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Review: Apple's 15-in. MacBook Pro delivers on speed, battery life

Michael deAgonia | Dec. 17, 2013
The move to faster PCIe flash storage offers a noticeable boost in performance

On the right side of the laptop is another USB 3.0 port, an HDMI port (perfect for connecting to an HDTV), and an SDXC card reader.

The MacBook Pro also has two microphones, which help cancel out background noise during dictation and video conferencing, and a 720p camera, which is hidden within the black border at the top of the Retina display. (A green indicator light shines next to the camera when it's turned on.)

Low power Bluetooth 4 and all of the usual 802.11 wireless standards are supported, including a/b/g/n, and — new to this model — 802.11ac. That latter should improve Wi-Fi speeds if your router also offers 802.11ac.

The lighted chiclet-key keyboard is unchanged, as is the now-standard glass trackpad, which allows you to use multitouch gestures much as you would on an iPad. Regarding gestures, Apple engineers have brought some consistency between product lines, making it easier than ever to switch from an iPad to the MacBook Pro and vice versa. OS X supports a variety of gestures, though oddly, not all of them are enabled by default. A quick visit to Apple Menu> System Preferences> Trackpad allows you to select the ones you want to use.

Another carryover from the previous MacBook Pro is the magnetic latch. When you close the lid, the magnets catch with a satisfying snap and put the machine to sleep. The magnets are hidden in the aluminum frame, so there are no latches to wear out. The lid opens easily and OS X is usually up and running from sleep before you're finished positioning the screen.

Finally on the feature list, it's important to note something that's not here: Apple laptops don't have built-in Ethernet or an optical drive. If Wi-Fi isn't available and you need a physical Ethernet connection, Apple offers a Thunderbolt-to-Ethernet adapter for $29. If you're still using optical media like DVDs and CDs, you can get an external drive from Apple for $79.

Getting up to speed is easy
These days, getting a new Mac up and running is a cinch. First, there's the option to use Migration Assistant to move data from your old computer (or a Time Machine backup) to the new one. But if you decide to start with a fresh install, Apple's iCloud services make the move easy. During the initial setup, there is an option to log into iCloud. By the time you're logged in on the laptop, your iCloud information is already being synced. My email, AIM, Twitter, FaceBook, LinkedIn and Vimeo accounts were all added automatically, as were my contacts, calendar entries, reminders, notes, Safari bookmarks and documents. Within minutes, I was receiving Calendar notifications for upcoming birthdays, too.

 

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