I had the pleasure, or should I say experience, of using a new MacBook 2.4GHz for a couple of days. This was the new late-2008 version with the unibody, one piece aluminium chassis. With it's sleek new lines, it certainly felt like a grown up MacBook Pro, but in a slightly smaller form with dressed-down graphics performance and screen resolution.
The first thing of note is just how tight and solidly made this new version feels. All of the top seams have gone, with the casing made from one piece of metal. This has the effect of making the MacBook feel really rigid. There are no case-fit problems to deal with. What you must take into account though, is that there has to be some openings and seams somewhere, so that Apple can get all the technological wonders into the case. So, the bottom is where you will find the joins. Just over half the bottom casing is held on with screws, under which you gain access to the main computer gubbins and the memory. The other part of the bottom is held on with a clever catch mechanism, under which you find the battery and hard drive. This makes for easy upgrading and servicing. Don't be fooled though, all the hype about this 'unibody' construction, just means Apple have turned things upside down, so all the seams (or joins) are underneath. What this does acheive though, is the most solid and pro-feeling MacBook to date.
The top section houses a lovely black keyboard and on this particular model it is backlit. The key travel and spacing is superb and it is lovely to type on. The trackpad is very big, with no physical button this time. Instead, the whole trackpad is hinged and clicks from about half way down the device. You can assign the bottom right hand corner of it to a right click (in system preferences) if you wish. It also support multi-touch gestures, for using two, three of four fings in different ways. In my opinion, this was a nice idea, but over-engineered. It would have been nicer to keep things simple, at least they work properly. This trackpad does work, but I found that I was getting the wrong clicks a lot of the time.
The screen is nice and bright. LED backlit with a 1280 x 800 resolution. Yes, it is glossy and you do get reflections. Angling the laptop gets around most of these problems and/or adjusting the brightness... so it ends up to be a little annoying, but easy to rectify. The built-in iSight camera (as on previous models) is superb and adds to the usefulness of this wonderful machine.
In use the 2.4GHz model really flies. It feels a lot snappier than my similarly specced MacBook Pro. The NVidia 9400M graphics certainly make it very useful for all the applications I tested. These included iMove, Final Cut Express, PhotoShop and Quark Xpress, all of which showed no real struggle. The most lasting impression that I was left with, was a cool a lap. Yes, this MacBook ran for two or three hours and was only just very very slightly warm on the underside. The top area around the keyboard was still cool. This is a great acheivement and finally these little babies can be called 'laptops' again.
Product: Apple MacBook (late 2008) 2.4GHz
Supplied by: Apple Inc.
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