Apple MacBook Pro

Apple returns, with an all-new design MacBook Pro, and it's a looker. But does it have what it takes for value and performance.

IT Pro Verdict

Apple's given its Macbook Pro a thorough makeover but, for all its charm, it's still overpriced.

Apple's recent launch of its new range of MacBooks wrongfooted fans and journalists alike. Rumours abounded of what the mysterious Apple 'Brick' could be but, against all the expectations of a new, ground-breaking product, it turned out to be simply a new manufacturing process. Just like the iconic, if flawed MacBook Air, the new range of MacBooks were to receive one of the most stunning design overhauls ever seen.

Gone are the softly contoured plastic chassis of yore, and in their place stands a range of machines with each laptop hewn from a single, precision-machined slab of aluminium. Even before you've laid eyes on the laptop itself, Apple's keen attention to detail overwhelms the average person's gadget lust in seconds.

The slick, artisanal packaging foretells of the quality of the product resting dormant inside; tantalising shots of the MacBook Pro's impossibly slim, glossy form teasing before you've laid hands on the product itself. The very process of unboxing the Macbook Pro is enough to melt all but the coldest of hearts.

And, just like with the MacBook Air, the first sight of the MacBook Pro flesh leaves the burning question: why can't other manufacturers make laptops that look this good? Compare the MacBook Pro to the best that Windows-based laptops have to offer, and most of the competition comes up woefully short.

Breathtaking looks certainly aren't everything when it comes to building a laptop, but when it's one that costs the best part of 1,500, they're definitely a good start.

It's not just an aesthetic leap, though. Grab the MacBook Pro with both hands and it exudes a sturdiness that eludes other laptops. The lid is held shut by a strong magnet, and just like the chassis, the one-piece aluminium lid is supremely strong. You can twist with all your might to no avail - this is one of the stiffest chassis we've ever come across.

And it's surprisingly slim, too. Despite the 15.4in screen and the high-powered components inside it rises a mere 24.1mm above the desk.

It's not especially light, however. At 2.49kg (2.96kg including the power adapter) it's marginally lighter than most 15.4in laptops, but it still makes for a hefty deadweight in a bag and we'd baulk at the idea of carrying it about on a regular basis.

And, once you're over the initial flush of love at first sight, the MacBook Pro still has plenty up its sleeve. The 15.4in display, for example, is perfect. The brightness sensor, nestling next to the inexcusably low resolution 0.3-megapixel iSight webcam, is a nice touch, and saves you from having to constantly fiddle with brightness settings.

The 1,440 x 900 resolution strikes that perfect balance between a roomy desktop and legibility, and image quality is beyond reproach. The downside of the glossy finish, beyond the increased reflectivity, is that amorous fingers soon leave it smudged and dirty. It's just as well Apple bundle a display polishing cloth so you can buff it back to a keen shine.