Apple MacBook Pro 13in review

We look at Apple’s new 13in MacBook Pro to see how it stacks up for business use.

Apple's Mini DisplayPort connector is used to connect external monitors and projectors, so it's essential that you budget for the necessary DVI and VGA adaptors, which will set you back 21 a piece.

The display has a reasonable viewing angle for working with a colleague looking over your shoulder, although you might have to battle reflections as there's no anti-glare option at this size.

One of the standout hardware features is the glass Multi-Touch trackpad, which uses gestures to scroll and get around the Desktop. New in this model is inertial scrolling, derived from the iPhone and Magic Mouse, which distinguishes between slow swipes and quick flicks to scrolls at an appropriate pace. It works well with library software such as iTunes though it's handy with long documents, too.

For day-to-day office use, either of the Core 2 Duo-driven 13in models will serve you well. It's a little objectionable that no office software is included, though you get a slight discount of 16 off the usual price of 71 if you buy iWork with your MacBook. If you work alone or as part of a small team that doesn't rely on Microsoft Office's ecosystem, that could be all you need.

The good news, at least if you're planning to use the MacBook at home as well, is that iLife 09 is bundled. iPhoto is a joy to use thanks to face recognition technology and Places, which pins geo-tagged photos to a world map, and the suite includes iMovie, iDVD, iWeb and GarageBand, too.

If you have no interest in using the MacBook that way, the inclusion of an SD card slot is superfluous, and you'll have to do a juggling act (or invest in a USB hub) to plug in anything more than your mobile broadband dongle and an external hard drive to back up with Mac OS X's Time Machine feature.

Whichever speed you choose, the MacBook Pro's excellent battery life is one more attractive feature added to an already excellent workhorse.

Verdict

Apple’s new 2.66GHz MacBook Pro sports excellent network connections but it’s not so great if you need to connect a lot of USB peripherals. Unless you genuinely see a need for extra speed and don’t want to step up to a heavier 15in model, you’ll be just as happy with the 2.4GHz model. Put the considerable saving of £250 towards peripherals, an extended warranty or virtualisation software, and also bear in mind that Apple doesn’t bundle any office software even at this price. Otherwise the 13in MacBook Pro’s battery life under light use is an attractive proposition that will see you through the working day.

Processor: Intel Core 2 Duo, 2.66GHz (2.4GHz also available), 3MB L2 cache Memory: 4GB 1066MHz DDR3 (upgradeable to 8GB) Graphics: NVIDIA GeForce 320M (shares 256MB of DDR SDRAM with main memory) Optical drive: 8x DVD writer Hard disk: 320GB, 5400rpm Serial ATA drive Display: 13.3-inch 1280 x 800, LED-backlit, glossy Features: Kensington lock, iSight camera, microphone, MagSafe power connector, Multi-Touch trackpad, backlit keyboard, built-in stereo speakers Connectivity: 802.11 a/b/g/n wifi, Gigabit Ethernet port, Bluetooth 2.1 + EDR Ports: 2 x USB, 1 x FireWire 800, Mini DisplayPort output (requires optional adaptors for VGA, DVI and HDMI connectivity), SD card slot, combined optical digital output/headphone out with user-selectable analog audio line-in Dimensions: 325 x 227 x 24mm (WxDxH) Weight: 2.04kg Warranty: 90 days of free telephone support, one-year limited warranty OS: Mac OS X 10.6 Snow Leopard Software: iLife 09 (iPhoto, iMovie, iDVD, iWeb, GarageBand)

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