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Be aware, this is NOT the very latest hardware (it's been replaced by the "Mac Book Pro with Retina").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.
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 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.
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.
on 30 July 2012
Before you read this review, two things are worth pointing out.
Firstly, before I bought this Laptop, I had only ever used a Windows computer. And secondly, the price tag is there for a reason. It's because it's worth every penny.
I used Windows to it's maximum potential, and there is nothing wrong with Windows, but for years I felt as if something was missing...And please forgive me for saying this, but I have found what was missing.
Apple is not lying when it says that this laptop is 'not just an ordinary laptop'. It really isn't. And that is the prime difference I found with Windows, they always seemed "dull", and were often too concerned with simply getting the job done, without the experience being pleasurable for the laptop user.
Firstly, the specs speak for themselves; An Intel Dual Core i5 (Ivy Bridge), with a 2.5GHz processor, with a hefty 4GB (I upgraded to 8GB via crucial.com), and a massive 500GB HD Drive, and a beautiful display with exceptional Graphics. HD camera and an impressive 7 hour battery too. Yes it's true that you can get a Windows computer with the same specs for £350/400 cheaper, BUT, that's just for the same specs, a laptop is much more than specs ;-)
The design trumps any PC I have yet to come across. It's beautiful feel and the aluminum unibody crossed with the black keyboard and surrounding screen is easy on the eye whenever I pick it up.
The OS however is what makes the Mac. Watching Windows attempt to move towards Mac over the years (With a similar Mac dock in Windows 7) is easily understood. But Windows is far off ever competing with Lion or any MAC OS. The touchpad gestures and the ability to configure them, means that you will not need to use a mouse ever again. Simply things, such as switching from programs, or fast multi-tasking is made slick and simple. The ability to create more than one desktop is so useful too, as I can move across to it by simply swiping three fingers left or right on the touchpad.
I have had this computer for nearly 6 weeks now, and I have experienced nothing but speed, slickness, and exceptional performance all round.
Also, the free applications that come with the Mac are incredible, and something that you will never find on a Windows computer.
Finally for the positives. There so many great things about this Laptop, and I have recently upgraded to the Mountain Lion OS, and this integrates amazingly if you have an iPhone.
Okay, so despite the positives, the price tag still remains high. This is one negative if you are tight for cash. But as an investment, and as a much more for filling experience, I think it can be made into a positive by a stretch.
Dashboard: The Dashboard in Lion (and still Mountain Lion) is quite useless in my personal opinion. I think its a waste of RAM and space, so I got rid of it in Terminal....
MICROSOFT OFFICE: Office became a problem since the entire country uses it, so I needed it, and got it online for £40. Which again is a stretch, but that personally was the only "major" negative.
Despite all the negatives, and despite myself pondering whether to buy a Mac for about a year, it is a must buy if you need a new laptop which is amazing.
It's fun to use, and despite getting bored of all my windows PCs, Laptops etc, I look forward to getting on my Mac everyday.
What I'm about to say could be read as critical of Apple, and so I am bracing myself for the slew of 'unhelpful' clicks! But here goes anyway.
This model is approaching three years old but it remains a fantastic machine, so much so that if you will be mostly using your machine at home then I would recommend it more highly than the new 'retina' Macbooks. My MacBook Pro was recently stolen and, when the insurance paid out, I bought another of the 2012 machines rather then the newer models. Here's why:
This is the last of the user upgradable Apple laptops.
Apple, like all manufacturers, has always sold slightly different versions of its machines so that it can hit different markets - for example you can get the same computer with a slightly faster processor, more memory, or a bigger hard disk. The price jumps attached to the premium machines have always been more than the actual cost of the components - the ultimate example is perhaps the the storage capacity of iPads and iPhones - there is very little manufacturing cost difference between a 16gb iPad and a 64gb one, but the retail price difference is significant.
Traditionally, computers were built so that they could be reasonably upgradeable - this was seen as an essential part of the design. However, the sheer demand for Apple's products has allowed it to champion obsolesence by design - iPhone kicked this off by designing the iPhone to reject user replacement batteries and by omitting SD Card slots and so preventing expandable memory, but the latest generation of MacBooks (that this machine is not part of) takes this to the next level.
If you don't want to be buying the latest model every couples of years, there are three things that you will almost certainly wish to upgrade or replace in your laptop to keep it feeling fresh: the battery, the memory and the hard drive.
You can easily replace or upgrade all of these components on this 2012 model MacBook Pro. It ships with a very modest 4gb of ram but you can easily and affordably up this to 16gb should you want to. If the battery starts to wear out (batteries are consumables, afterall), you can easily replace the battery with little more than screwdriver. If you would like a bigger or faster hard-drive, you can easily swap out the 500gb spinning disk for a bigger or faster one - including swapping it for a 2.5 inch Sold State SSD disk (like the new Macs use) whenever you want - and you can swap it for a disk as big as you like.
None of this is true for the newer Macs - the memory is soldered to the rest of the computer, so you can't install more, the really quite small solid state disks aren't upgradeable either (forget storing movies or a lot of photos etc locally - you'll be reliant on the cloud), and to cap it all the battery is super glued in place so that, when it get tired you are forced to buy a new machine (similar to the iPhone situation). That, for me, it totally unacceptable.
I tell you all of these things because this 2012 MacBook Pro model was the last of the machines that does allow for user upgrades and they are now at a fantastic price. If you use your computer mostly at home then I'd even suggest saving the £300+ difference, buy one of these and bung 16gb of memory into it (about £80) and a whopping 1TB SSD (about £240 but SSD prices are falling all the time). The net result will be a machine that may have a slightly slower processor than the new MacBooks at the same total price, but will have twice the memory and four times the Solid State hard disk capacity making for superior all round performance.
Oh, and this was also the last of the MacBooks to include an optical disk drive. These aren't really essential now, and are uneccessary weight for a portable machine, but I still watch DVDs so it's still very useful to me!
on 2 February 2014
Really glad I got this laptop. It's so fast on the net and no looking back fo me, My old computer is a dinosaur compared to this! I also bagged a bargain too by buying on on the internet and not in the shops!!