13" MacBook Pro (2): Hands on During the Week

By Graham K. Rogers



I have had the latest 13" MacBook Pro in my hands for about ten days now. This has to be a serious contender for when I replace my own 15" MacBookPro. The aluminium MacBooks had begun to blur the line between the Pro range and consumer-oriented products. While the white polycarbonate MacBook can still be found, this latest MacBook Pro with its 2.26GHz chip and the rest of its features is a lot of computer. It feels the part too.

A noticeable feature has been the light weight. While it did not seem to disappear like the MacBook Air I looked at a while back, it is much lighter than my own 15" computer. If you have to lug it about around Bangkok on the buses and BTS for example, or on flights, this does make a difference. The Unibody construction makes it more rigid, adding to the sense one has of using a well-made computer.


As my current notebook is a couple of years old, I am not surprised to find that this latest Cupertino offering has improved performance. Whatever I did, the 13" MacBook Pro was faster. A simple task is the everyday action of sleep. With my own machine, this takes 27 seconds every time -- I wait for this and count. With the newer 13" computer, it was merely a couple of seconds.

Waking from sleep too was also far snappier. From opening the lid to seeing the password panel was a couple of seconds and, if I had had no password requirement, I would have been in a working situation in the same time. My own computer can take anything from 5 to 30 seconds depending on the network (if it has been off overnight there are settings changes). Such changes did not seem to affect the newer computer.

This faster access from sleep was something that changed with the introduction of the MacBook Air, which was also the first of the notebooks from Apple to use the unibody construction. Also like the MacBook Air, all of the MacBook Pro range now have redesigned batteries although they are not user-changeable.


My own computer has a new battery so that lasts fairly well, but for nowhere near the time of this smaller brother. Apple claims up to 7 hours use and I left the computer on one day with wifi running and occasional automatic access (Mobile Me). I found that in the 8 hours I was out of the house, the power dropped from full charge to 35%. While the usage was almost zero and the screen was off, I could not have done that with my own MacBook Pro.

The screen has a far crisper appearance, although a number of people have decried the lack of a matte finish, which was finally made available as an option on the 17" Mac Book Pro. This and other options that can be ordered can be seen at the Apple online store.

My current Mac has the matte finish and I worry when students poke this. The liquid crystal display is soft and the screen can be seen moving. The newer glass screen gives a brighter display and fingerprints, such as on my iMac or a colleague's MacBook with the same type of glass screen, are wiped off easily. These screens are reflective which worries some people, but it is easy enough to change the position and avoid such external interference and the sharpness of the display output makes it a joy to use.

Several changes were made to the ports. This was among the upgrades to features that brought these lower end Macs closer to the Pro range and caused that merging of product lines. There were two major additions: the SD port and Firewire 800.

My own camera uses the older CF card for storage and I upload images using a card reader attached to the USB port. I was able to borrow a Nikon D40 and took the SD card out of that. When it was inserted into the card slot in the 13" MacBook Pro, it was recognised instantly as a D40 card and iPhoto started. Transfer of images was effected easily.

Other ports are the Magsafe connector, Gigabit Ethernet, a Mini DisplayPort (that is one word), two USB 2.0 ports, and audio ports. All are on the left side. The right side has a Superdrive slot.

macbookpro ports

Would I want one? Absolutely. My preference would be for the faster option of the 2.53 Dual Core processor at almost 57,000 baht, as the computer then comes with 4GB RAM as standard and a larger 250G hard disk. The price of the 2.26Ghz machine I had on test is 46,900 baht and this (like all Macs) can be reduced for a student. There is an education discount from EITS here and via the education section of the Apple online store.

[Note: the Education link is in a panel on the left side of the page and leads initially to an agreement.]

See Also: Getting the Feel.


Made on Mac

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