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Review : Apple Macbook Pro 17-inch Laptop (Circa 2010)

To be honest, there is nothing noticeably different between the mid 2010 MacBook Pro’s from the 2009 models they have replaced. Yet is there any real need to change the design? It still remains one of the sexiest laptops to date, despite its age.

Everything has its place, build quality is top notch and performance is something to really boast about. Can you really ask for more? The only thing that has changed is the placement of the Mini DisplayPort, now located near the firewire port.

However, like before, all the connections are found on the left hand side. On the right hand side you are given a slot loading DVD burner and Kensington lock. Apple still refuses to add an SD slot to the 17” MacBook Pro’s.

Given that the design has hardly changed on the outside, the magic happens in the guts of the new laptop. Consumers have been eagerly waiting for the Core i5 and i7 processors to show up on the MacBook pros since they started cropping up left right and centre in lower end laptops.

To add that extra bit of performance, like before we are provided with dual graphics: one for every day tasks and another one for real horsepower. Now there may only be a slight performance bump between the pervious versions used, however, the biggest advantage is how the two chips are handled.

You no longer need to log-off to switch between the cards - now the operating system will automatically switch between the two cards when using more graphic intensive programs. It does certainly work, but even though switching is unnoticed, there is no way to tell which GPU the MacBook Pro is using.

Furthermore you are limited to either enabling “dynamic switching” or turning it off which will, in turn, enable the NVIDIA graphics, something that will take its toll of your battery life and the heat generated (burnt legs?)

Comparing the latest MacBook Pro, running the Core i7 at 2.66GHz, to the 2.8Ghz version released in Mid 2009 (my personal computer), it is clear that there is about a 50% increase in performance when working with pro apps.

For example converting a 400mb 1080p movie file to work with the iPhone only took 2.5 minutes, whereas it took over 4 minutes to complete the same task on the Dual Core model. In addition overall performance such as loading applications, multitasking and boot times have dramatically increased.

The display can only be described as gorgeous when it comes to practicality and function. With a pixel density more than Full HD the real estate you achieve is fantastic. It no longer feels like you are working on a laptop.

The model I got includes the matte screen, although it doesn’t meet everyone’s design tastes, it really does cope well in highly lit areas.

So if you will be working outside for extended periods of time, I’ll opt for the £40 upgrade to the matte screen (should be free). IPS technology does also provide you with viewing angles up to 176 degrees - sharing work can now be done with ease (yes I know that sounds like a marketing like).

As explained before, the design of the keyboard is exactly the same as the previous models, however one thing that I have noticed is the "springiness" of the keys. The feedback is much nicer, and quieter too. Typing is a pleasure with the well-spaced keys and the backlit keyboard is a great feature when working in low light condition, plus its nice to show off.

One of the features of the new models is something that could be provided as a simple software update. Apple has included “inertial scrolling”. This is just like scrolling on the iPhone, which allows the page to slowly stop scrolling.

Feeling natural and no head scratching going on, this is a great add on to the touchpad giving a much more intuitive feel. The glass trackpad is very smooth to touch and allows your finger to glide across without any hiccups.

Apple claims that the built in battery inside the MacBook Pro is good to last between 8-9 hours with wireless productivity. Now while they are debatable numbers, using the laptop in a real world situation (word processing, music with headphones, web browsing and brightness set to 60%) revealed that I was able to get 8 hours and 21 minutes before it ran out of juice. However please be aware that results will vary depending on what you will be doing. Video editing and movie playback will reduce the life of the battery.

When it comes to the pricing of the machine, it has jumped up by £100 compared to the previous generation. So starting at £1,899 for the base configuration 17” MacBook Pro, it certainly isn’t cheap. The model I am reviewing racks up to £2,138 so existing users really need to justify whether they need this speed improvement.

So it is fair to say that Apple has done it again with their latest MacBook Pro’s, providing eye catching design as well as blazing fast desktop performance in a notebook an inch thick. Although not including some much-needed features and tweaks such as an sd card slot, it is hard to say what else can be improved with this machine.

Now Apple has easily created one of the best high priced laptops out there, but I am not satisfied that you will need to upgrade if you just purchased the 2009 model. Unless you have a spare £2,000 lying around in which case, you can buy the model reviewed direct from Apple (opens in new tab).