Pros: Fast with native applications. Fully featured. Slim and light.
Cons: We’re still waiting for native versions of Adobe applications.
Apple’s 17-inch version of the Macbook Pro is – apart from the screen – essentially the same as the 15-inch model we looked at here. It’s a slimline, classically-styled Mac laptop with some serious hardware inside – though it’s still a little hamstrung by non-native software applications.
Out of the box, the 17-inch model comes completely stocked. About the only thing you can add is extra RAM (up to a 3GB maximum) or a different hard drive. You also get to decide whether you want a matte or glossy screen.
This MacBook Pro’s performance was only slightly better than Apple’s 15-inch model. It’s the equivalent of a more portly Windows laptop with the same chip, such as Dell’s XPS M1710 (also reviewed last issue), in native applications such as QuarkXPress and Cinema 4D. In older applications such as Photoshop, it was well behind the PC (this laptop was reviewed before the beta version of the Intel-native Photoshop CS3 was released).
The new Core 2 Duo MacBook Pros run cooler than their predecessors, and while the top of the aluminium case can still get slightly warm, you’re unlikely to hear the fans kick in loudly enough for you to notice them. No doubt the revamped air intake in the rear of the MBP beneath the LCD screen helps.
Battery life is about the same as previous incarnations of the MacBook Pro line. With the screen brightness turned up all the way, energy savings set to performance, and the hard drive set to not spin down, we got just under three hours of computing time before running out of juice. Crank down the screen brightness – which shouldn’t present a visibility problem even in a sunlit room – set the energy saver preferences to normal, and the 68-watt battery will last even longer.
If you’re a heavy Adobe-application user then you may want to wait until Creative Suite 3 or After Effects 8 before purchasing this laptop – but it’s still the best creative-focused 17-inch laptop we’ve seen so far.