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Jewish World Review
Nov. 24, 2006
/ 3 Kislev, 5767
Apple's twin wonders
Over the course of the past 30 years or so in which Apple Computer has
done business, it's quite possible that 2006 will go down as one of the
firm's best, if not its best so far. That's in no small measure due to
something which might well have been thought impossible: a
super-successful migration from the PowerPC processor to various
CPUs made by Intel Corp.
Within the past two weeks, Apple has upgraded the Intel processors in two
of its portables, the MacBook and MacBook Pro, offering greater speed at
the same price as earlier models. If the former computers were good
values, the new models are superb values worth weighing for an end-of-year
purchase or for holiday gift giving.
The MacBook Pro, with its 15-inch screen and 2.33 GHz Intel Core 2 Duo
processors, will be a very good choice for many traveling business
people, I'd suspect. The screen is large without being overbearing (Apple
offers a 17-inch version, but it's unwieldy) and as delivered for review,
with 2 GB of RAM and a 160 GByte hard drive, it certainly offers enough
capacity for most road warriors. Configured as described, count on
spending $2599, or $100 than the base price, for this model.
Along with size and a marginally more powerful CPU chip than the smaller
MacBook sent for review, what's nice about the MacBook Pro is its
made-for-business styling, the ability to handle up to 3 GB of RAM, or 50
percent more than a maxed-out MacBook, and a better graphics card, ATI's
Mobility Radeon X1600, with 256 Mbytes of dedicated RAM. By contrast, the
MacBook uses an Intel graphics processor which shares 64 Mbytes of RAM
with the main system memory.
What this means is that for the on-the-road photographer or filmmaker, the
MacBook Pro - and probably a 17-inch version for Mr. Spielberg - is your
best bet. Ditto for other "creative" types who need a bit more power and
performance. Processor-to-processor, however, I don't know if the .33 GHz
advantage of the MacBook Pro over its smaller sibling is compelling; when
the RAM and graphics are factored in, it becomes a different story for
many of us.
For me, though, I'd probably want to spend about $800 less on a very
nicely equipped MacBook and spend the balance on a digital camera or some
such. The MacBook, with which I fell in love last summer while toting one
around southwestern Turkey, is back in a new and improved model with a 2
GHz Intel Core 2 Duo chip and up to 2 GB of RAM and a 160 Gbyte hard disk
drive, all this for $1774 from Apple. All that's more than enough for
yours truly, and perhaps for many other people. You can go up to a 200
Gbyte hard drive on both the MacBook and Pro models, however.
In performance, the MacBook earns my respect for several things. One is
its sleek design, which isn't James Bond-like, but is stylish enough. The
"Chiclets" style keyboard grows on you; at least it grew on me, and I
prefer typing on it a bit more than the MacBook Pro's keys.
Other features of the MacBook work very nicely, including the built-in
Wi-Fi antenna and iSight camera. Sound quality is very good, and
there are enough ports to connect a range of peripherals. I wish the
trackpad offered a few more scrolling options, but at least you can tap on
it to duplicate a mouse click, once you specify this in the system
My earlier endorsement of both MacBook models, basic and Pro ,
stands, and is enhanced with more bang for your computing buck. Oh, and do
I need to remind you that with Parallels Workstation software, you can run
Microsoft Windows (if needed) alongside the Mac OS? Details on the
machines at http://www.apple.com.
Every weekday JewishWorldReview.com publishes what many in in the media and Washington consider "must-reading". Sign up for the daily JWR update. It's free. Just click here.
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