Apple's new Unibody, aluminium manufacturing process was extremely welcome on the 13.3in line of MacBooks, but this October's product range refresh was of far less significance to the MacBook Pro line-up. Those 15.4in and 17in had already had an aluminium chassis for donkey's years. In fact, were I feeling cynical, I might accuse Apple of resting on its laurels.
Not, I hasten to add, that sticking closely to a tried and tested formula is necessarily a bad thing. As we said in our review, the last generation MacBook Pro was damn-near flawless, falling down only on price. Arguably, then, aside from a little spit and polish there was little that Apple needed to do with this renewed MacBook Pro range.
Fundamentally, the last-2008 MacBook Pro can now be looked at simply as a 13.3in MacBook with a slightly larger chassis, some faster CPU options (rumour has it an Intel quad-core mobile CPU will be offered next year) and an additional, dedicated GPU. Apple boasts that this makes it perfect for professionals, especially those using software tailored to be GP-accelerated by the nVidia chips the MacBook Pro uses - Adobe's CS4 line of products, for example.
I actually think Apple has made a bit of a blunder with the latest MacBook Pro, though. You see, I think most of the professionals that Apple is targeting with this product range would go for the 17in model, not the 15.4in machine. Were I buying for myself, I'd definitely want the 1,920 x 1,200 resolution panel in a 17in chassis - whether that be for editing images, word documents or HD video files.
Apple, though, in its infinite wisdom, hasn't updated the 17in Pro to the new chassis and internals yet, for some bizarre reason. Thankfully Apple isn't killing off that system, it's just coming a bit later, but I can't help but think this review would have been far more positive if a 17in MacBook Pro were sitting in front of me now.
However, I'm getting slightly ahead of myself. The MacBook Pro does have some redeeming features and it would be extremely negligent of me not to give them due discussion. Without further ado, then, let's dive in.