A quick trawl through my den turned up some USB 3.0 peripherals but not a single item that required the ExpressCard/34 or Thunderbolt ports. So why does Apple not provide a USB 3.0 port? Don’t tell me USB 3.0 devices are a rarity (even if users may be), you can pick up a half-terabyte USB 3.0 portable hard drive for £60 at PC World, but there’s not a Thunderbolt peripheral in sight. Even the Apple store has only the Promise RAID arrays available and it's six months on since the rebranded Light Peak interface was announced. And if that wasn't bad enough, a Thunderbolt cable costs 39 quid!
PCMark Vantage Results
Longer bars are better
Battery Life Results
Battery life in Minutes
Longer bars are better
As well as failing to support USB 3.0 – although you might get lucky finding a USB 3.0 ExpressCard/34 for the Mac – the MacBook Pro also fails to provide any VGA, DVI or even HDMI port, and lacks any camera card slot at all. An SD Card-to-USB adapter is cheap enough, but video adapters that plug into the Thunderbolt/Mini Display Port cost between £21 and £25 each.
Grumbles aside, the benchmark tests reveal the MacBook Pro 17in to be a pretty damn good notebook. Even Reg Hardware's utterly unreasonable battery life test, involving running our full-on benchmarks in a loop, saw the product last one hour 54 minutes. It doesn’t sound like much but it’s double the life of other notebooks I have tested in the same way.
You know how notebooks look and feel plasticky? Well this one doesn’t
More realistic usage should see the MacBook Pro 17in last a good four hours between recharges; general computing (rather than entertainment) would probably allow it to run even longer. However, I was not able to enjoy battery life of Apple’s claimed seven hours, or even six.
I admit the MacBook Pro is not perfect – actually, it is bloody expensive at a mere quid short of £2,100. Add to that the cost of any of the aforementioned adapters, which might involve a new found love of the ExpressCard/34 slot, if you get really desperate. Yup, it is, quite simply, out of my price range. The Top Gear team spend less than that on second-hand Bentleys. Yet it does deliver an exceptional user experience. So ask your employer to buy you one, or get the next-best alternative: the 15in model. Either way, no-one will convince me that it’s money badly spent. ®
Thanks to Square Group for the loan of the MacBook Pro.
More Apple Mac Reviews
MacBook Air 13in
Mac OS X 10.7 Lion
MacBook Pro 15in
MacBook Pro 13in
Apple MacBook Pro 17in 2011
I use it a lot. Beats USB2 hands down for file transfer.
The express port is also damm useful.
I'll probably be upgrading my 4yr old 17in MBP as a chrissy present to myself.
Numeric keypads a bad idea on notebooks
The problem with numeric keypads on notebooks is that the main keyboard is then shunted to the side of the screen. Makes the things bloody awkward to use.
Have a look next time you're using a full size standalone keyboard -- I bet it's not placed centrally to your screen.
You say that its performanve is amazing compared to other laptops then list it with a bunch of other machines that make it look decidedly average. I took a quick look at the acer and can get it from tesco for under 900 quid. Being as i use my 17" pavillion as a replacement desktop that i can take with me to clients i could buy the acer and an apple 27" cinema display. That way i get huge screen silly resolution kick ass performance usb3.0 and change left over to buy a moch choca pony and trapacino instead of peripherals to make my mac talk to run of the mill components.
Hell i could even buy 2x 27" dell screens instead and have one at home and leave one on client site.
+2 for Firewire
I use it for keeping raw HD footage on prior to editing (not enough room on the internal drive). USB2 really isn't fast enough in sustained transfer to be usable.
I suspect Apple skipped USB3 as Thunderbolt has the potential to make it look a bit old and silly for things where data tx rates matter. For uses that don't, USB2 is fine.
Here's hoping Apple and Intel don't mess up the marketing and licensing of Thunderbolt in the same way Apple did with the original Firewire.
For everything non-Apple the score of choice is 75%