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Hands-on: The 17-in. MacBook Pro gets the Core 2 Duo treatment

An already solid laptop just got better -- and faster

November 26, 2006 12:00 PM ET

Computerworld - It has been said that buyers should generally avoid the first year of a new model car, Version 1.0 of just about any application and most Rev. A computers -- especially Rev. A computers.

Well, if you held off buying the first Intel-based versions of Apple Computer Inc.'s MacBook Pro laptops, you can safely venture forth to the nearest computer store and take one home. I base that on my hands-on experience with Apple's latest updated consumer MacBook lineup, the recently revamped 15-in. MacBook Pro and -- now, finally -- the 17-in. variation of Apple's professional laptop line. (This particular model was also chosen for Computerworld's 2006 Cool Stuff gift guide.)

Apple's updated MacBook Pro is even better than the first-generation model.
Apple's updated MacBook Pro is even better than the first-generation model.

To paraphrase Victor Kiam, the late Remington CEO, I liked the latest 17-in. MacBook Pro so much that I bought my own. And I'd like to note that it is the first time I've bought an Apple laptop that I didn't have to immediately upgrade with more RAM, a faster hard drive or some other extra. Out of the box, the 17-in. model comes completely stocked. About the only thing you can add is extra RAM (for 3GB max) or a different hard drive.

OK, you also get to decide whether you want a matte or glossy screen and on that decision, I am neutral. Until now, I've always had the matte screen, in part because Apple didn't even offer screen sheen until earlier this year. Unlike the Core Duo 17-in. model that I bought in May -- which some lucky family member will inherit in time for the holidays -- this time, I went shiny. I may never go back. Colors seem richer, and screen images look more filmlike. Reflections are minor and don't bother me at all. Which screen is "best" is a matter of taste, like choosing Coke or Pepsi.

But that's just me.

The latest crop of 17-in. MacBook Pros is only now trickling into owners' hands. Announced last month, the first batch was due to ship to buyers in the first week of November. They were delayed, meaning most owners haven't had these laptops for more than a week or so. Yes, I played the "check order status" game on Apple's Web site just like everyone else, repeatedly looking to see when my laptop would ship, then tracking it as it crossed the Pacific from China to the U.S. in a relatively speedy 36 hours. (My Computerworld colleague Scot Finnie ordered exactly the same model, a day after I did, didn't pay for two-day shipping and got his the same day as me. Go figure.)



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