17-inch MacBook Pro

17-inch MacBook Pro

If you like big stuff, you'll love the 17-inch MacBook Pro.


While the 17-inch MacBook Pro was in our care, it became affectionately known as "the cafeteria tray." No, there's no relation between sloppy joes and Apple's high-end notebook. It's just that the size and shape of this MacBook Pro reminds us a lot of the dimensions of a typical cafeteria tray - although using it like one wasn't part of our battery of tests. We love the 17-inch MacBook Pro in all its supersized glory.


The novelty of 17-inch notebooks has worn off, since you've probably spotted a few extra-large models at your local coffee shop or on the boss's desk. But because of its size, toting around a 17-inch MacBook Pro is a serious commitment. It won't fit in your usual notebook bag or backpack, it can easily take up all of your table space at Starbucks, and it weighs nearly 7 pounds. But even with all these considerations, the willing and able will enjoy the 17-inch MacBook Pro when out and about. For most people, except the very weak-shouldered, this laptop is a desktop replacement that you can take with you.


At the heart of the 17-inch MacBook Pro is a 2.33GHz Intel Core 2 Duo processor and 2GB of RAM (3GB maximum), the same as the $2,499 15-inch MacBook Pro (4 out of 5 stars, Jan/07, p46). Both MacBook Pros also use a 256MB ATI Mobility Radeon X1600 graphics card that's capable of driving Apple's 30-inch Cinema Display. Hook up the 17-inch MacBook Pro to the huge Cinema Display, and it works flawlessly - talk about indulging yourself.


With these similarities in mind, we bet you already know what we're going to say about the 17-inch MacBook Pro's speed: It's just as fast as the 15-inch MacBook Pro. In almost all of our benchmarks, the 17-inch and 15-inch MacBook Pros finished neck and neck. The 15-incher was actually 30 seconds faster than the 17-inch MacBook Pro when we applied a Sepia Tone effect to a video clip in iMovie HD. The Sepia Tone effect and other Quartz Composer effects in iMovie HD are graphics-intensive, which means that the 17-inch MacBook Pro's higher screen resolution affected its performance.


When we tested the 17-inch and 15-inch MacBook Pros for battery life, the larger machine won. The 15-incher lasted through 2 hours and 24 minutes of Lawrence of Arabia on DVD, while its 17-inch sibling squeezed out 15 additional minutes of juice. Apple says that you can get up to 5.5 hours of battery life on the 17-inch MacBook Pro, but you won't get that much if you actually do stuff on it. Battery life during regular use depends on how much you access power-sapping hardware, such as the SuperDrive, hard drive, and AirPort Extreme card.


The bottom line. For photographers, graphics pros, and videographers, the 17-inch MacBook Pro is the right size and speed. For everyone else, a screen this large isn't a necessity, but it sure is easy on the eyes.


CONTACT: www.apple.com
PRICE: $2,799
SPECIFICATIONS: 2.33GHz Intel Core 2 Duo processor, 2GB 667MHz DDR2 SDRAM, 5,400 rpm 160GB Serial ATA hard drive, 8x SuperDrive, 17-inch 1,680-by-1,050-pixel resolution TFT widescreen, 256MB ATI Mobility Radeon X1600 graphics card, AirPort Extreme, Bluetooth 2.0+EDR
Great overall speed. Improved Rosetta performance. Gloriously big screen. Viable desktop replacement.
Can be an unwieldy portable. 3GB RAM limit.





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I found myself being jealous of my sister's new HP 17" with its numeric keypad. On using the HP with Vista preloaded, I felt better about not having one. But still, less speaker grill - more keypad!

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