capsule review

MacBook Pros (15-inch, Mid 2009)

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We found that the new models ran for 4 hours and 3 minutes, 4 hours and 1 minute, and 3 hours and 56 minutes for the 2.53GHz, 2.66GHz, and 2.8GHz respectively—an average of 4 hours. That represents significant improvements in battery life compared to earlier models. For example, comparing the 2.53GHz MacBook Pro of today to one of the same clock speed in October 2008, reveals a 63 percent increase in battery life. Comparing the new 2.66GHz model to the older 2.66GHz model (from March) reveals nearly a 26 percent boost in battery life. As of the last full generation of MacBook Pro 15-inch models, only the previous 2.66GHz MacBook Pro released last March broke the three-hour mark for battery life with this test.

Better colors

The new MacBook Pros also live up to Apple’s claim of expanded color gamut. In a side-by-side comparison with the previous generation Pro notebook, we observed fairly significant differences in the rendering a color photo test image. Viewing this image in each machine separately, most eyes would perceive the vibrant color we’ve come to expect from these glossy screens. However, viewing them together, the heightened intensity of the red and green spectrums made the difference obvious. Mere eyeball observations were born out by Apple’s Color Sync utility. In comparing the last generation MacBook Pros with the new models, the range of visible color was specifically expanded in the red and green areas. The blues stayed about the same.

Macworld’s buying advice

The 15-inch MacBook Pro 2.53GHz, 2.66GHz, and 2.8GHz sport faster processors on the high end, higher RAM capacity, a larger solid-state drive option, longer-life battery, an improved display, and an SD memory-card slot (in lieu of the ExpressCard/34 slot found on the previous version). All of these changes are accompanied by lower prices.

If you already have a unibody MacBook Pro, you will already have most of the great features these new models have to offer. However, if you’re a switcher, a new buyer, or have one of Apple’s older notebook models, you have a cornucopia of excellent choices at more advantageous prices than before. Gamers will want to consider only the mid- or high-end 15-inch model.

[Jackie Dove is Macworld’s senior reviews editor.]

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At a Glance
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