, another Apple addition that's rarely seen elsewhere. Adapters are available to convert the socket for attaching a DVI or VGA screen.
On the same side of the case there are a Firewire socket, two USB 2 ports and an SD memory card slot. It's a shame the computer didn't come with the faster USB 3 sockets, and another strange omission is Blu-ray.
While Blu-ray drives, for storage and watching high-definition films, are becoming more common on Windows laptops, no Apple product has one, which is a shame given the high quality of this computer's screen. There is also a 500GB hard disk and a new high-definition webcam.
Like all Mac computers this one runs the Apple Mac OS operating system, not Microsoft's Windows. This means Windows programs won't work with it, but it comes with the excellent iLife software suite for editing photos, videos and music.
There is a lot to like about the Macbook Pro, such as the large and responsive glass touchpad that supports a range of gestures such as pinching to zoom and a three-finger swipe for navigating through web pages. The backlight of the keyboard changes depending on the light conditions of the room it's in, making typing in the dark much easier.
Our main problem with the Macbook Pro is something that commonly affects Apple products: it's very expensive. For £11 less than the Macbook Pro's price we found a 13in Sony Vaio S laptop with same processor, Windows 7, a larger hard disk, more memory, Blu-ray and a graphics card. A Vaio with a similar specification to the Macbook costs around £1,000. But of course neither include Mac OS or iLife, which accounts for a lot of the difference.
Our recommendation would be that the big screen of the 15in model makes it a better choice for films and games, while the cheaper, less-powerful 13in model is better for less power-hungry users. This model in-between is a bit of a disappointment.
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A disappointing ‘upgrade' with nothing really new, no Blu-ray and a high price
Great design; lovely trackpad; bright screen
Overpriced; underpowered; no Blu-ray
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