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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  • marraco - Sunday, November 15, 2009 - link

    Each mac is obsolete, offer lots less functionality, are MUCH slower, have the worst screens, sound, video, processor. have problems or plain incompatibility with most hardware, and 99% of useful software don't run on macs (no, once you run them on virtualized windows, you have all, and each problem of windows, -wich need too buy for extra money)-, and runs too much slower.

    also, macs are much harder to use, once you try to do something not basic, or find a problem (and macs are crammed with problems), the only way to solve it, is to open a text screen, and hand write LOTS of cryptycal commands.

    you go to support, and they start forcing you to sign a contract agreeing to pay to apple U$S 100 or support, EVEN UNDER FIRST DAY GUARANTEE.
    Then you find that those "genius bar dudes" are completely clueless...
  • robco - Wednesday, November 11, 2009 - link

    I just upgraded to the midrange 2.66GHz 15" model. I agree that it is the sweet spot for portability and usability. I had gotten used to the 13" display on my MacBook, but the added screen real estate is nice and the weight increase is minor. The brightness provided by the LED backlight is great. The battery life is incredible, especially when using the 9400M. The build quality so far has been excellent. I can see why Apple hasn't "upgraded" the GPU yet, the 260M seems like little more than a rebranded 9600M. But it works for the few games I play on my computer these days. It does get awfully hot when using the 9600M under load.

    I considered switching back to a Windows machine, but couldn't find anything that was as thin and light as the MBP, or match the build quality. Those that came close tended to be higher end machines and the cost savings dropped considerably. Having brought my MacBook in to the Apple Store for service, I can say that the service is quite good.

    I tried to wait for Arrandale, but couldn't hold out. I may not have the fastest notebook available, but it's fast enough for my needs.
  • SteveMinne - Wednesday, November 11, 2009 - link

    First release of Snow Leopard nicked battery life about 40% off Leopard. Instand huge downgrade. Rounds and rounds of Apple and third party updates now have that down below 20% heading toward 15%.
    Your 10% testing is solid. It's just still too optimistic for this social media driven world.
    The apps I have on all the time are TweetDeck (Adobe Air), Entourage, and Firefox (and by extension Flash). I run 10-15 add'l apps on and off through each day. It's these main three that hit the cpu much harder at times than when on Leopard. I have no time to isolate testing as you have but have watched them in Activity Monitor.
    Should also mention I switched to 32 bit Safari months ago. So I'm reporting increased power consumption based on third party apps sitting on Snow Leopard.
    Finally, I am also finally coming around to liking Snow Leopard. I've advised dozens of folks to wait and most have. Your real world experience and mine have saved a lot of folks early adoption pain.
    Keep up the good work.
  • GeorgeH - Tuesday, November 10, 2009 - link

    "I used IE8 and Windows Media Player 11 in Windows 7 while I used Safari/iTunes in OS X. The results I got were both expected and quite revealing."

    Absolutely expected, but thanks for redoing the test with IE and WMP anyway.
  • sigmatau - Wednesday, November 11, 2009 - link

    Ya, very biased test. Run Windows 7 on a Mac to get benchmarks instead of running it on a PC. Good one! Reply
  • GeorgeH - Wednesday, November 11, 2009 - link

    My comment was in reference to an earlier article where Windows battery life was measured using Safari+iTunes, nothing more.

    For the record, there was absolutely nothing biased about this test - a Mac IS a PC, just one with a different BIOS.
  • sigmatau - Wednesday, November 11, 2009 - link

    Um yes it was biased. Running anything Windows on a Mac and taking benchmarks for that and comparing it to native Apple software is biased. Windows runs slower on a Mac. Apple does everything within its power to make MS products look bad. Just look at their iTunes for Windows, complete crap compared to the version that runs on Macs. Reply
  • darwinosx - Tuesday, November 10, 2009 - link

    Really good article but I'm surprised be a few of the comments. Mostly about Flash. It's well known that Flash for the Mac sucks. But thats an Adobe issue not an Apple issue. If Flash is acting up for you then uninstall it first using Adobes uninstaller. then reinstall. Don't install over the exiting version. Not all hardware is the same as your generic PC. The motherboard isn't. It is designed by Apple and IBM engineers. Same with the battery and its controller. For generic PC parts Apple has much higher and more stringent quality control standards than Dell or HP etc. So you are much less likely to get a bad part or own that does not perform to spec. If you do have an issue then Apples support is head and shoulders above everyone else. No one else is even close in customer satisfaction. Regarding SSD's it snot like some PC's don't have issues with various makes. I'm using a Crucial 256MB SSD in my 15-inch MBP, 2.8ghz, 512MB 9600GT. Runs very well. I've had just about everything at one time or another during my 20 years in IT and this laptop is way above the pack in every category. A lot of companies these days are offering the option of Macs and every IT Architect I know of has jumped at the chance. We value quality, performance, support and stability as well as the great multi-tasking and efficient use of proc and large amounts of ram that only OS X and Linux/Unix provide. Not like that warmed over version of Windows with all the same old issues. The trackpad is incredibly useful. PC companies are starting to put larger trackpads on their laptops but nothing like what Apple has. As far as prices go you don't have to pay retail. I have a work issued MBP and my own as well. I saved about $400 buying mine over the internet instead of in a store. I had to laugh seeing prices comparison with a Dell 1555. What a cheap hunk of plastic junk. I can't tell you how many work issued Dell's have died on me over the years. About 5 or 6 years ago I had three brand new Dell laptops, top of the line business models, die on me in a single year. 3 brand new laptops croaked in one year. No wonder I have seen so many companies dump Dell and buy HP business laptops. I do like the HP W series laptops and Thinkpads are decent although not as well made with the same material quality as they once were. But I don't see anything keeping me from sticking with macs for a long time to come. The quad cores should be out soon. With 8 GB of ram and quad core you will be able to run multiple VM's as well as OS X making MBP's the most versatile laptop you can buy today. Reply
  • marraco - Sunday, November 15, 2009 - link

    ...and the sound of those macs are awful. really crap hardware.

    you play am mp3, and half of the instruments don't sound. those cheap speakers cannot reproduce half the frequencies.
  • Griswold - Wednesday, November 11, 2009 - link

    Thats alot of bullshit in this wall of text. Dont they teach you apple fanboys how to structure a post?

    Especially the QA part on the off-the-shelf PC parts. If their QA was so great, how come they didnt avoid that shitstorm with nvidia IGPs? And thats not the only example.

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