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Jewish World Review
June 9, 2006
/ 13 Sivan, 5766
MacBook Pro, Supersized
Apple Computer's 17-inch MacBook Pro is the "Who's-Your-Daddy" version of
notebook computing, a digital Cadillac Escalade running the industry's
coolest operating system. The model sent for review, list price $3,099,
contains 2 Gigabytes of RAM, a 100 Gigabyte hard disk drive, and, as
mentioned, the mother-of-all-laptop-computer-displays, in a "widescreen"
format movie lovers, video editors and graphics artists may well
At the heart of the computer is a 2.16 Gigahertz Intel Core Duo processor,
the fastest that Apple has for a portable right now. Indeed, this new
MacBook refreshes and replaces the earlier top-of-the-line PowerBook,
retaining the sleek lines and backlit keyboard of the former model, while
adding a built-in iSight video camera and microphone.
Speed has not seemed an issue with this machine; it's much faster than the
older PowerBook that sits on my office desk. The combination of the Intel
processor, that huge amount of RAM and a faster 7200-RPM hard disk, all
contribute to the fleet performance of this machine. While some purists
may note a speed difference when the "Rosetta" feature of the Mac OS X
"translates" non-Intel-written applications from their Power PC-based
code, I've yet to see it. Then again, my chief "old" programs are the
Microsoft Office for Mac suite of applications, and these aren't as
demanding as, say, QuarkXPress or some others.
But even if a given program isn't exactly as speedy as the impressive
hardware setup should suggest, I've found nothing that would bog this
computer down so greatly that it can't run properly. Overall, the MacBook
Pro's top dog can certainly "hunt," when it comes to performance.
That said - and with its basic features essentially equal to the other
MacBook I've tested, save for the faster Intel processor - the question
arises as to why one would want this computer. My answer, frankly, is that
this isn't for everyone, and perhaps it shouldn't be.
This computer weighs 6.8 pounds, or 1.2 pounds more than the 15-inch
model. While both computers are an inch thick, the larger model is wider
and deeper than the 15-inch by about an inch on each side. (Remember,
display measurements, 15- or 17-inch, are for diagonal measurements of the
In short, you'll need a special case for this computer; your normal
messenger bag probably won't do the job. And, yes, you'll "feel" the extra
weight after carrying this around for a day or two.
These are not bad things, per se, but they are elements you need to
consider. If you edit videos or photographs "on the run," this might be an
ideal machine. If I wanted an ultra-cool "desktop replacement" notebook
that would, 50 weeks of the year, sit on one desk alone, this would be
tempting: the 17-inch widescreen is really, really nice.
Those are exceptional cases, however. Most of us buying Mac notebooks - or
any notebooks, for that matter - are looking for computers that are
relatively easy to take with us on the road, something we can throw in a
bag and run with, if running is required. For those needs, the 13-inch
MacBook (no "Pro"), recently introduced but not yet reviewed here, might
well be an option. For "professional" users who want more graphics power,
the 15-inch MacBook Pro should do nicely, and will be easier to tote
Of course, for many of us, these questions are becoming somewhat moot. Our
notebook computers are, by and large, desktop replacements, "docked" at
work and perhaps at home, connected to larger monitors and external
keyboards, mice and other items.
Yet there is a group of people who will need, or appreciate, or just want,
the raw power, size and features of this highly versatile computer. For
them, it won't be a question of what the large MacBook Pro costs, but
rather, of what it's worth.
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JWR contributor Mark Kellner has reported on technology for industry newspapers and magazines since 1983, and has been the computer columnist for The Washington Times since 1991.Comment by clicking here.
© 2006, News World Communications, Inc. Reprinted with permission of The Washington Times. Visit the paper at http://www.washingtontimes.com