New Apple MacBook Pro 2011: Review roundup

A few days ago, Apple started shipping the new MacBook Pro laptops. Sporting the same case as before, they contain Intel's Core i5 and i7 chips, as well as the new Thunderbolt socket (née LightPeak). As well as the usual reviews, Richi's rounded up some rather rare opinions.

Apple MacBook Pro
By Richi Jennings. February 28, 2011.

The new Apple MacBook Pro is out, and the reviews are in. Surprisingly, not every Apple fanboi is on-message: there's grumbling about SSDs, graphics performance, price-gouging, and more. In IT Blogwatch, bloggers tease out the unexpected.

Your humble blogwatcher curated these bloggy bits for your entertainment. Not to mention Space Shuttle Discovery launch seen from passenger jet...


Gregg Keizer has all the shiny deets:

All MacBook Pros now run one of Intel's Core i5 or Core i7 dual- or quad-core processors, and include Intel's integrated graphics chipset. ... The larger notebooks also boast AMD's Radeon HD 6490M or 6750M discrete graphics. ... Prices for most of the new models have not changed. ... Apple did raise the price of the top-of-the-line 17-in. model by $200, however.


One rumored change -- a move to solid-state drives ... didn't come to pass. ... Customers can swap out the traditional platter-based hard drive ... but the prices run from $100 for a 128GB SSD to $1,250 for a 512GB. ... The new MacBook Pros are available immediately at Apple's retail stores, some authorized resellers and via the company's online store.

  James Galbraith feels the need, to test for speed: [Great balls of fire -Ed.]

The new entry-level 13-inch MacBook Pro ... was 35 percent faster than ... the 2.4GHz Core 2 Duo model it replaces. ... Faster at just about everything, except for our Call of Duty tests, which was only able to display 26 frames per second versus the 33 frames displayed by the older model. ... The 13-inch 2.7GHz Core i7 MacBook Pro’s improvement was less dramatic, scoring only a 13-percent gain.


The 15-inch 2.0GHz quad core Core i7 MacBook Pro was 33 percent faster overall than ... [last year's] 2.4GHz dual core Core i5 system.


Overall, the new 15-inch 2.2GHz quad-core Core i7 MacBook Pro was 38 percent faster than last year’s ... model and the new 17-inch model ... that has similar specifications ... was 53 percent faster than last year’s largest Mac laptop. ... [They] were finally able to outperform their predecessors in game performance, thanks to the Radeon HD 6750M graphics.

  But Casey Chan can't cope:

One thing has been bothering us ... the 13-inch MacBook Pro still has a lower resolution screen. There's not even an option for a higher-res screen. ... Why is the ... 1280 by 800 ... Macbook Pro still stuck with a worse screen than the ... 1440x900 ... MacBook Air?


Updating an LCD panel doesn't seem too hard. ... What happened? Are they saving it for a future re-design? ... Everything else on the Pros, except for the hot new chips and Thunderbolt (which even uses the same hole in the chassis as the old Mini DisplayPort), is exactly the same.

  David Morgenstern is puzzled by this detail:

The new MacBook Pro models and the recently refreshed MacBook Air won’t support Windows XP and Windows Vista. ... Boot Camp will support 32- and 64-bit versions of Windows 7 Home Premium, Windows 7 Professional, or Windows 7 Ultimate. ...

If you're running Window XP or Vista ... then you will have to put a Windows upgrade into your budget.

  And Charlie Brooker rants with uncomfortable imagery:

iPhone ... was my gateway drug. ... They make you feel good, Apple products. The little touches ... the satisfying clunk as you fold the Macbook shut – it's serene. ... Like being on Valium. Until, that is, you try to do something Apple doesn't want you to do.


[Apple] pretends to be making your life easier, when it's actually all about wresting control from you. ... [Apple] makes a huge play of how user-friendly their devices are. But ... to Apple, you're nothing. ... Apple continually attempts to scrape even more money from anything that might conceivably pass through [its] tight, leathery anus.

  Meanwhile, Alan Ng asks why they're so spendy:

At a starting price of $1199, the new models certainly aren’t cheap, even if it comes with state of the art processors. ... The most expensive Macbook Pro now stands at a staggering $2499, and that isn’t even without any upgrades such as a SSD.


What’s the point spending [that much] on a laptop when you can buy a similar non-Apple model with the same specs for half the price? ... Do you think they are ... overpriced?


And Finally...

Extraordinary: Discovery Launch Seen from Passenger Jet

[hat tip: Jeff Bardin]

Don't miss out on IT Blogwatch:

Richi Jennings, your humble blogwatcher
  Richi Jennings is an independent analyst/consultant, specializing in blogging, email, and security. A cross-functional IT geek since 1985, you can follow him as @richi on Twitter, pretend to be richij's friend on Facebook, or just use good old email:

You can also read Richi's full profile and disclosure of his industry affiliations.

Copyright © 2011 IDG Communications, Inc.

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