First Take: Apple MacBook Pro spring 2010 (13-inch)

Apple's new updates to its 13-inch MacBook Pro include improved battery life, upgraded Nvidia graphics, and slight spec bumps.

Apple

If you're a MacBook user, you've likely been waiting on pins and needles as the rest of the industry has been unleashing Intel's new Core i3, i5 and i7 processors everywhere. There's good news and bad news here: while Apple has updated its MacBook Pro line to Core i5 and i7 processors , the new spring 2010 13-inch MacBook Pro still runs off an Intel Core 2 Duo processor. We can't say we weren't expecting a new processor here, and we're mildly disappointed. After all, we really loved the 2009 13-inch MacBook Pro, and now it currently sits a step behind its higher-powered, bigger-screened siblings.

That's not to say there aren't some modest but notable improvements: the integrated Nvidia graphics, previously a 9400M that was pretty serviceable, have been updated to Nvidia's new GeForce 320M. Though we haven't benchmarked the improvements yet, Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 looked very playable when we tried it in action.

There are also some spec bumps from the previous generation, as would be expected. All configurations have 4GB of RAM, upgradable to 8GB for an extra $400. The lower-end MacBook Pro configuration, at $1,199, includes a 2.4GHz Core 2 Duo and a 250GB hard drive, and the $1,499 version has a 2.66GHz Core 2 Duo and a 320GB hard drive. The hard drive can be upgraded to a maximum of 500GB at 5,400rpm for an extra $150 over the base configuration, or you can add an SSD ranging from $350 for 128GB to $1,450 for 512GB.

Apple also claims a whopping 10 hours of battery life on the 13-inch Pro, yet another improvement on the already impressive gains we saw last year when Apple integrated the battery. This year's boosts, according to Apple, come from a combination of CPU efficiency and new battery chemistry. The 13-inch MacBook Pro retains the same compact dimensions as before, despite the battery boost.

In fact, the physical design of the new MacBook Pro is essentially identical to the previous one. After all, why mess with a sleek unibody design if you don't have to? The MagSafe magnetic power adapter cord has gotten a slight tweak, using a thinner side-attaching cable like the one on the MacBook Air. The cable juts out less and should, as a result, suffer fewer yank-outs. Other than that, the same large, glass multitouch clickable trackpad we already love remains the same, as do the backlit raised keyboard and edge-to-edge glossy screen. The new 15- and 17-inch MacBook Pros offer an antiglare coating for an extra $50, but there's no option on the 13-inch to do the same.

 

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