Radically overhauled last year, Apple's MacBook line of laptops moved to aluminum construction, edge-to-edge glass over LED displays, and oversize multitouch-touch pads (with the exception of the lone $999 white plastic model). The latest round of updates is more of a refinement than another revolution, but it adds some much-sought-after features, while lowering prices on many configurations.
Most notable, the 13-inch aluminum unibody MacBook has been promoted to join the MacBook Pro family. It's a move that makes sense, as the differences between the two lines were becoming increasingly blurred. To complete the transformation, the 13-inch Pro regains its missing FireWire port, making it even more useful for creative professionals on the go.
New to the Pro line is something we never thought we'd see on a MacBook--an SD card slot. Standard on the 13- and 15-inch Pro laptops, this corrects one of our main MacBook annoyances. We're also pleased to see the backlit keyboard--previously found in only the more expensive 13-inch versions--filter down to even the $1,149 base model (which is a nice discount from the previous $1,299 entry price).
Some have strong feelings about the nonremovable battery--similar to those already found on the MacBook Air and 17-inch Pro. It's a legitimate concern, but we think the promise of better battery life (Apple claims up to a 40 percent improvement), and three times as many recharge cycles as older batteries is just as important.
There are still a few items on our 13-inch wish list--matte screens, mobile broadband options, Blu-ray--but Apple has done an admirable job in filling in some of the major missing pieces. By offering more features for less money, the 13-inch MacBook Pro remains one of the most universally useful laptops available. … Read more