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Apple says "That's not a knife. <em>This</em> is a knife": MacBook Pro

Newly escaped from the clutches of IBM's lethargic PowerPC roadmap, Apple has stormed back into the laptop arena with a machine that's a quantum leap ahead of the current competition

It's been a while since Apple could claim its laptops were the fastest on the strip, but with the transition from IBM to Intel chips, the new Apple MacBook Pro is one of the first widely available dual-core processor laptops in the world, and seriously fast. Apple reports that the MacBook is four to five times faster per Watt than the old G4-based PowerBooks. Apple's OSX remains the only commercial operating system that can take full advantage of a dual-core processor.

Never one to stand still for long, Apple is now using a processor that was only announced by Intel at CES last week. The MacBook Pro is 26mm thick and weighs in at 2.54kg, almost the same weight as the previous generation. The MacBook comes with a built-in iSight webcam, and an Apple Remote for use with Apple's PVR-like software, Front Row. There's also an ExpressCard slot and FireWire 400.

Apple is launching two versions of the MacBook in February, one priced at £1,429, with a 1.67GHz processor, 512MB of RAM and an 80GB hard drive; and a psyched version at £1,779 -- with a 1.83GHz processor, 1GB of RAM and a 100GB hard drive. Both are available to order from the Apple Store now.

The new range is equipped with ATI's Mobility Radeon X1600 with 256MB of memory -- an impressive card that keeps Apple ahead of the game in graphics as well as raw processing power. Battery life remains an unknown, but Intel are supposed to have made these chips run extremely economically -- hence the earlier 'per Watt'. We'll have to wait and see, but judging from the spec sheet, the MacBook could be the best reason yet to consider an Apple laptop this year. -CS