I have owned Apple Macs since 2001. I bought a G4 PowerMac that year and it's still running well today. Since then I've owned a number of Apple products, this Macbook Pro being the latest. As much as I love the stuff from this company, I find myself slightly resenting the fact that they used to be a bit of an alternative to the mass of Windows machines out there: there was always a feeling that by going the Apple route you weren't just following the crowd. In some ways it seems unfortunate that times have changed; what was once a company selling very well built and designed computers has turned into a corporate monster with a continuous push to dominate the world of cool with their endless product placements in movies and more and more shiny but fairly useless products. OK, rant over! This is a review of the Macbook Pro and so I will ignore my gripes with the company as a whole.
Recently I decided (basically for the above reasons) to give the competition a go for the first time since 2001. I bought a Sony Vaio Z series (I posted a review here on Amazon) in an attempt to use Linux for my day to day computing. The Z series was massively expensive and although it had its plus points I very quickly realised that I wasn't happy - Linux never really worked properly and Windows is just nasty - it's so far behind Mac OS it's laughable. So eventually I bit the bullet and sold my Z series and bought what I should have chosen to begin with - the Macbook Pro.
First impressions: the packaging is typical Apple - minimalist and thoughtfully put together, once you get the machine out of its box, you immediately feel confident that this is a quality product. Make no mistake, light-weight it is not but there's no chance that this laptop is going to suffer from the plasticky breakages that plague most Windows machines. Ports are adequate - 2 USB slots, SD card reader and a Thunderbolt port. The Thunderbolt is basically useless at the moment, unless you want to buy one of Apple's outrageously expensive displays or a very pricey storage device. However, I'm sure that products will make their way to market - when they do it will be a massively fast way of transferring data. There is also a Firewire 800 port (something I was pleased to see) and one of Apple's stupid mini display ports. These things are infuriating, why could they not have just put HDMI in there - it would have taken up no more space and meant that you could just plug straight in. Well, of course it's so that they can sell you an adaptor for £25!
The backlit keyboard is a pleasure to type on - much better than the Sony's. Battery life is extremely impressive, I've had close to the claimed 7 hours with WIFI on and a number of programs running. Screen clarity is excellent, although considering the Sony's 1920x1080 display, it would have been nice to see a slightly higher resolution than 1280x800. However, it is crisp, bright and gives excellent blacks. I could go on about the quality of this computer, it's a fantastic machine that I'm sure will last me for a number of years. I have a white Macbook which I bought in 2007; it's still working perfectly despite enduring trips to various corners of the world in a backpack and being generally overworked for most of its life so I am confident that this will be even better.
I don't want to say that there aren't PC equivalents, there are a lot of great Windows machines being made today and the glowing Apple is a bit of a coffee shop cliche these days. But for me, the usability of OS X more than makes up for this. As a useful product, I can't praise it highly enough, just beware - you might look like a bit of a fashion victim if you plan to pull it out in Starbucks!