2010 MacBook Pro – Initial Impressions

After waiting close to a year, Apple announced their new line of MacBook Pro laptops.  I’d been in the market for a new laptop to replace my 3+ year old white MacBook, and the introduction of the high resolution display pushed me over the edge.  I ordered the upgraded, glossy, high resolution screen on the base 15″ model.  After waiting close to two weeks, it arrived today!

Unboxing

As always, Apple’s packaging is almost as beautiful as the product itself.  I tried to document the unveiling with photos, but I’m afraid they do little justice to the actual beauty of the product.

NIKON D200 @ 50mm — ¹/60 sec, ƒ/4.5, ISO 160 | zoom in
MacBook Pro 15" Shipping Box
NIKON D200 @ 50mm — ¹/60 sec, ƒ/4.5, ISO 160 | zoom in
Shipping Carton Open
NIKON D200 @ 50mm — ¹/60 sec, ƒ/4.5, ISO 160 | zoom in
Back of MacBook Pro 15" Box
NIKON D200 @ 50mm — ¹/60 sec, ƒ/4.5, ISO 160 | zoom in
Front of MacBook Pro 15" Box
NIKON D200 @ 50mm — ¹/60 sec, ƒ/4.5, ISO 160 | zoom in
Box Open

At this point, it’s easy to see the actual beauty of the product.  (It’s really not as shiny as the photo may indicate since there is a protective plastic film covering the laptop).  Perhaps I’m a bit of the odd man out here, but I had never handled the unibody MacBooks.  There is no Mac store within 50 miles of my home and none of my friends have one.  So let me just say that taking it out of the box was quite the experience.  To start with, the engineering is simply beautiful.  It’s very easy to tell that this was made from one solid piece of aluminum.  There are virtually no seams and everything lines up perfectly.  The second noticeable thing was simply how solid it felt.  Because of it’s unibody construction, it feels oddly solid and dense, yet not overly heavy.  It’s somewhat difficult to describe.

Removing the plastic film and opening the display was just as stunning.  While not everyone likes the look of the glossy display, I really like them.

NIKON D200 @ 50mm — ¹/60 sec, ƒ/4.5, ISO 160 | zoom in
Glossy Screen and Keyboard

The other item which caught my attention was the black keyboard.  My white MacBook came with a white keyboard (clearly) and frankly, it always seemed to look dirty after being used for a couple of days — necessitating a good cleaning.  The black keyboard not only looks great against the aluminum housing, but I think will prove to be less revealing with regards to dirt and grime.  Great job Apple.

NIKON D200 @ 50mm — ¹/60 sec, ƒ/4.5, ISO 160 | zoom in
Beautiful Design!

User Interface

While it comes as no surprise that the user interface on an Apple product is good, I have to give very high marks to those items which have changed since my last MacBook.  The first, and most obvious, is the new trackpad design.  Apple has opted to get rid of any discrete buttons and instead equip their laptops with one very large trackpad.  Even my old MacBook had the best trackpad I’ve ever used.  This one is even better.  The entire bottom two thirds of the trackpad is physically a button (which depresses with a click).  While this may sound odd at first, it’s actually very intuitive.  Not only that, the inertial scrolling feature Apple added makes so much intuitive sense to me that using my work computer’s scroll feature (the right edge of the trackpad) seems awkward and inefficient.  For those who haven’t heard the hype, the whole idea behind inertial scrolling is that if you use two fingers to scroll up and down in a document, flicking them down makes the document keep scrolling a little even after your fingers have left the track pad.  This flicking motion makes it very easy to scroll very large documents.

The other huge feature that cannot go unnoticed is the display.  I absolutely love the high resolution display!  I’ve seen some negative comments regarding text sizes with the higher resolution display and will admit that packing extra pixels into a display of the same size will shrink text — that’s a given.  But personally, I don’t find anything unreadable while the laptop is comfortably sitting in my lap.  The higher resolution really shines when photos are displayed.  They are stunning!  Finally I can actually see a decent sized rendition of my photos in Lightroom while having toolbars on the side of the screen!

NIKON D200 @ 50mm — ¹/60 sec, ƒ/4.5, ISO 160 | zoom in
My Desk with External Monitor

Performance

Please bear in mind that this is, indeed, an initial review.  Also please bear in mind that there are numerous speed tests available on the web for these processors.  And I really am not into benchmark numbers or other synthetic tests.  With that said, I am willing to say the performance is really good.  What do I mean by that?  I mean that I find that I no longer have to wait for previews of my photos to render in Lightroom.  I find that clicking on Firefox or Thunderbird produce almost instant windows.  In short, I rarely find myself waiting for the computer to do something.  And that, for me, is what really matters!

Conclusions

Thus far, I’m completely satisfied with my purchase!  I really love the solid aluminum unibody design.  I love the high resolution display!  As I’ve said before, the performance is such that I never feel that I’m having to slow down my workflow to wait for the computer to catch up.  In all actuality, I have to say that this is the best laptop I’ve ever used.  I’m not, by any means, done writing about this wonderful new tool!  In fact, I think it’s safe to say that I’ll be doing much more in-depth reviews of individual aspects.  If there is something specific you’re curious about or interested in, I’m open to suggestions!