on 31 December 2013
If you're like me, you'll have spent ages comparing features and specs before splashing the cash on a new laptop. I certainly did, and I finally settled for a Mac.
Update March 2015: Owned, used and loved every day for 3 years. Upgraded the HDD to a Solid State drive, and it's been like new every since. Absolutely wonderful laptop - best I've ever owned. I'm soooo pleased I ditched Microsoft!
Quick word of warning: I'm a recent (this model Mac) convert from Windows to a MacBook Pro, and was lucky enough to recently upgrade to a stunning 13 inch Retina. While I love Apple products, I'm not a Mac expert, and this review is for similar non-experts who are thinking about "converting". Because it's a review of the MBP range, you'll find the same review on other specs - skip to the end to see the specifics on this model.
Be aware, this is NOT the very latest hardware (it's been replaced by the "Mac Book Pro with Retina"). However, there's a strongly compelling reason to buy this model (aside from the fantastic price), but you'll need to read on to find out.
Firstly, the hardware - which is just stunning. It's nicely thin and relatively light, and the screen looks surprisingly big sitting here on my lap. In common with all Apple MacBooks it's beautifully carved out of a solid slab of brushed aluminium, with a huge track-pad and a beautifully made back-lit keyboard. Apple traditionally don't brag about their hardware specs (as it's all about the experience of the machine - not just about comparison of numbers, but....
In terms of hardware you get:-
* * 2.5 GHz dual-core Intel Core i5 processor with 4Gb of Memory (pretty zippy)
* * 500GB hard drive (huge amounts of space for photos and videos)
* * 13.3-inch LED-backlit display 1280 by 800 pixels
* * Built-in FaceTime HD camera (for FaceTime or Skype calls)
* * 8x slot-loading SuperDrive DVD - The last Mac Book Pro model to include one
* * A Thunderbolt port for high-speed I/O and Mini DisplayPort to attach a monitor
* * SDXC card slot (for photos), a FireWire 800 port, two USB 3.0 ports
* * Gigabyte Ethernet connection and 802.11n Wi-Fi for wireless internet
* * Beautifully designed backlit keyboard with ambient light sensor
* * Preinstalled Mac OS X and iLife (free upgrade to Mavericks)
Apple hardware (when comparing by pure spec) is more expensive than the equivalent running Windows, but you really do get what you pay for, and they come with incredible attention to detail. This includes the cleverly designed "Mag Safe" magnetic power socket - so if a small child accidentally pulls on the power cable it disconnects from the laptop rather than dragging it crashing to the floor.
The only complaint I have is, all the connections are on the left hand side - including both USB ports, and it gets a bit cramped (I have two USB devices where the plug is too wide). I soon solved this by adding a set of external USB ports. Other than that - it's an wonderful laptop.
As a prior Windows laptop user, the multi-touch trackpad is a real revelation. You can scroll down web pages (two fingers up/down), or scroll through web history (two fingers left/right), and the "System Preferences" window where you can configure the options includes a handy video demonstrating the options available. It's hard to over-state the benefit of this. It's so wonderfully accurate, it makes your laptop a real pleasure to use (again compared to my Windows laptop).
As already stated, the keyboard is fantastic. Island style black keys - nicely spaced out, and back-lit. There's a set of dedicated keys along the top to control features including screen brightness, play, fast forward and stop, plus sound.
Of course this is one the the last machines to get a CD/DVD drive - but even still all software is available online through the Apple Mac Store, and another nice surprise - consistently cheaper than equivalent windows software, and without the annoying collection of boxes, software keys and disks to avoid losing.
Battery life is quoted at something silly - and I ran an entire day of general use (web browsing, videos, mails etc), in the end I got at least 6 hours before I started getting warnings - so you should be able to take this on a longish flight or a long train journey without any problems..
Sound quality is not bad, although not as good as I'd have hoped - but I plug in external speakers myself - or better still, stream music to my Hi Fi speakers via an Apple TV. It's worth noting - you can stream anything on screen (videos or Netflix) to an Apple TV - including high quality sound. A great bonus.
Although I don't often play games, I'm told the MBP is not a serious gaming machine, for for web use or video streaming it's more than capable. I can't really comment more than that.
In terms of software, these are well provided for straight out of the box including free copies of:-
* iPhoto - to import, edit and manage photos - including from the "cloud" (any photos taken on an iPhone or iPad)
* Garage Band - a drum machine on your laptop
* Movie Maker - to edit and publish home-made videos
* Calendar, Mail and text editor etc
* Reminders - to remind you
Since I bought mine (July 2012), Apple announced anyone buying a new machine will also get a free copy of Pages, Numbers and Keynote (their presentation program) - but I'm not 100% sure if this includes this model as it's no longer the latest available. Even if you don't these are only around £10-£15 each - not the £100-£150 we're used to paying for Word. Excel and PowerPoint.
During the past 18 months I've also noticed how the OS is becoming even more integrated with the iPhone, iPad and Apple TV. For example, you can now write a Pages or Numbers or Keynote (Word, Excel or PowerPoint for the rest of us) on a Mac and then view and edit them on an iPad (and the software is also free on a new iPad). You can also set a reminder on your iPhone and see it pop up on your Mac, or take a photo on your iPhone and see it appear (no wires, in fact completely automatic) on your Mac in the iPhoto application. This may not be a compelling reason to buy THIS particular model, but it is a great advantage if you already have (or plan to buy) and iPhone or iPad.
But, (and this is ironic really), one the best reasons to buy this particular model of machine (and not the very latest Mac Book Pro with retina display), is you can upgrade it. It's a little known fact, that starting with the 2013 Macs, Apple decided to prevent ANY upgrades - including memory and disk. (The memory is literally soldered in place). If I understand it correctly, this is one the very last MBP models you can actually increase the memory or replace the hard disk. For example, I bought and installed a Samsung 840 EVO 250GB 2.5 inch Basic SATA Solid State Drive to upgrade the hard drive, and it now REALLY FLIES. Much faster than it was before, and it means I'll get a few more years out of it.
Whenever I can afford it, I'll also buy a memory upgrade from 4Gb to 8 or even 16Gb.
On balance - I'd have to say I love Apple Macs - and indeed all Apple hardware (iPhone, iPad included) so it's hard to give a purely objective view. But this is a beautifully designed, well built machine. Highly recommended
Hope you found this review useful - Many Thanks !
on 3 February 2015
I recently purchased this Macbook Pro, my first Macbook however not my first Apple product. I did not anticipate buying this product a few months ago as coming from a history of buying a few generations of iPhones which have come to say more about the power of the Apple brand to sell products at any price than it does does the quality of the product and the hardware as comparable to other phone Brands like Samsung. But having come upon a few Macbooks a few months ago I was blown away not only buy their build quality but the ability to do things that you could never do on an alternative laptop. The powerful trackpad is primarily what convinced me to pay out the 800 pounds, with it numerous functions that gives people who have come to love the freedoms of the touch screen technology on mobile devices without the touchscreen which makes for a laptop that does what laptops are supposed to do: offer the freedom and convenience to quickly scroll down long webpages and return to the previous page with the flick of the finger on the touchpad. For a laptop that has existed since 2012 the abilities in comparison with a standard laptop are nothing short of extraordinary, even today as we enjoy far more annual innovations in mobile technology than those which existed in 2012. This truly was a laptop of the future and its future-proof abilities has yet to be outdone in the present, which is evidenced by the most recent Macbooks which carry little more than which is offered by this 2012 Macbook.
REASONS TO BUY THIS OVER THE NEWER MODELS
I am a person who spends hundreds each year buying the latest technology, so I'm more than the average buyer and don't buy products simply to save money over the latest model. I had carefully considered both the retina display 2014 models and this 2012 model and I came to the conclusion on many fronts that the intelligent buyer who cares enough not only about value and quality, but about the capacity of the device to stand the test of time.
This model is the last Macbook capable of being upgradable after purchase, which is a very important thing to consider as newer hardware becomes available and future software pushes the existing hardware in the Macbook to the limit, requiring better hardware to handling the more power intensive tasks that are demanded of it. If there is anything I have learned in my years of using computers, the performance of a computer doesn't remain the same over time, and what is acceptable today in terms of memory or hard drive capacity, significantly drags your computer down tomorrow. So the importance of upgradability becomes paramount to a user who wishes to use their expensive Macbook for many years to come. The newer inception of the Macbooks were designed such a manner as to prevent them from being upgradable, including something as basic as the RAM which has always been a standard for upgradability in all laptops, something which is often that primary reason for why a laptop becomes increasingly slower over time, this Macbook Pro 2012 can be upgraded up to 16gb over time while on the Retina version it cannot because it is soldered to the motherboard. The battery is also very difficult to replace in these models and one small mistake in trying to separate the glued in battery from the laptop could mean a permanently damaged trackpad, but not so with this model of Macbook which can have its battery cheaply replaced for as little as 40 pounds in less than 10 minutes yourself. While the Retina version performs faster thanks to its SSD flash hard drive, the beauty of the 2012 model is it can have its older HDD hard drive easily replaced with a SSD flash hard drive similar to the Retina model to boast similar fast boot up speeds, over all allowing you to get a Macbook which can perform and even outperform its successor.
So if you want a Macbook that offers unprecedented abilities in a laptop that you cannot experience on any other laptop and a Macbook that gives you the peace of mind of not being tied down by the basic specs that are soldered on to the retina models or living with the later regret of not paying the few hundred extra to get the upgraded version of the Retina model when the software and your increasing computer demands requires growing performance that an Macbook that cannot be upgraded in the future cannot give, then this is the model for you. This is a purchase you should be happy knowing there is far more than the lower price tag that you are getting over the newer model. Long may the continue to produce this version, the last of the great Macbooks! I would also recommend purchasing a Thunderbolt to HDMI adaptor to compensate for the lack of a HDMI port on this version, which gives it the same full HD capabilities as a native HDMI port.
on 24 April 2014
I bought this Macbook Pro from John Lewis (more expensive, but a free 3 year warranty included) in preference to the newer Retina Macbook Pro or the Macbook Air. While it may seem counter-intuitive to buy an older product while achieving only a 10% price saving, I think there are three very sound reasons NOT to buy the newer model....
Firstly, the display - the Retina is beautiful when you are about 6 inches away from the display, and the quality is amazing. However, when in normal use (sitting at a desk) you are at such a distance from the screen that you won't notice the difference.
Secondly, future proofing. This model of Macbook Pro is the last that is modular i.e you can take it apart and swap RAM and hard drives very easily. The new Retina models have everything soldered to the motherboard - so you will never be able to boost performance in a few years. This Macbook supports up to 16GB RAM and it is a common modification to change the hard drive for a SSD (solid state drive) giving a huge performance increase. You can even remove the Superdrive and put it in an external enclosure, and put a second hard drive inside the machine for increased storage. Such changes are impossible in the Retina or Air models.
Lastly, repairability. A website called ifixit.com gives the Retina 1/10 for repairability, as all the components are glued and soldered in place - a construction method that Apple presumably chose to decrease the physical size and weight of the Retina and Air. If your battery fails in this machine, order a new one, take the bottom cover off and change it. If the same fault occurs on a Retina, you have to battle with very strong adhesive - not really a job for the owner. The same is true for most of the components in this machine - they are easy to obtain as spare parts and easy to replace.
NB - Superdrive - this is almost certainly the last model of Macbook that will come with a CD / DVD drive.
I'm simply delighted with this machine - it's current performance is great and I know I can improve it hugely in the future if I feel the need. Everything just works - printers, internet connections etc all work without the need for install disks, drivers, settings etc. I love this machine!
on 14 February 2014
I have hesitated for a long time to get a Macbook due to the cost and reservations that it probably wouldn't be as good as people said, however I am delighted to be wrong. It is saving me so much time to just switch it on, do whatever work I need to (check e-mails, pay bills, do letters and spreadsheets) and then just turn it off again. Before, with my old laptop, it was wait ages for startup, then it would spend ages updating itself, emailing it's friends or whatever, do a couple of restarts so I might wait half an hour before I could type a short letter, then spend ages waiting for it to shutdown again. There are some differences in controls and functions, but they soon become second nature so that I keep trying to scroll my PC at work like the Mac does and wondering why nothing happens. We've even managed to save some money on bills as it is so quick to check them all now rather than staring at a frozen screen for ages before giving up. Just wish I'd bought it sooner.
on 5 March 2016
The MacBook Pro is not, as the name may suggest, solely for professionals but also for others. I'm able to use my MacBook Pro for just about anything from music production, to film editing, to emails and photo editing - but I would not recommend this laptop if you intend to use it solely for gaming. The Mac is great at allowing you to do what you need to do and present it in an elegant way. With the latest update (El Capitan), you can start something on your Mac and have it seamlessly sync with your iPhone or iPad, allowing for seamless continuity of tasks. It's silver aluminium finish looks great and feels durable, however I feel that Apple should have expanded their colour scheme options, like they did with the new MacBook. I bought my MBP in early 2011 and I can say that it is more than capable of running the latest operating system. If the space and speed of your MBP is a concern for you, I would advise upgrading your hard drive to a Solid State Drive, which will hugely boost the laptop's performance.
I would definitely recommend this laptop to anyone looking for reliability, versatility and performance.
on 6 December 2012
I've had my MacBook for a couple of years now, so thought it was about time to write a review & share my experiences over that time.
Design: Beautifully designed brush chrome, very solid, looks great from any angle. It's fairly heavy, so if you don't need a CD/DVD drive then a macbook air might be a good option.
Keypad: Spongy back-lit keys are great to use, very easy to type on. I do a lot of writing and the keyboard has been just as good to use as my old stand alone one.
Trackpad: This is one of the best features. Amazingly smooth, swift and intuitive to use. I only use the basic finger movements but this is enough to navigate the internet and computer apps/software really well.
Software: Comes with all the main Apple apps. Works best with all Apple use - safari, icloud, time machine, imessage, face time, mail, iphoto, calendar etc. The apple apps & Safari keep getting better - synced with an iphone/ipad/apple TV it would be a really good set up. Yosemite is really geared to this option. Apple music is good so far - 3 months free is a generous offer & it's easy to switch off auto-renew. Photo app stream-lining/updates have really improved things
Screen: Fantastic but can be tiring on the eyes. The f.lux app helps ease heavy use.
Hardware: Not an expert but it's worked well up to this point. Taking advantage of all the Apple updates seems to help speed and general usability. I also recently re-installed the operating system (saved what was important to me to iCloud). This wasn't too difficult, from following MacWorld instructions. The comp was almost as good as new after doing this & is working very well now.
Negatives: Costs a fair bit but you get a beautiful effective item for your money. The main negative for me is sound quality, which is tinny. This is the most disappointing aspect of the computer & a problem across all Apple devices in my experience. Installing the Boom app improves sound quality. Battery life is sufficient if unspectacular. If I was a designer or wanted to focus on artistic/design/photographic use i'd prob go for a macbook with a bigger screen. I've come to the conclusion that using Apple products negatively effects my eyesight. After 3 years the computer has really slowed down but not disastrously so.
Other: If you're switching from a PC it's fiddly at first but worth the effort. I've updated the OS twice, now using Yosemite, which I plan to stick with as i'm not sure the comp likes changing OS too much. Yosemite needs a couple of tweaks but is basically very sound and pretty. It's main emphasis seems to be on syncing all Apple products, principally through the notification centre - this supports "all Apple" use in terms of software. Mavericks seemed just as good otherwise. Full-screen option, sidebar can be moved and messed about with, system preferences to tweak everything else. Alt/3 = #. Click on app icon to choose quit. Force quit to close unresponsive apps (i've read not to do this unless you have to). Don't lose your Apple password! Choose your Apple ID carefully! Tags are useful for pics. Airdrop, hand-off and automator could be useful for some. Spotlight vastly improved in Yosemite and works well.
My fav Apple apps: ipages (much prefer it to Word now), new style photos, maps (starting to like the maps service), 3 free months of the free music service & notes.
My fav non-applel apps: Flux, Day One, Boom, Kindle
Fun games: Tiny Wings, Leo's Fortune, Let's Go Rocket
Useful Apple tutorials/info: David A. Cox on YouTube, MacWorld, Apple Insider on twitter.
Apple, please spend your massive amounts of spare money to keep improving software, rather than share buy-backs or whatever other money making/saving schemes Carl helps you come up with.
Would be very close to five stars but the sound quality lets it down & you have to spend a fair bit of money to get one.
That's all I can think of for now, will add anything else as it comes to mind :)
on 26 May 2014
My first few months with the Macbook Pro were great; I found the whole operating system far superior to Windows (especially the much-loathed Windows 8), not to mention much more user-friendly. And I stand by that. I would not want to go back to Windows... alas, the way things are going, I might have to. The Macbook, for me, was a big investment, and one that I can't afford again anytime soon. I thought it would last for years. However, twelve months on from my initial purchase, and I have been plagued with problems. First thing to go, just several months after buying the Macbook, was its trackpad... tried all of the suggested repairs, and nothing worked. Unfortunately, due to disability, it is not easy for me to get to the nearest Apple repair store, so I ended up buying a mouse in order to get around the trackpad problem. Two months later. the entire PC packed up, and the OS had to be completely reinstalled. Oddly enough, this cured the trackpad problem, which was an unexpected bonus. Unfortunately, the optical drive has now stopped working (DVD's and CD's are constantly ejected), and none of the online troubleshooting has helped... it looks like the drive is completely knackered. One of the main reasons for buying this Macbook was for playing such media. I can't anymore. I now have yet another problem; spinning wheels and frozen screens when I'm using the internet. 90% of the time, the 'force app shutdown' command won't work, which means turning the whole thing off. It can then take anything between 15 and 20 minutes to log back on again. Bear in mind, I have hardly added any apps or files to the Mac since having to reinstall the OS, so this is not the reason for such a slowdown. Just a year on from purchase, and given the cost, together with the multiple problems that I've encountered, I am not overly impressed, which is a shame. UPDATE: One day after posting this already revised review, the macbook's hard-drive is dead. I've given up on it and, with a heavy heart, bought another laptop.
We bought this MacBook for various reasons. I expect to be travelling a lot during the coming year, and needed a small laptop too take with me, and our ageing and rather heavy Acer laptop is on its last legs and will need to be replaced soon anyway. We chose a Mac because we already have an iMac desktop, and have been very impressed with it. This is our first Mac laptop. It was a toss up between the 13" MacBook Pro and the 13" MacBook Air. We chose the Pro because of the extra ports, particularly the CD/DVD slot. Yes, I know, we're a bit old fashioned like that, but it was nice to load all of my favourite CDs onto iTunes and I'm sure it will come in handy for lots of other things. I also liked the solid feel of the Pro compared with the Air, though the professionals tell me that the Air is in fact the more robust of the two because of its solid state construction and lack of moving parts. I like the keyboard and the screen. With the naked eye I can't tell the difference between the display on the Air and the Pro. The MacBook comes loaded with the latest iLife applications. The one I've use most so far is iPhoto, and this is certainly an improvement on the previous version. If you need office applications you can download the iWork suite from the excellent app store. We just transferred all of our apps and files from our iMac by following the simple instructions. This was easy, though it did take several hours for the process to complete itself. The built in speakers aren't great, but connected to external speakers or headphones the MacBook gives a good sound. The MacBook is neither as hot nor as noisy when running as I had been led to expect, though I understand that this may not be the case if you play a lot of games, which we don't. The trackpad took some getting used to, but now that I am used to it I find it better than a mouse, especially the two fingered scrolling, and you can always make changes to its functions in 'system preferences' if you want. Lastly, I just think it's a beautiful piece of kit. Is it worth the extra price? I think it is. That's it, then. Not a technical review, but even a non-techie like me can appreciate a quality product like this. And by the way, I was very impressed with the speed of the free delivery from Amazon; it arrived the next working day after ordering.
on 3 January 2014
It is a great machine, very good, quick an intuitive I am still getting used to it having always used Windows. Microsoft office was a key software instal as my company all use Windows and Apple software (Pages and Keynote are not fully compatible yet.) The only slight negative was that I thought I was buying a 2013 model which is a little slimmer and instead ended up with a mid 2012. That being said the price was a good deal cheaper here than anywhere else either on line or in the store.
In summary, a great lap top at a competitive price.
on 4 October 2013
Like most PC die-hards, I always balked at the price of the mac, especially considering that similarly spec'd PCs (from a pure hardware standpoint) were a mere fraction of the price.
But over the last few years as more and more people whose opinions I valued, switched over to Apple, I started to wonder.
So when I recently found myself in desperate need of a faster, more powerful laptop to run an IDE and web-server for a development project I was working on, I decided it was time to finally take a bite of the Apple.
So where do I start?
Yes, it's beautiful to use and to look at, but I already knew that.
It's MUCH faster than a similarly spec'd PC, but I'd already guessed it would be.
For me, the biggest difference is the operating system and the way everything I try to do on it just works first time. There are some surprises, but they are nearly always good ones that make you go, "Oh, that's cool," or worst case, "hmm...so that's how you do this on a Mac."
In short, the MacBook Pro is the first PC I've ever owned which has beaten my expectations, and considering how much hype surrounds these products, that's really quite an amazing achievement.