Apple MacBook Pro MD313LL/A 13.3-Inch Laptop

The Apple MacBook Pro MD313LL/A is Apple’s latest foray into the laptop market. It includes some screaming technology but it also seems to be unsure of its mission. For example, The MD313LL/A is small. It features a high-resolution 13.3-inch display that, while very capable, is tiny by today’s standards. At the same time, it offers a laptop-style 1333 MHz front-side bus speed, a 2.4GHz processor, 4GB of standard memory, a 500 GB hard drive, an 8-spin DVD/CD “SuperDrive” and the Intel Graphics 3000 chipset. Still the form factor says netbook, while the features say laptop.

For example, Apple touts the fact that the MD313LL/A uses unitized body construction – it uses one aluminum block as the body mold – enabling the MacBook Pro to remain thin, but it is still too heavy to be a netbook. The 4.5-pound weight puts it into laptop category, but it is still small enough to be seen as a netbook. It is conveniently sized and less than an-inch thick by 13 inches wide and about 9 inches deep.

Let’s just assume that Apple is really aiming at the laptop market with this mini-sized laptop. Once one does that one knows that Apple a solid product on its hands with cutting-edge features. For example, it offers a technology it terms “Thunderbolt” which offers data pass through at up to 20 Gbps. Requiring a special Apple adapter, this technology can be used for data, audio or video.

“Thunderbolt” combines Apple’s PCI Express and DisplayPort technologies to enable high-speed transfers through a single port. In the data mode, one can zap data through at speeds of up to 20 Gbps. Coincidentally, the same port, with the proper mini DisplayPort adapter lets one speed high-definition data output to a video device such as a DVI or HDMI system. The display is surprisingly crisp, although it is limited to 13 inches, hardly the stuff of full-screen, full-featured games. Yet, the video chipset used is game-class, the flexible Intel 3000 chipset that offers full high-definition resolution of 1280 by 800. The display is backlit and offers a rich array of color ability plus very rich blacks and a wide range of contrast.

Interestingly, the video chipset shares part of the 384 onboard memory caching second generation Intel Core II 5 processor offers. The same memory is also shared with the CPU and the DVD player so it is bound to have an impact on ultimate performance the memory available. One can see times when the MacBook Pro could become processor-bound because its cache is at maximum. One should know that one is also locked into Apple’s proprietary Lion operating system (OS 10).

The MacBook Pro is fully network-centric, offering both hard-wired and WiFi service. It will automatically recognize and offer WiFi services at 801.11/A/B/G/N speeds to up to 20 users as a WiFi hotspot. One can also see I/O binding because there’s only so much bandwidth and memory available for the 20 users so performance may slow.

The laptop offers a host of features including an 8-spin SuperDrive that offers the following modes DVD+R DL, DVD+-RW and CD-RW. Plus, the MacBook Pro offers a forward-facing high-definition webcam for video calls and conferencing. Bluetooth compatibility is also available so you can sync up to a dozen Bluetooth devices to your MacBook.

One would think that since this is built around Intel’s processor and video chipset that one would have access to a wide range of offerings, but this isn’t the case. As with all things Apple, you must buy Apple peripherals to complete the package. It is true that some of the peripherals are unique such as the “Time Capsule,” a WiFi 801.11/N disk that works with Apple’s OS 10 (Leopard or later) which lets one automatically back up the laptop’s hard disk via WiFi. The “Time” can hold up to 2 to 3 TB of data, depending on your choice. It can also be configured as WiFi hotspots in themselves.

To take full advantage of the MacBook Pro one would likely want a larger display for HD content and Apple offers you a larger “Thunderbolt Display.” Apple also offers an AirPort Extreme Base Station for home, school or business use. In this mode, the MacBook will support up to 50 users. Apple also offers a wireless keyboard for the MacBook Pro.

Special mention should be made of its keypad which is buttonless. Instead, it relies on a relatively large glass keypad that you can tap, swipe, use two or three or four fingers to access and use, instead. It is a feature that could require some getting used to.

The MacBook Pro is an excellent upgrade to an already great Apple laptop. Yes, it is a little on the small side and all its key peripherals are made by Apple, but if you are willing to use this technology, you won’t go wrong. You also won’t go wrong if you remember that this is not a netbook but it is really a full-featured laptop, just downsized a bit.