Apple MacBook Pro 13-inch Review - HotHardware

Apple MacBook Pro 13-inch Review

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The silver-clad MacBook Pro has one of the sturdiest chassis we’ve encountered on a laptop--13-inch or otherwise--it truly feels like it can take a beating and keep on ticking. This strength comes from the MacBook Pro’s “patented aluminum unibody design,” which actually carves the unit's central chassis piece from a single piece of aluminum. The sturdy design also gives the laptop a bit of heft--at 4.5 pounds it’s not the lightest 13-inch laptop on the market.



The chassis has rounded corners, and when the cover is closed, the entire unit is almost all silver--the exceptions being the white (backlit) Apple logo on the top of the lid, a black strip running across the back edge of the unit, and four rubberized black feet on the bottom of the unit. The lid stays closed using a magnetic latch.



Open the lid and you're greeted by an island-style keyboard of black keys against a silver keyboard deck. The keys are backlit, which is controlled by an ambient light sensor (you can also set the keyboard illumination brightness level manually). The keyboard is roomy, has a great tactile feel to it with absolutely no flexing, and decent key travel. The spacious, 5-inch (diagonal) trackpad is actually made of glass, so it has a very smooth feel to it. The trackpad supports multi-touch gestures with up to four-fingers.



To put it simply, the 13.3-inch, LED-backlit display is gorgeous. It’s bright and shows crisp colors that remain uniform across the display. The glossy screen doesn’t throw back reflections nearly as bad as we’ve seen on many other glossy displays, and the screen has a very wide viewing angle. The display is surrounded by a black bezel, which houses the hi-res, 1,280x760 FaceTime HD camera on top.



Less impressive is the MacBook Pro’s audio. The stereo speakers, which are hidden beneath the keyboard, get plenty loud and don’t distort, but the lack of bass makes them sound tinny. That said, the speakers do deliver better-sounding audio than you’re going to find on most other 13-inch laptops. The MacBook Pro’s omnidirectional microphone is positioned just above the ESC key.



All of the MacBook Pro’s ports are located on the left side of the unit. Here you’ll find the MagSafe power connector, Gigabit Ethernet jack, a FireWire 800 port, the Thunderbolt port, two USB 2.0 ports, an SDXC media-card slot, and a combined line-in/headphone jack that supports digital-audio output. To the right of the audio jack are the battery charge indicator LEDs. Note that the MacBook Pro’s battery is not user-replaceable. The right side of the unit houses the slot-loading optical drive and security lock slot. The front edge of the unit has an IR port and a sleep indicator LED.


The Thunderbolt port takes the place of what was the Mini-DisplayPort connector on the previous iteration of the MacBook Pro. ThunderBolt has native support for PCI Express and Display Port, and it’s compatible with USB 2.0, USB 3.0, FireWire, Gigabit Ethernet, Fibre Channel, VGA, DVI, and HDMI protocols. This will make it very easy for peripheral manufacturers to create new products that support the Thunderbolt interface without having to worry about supporting any new protocols or making major changes to their devices' silicon. With support for up to 10Gbps bandwidth, and up to six daisy-chained devices, it also means you can attach a number of mighty speedy external peripherals to your MacBook Pro, or connect devices that send scads of data at any given time (like HD video streams). The only trouble is, there aren’t any Thunderbolt devices available yet. The wait won’t be much longer, however, as a number of manufacturers have promised to have Thunderbolt peripherals, such as external hard drives, available by this summer.


As do all new Mac laptops and desktops, the MacBook pro comes with the typical bevy of Mac OS X apps, including iTunes, Time Machine, Mail, iChat, Safari, Address Book, QuickTime, iCal, Photo Booth, and Front Row. The system also comes with the iLife suite, which includes iPhoto, iMovie, GarageBand, iDVD, and iWeb.

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These are decent yet a little overpriced. Of course they are Apple to so it is expected. From the they just work section of that I have heard a decent amount of malcontented rumblings in the background on these. I personally do not at the moment know the full details on it, but I am pretty sure there are some issues with them.

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I can tell you one thing they have made great strides in making them easier to repair hardware on them. I recently upgraded the memory in my fathers Macbook and it was only 6 screws granted they were 3 different sizes :)

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The 13" pro is about the only one I would consider buying. Mainly for its battery life.

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decent, i would still rather get a custom built one. :)

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I'm not sure why since i'm opposed to most things apple but for most people with generic computer needs the Apple Macbooks are user friendly, aesthetically pleasing, well built and are solid laptops

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Only if you are picking the 13" and don't mind paying a bit extra. The 15" and 17" both have some pretty nasty overheating, along with other nasty problems.

I don't believe Apple deserves a "HOT" for design, if your not going to include a "NOT" for 'Form over function'. Basic trend with them, make it look good no matter how many issues it causes in actual use.

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I agree with you Inspector. There are also some great units being released from OEM's the Samsung is a good one for sure. The only thing that does not directly compete with the Mac is the SSD is half of it's size. I am sure though in the ordering process that can be changed. One thing that gets me on the Macbooks though is a Core 2 Duo, Really, especially when competitively priced laptops on the PC side are using i3, i5, and i7 processors.

I thought Intel quit making Core 2 Duo processors anyway they are like 3 if not more generations back compared to current chips.

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This is a bit overpriced IMO, you can get a better performing 13 or 15 inch laptop for the same price.

nice review tho :)

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I'm ecstatic about thunderbolt technology. Working with the RED camera has required us to work via ESATA to handle heavy-duty data transfer. Thunderbolt could really help bring those RED CF cards back to camera team much quicker.

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You know the thing with me though is a 13 or a netbook I can use, but it is not really very convenient for me as I stand at 6'3" and each of my hands is 10" from top to bottom not to mention a width from thumb to pinkie of about a foot. So anything 13 inches or under can be tedious for me if I am on it for any length of time.

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