- The Washington Times - Tuesday, June 22, 2010

ATLANTA | It’s hot in this southern city. How hot? Hot enough that even five minutes of walking downtown can dehydrate a person, or at least make them long for air conditioning. I’m going to investigate setting up a cold water concession over by the Georgia Dome.

Actually, I’m here for a number of days, and the business at hand will require my having all the computing comforts of home, or at least the vast majority of them, on hand. Fortunately, I’ve just acquired a new Apple Inc., MacBook Pro, a “unibody” portable from Apple that promises good things for the next three years or so I hope to use it.

The new computer is smaller, dimensionally, than the last model. I “downgraded” from a 17-inch display to a 15-inch model. The savings in weight (and money) were motivating factors: The larger computer was, literally, a pain in the neck any time I had to carry it. It’s also a bit more expensive to purchase accessories such as carrying cases, docking stations and so forth. My hope was that the smaller device would be a bit more economical all around.

And, besides, I found I didn’t need the 17-inch display as much as I anticipated when I first bought that older model in 2007. While the larger screen had some usefulness when traveling, in the office, where I spend the majority of my time, the computer was connected to a 24-inch external monitor, which was more than enough screen space to accommodate my work.

So, after about three weeks with the new machine, I can say that I don’t miss the 17-inch display all that much. The 15-inch screen on the 2010 MacBook Pro, list price $2,199 in the configuration I chose, is supplied with a 1440-by-900-pixel LED-backlit glossy display as standard equipment. LED backlighting makes colors more vivid, the display thinner and the end product “greener” because the newer displays don’t use either arsenic or mercury in the manufacturing process.

The new system is built around an Intel Corp. i7 processor running at 2.66 GHz. There are faster versions: One marginally faster as 2.8 GHz and another that packs more of a punch at 3.03 GHz. But given that the latter chip costs $965 at retail, versus $240 for the 2.66 GHz model, I’m satisfied with what I’ve got. (And while manufacturers such as Apple get, I’d imagine, a nice break off the retail price, it’s probably not enough to keep the cost of the computer reasonable.)

There’s also 4 GB of memory, and a 500 GB hard drive. I also asked the organization to shell out for a three-year AppleCare warranty, which is cheap insurance for a system I’m depending on for daily production work.

Setting up the system was relatively easy. There was a hiccup in using Apple’s “Migration Assistant” software: At first everything didn’t copy over from the old machine to the new. A second try managed to solve that problem.

From there, computing was as easy as before, albeit a bit faster and, when using the computer’s keyboard, more pleasant. The new keyboards on Apple’s portables are quite nice and easy to get used to. The trackpad, which lets you click and swipe and do other motions to navigate a computer screen, is a delight to use. It’s also nice to have a SD card reader, which makes uploading digital photos easier.

I have tried another new item for the new computer: a $299.95 BookEndz docking station, available online from www.bookendzdocks.com. This product lets you slip in a computer and “lock” it in with a lever. Connections to a local-area network, USB ports and even audio devices such as headphones are easy to manage, and one push of the lever will liberate the computer for travel.

All told, I’m quite happy with the new MacBook Pro. It’s stylish, functional and a pleasure to use. Details: www.apple.com.

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