Apple MacBook Pro MD318LL / A 15.4-Inch Laptop


The Apple MacBook Pro 15.4-Inch Laptop is a natural evolution of the line. Apple, some years ago, moved away from proprietary microprocessors and linked up with Intel to take advantage of Intel's processor expertise so the MD318LL / A uses a state-of-the-art quad core I7 2.2 GHz processor. Although one is tied tightly to Apple and its peripherals, one of the primary criticisms of Apple in the past, it is also one of their strengths as one can easily daisy-chain Apple peripherals from the Thunderbolt port to the device and one can expect stable high-speed data transfer and access. Apple's Lion operating system V10.7 gives it this capability as well as higher speed and the ability to use the full capability of the Intel processor powering the MD318LL / A.

The operating system has also been written to take advantage of the full capabilities of each processor of the quad-core processor so that the MacBook can run multi-threaded applications with each one taking full advantage of the processor's 2.2 GHz speed and up to 8 GB memory expansion. The operating system also takes full advantage of Apple's 1333 MHz bus for fast internal passthrough.

Apple has worked with Intel to ensure that the Thunderbolt connection features bi-directional data transfer at speeds of up to 10 Gbps, about 20 times faster than the standard PC. Here's where the Apple philosophy of daisy-chaining its peripherals makes sense as one can access, upload and download data in what seems to be the blink of an eye.

To use the same port for video data transfer at high speed, one does need a DisplayPort adapter. The DisplayPort delivers not only high-speed video data, but it also delivers it at high-definition resolution so that the MD318LL / A can be used to drive an HDMI-compatible high-definition device or one can watch the high-resolution video directly on the MacBook's 1440 by 900 pixel resolution screen (native high-definition devices run at 1080 resolution). Thus, the MacBook Pro is easily capable of providing HD video with rich colors and deep blacks and great contrast, all the marks of a great high-definition device. The MacBook uses the ATI Radeon high-performance chipset for this high-speed video, however, when it must slowdown to more normal speeds and video modes, it will automatically switch to the other side of the dual-mode video chipset, the Intel 3000 chipset, which is also good.

If you decide to join the Mac world, there's no turning back. If one purchases an external hard drive, for example, that one wants to interface with a MacBook, one will have to remember that it either has to be an Apple-produced device or one which has received full clearance by Apple. In reality, this is just an update of the old Appletalk network scheme where Apple-produced peripherals would talk to one another at high rates and, if one were lucky, one might be able to interface a non-Apple device through a different port.

As good as they are, Apple's are quite limited in their acceptance of non-Apple devices. For example, one can interface a standard VGA monitor to the DisplayPort adapter and that means one will not be able to take advantage of the true high-definition video of which the MacBook is capable. It's not that OS 10.7 is not a good operating system, because it is, but one are limited to Apple's library of either built-in software such as Mail, Address Book, iCal, as well as purchasing other utilities and editors through the Mac App store. One can also purchase great audio from Apple's iTunes service and the sound output from the laptop is excellent as it has great mid-range and low-end response thanks to built-in subwoofers.

Some issues one that one might find more than a bit limiting are Apple's insistence on using backlighting for its keyboard. One can turn it down – and if one knows the proper sequence – and one can also turn down the brightness on the 15.6-inch (diagonal) LCD display so that one can extend the lithium-ion battery's life to between five and Apple's advertised seven hours and the screen can be glare-prone in high-light conditions.

Capable of supporting up to 8 GB of memory and multi-threaded multi-tasking, the MacBook is a worthy upgrade to the older versions. It still has a Firewire connection, and also it can interface peripherals through the mini-USB ports, but again, remember they should be Apple-compatible to get full-featured use out of them.

If one opts for the MacBook, it will meet or exceed one's expectations in a form factor that's about 15-inches by 10 inches by.95 inches. At 5.6 pounds it is easy to carry, although it does become heavy and hot quickly. Apple has enlarged the keypad and made it more intelligent, doing away with conventional buttons and putting that functionality into the keypad itself, such as single-tapping, double-tapping, swiping and more. There's also a forward-facing FaceTime camera and software offered for videoconferencing or phoning.