Whatever your operating system preference, there are plenty of reasons for sticking with OS X and Apple’s own software, since the hardware and software – as is so often the case with Apple – are seamlessly integrated. This is reflected in the excellent boot and shutdown times but also in the usability, particularly where the touchpad is concerned. Put simply, there is nothing quite like it on any other laptop. It’s not just its multi-touch functionality, which is perfectly executed and a joy to use, it’s the smoothness of its glass finish and the size that makes using the MacBook Pro a unique experience.
In comparison the keyboard is pretty mundane, though how the backlighting is controlled by the light sensor next to the webcam is a nifty and well executed feature – ensuring you never have it on when it is not needed. However, it’s still a very good keyboard. Keys have a nice crisp action that ensures brisk and error-free typing, while the layout is very good even if there are a few Apple specific features that will distract a Windows user initially. Seasoned Apple users, of course, won’t have any such problems.
Since we’ve ignored it until now, it’s also worth remembering exactly how elegant and stylish the aluminium unibody chassis really is. No other laptop even comes close to the style and impact the MacBook Pro has, let alone one that costs £830. Moreover, where so many laptops – particularly consumer orientated ones – are obsessed by glossy, scratch and dirt prone plastic, the aluminium of the MacBook is very durable and requires little attention to keep it looking its best.
This is also one of the coolest and quietest systems of its type you’re likely to find. Provided you’re not doing anything especially taxing it’s basically inaudible, while the base of the system rarely gets more the lukewarm. Naturally this will change if you start doing more CPU intensive tasks, but by any standards the MacBook Pro is a very well cooled system.
There is one caveat, though. While the system itself is good at keeping cool, its aluminium chassis doesn’t cope so well in direct sunlight. Thus, especially in this pleasant July heat we’re enjoying, the aluminium chassis can become uncomfortably warm during prolonged exposure – nothing a nice bit of shade wouldn’t solve, but there are bound to be times when none is available.
Another ‘outdoors’ issue is the screen, which is highly reflective thanks to the now ubiquitous glossy finish. However, the 13.3in, 1,280 x 800 LED backlit display is also very bright, so deals better than most with the attentions of bright sunlight. As a result any high contrast application, such a word processor or web browser, remains perfectly useable, though video and picture viewing is a little more challenging.