We all knew when mobile Nehalem processors were coming out. I kept referencing Q1 2010 as when you're going to want to replace your MacBook Pro. As far as I was concerned, there was nothing Apple could do to make me recommend anything but wait.

Then this happened:

From the outside it looks like the same unibody MacBook Pro Apple launched at the end of 2008. Look a little closer and you'll realize it's actually a little worse:

The original unibody MacBook Pro

The original unibody MacBook Pro had an easily accessible hard drive bay, a first for Apple's aluminum notebook line. I feel bad for the engineers that worked to make that bay both functional and sleek, because in the updated unibody MacBook Pro it's gone. A brand new feature only sticking around for one generation, that’s gotta hurt. Replacing a hard drive now requires removing no less than 16 screws (10 on the chassis, 2 holding the drive in place and 4 on the drive itself). In the original unibody MacBook Pro it only took five.

The mid 2009 unibody MacBook Pro

The easily accessible HDD bay was a side effect, the point of the sleek removable panel on the elder unibody was to house the replaceable battery. Something that also vanished from the new MacBook Pro.

The new integrated battery (lower right)

Apple did something that no mainstream notebook vendor had dared to do before: kill the removable battery. The rationale was simple: new battery technology allowed batteries to take virtually any shape, and making them fit into user replaceable containers proved to waste a lot of space. Wasted space amounted to larger and heavier notebooks.

It all started with the 17-inch MacBook Pro.

And The Story Begins


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  • Baron Fel - Wednesday, November 11, 2009 - link

    Why didnt you mention the 15" HP Envy? It beats the MBP in everything but battery life... Reply
  • solipsism - Wednesday, November 11, 2009 - link

    There is a distinct difference in these machines. For starters, these MBPS have been out many months and won’t be getting an update until after the holidays. If your focus is solely on a Clarksdale quad-core processor.

    Note that it doesn’t beat the nearly half-a-year old 15” MBP in a lot of areas. It’s nearly 10% thicker, only has a 6-cell battery, while not having an optical drive. I hope that the MBPs come without an optical drive in favour of the OS being installed on a SD Card, but Apple isn’t HP with dozens of machines with the same display size. Apple still runs like a boutique shop so when they commit to removing the optical drive to run a Core i7 quad-core it’ll be for all their 15” notebooks.
  • far327 - Wednesday, November 11, 2009 - link

    Apple equals proprietary gayness!! Design is great. Quality is stellar, but Apple is GAY!!! Reply
  • aapocketz - Thursday, November 12, 2009 - link

    I like apples line of laptops, they seem quite well built, though I don't really see a huge benefit of unibody design, I think my ancient ibm laptop is just as nice. I don't really love the glossy screens either. Overall they are nice.

    apple has some impressive engineering and decent innovation capabilities but their closed and protected platform and general company philosophy is disturbing to someone who relies on and enjoys the openness of hardware and software platforms.

    Consider apple disabling support for Atom cpus in the newest OS updates, ostensibly to prevent homebrewers from using the OS on their own hardware like netbooks. Man I certainly don't love Microsoft, but we would be way worse off if Apple dominated the market. I am fine with them as long as they only want that single bite of the apple though.

    I like choice and flexibility, and apple computers tightly integrated platform may be a good choice, as long as its not my only choice.
  • robco - Thursday, November 12, 2009 - link

    You have to see on in person to understand why the unibody design has benefits. While still being less than an inch thin, the MacBooks are incredibly rigid. Little flex at all. They feel rock solid. I do agree that the ThinkPads are nice and solid too. If I hadn't gotten a MBP, a ThinkPad was my second choice. You can now custom order the 15 and 17" models with a matte display.

    I find OS X to be a nice compromise. I like Linux, but it's not always easy to find good software. A lot of FOSS runs under OS X. There's also virtualization to run Linux alongside OS X. A friend who does web development loves the fact that he can run Office, Eclipse, Apache, Tomcat and MySQL all on the same machine easily.

    As for dominating the market, I don't think that's Apple's goal - unlike Microsoft. Apple seems pretty happy with their market segment overall. They're raking in a lot of money.

    I like my Mac and it's a solid machine. That being said, I'm hardly a fanboy. There are certain circumstances where people should get a Windows machine. As far as Atom support, Apple never supported Atom in the first place, I don't see why they should be expected to provide it or continue providing it. AFAIK, OS X uses some of the optimizations in the Core and Core 2 Duo chips that aren't present in the Atom.
  • setzer - Wednesday, November 11, 2009 - link

    Okay, this is just a supposition because I don't have an actual macbook to test, but I would bet the reason OSx provides so much better battery values is because Apple is running the cpus at a much lower voltage than the defaults, ie, what is here: http://www.thinkwiki.org/wiki/Pentium_M_undervolti...">http://www.thinkwiki.org/wiki/Pentium_M_undervolti...

    this does make a difference in battery longevity and by default windows doesn't undervolt processors.
  • blufire - Wednesday, November 11, 2009 - link

    I believe it may have more to do with napping and shutting down components more frequently/aggressively.. Reply
  • araczynski - Wednesday, November 11, 2009 - link

    the macs are starting to smell like pc's now, incompatibilities all over the place. Reply
  • damianrobertjones - Wednesday, November 11, 2009 - link

    ...so you'd think that with less hardware to code for, that they'd get it right! Reply
  • tuskers - Wednesday, November 11, 2009 - link

    At the Mac coverage at this time and place. As a long-time reader of Anandtech, this feels completely out of place from "coverage" and more non-topical than anything I've ever read here, before. We've seen the Macbook Pro reviews already.

    My guess is that this has to do with one (or more) of three things:
    - Anand has turned into the "Mac person" who needs to justify his fanboi-ism.
    - There's too little tech news in the holiday season, so this is a classic "fluff" piece, that was easy to write.
    - Apple paid the site to publish said fluff piece.

    Regardless, journalistically, this is one of the worst pieces I've seen here.
    - Failure to analyze the market from a "competitors to Apple" sense. Dell and HP's "representatives" aren't competing with Apple with their mainstream products; instead, they're competing against each other. They're competing on low price to justify expenses with corporations. Most corporations don't care if a laptop is slightly thicker. Instead, pick laptops that are trying to out-Apple Apple, like the Envy or Adamo; Asus and MSI also offer intriguing competition and increasing market shares. Rather than looking at it as "Apple is a mainstream computer maker with 15% of the market", realize that the more true statement is "Apple is dominant in a high-priced niche market which doesn't focus on computing power, here is how it compares to other products competing for that market."
    - Exaggeration of differences. The highlighted weight of the 15" MBP is within rounding error of the compared model! And in marketing specs instead of actual product weights, no less.
    - Focusing on the battery so much without mentioning that other laptop brands only have to pack a replacement battery to achieve longer battery life. Yes, maintenance is a little more difficult, but you aren't making an honest comparison given that the unibody Macs discarded this functionality.
    - A token "please get SSDs to work properly!" plea, without research. Does the "Mac Edition" OCZ Vertex work or not? It's true that OCZ has admitted it as marketing hype, but the least you could do is expose it. You even go so far as to say that some people might be happy to know that random combinations might work-- because people have SSDs lying around.
    - I'm amazed a commenter put together the "Flash is 32-bit, so of course it runs slowly talking to 64-bit Safari" before Anand did.
    - Blanket statements without truth to them. For instance, the claim that 1920x1200 screen in the 17" is not "bigger than anything else on the market". You simply need to select an Alienware model at Dell's site (a competitive price range for the MBP 17", no less). And then, Anand complains that the pixels are too dense-- a common complaint, which is why Dell offers more 1080p screens instead. I own an Inspiron with a 1920x1200 screen that I bought several years ago. They aren't an Apple monopoly because Apple's the only one that can do it. This whole scenario is worse than simple marketing hype.

    I'll leave it there, I'm sure I could find more though. I expect better from this site, Anand!

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