2010 has been an exciting year for Apple fans. The iPad was announced and released, drawing equal parts praise and criticism from the technology press. The latest iPhone 4 gained attention amongst technology fans, praised for its lowered price point and inventive mix of features. And the Cupertino-based company’s laptop lineup saw some changes, most notably the Macbook Pro range.
But one model didn’t quite make the leap: the Macbook Pro 13. Apple’s high-end consumer portable has grown into one of their most popular models during its one-year lifespan, amassing a growing fan base in the corporate world, the travel industry, and amongst Apple’s huge consumer base. The notebook was praised as a high-performance portable upon its 2009 release, though we can’t help but feel that the 2010 edition falls slightly flat next to its bigger brothers.
The 15 and 17-inch Macbook Pros found themselves kitted out with new processors, faster RAM chipsets, and a more powerful graphics processor for 2010. The Macbook Pro 13, however, has gained little more than a slight processor speed upgrade and a bigger hard drive, both features which were available as optional extras throughout 2009.
Performance is up slightly from last year, with the new Macbook Pro 13 ripping video and audio at greater speeds than last year’s model. Apple’s Superdrive technology is unchanged from last year, hinting that the greater multimedia performance is due to the upgraded processor and quicker RAM alone, and not the work of a new optical drive.
The new Macbook Pro 13 is also a commendable gaming machine, boasting improved performance across our series of in-game frame rate tests. Apple have never been championed for their gaming pedigree, though with Steam available on Mac OS X and a growing number of titles sharing support across multiple platforms, the Macbook Pro 13 could soon become a go-to gaming notebook.
Mac OSX Snow Leopard is installed as standard, with Apple’s impressive software lineup also included. Carrying out basic tasks on the Macbook Pro 13 is bliss; the laptop’s keyboard is one of the most comfortable around, while the trackpad offers a variety of quick-fire shortcuts and app-specific settings for users.
The new Macbook Pro certainly isn’t Apple’s most innovative or powerful laptop, though it is one of their best all-round pieces of technology. Thanks to a ten-hour battery life and surprisingly agile performance for a compact laptop, the Macbook Pro 13 is one of our favourite laptops for remote workers and mobile professionals.
Despite receiving fewer new parts of noticeable upgrades than its 15 and 17-inch counterparts, the latest Macbook Pro 13 remains one of our favourite laptops. It’s the perfect starter laptop for Mac users, combining the compact form of the standard Macbook but lacking the limited performance of the Macbook Air. Priced from £1,100 it’s certainly no bargain, though it is worth the investment for a compact, effective, and extremely travel-friendly piece of kit.