Hands-on: The 17-in. MacBook Pro gets the Core 2 Duo treatment

An already solid laptop just got better -- and faster

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Battery life is about the same as before. With the screen brightness turned up all the way, energy savings set to "performance" and the hard drive set to not spin down, I got just under three hours of computing time before running out of juice. That's with moderate use: word processing, Web surfing, listening to iTunes -- with Visualizer going for part of the time -- and running Windows via Parallels. Oh, and Bluetooth was on, and wireless networking was in use. Crank down the screen brightness -- easy to do even in a sunlit room -- set the energy saver preferences to normal or for better energy savings and the 68-watt battery will last even longer.

I asked Finnie, the online editorial director at Computerworld, what he thought of his own new MBP. He noted a "squeaky" space bar on the keyboard, said he wants a slightly stiffer LCD screen hinge and was critical of the MagSafe magnetic power connector. ("The darn thing falls off all the time.") He also praised the 17-in. glossy screen as "perfection," said the C2D processor offers unexpected bursts of speed and reported no heat issues.

Final thoughts

When buying technology, it's always best to try to future-proof yourself as much as possible. Apple's 17-in. MBP is about as future-proof as they come. It offers 64-bit hardware and maybe even, eventually, 802.11n wireless networking capabilities (though 802.11g is just fine for now). Of course, faster, newer, sleeker laptops from Apple will appear. But not until next year.

In the meantime, Apple is due to release its next operating system, Leopard, before spring. Once that 64-bit operating system is out, the MacBook Pro will really shine. And it's pretty darn bright already.

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Copyright © 2006 IDG Communications, Inc.

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