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First look: The new MacBook Pro 17, now with hi-res screen

Sure, it's got a faster processor, but it's the display that will blow you away

June 20, 2007 12:00 PM ET

Computerworld - What a difference 540,000 pixels make.

I'm talking in this case about the latest MacBook Pro to grace my desk, the top-of-the-line 17-in. model with a glossy 1,920-by-1,200-pixel high-resolution screen tricked out with a 7,200-rpm 160GB hard drive and 4GB of RAM added post-purchase. Oh, and it uses Intel's new 2.4-GHz Core 2 Duo with a "Santa Rosa" chip set for a bit more zip and even slightly longer battery life.

But it's the screen that's the most appealing feature. This is without a doubt the best-looking LCD screen Apple has produced in what also happens to be the fastest laptop from the company yet.

Caption: The new High-resolution MBP (left) and a first generation Core Duo model (right) (Click image for larger view.).
The new High-resolution MBP (left) and a first-generation Core Duo model (right). (Click image for larger view.)

In a word: suh-weet.

Of course, it should be, given the price: The basic 17-in. MacBook Pro (MBP from here on in) starts at $2,799. The hi-res display adds another $100, and the optional 7,200-rpm Seagate Momentus hard drive tacks on $150 more. The result is a seriously sick machine. That's sick as in wicked good. Cost out the door? $3,049, before taxes and shipping -- and worth every penny.

For the record, I hadn't planned on buying a new MBP this year -- the last-generation 2.33-GHz model I got in November was doing just fine -- until I saw that Apple had added the hi-res screen option when it introduced the latest iteration on June 5. I've vowed ever since I bought a Sony Vaio with the same resolution screen almost two years ago that if Apple ever released such a laptop, I'd get one forthwith. So I found a buyer for my "old" MBP and promptly ordered the new one from Apple on the same day it was announced. Six days later, it was here. I've been using it ever since, with nary an issue.

Oh, and did I mention that screen? You know the difference between regular TV and high-def TV? That's what it feels like using this model. Not that the standard screen offered by Apple is a slouch; 1,680-by-1,050 pixels is plenty fine for most users. But for those of us who always want faster, bigger, more, Apple has created what I'd call the MBP Ultimate.

There's been a lot of chatter in various online forums from would-be buyers about whether the hi-res screen makes text too small to see. The higher the resolution, the more desktop space you have, and the smaller the menus and text get. Indeed, the menus are slightly smaller, and I did bump the default text size in Safari up a couple of points. (I recommend Optima, 16 point, by the way.) But the added pixels also make this the sharpest screen I've used, and that includes the Vaio.



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