PC Magazine And Gizmodo Review Of Macbook Pro 13"

Discussion in 'MacBook Pro' started by YOKOJP, Jun 11, 2009.

  1. YOKOJP macrumors member

    Joined:
    Oct 25, 2008
    #1
    Hope this will help with your purchase decision.


    After all the whining, the bickering, and the constant remarks about how Windows-based laptops have this and that and cost so much less, Apple, a company known to make its own rules, is finally letting down its guard. The lovable MacBook Pro 13-inch (now with the "Pro" moniker) has brought back the FireWire port, lowered its price, and for the first time in the company's history, added the elusive SecureDigital (SD) slot. Mind you, we're not ignoring the bigger and now-nonremovable battery, which scored an admirable 4 hours 44 minutes on our battery tests, but the other improvements are signs that Apple is finally paying attention to its suggestion boxes. Indeed, it's a great time to be shopping for a new Apple laptop—especially this one, which earns our Editors' Choice.


    From a design standpoint, current MacBook 13-inch (Aluminum) owners shouldn't be too envious—you can hardly tell the earlier model apart from the new one. The MacBook Pro 13-inch measures only an inch thick, despite having a built-in optical drive, and uses the same Unibody enclosure carved out from a thick slab of aluminum. These are the fundamentals—a metallic chassis and a thin design—that have contributed to Apple's success. Ultraportables like the Dell Adamo and the Sony VAIO VGN-Z590 have employed similar tactics but were deemed too expensive. Meanwhile, systems like the HP Pavilion dv3z, the Lenovo IdeaPad U330, and the Gateway UC7807u may be cheaper, but their chassis are too thick and "plasticky." The Acer Aspire 3935 (6504), with its thin metalloid chassis, is the only one that can give the MacBook Pro 13-inch a run for its money.
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    Reshuffling the ports and the adding a bigger battery didn't affect the new model's weight. Like the previous versions, the MacBook Pro 13-inch weighs 4.5 pounds (5 pounds with the adapter). It's actually heavier than both the Acer 3935 (4.1 pounds) and the Lenovo U330 (4.2 pounds), but the other two are less rigid and lack the aesthetic touches of a glass screen. Speaking of which, the 13.3-inch widescreen receives a minor makeover as well: According to Apple, it now has a 60 percent greater color gamut than that of its predecessor, and when placed alongside those of the previous MacBook and the Acer 3935, it's clearly the superior screen Otherwise, the brightness levels and the 1,280-by-800 resolution are consistent with those of the previous version.

    Many laptops, including the Acer 3935 and the Sony Z590, have already adopted the tiled keyboard. Touch and non-touch typists alike will find it easy to adapt to this keyboard, as it is full-size and tactile. The individual keys, however, are smaller than the ones found on the Acer 3935, so typing errors are more likely with the MacBook Pro's keyboard. Apple has another trump card, though. Although backlit keyboards aren't found in budget systems like the Acer 3935, the MacBook Pro 13-inch has one. Having your keyboard light up in the dark is an invaluable asset, and one that shouldn't be overlooked in this price range.

    Other models, specifically Windows-based laptops, have tried incorporating touch gestures into the touchpad, but none have touchpads as fluid and responsive as Apple's. Aside from having the largest touchpad, the MacBook Pro 13-inch is also an all-in-one, complete with the single-click mouse button and the two- to four-fingered touch gestures. The announcement keynote cited the development of a touchpad that supports the input of Chinese characters, which is done with a single finger, but the device won't be available until Snow Leopard, Apple's next-generation operating system, ships.

    The feature set has been my biggest complaint, and one that has kept the MacBook 13-inch from receiving an Editors' Choice. The addition of an SD slot and the return of the FireWire port (now FireWire 800) are more "it's about time" than revolutionary. The SD slot is the most compelling addition because no other Apple product before the MacBook Pro 13-inch has seen anything similar, so the only way to unload data from a memory card that works with the millions of existing digital cameras has been, until now, through a USB-attached accessory. Furthermore, this new addition could quite possibly be extended to Apple desktops and handhelds. I tested several SD and SDHC cards on the newly minted slot, and the system recognized them all right away, including an 8GB SanDisk Extreme III (SDHC), a 2GB Lexar Eye-Fi (SD), and a 1GB FujiFilm (SD). And all of these cards worked perfectly in both Windows Vista Home Premium (via Boot Camp) and Mac OS X environments.

    A FireWire port isn't a feature one usually brings back, seeing as how the Acer 3935 and countless others have already omitted it. But give credit to Apple for listening to its customers (and reviewers) and for upgrading the port from FireWire 400 to 800. The MacBook Pro 13-inch does, however, lose the mini-DVI port, which used to sit next to the optical audio-out, and that leaves the Display Port as your only video output. Aside from that two USB ports, a Kensington slot, and Ethernet port have been shuffled around from the previous model but are still present.

    Apple goes out of its way to emphasize the MacBook Pro 13-inch's green credentials, and we acknowledge them as well. Like its predecessor, the laptop is certified for Energy Star (in this case 5.0), EPEAT Gold, and RoHS. Incorporating an LED display eliminates the use of hazardous materials (mercury and arsenic) and promotes energy efficiency. In addition, Apple has an excellent recycling program in place, and the change to a nonremovable battery across all MacBook and MacBook Pro lines curbs the amount of waste heading into a landfill. Results of the energy consumption tests further cement our decision to give the MacBook Pro 13-inch the GreenTech Approved seal, as our P3 International Kill A Watt meter yielded a 13-watt reading in idle state—1 watt below Energy Star's maximum

    How It Performed

    In terms of internal components, the MacBook Pro 13-inch doesn't go out of its way to beat the competition. The 2.26-GHz Intel Core 2 Duo P7550 CPU is a grade better than the Intel Core 2 Duo P7350 found in the Acer 3935. And even though you get only 2GB of DDR3 memory standard, you can increase it to 8GB. The Acer 3935, meanwhile, comes standard with 3GB of DDR2. You can improve the 3935's performance by upgrading from a 160GB hard drive (expandable to 500GB) to a 128GB SSD drive, but doing so is not worth the $400 cost. The MacBook Pro 13-inch has the advantage in graphics horsepower, though, as evidenced by its scores on 3DMark06, Crysis, and World in Conflict tests. Granted, the MacBook Pro has an Nvidia GeForce 9400M integrated chipset that probably consumes more energy than an integrated Intel chipset, but the 3D benefits you get more than compensate. This includes some 3D gaming. (Most of the latest 3D gaming titles are available only in a Windows environment, but you can play them in Boot Camp.) More important for high-definition content is that a 3D accelerated graphics chipset can offload some of the decoding work from the processor.


    Since most of my tests are Windows based, Windows Vista Home Premium (via Boot Camp) was the testing environment. Keep in mind that raw horsepower and energy savings are optimized in Mac OS X, so performance should be considerably better in Apple's native OS. The MacBook Pro 13-inch's video-encoding time of 1 minute 26 seconds matched that of the Acer 3935. Its CineBench R10 score of 4,584, on other hand, topped those of the Acer 3935, the HP dv3z, and the Lenovo U330. These differences, however, are negligible in real-world scenarios.

    Increasing the capacity of the battery (without doing the same to its dimensions) is the toughest part, and Apple has pulled off this feat. The new battery slot is engineered in the same fashion as the one in the current MacBook Pro 17-inch (Unibody), in that a bigger slot was created by removing the latches and the housing materials that kept a removable battery in place. The battery is now essentially nonremovable, but its capacity has increased from 45 Wh to 58 Wh. In terms of actual battery scores, the MobileMark 2007 test returned a time of 4 hours 44 minutes—an increase of nearly 2 hours from the 3 hours 10 minutes of the previous MacBook 13-inch. Again, more than 5 hours of battery life (Apple claims 7 hours) can easily be achieved with the optimized operating system. By comparison, the Acer 3935 scored 4:50 with a smaller battery (39 Wh), which represents a comparable score.

    For $300 more, the Apple MacBook Pro 13-inch gives you digital-video-out via Display Port, an illuminated keyboard, and a FireWire port—features that the Acer 3935, which lacks HDMI-out and had eliminated FireWire some time ago, doesn't have. You're also paying extra for the back-end stuff, such as customer support, a solid operating system, and tons of free software. Acer is still an unproven company in these areas—not to take anything away from the 3935, which has a sweet-looking design. But the MacBook Pro 13-inch earns my vote in this area as well, as it incorporates a glass screen, a slot-load optical drive, and a sturdier aluminum frame. Is it worth $300 more? That depends on your budget. If you're not ready to leave Windows and $300 blows your budget, stick with the Acer Aspire 3935 (6504).

    Historically, a depleted feature set and bloated prices have been the arguments against Apple's 13-inch laptops, and Apple's superior operating system and unparalleled design have been used in their defense. The new MacBook Pro 13-inch adds an SD slot, brings back the FireWire port, and throws in a bigger battery while lowering prices—which in the past would have been difficult for the company to pull off. But with pressures mounting from Microsoft's ad campaigns and competing systems that have lowered their prices, it had to be done, and Apple did it. Sure, it's $300 more expensive than the excellent Acer Aspire 3935 (6504), but now you can stand proud and say that the MacBook Pro 13-inch is a contender in terms of features (not to mention battery life) on top of all the other usual Apple triumphs.

    Macbook Pro 13" Performance Test Results.

    http://common.ziffdavisinternet.com/util_get_image/20/0,1425,sz=1&i=208196,00.gif



    REVIEW BY GIZMODO

    http://gizmodo.com/5287179/macbook-pro-2009-review
     
  2. ecstasy macrumors 6502

    ecstasy

    Joined:
    Jun 9, 2009
  3. PolySciSurfer macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Jan 9, 2009
    Location:
    California
    #4
    Nice, man this computer is really going to take off. I hope this puts apple finally ahead of PC's in market share. I've been following apple products for around 5 years now, and this is one of the most memorable apple events. It's very exciting.

    I'm getting mine next friday, with a new timbuk 2 bag, M$ Office student edition, free iPod Nano, and maybe an Incase Neoprene sleeve for times when I don't need the bag. Also, I may get the free printer as well. Really, how could I not? Rebates rock. :D:p
     
  4. Sneakz macrumors 65816

    Sneakz

    Joined:
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    Location:
    Toronto, Ontario, Canada
    #5
    It was WWDC, not Macworld. And this will never help Apple beat PCs 90%+ marketshare.
     
  5. PolySciSurfer macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Jan 9, 2009
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    California
    #6
    Ya huh. :D :p

    But seriously, even CNET gave the new MBP a good review. They are very hard to please.
     
  6. Unprocessed1 macrumors 65816

    Unprocessed1

    Joined:
    Jun 23, 2008
    #7
    I can see Apple getting a 20% market share in the next 12 months. I think the difference will be college kids.

    Older generation still uses PC's, but more and more college kids are getting Macs, and they'll stick with them as they get older. Apple is really building a culture with macs, ipods, iphones, etc. Windows doesn't have the culture applying to today's youth.

    Maybe we'll see Apple passing PC's in the next decade?
     
  7. mikes70mustang macrumors 68000

    mikes70mustang

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    US
    #8
    That seems more like a spotlight than a review. I mean c'mon, nothing not to like?
     
  8. Bill Gates macrumors 68020

    Bill Gates

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    Jun 21, 2006
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    #9
    No way will Apple have that kind of market share in that timeframe, if ever. What they have done will allow them to maintain their steady growth, perhaps accelerate it, but not capture the market like you stated. There are still the thousands upon thousands of potential buyers out there who still think that $1000 is too much to pay for a computer and want a large screen, irrespective of the resolution or operating system, or the build quality. These are the people that see the name HP and think it's a good unit because of the name alone, or a 16" screen and think it's good because of its size alone. Believe it or not, the market is flooded with this type of buyer. College kids (and their parents) included.
     
  9. PolySciSurfer macrumors 6502

    Joined:
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    California
    #10
    You don't think those same people are buying flat screen tv's? If you buy a flat screen tv, I'm willing to bet you think 1000 is not to much for a computer. That's just my thought. I could be wrong, it's happened before. :D :p

    But seriously, every single time I go to the Apple store (and there are over 4 of them in my city alone) it is jam packed. Apple is all over the internet, with the iPhone, it's computers, etc. The word is out, people are tired of paying for PC's with terrible operating systems, only to become a paper weight 1 year later. I know because it happened to my dad who paid 3000 for a toshiba laptop that overheated and broke down constantly. People are smart, they know the difference in quality.
     
  10. Unprocessed1 macrumors 65816

    Unprocessed1

    Joined:
    Jun 23, 2008
    #11
    True, but go to any college campus, and you'll see more and more macs every single year. At my school I'd say about 40% of laptops are now macs. These kids are probably going to stay with a mac, at least for personal use. And the kids that don't have a mac? Most of them say they wish they had asked for one for their graduation. Heck, I'm an example. Had a Dell going into college. Next year had a MBA. Now I'm buying a high end 15" MBP tomorrow. I'll never go back to a PC, especially since bootcamp allows you to use windows if necessary.

    Macs have a special culture about them, and are trendy. Apple has been cutting into the market share the last few years. They've already lowered prices on their entire line, which shows they do want to expand their share.

    BTW, the I'm a PC/mac commericals did help to turn the tide against Windows Vista. My mom doesn't even know how to use a computer, and she still knows Vista "sucks". Apple is at least winning the marketing war, which should prove important in the long run.

    Apple is not "maintaing" their market share, they're steadily increasing it. Apple was a dead company and a laughing stock a decade ago, and no one knew what OSX was until Leopard came out.
     
  11. ecstasy macrumors 6502

    ecstasy

    Joined:
    Jun 9, 2009
    #12
    True.

    But these people are usually the ones who are completely clueless about the tech side of computers and just purchase because it 'looks good.'
     
  12. SkyBell macrumors 604

    SkyBell

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    Texas, unfortunately.
    #13
    But it takes years and years to build a large market share. 20% is huge, I highly doubt Apple will get anywhere near there in the foreseeable future.
     
  13. PolySciSurfer macrumors 6502

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    California
    #14
    Absolutely. My campus (UCSD) has an Apple store actually on campus. I mean come on, what does that say? I think it's wonderful, because what it really comes down to, is people are getting a better experience when using OSX. Not only that, but Apple generally is just a great company, and the Apple stores are great to shop at. They even offer to have an Apple employee specially designated to you when you shop. You just make the appointment and they help you and only you the entire time your there. And then there's Apple Care, the list just goes on. My entire family has converted to mac and could not be happier.

    When we all had PCs we had to replace them or upgrade them every year or so because of problems. I just sold my iBook that I had for almost 2 years, and there was absolutely nothing wrong with it. It was a true work horse and I definitely feel I got my moneys worth. The best thing is, it's been that way with every single Apple computer I've had. :apple::apple::apple: :D :D
     
  14. ecstasy macrumors 6502

    ecstasy

    Joined:
    Jun 9, 2009
    #15
    Don't underestimate just yet.

    I really think they're planning something major, what with the 13" becoming part of the MBP line. I also suspect further price drops that'll be easy on the wallet.
     
  15. Bill Gates macrumors 68020

    Bill Gates

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    #16
    To quote myself,

    I implied that in my statement. By growth I meant an increase in market penetration and market share.
     
  16. Unprocessed1 macrumors 65816

    Unprocessed1

    Joined:
    Jun 23, 2008
    #17
    The new lineup and lower prices will def. shift sales upward for Apple, so they should be rolling again by next quarter.

    Oh, and I think the 10% market share numbers aren't accurate, despite being widely quoted by everyone (including me). Seems Apple is closer to 7.5% in Q1 2009, up 2% from 2007...but their sales were stagnant from Q4 08 to Q1 09, so yes it seems like the price drops were made for a reason

    It is feasible for Apple to be #1 in 10 years, over companies like Dell, HP, etc. but they do have serious work to do with pricing and making macs more business friendly.
     
  17. unagimiyagi macrumors 6502a

    Joined:
    Jun 9, 2009
    #18
    College students use macs like crazy. I think it's about 35-40%. When you talk about windows being 60%, that's divided up into many brands. If you consider just one brand, Apple, by itself, it's definitely the most popular brand among college students.
     
  18. t0mat0 macrumors 603

    t0mat0

    Joined:
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    Home
    #19
    Apple isn't going for total market share - if you look at the most recent marketshare by price sections, they dominate on laptops over $1,000. Can be seen a little in the Amazon top 10s for laptops too usually.
     

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