Or perhaps this article should be titled “Why Apple’s Unibody Macbook Pro’s are the best ever made…and why you might want to wait until you buy!”
We first saw Apple’s new ‘Unibody’ line of Macbook’s and Macbook Pro’s in October 2008, and they were subsequently updated 8 months later to include the 13” Macbook Pro. There’s no doubt that the new look unibody enclosure was a much needed upgrade to the dating look of the previous Macbook Pro, but aesthetics aside, they definitely packed a punch with new NVIDIA graphics and the option of dual graphics cards in the Pro (the integrated 9400M and the more powerful 9600M GT).
One may ask why they would ever need two graphics cards – it sounds crazy for a laptop to have such a feature, but when you think about it, it makes sense. If you’re on the move doing things that aren’t graphics-hungry, then you’ll want to get more battery life from your machine. This can be accomplished using the 9400M as it’s a very capable chip for most uses, especially when paired with DDR3 RAM.
If you need more of a boost in the graphics department if you’re working on a more GPU intensive project, you can go in to System Preferences and switch to the discrete card. A disadvantage of this is that when switching cards, you have to go into System Preferences to do so, and then log out and back in again for the change to take effect. Nevertheless, it’s a great feature to have – it is a ‘Pro’ after all. You’ll find the second graphics card in the 17” Macbook Pro, and it’s an option in the 15”.
If you haven’t seen a Unibody Macbook Pro before, you’ll love how thin and bright the LED screen is. Like everyone else, I would appreciate an option to have the lower sized models ship with a Matte screen over the default glossy offering, but it’s not a deal breaker for me. There is quite a bit of glare when working in a well lit room, but I’ve not found it to impede my workflow.
After switching to my Unibody Macbook Pro in late 2008, I found I couldn’t live without what is, to me, the most subtle yet useful feature in the new design: the backlit keyboard. With the help of the ambient light sensor located next to the iSight camera, the backlit keyboard adjusts its brightness depending on your surroundings, so you can always comfortably use your keyboard. You can also manage the light level manually if you need to do so.
This is all well and good – there’s no doubt in my mind that the current Macbook Pro is one of the best laptops available to consumers today, but if you’ve been using Windows all your life? You may be thinking about switching to Mac OS, or wondering whether you can use Windows on the Macbook Pro. Although Apple said they’d support Windows 7 on Boot Camp by the end of 2009, so I had to write up how to install Windows 7 on Boot Camp in the meantime, but finally the update did arrive, but not until early 2010!
So if you plan on installing Windows 7 on your MacBook Pro, you can install with Boot Camp no problem, or you can also use a program such as Parallels for OS X which allows you to run Windows virtually. This also gives you the option to run in ‘Coherence’ mode, which allows you to open certain Windows applications without ever seeing Windows itself, your programs will just run alongside your Mac applications. I’ve been using it on Snow Leopard and you can find out what I thought to it in my Parallels Desktop 5 Review which I installed onto my Apple MacBook Pro.
So with all this taken into account, is there any reason why you shouldn’t upgrade? There might be one: the introduction of Intel’s new Core i5 and Core i7 processors into the Macbook Pro’s is just around the corner. Back in December, a January release was predicted, although you can never be certain with Apple… My recommendation? Try your best to wait just a few more weeks! You don’t want to buy a Macbook Pro now, only for them to be upgraded with a specification boost a few days/weeks down the line like when Apple recently upgraded the iMac range in October 2009!
UPDATE: The MacBook Pro laptops update (April 2010) has now happened and you can now buy one with updated specifications such as improved graphics cards and other optional hardware upgrades such as Intel Core i5 and i7 CPUs.