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15 Unibody Mac Book Pro October 2008

Reviewing: Apple, Inc. 15 Unibody Mac Book Pro (October 2008)  |  Rating:
mustangsally82 By mustangsally82 on
Badge: Publisher | Level: 11 | Computers & Laptops Expertise:
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I finally replaced my almost-five-year-old PowerBook G4 in October of 2008. Apple released their new unibody laptops and I had to have one. I was in graduate school working on my MA, and I needed a new computer to run applications like Adobe Dreamweaver, Photoshop, Flash, and InDesign CS3.

The computer's screen is 15.4", and it has a backlit keyboard. The keys are now black, which contrasts with the silver aluminum body. The trackpad is the new "glass trackpad" that accommodates two-, three-, and four-finger gestures, which make minimizing all windows or switching between applications almost effortless. The entire trackpad is the button, which is new for Apple. Before, the trackpad and button were separate (but adjacent).

It came with a power adapter, but I had to buy a small DVI cable to connect it to an external monitor because none was included (this is a first for Apple; they have been included in all of the previous notebooks I've ever bought, and I've been a Mac user since 1995). My computer already had the following software applications installed (at no extra cost): Dashboard, DVD Player, Front Row, GarageBand, Grab, iCal, iChat, iDVD, iMove, iPhoto, iSync, iTunes, iWeb, Mail, Migration Assistant, Photo Booth, Preview, Safari, Software Update, Spaces, TextEdit, and Time Machine. There are tons of other free downloads (and ones you can pay for), too. Most applications are now available in both Windows and Mac formats so compatibility isn't the issue it once was.

As far as hardware goes, the MacBook Pro has a slot-loading 8X DL SuperDrive optical drive that can write (and read) both CDs and DVDs. There is a security lock port where you can attach a security cable to prevent your laptop from being stolen. Both of these are on the right side of the laptop. Speakers are built-in and are located on either side of the keyboard.

On the left side, the MacBook Pro has a port for Apple's MagSafe power adapter (which will disconnect instead of being damaged if it is pulled to its limit), an Ethernet port, a Firewire 800 port, two USB 2.0 ports, a mini-DVI port, an audio in port, an audio out port, and an ExpressCard expansion slot. There is also an iSight webcam built into the top of the laptop screen.

My laptop has an Intel Core 2 Duo Processor running at 2.4 GHz. I have 4 GB of RAM, and 250 GB Serial ATA hard drive. It also has dual graphics processors (NVIDIA GeForce 9600M GT with 256 MB of dedicated GDDR3 SDRAM and a NVIDIA GeForce 9400M with 256 MB of DDR3 SDRAM shared with main memory).

Apple says the battery can last up to five hours. I've noticed that it all depends on what (and how many) applications I'm running. When I'm using the battery, I dim the screen a bit and quit all unnecessary applications, which conserves battery life. You can also adjust your preferences in the System Preferences application to increase battery life. My laptop also seems to run hotter when it's using its battery. It's not nearly as warm when it's plugged into a wall outlet.

Wireless access is a breeze with Apple's AirPort Extreme (802.11a/b/g/n), Bluetooth 2.2, and gigabit Ethernet. I have no problem connecting to any open wireless networks with a simple pull-down menu in the upper right corner of the desktop, and Bluetooth allows me to send files to other computers on the same network without worrying about USB drives or emailing files. You can also print wirelessly (I do this mostly at home) by connecting your printer to your AirPort base station (it's a wireless router) and then printing from anywhere you can access your network.

I was really disappointed at how easily the aluminum dented and scratched. I am not hard on my computers, and I immediately bought a neoprene sleeve to keep in my backpack for when I took the computer to school. I still had a few dings before I got my Speck snap-on plastic skin that totally protects my laptop now. However, the laptop is light enough for me to carry it around with one hand without worrying about dropping it.

I also had to buy a FireWire adapter because my iPod (and lots of other peripherals still on the market) has a cable that uses Firewire 400. The new Mac laptops use FireWire 800. It wasn't expensive, but it's one more thing that I have to keep up with. I also wasn't a fan of the mandatory glossy screens. Apple used to offer a choice of a matte or glossy screen, but when I bought this laptop they were only available with a glossy screen. It shows fingerprints much more obviously than a matte screen, and it's impossible to open and close this computer without touching the edges of the screen. If you are working with a window behind you, you might not be able to see very much due to the reflection off the glossy surface.

Overall, I love my computer. I'm on it all the time because I work from home, and it helped me be more efficient when I was on campus all day last year. It's a million times faster (well, it seems that way) than my old PowerBook I bought early in 2004. I have noticed that it runs hotter since I installed Snow Leopard (Mac OS 10.6) a few weeks ago. Those problems should be fixed in later updates, which Apple offers for free.

I've been an exclusive Mac user since 1995. I've never owned a PC, and I hope I never will. I have to admit I'm not very good with them. Somehow, I've managed to get by without having to use them. And I would recommend a Mac to anyone. They are more expensive upfront, but they make life so much easier and they generally last longer than PCs do (which partially justifies the higher price). Plus you have the added benefit that very few viruses exist for Macs, so you don't have to worry about them or about buying expensive virus software.

When writing this review, I verified some of the information from this site: EveryMac