NYT, WSJ Give MacBook Pro High Marks

Walt Mossberg of The Wall Street Journal, and David Pogue of The New York Times, have had the opportunity to give the new Intel Core Duo MacBook Pro a shakedown. Both share their experiences so the rest of us know what to expect before dropping our hard-earned cash.

The Good
Mr. Mossbergis review compares the MacBook Pro to a late-model PowerBook G4 and HPis Pavilion dv5000t laptop. He rates Appleis new laptop as better than the PowerBook G4 and better than HPis laptop.

Mr. Pogue lets the MacBook Pro stand on its own in his review. He adds a spin to Appleis own "finest laptop in the world" description by saying "[Itis] the finest laptop in the world, with a small serving of disappointment on the side."

Overall, both were very impressed with the new laptop, noting that it does run faster than previous models, although not at the four to five times better that Apple claims. The included Universal Binary applications, however are noticeably snappier than they are when running on a PowerPC-based Mac.

Battery life is in line with the PowerBook, so you should get a little under four hours of normal use. Airport Extreme reception is better, too.

Like the last PowerBook, the MacBook Pro has a 15.4-inch display, although the resolution is just slightly lower. On the other hand, it is significantly brighter - to the tune of 67% brighter.

The new magnetic charging cable will save your new laptop from being unceremoniously flung from your desk when someone accidentally snags the cord with their foot.

The Bad
Many people have been hoping that the MacBook Pro would have a significantly longer battery life than the PowerBook it replaces, but it looks like thatis not the case. ALthough better than similarly equipped PC laptops, itis no better than the PowerBook.

Apple chose to remove some features that weive become accustomed to, like the standard-sized PC Card slot, FireWire 800, S-Video out, the internal modem, and the high-speed SuperDrive. The PC Card slot has been replaced with the newer ExpressCard slot. Once a third party FireWire 800 ExpressCard is available, you can add high-speed FireWire back to your Mac. Apple also sells a US$20 S-Video adapter if you need to connect your laptop to a TV.

Removing the modem, however, seems a bit odd. laptop toting travelers often rely on dial-up Internet connections to check email. Appleis new USB modem works, but thatis an extra $50, and one more thing to lose.

The included SuperDrive is a step back from the one in the last PowerBook G4. It burns DVDs at 4x instead of 8x, and canit burn dual-layer discs.

Applications that havenit been recompiled as Universal Binary take a noticeable performance hit. Rosetta is great, since it lets us run the current crop of PowerPC compiled applications while we wait for updates to come out, but at a price. Unless you are using an older and substantially slower G4 Mac, youill notice the slow down, which makes the MacBook Pro a poor choice if use currently run Photoshop on a G5 Mac, or the latest PowerBook G4.

The Verdict
Although the MacBook Pro does have a few limitations compared to the PowerBook G4, it is still an overall better machine. Applications run faster, the screen is brighter, and the new power connector should save us from countless laptop tumbles. If Rosettais performance isnit an issue for you, the MacBook Pro is a fast, powerful, and capable machine thatis ready to take whatever you throw at it.

The 15-inch MacBook Pro is available with a 1.83-gigahertz processor, 512MB of memory and an 80GB hard disk for $1,999. The 2.0 GHz model includes 1GB of memory and a 100GB hard disk for $2,499.