INTRODUCTION So on Saturday I picked up a new 15-inch MacBook Pro (2.53GHz, 4GB RAM, 320GB@5400 rpm) from my local Apple Store. It replaces a 'Rev. A' 17-inch PowerBook G4, which has brought me nothing but joy and productivity over the past five years, but is now pretty long in the tooth (it doesn't even have USB 2.0). I recently had a 17-inch MBP on 14-day trial - I returned it due to screen and sound quality issues - so I knew roughly what to expect from the new MBPs. Let me start by saying that the new machine does not disappoint. I was most concerned about going from a 17-inch matte screen to a 15-inch glassy/glossy one, but my fears have so far proven unwarranted. BUILD QUALITY With a couple of tiny exceptions, every aspect of the design and build quality is exemplary. The precision unibody case is beautiful and feels sturdier than a very sturdy thing. There was a little bit of discolouration in the aluminium between the trackpad and keyboard, but I wiped it with a slightly damp cloth and it seems to have faded. Not a big deal. Also the left-hand edge of the lid has a tiny imperfection, like a small rough patch of metal, which isn't visible during normal use. Again, no biggie, but surprising given the overall quality. The LCD screen is seated fairly straight and I don't appear to have any dead pixels. I have what appears to be a speck of dust in one corner but it is only noticeable if you go looking for it. Not enough for me to take it back! The lid itself closes perfectly uniformly - no gaps like the old MacBook Pro - and the magnetic latch is incredibly satisfying to use. The keyboard and ports are all solid and beautifully integrated. PERFORMANCE I'm not a computer expert so I'll just say that this thing is incredibly snappy. I don't know whether it's the better CPU, GPU or RAM - or a combination of all three - but the new MacBook Pro just flies. I'm sure there are dozens of benchmark sites out there covering performance in great detail, so I'll just leave it at that. The backlit chiclet keyboard takes a tiny bit of getting used to, but I'm already finding it just as easy to use as the old. The backlighting brightness varies a tiny bit on some keys, but that's just nitpicking. I really love the dedicated function keys for Dashboard, Exposé, brightness, volume and iTunes control. That will be old news to some folks, but hey. Also there don't appear to be any sensitivity issues with the keyboard, except for Caps Lock which doesn't respond half the time and needs a firmer, slower press. If it ends up bothering me I might see if I can get a replacement, but at the moment it's not an issue. The trackpad - one of the things I was dreading - is actually not all that bad. I absolutely have to have a physical button to click, so I found the notion of a buttonless trackpad extremely daunting. The actual click is way too clicky for my tastes - stiff and noisy - but that may loosen up over time. Trackpad feel is lovely and smooth, just the right amount of friction. The gestures are kinda hard to get used to, but seem to work pretty well. Even after a couple of days, I still find myself putting my thumb in the wrong place for clicking, resulting in erratic mouse pointer behaviour. I'm sure that I'll get used to it. The screen is incredibly bright and crisp, and colours are far more uniform than the last 17-inch MBP I tried. There is some slight dimming at the very bottom of the display, and some faint 'hot spot' stripes are visible from the side. But straight-on and during normal use, this is one of the nicest laptop displays I've used. My old PowerBook G4 screen looks so dim and yellow by comparison! The slight dimming at the bottom might be exacerbated by the typically poor vertical viewing angle. Whatever, it's acceptable to me given just how pure the rest of the screen is. And apart from the speck of dust (?) trapped under the glass, I've not been bothered by the glossiness. The glare seemed to be a problem in the Apple Store, but I have low lighting where I work and the brightness of the screen does prevent the odd reflection from being at all distracting. I'm not going to comment on colour accuracy as I'm a video editor and I know accurate grading can't be done on a laptop screen anyway. The way I see it, the glass cover gives a fair representation of how most users view video. Those of you working with print may feel differently. Last, but by no means least, the sound quality on the new MBP is just great. Having found the odd electronic beeps and bloops on the old MBP incredibly distracting, I'm loving the audio this thing puts out. Listening with my trusty Sennheiser HD 595 headphones, the sound is punchy, dynamic, detailed and free from imperfection. Music from iTunes sounds amazing. Even the in-built speakers are pretty good: a tad brighter than my old laptop speakers, and a LOT louder. OK, so they're not going to win any awards and most pros won't spend a lot of time listening to them. But still. CONCLUSION As far as I'm concerned, the new MacBook Pro offers good value for money. I was in urgent need of a new system and, despite my initial shock over the news that Apple were dropping the trackpad button and using glass in every portable, I'm very happy with what I've ended up with. For every negative I can think of (stiff trackpad, small imperfections in display) the MacBook Pro offers many more positives (robust design, great performance, innovation). Do I have any regrets? Well, had I ordered online I might have gone for the 7200 rpm HDD and perhaps the 2.8GHz processor. But the convenience and speed of buying in store - plus the removal of temptation - made this stock configuration a sensible purchase. I can always upgrade the HDD myself at some point, and I'm not sure the extra speed is worth it (for the work I do). Part of me wishes I'd held out for the hi-res 17-inch option in a few months, but I'm finding the 15.4-inch screen very easy to use. Besides, I can put the money I've saved towards a bigger, better quality external monitor. Finally, I don't regret buying a 'Rev. A' machine. My old PowerBook G4 was 'Rev. A' and hasn't given me a day of hassle in over five years. It is clear that a lot of thought and effort has gone into the new MacBook Pro, and I'm not going to wait another six months 'just in case'. If anyone has any questions, I'd be happy to try and answer them.