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MacBook Pro A1286 (15.4-inch)

By Jackie Dove
June 23, 2009 10:51 AM ET

PC World - From the outside, the latest 15-inch MacBook Pro closely resembles its predecessor. It sports the same solid aluminum unibody enclosure with the indented thumb scoop for opening the lid, the same huge touchpad, and the same stiff button that makes tapping and swiping the touchpad with your fingers easier than depressing the button. The big glossy screen still has a resolution of 1440 by 900 pixels, and all ports--including the MagSafe power port, gigabit ethernet, FireWire 800, two USB ports, and separate audio-in and -out ports--are still grouped together on the left side of the case. The iSight camera is positioned in the same spot, as is the 8X SuperDrive. Nevertheless, Apple has introduced significant changes to the new model.

A new Secure Digital (SD) card slot lets you transfer files to your Mac and boot the laptop. Apple says that the MacBook Pro supports the following cards: SD (which holds 4MB to 4GB of data), SDHC (which holds 4GB to 32GB of data), microSD (with an adapter), and miniSD (with an adapter). It does not support SDXC, a new card specification that theoretically can support up to 2TB of storage; this card is not yet available on the open market, however. Users--especially photographers and videographers--who have invested in ExpressCard hardware will lament Apple's decision to eliminate the ExpressCard/34 slot. The latest 17-inch MacBook Pro retains its ExpressCard/34 slot.

For the 15-inch MacBook Pro, Apple has abandoned replaceable batteries in favor of the same battery technology that it introduced earlier this year for the 17-inch MacBook Pro--a larger, flatter, more compact, and longer-lasting lithium-polymer battery. The new battery contains a chip that monitors things like charge level and temperature, and communicates this information to the computer. According to Apple, the technology's ability to determine and maintain the optimal charging currentenables the new battery to survive 1000 charges, or approximately five years, before reaching 80 percent of original capacity; conventional rechargeables have a typical lifespan of 300 recharges. In the Macworld Lab's tests of battery life, the new battery held out for ran an average of 4 hours.

The new model's glossy screen is better than ever, offering 60 percent greater color gamut (the range of colors that a device can display) than earlier MacBook Pros. The display uses LED (light-emitting diode) backlight technology for better on-screen color accuracy, too. On the other hand, Apple still doesn't offer a matte screen option. In a side-by-side comparison using new and previous-generation MacBook Pro laptops, we observed fairly significant differences in the rendering a color photo test image--in particular, heightened intensity in the red and green spectra. Similarly, Apple's Color Sync utility detected an expanded range of visible color in the red and green areas. The blues stayed about the same.

Reprinted with permission from PCWorld.com. Story copyright 2012 PC World Communications. All rights reserved.
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