Apple MacBook Pro 15-inch Review

Unique Features

Before we dive into the nitty-gritty, we wanted to take a moment to point out a few of the MacBook Pro's unique features.

One is the unique way that the chassis is constructed. The top portion and sides of the chassis are made from a single piece of aluminum--Apple calls this a "Unibody Enclosure." This gives the MacBook Pro a very sturdy design as well as insuring that every MacBook Pro should assemble perfectly in the factory.

Another set of unique features has to do with the trackpad. First of all, it is made of glass, which gives it a very slick surface. Secondly, it measures 5-inches diagonally--which is noticeably larger than what you'll typically find on most other laptops. Next up is that there is no visible mouse button--the mouse button is integrated directly into the trackpad--you just click anywhere on the trackpad to activate a mouse click. (The MacBook has only one mouse button--for right-clicks you either hold the Control button while clicking or click using two fingers). Lastly, the trackpad supports a wide-range of multitouch gestures--just like you'd find on the iPhone or iPad (see the image above for some of supported gestures).

With an Intel Core i5 humming away under its hood, the MacBook Pro uses the processor's integrated graphics. But it also includes a discrete Nvidia GeForce GT 330M GPU as well. Similar to how Nvidia's Optimus technology works on some switchable-graphics Windows-based laptops, the MacBook Pro uses a technology that Apple calls "automatic graphics switching" to automatically switch from using one GPU to another, depending on the demands of the running applications. The goal is to use the discrete GPU only when it is truly needed in order to best conserve battery life.

The final set of features we want to point out have to do with the MacBook Pro's battery. By using a malleable Lithium-Polymer battery technology and by integrating the battery into the design (it is not user replaceable), Apple was able to strip away the infrastructure of the battery that would ordinarily be used to put the battery in a removable housing, and instead used this reclaimed space for cramming a higher capacity battery (77.5Wh) into the space for a battery life that Apple claims lasts 8 to 9 hours. (Our testing didn't net quite as impressive numbers, but what we saw was still nothing to sneeze at--more on the MacBook Pro's battery life shortly.) While road warriors might not be pleased that they can't just swap in a fresh battery for a marathon-long battery-powered session, at least the integrated battery should last for a good long while before it needs to be replaced: Apple claims that the battery will retain at least 80-percent of its original capacity for up to 1,000 recharges. Apples estimates that this is equivalent to "up to 5 years of regular use versus 1½ years in other notebooks."

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