Once indoors any issues surrounding heat and reflectivity are non-existent and not only is the display a very bright one, it’s a very colourful one too. In fact, by default it’s a little too colourful, producing slightly overblown and over-saturated colours. Happily Apple’s display calibration tool is very comprehensive, so it’s easy to set it to a level that’s preferable.
However, this can’t help smooth out the banding we saw, which was particularly pronounced with the screen at 100 per cent brightness, though much less so at anything less. This will disappoint any hardcore photographers out there. Clearly the display has been calibrated to suit multimedia rather colour sensitive activities. On the plus side the horizontal viewing angles are above average, which should also enhance multimedia use.
Since we’re on the topic of multimedia, it never ceases to surprise us how good the speakers in the MacBooks are. They’re still not going to replace a decent set of headphones or desktop speakers, but they’re superior to many competing laptops, producing a passable sense of depth and decent clarity.
But what of Apple’s battery claims? While we never quite got seven hours out of the machine ourselves, under the right conditions we’re sure it could achieve this and possibly more. Running a video at 50 per cent screen brightness with all wireless radios turned off returned a very good four hours and 52 minutes playback. Upping the brightness to 100 per cent (the same level we run our Windows PC tests) gave three hours and 40 minutes – both excellent results, especially given how bright the display is at 100 per cent.
In more general multi-tasking, such as word processing and web browsing (using Wi-Fi), the MacBook Pro lasted six hours and 26 minutes. Again an outstanding result given we still had the display set to 60 per cent most of the time, plus spent twenty minutes outside where brightness had to be maxed out to make it readable. Clearly were one to turn off Wi-Fi and turn the display right down seven hours would be possible. In fact Apple’s estimate seems slightly conservative given our experience, though we’d sooner praise its realism in this respect.
Is this enough? For most the answer is probably yes, but even the rapid charging (we found the MacBook could go from 50 per cent to 90 per cent charged in under 50 minutes) won’t appease those who simply need the flexibility of a spare battery. For them this latest 13in MacBook Pro is bound to be a disappointment. For everyone else it should be a revelation.
Non-user replaceable battery aside, it’s difficult to find fault with the new 13in MacBook Pro. All the things that made it great in the first place remain, but they’ve been joined by highly desirable features like the FireWire port, SD card reader and the now standard backlit keyboard. Add-in outstanding battery life, a faster CPU and a slightly more affordable price and you’ve got a package well deserving of a Recommended Award.