FORTUNE -- Apple's new 15-inch notebook may look thinner and lighter than older MacBook Pro models, but there's no mistaking this for a MacBook Air. For $2,199, users get a more powerful 2.3 GHz quad-core Intel i7 processor, 8-gigabytes of RAM, a 256 GB solid state drive, two USB 3.0 ports, two Thunderbolt ports, and a Retina Display. But is it what Apple proudly calls, "the most advanced Mac" they've ever made? We spent a week with a review unit to find out.
From afar, it doesn't look like much has changed. It has the same lines of MacBook Pros before it. But look closer, and you'll notice the tweaks, like a screen that's more flush with the rest of the computer, a shallower keyboard more in line with the MacBook Air's, and at .71 thick, a body that's thinner than most people's index fingers. It's also lost some weight. At 4.4 lbs., it's nearly a pound less than previous 15-inch MacBook Pros and a hair lighter than even the 13-incher. That isn't quite as impressive as say, the featherweight status of the 11-inch MacBook Air (2.2 lbs) or 13-inch MacBook Air (2.9 lbs), but because the new MacBook Pro's weight is spread across a much larger case, it doesn't feel quite as heavy when you're actually lugging it around.
Long-time Apple users may want to take note: To make way for the MacBook Pro's thinner body, the company trimmed the laptop's power adapter. That means the power adapters from older notebooks or the standard MacBook Pros of this generation won't power up this model without a $9.99 Tic Tac-sized converter. It's a minor detail, but it's something to remember for those who were hoping to use their old power cords.
Apple says the MacBook Pro's new 15-inch Retina Display packs four times the pixels of previous screens. It shows. Everything is sharper, blacks are blacker, and the screen is a lot less reflective. (It's still not great for using outdoors, but it's less of a mirror than before.) Because of all those pixels, it's possible to turn up the resolution to up to 2,880-by-1,800, even higher than that found in the 27-inch iMac. In the settings, Apple has tried to make swapping between resolutions easier to understand. So instead of relying on numbers, the company boils it down to five main settings including "Larger Text," "Best (Retina)," and "More Space." At the maximum setting, I found the text too small for everyday use, but others who want to maximize their screen real estate may be comfortable with it.
Not everything is perfect. Sharp as the Retina Display is, it could be brighter. Whereas images seem to have a preternatural glow or pop on the new iPad, that doesn't quite happen on the MacBook Pro. During nearly a week of use, I kept trying to turn up the brightness, only to realize it was at the highest setting. (Recent tests run by AnandTech appear to corroborate this, proving the brightness on this year's MacBook Pro is actually 20% lower than last year's model.)
As the owner of last year's 13-inch MacBook Air with a 1.8 GHz i7 processor, I've found the laptop can run hot when you're doing things like watching high-definition video. Sometimes, the fan may loudly kick in. The new MacBook Pro has what the company calls a new "asymmetric fan," with small vents on either side of the notebook's bottom, which the company says encourages quieter operations. We found that to be true.
As a writer, I don't deal much with video editing, and my photo editing "skills" consist of fiddling around with iPhoto, so I can't speak to the heavy processor-intensive tasks the new MacBook Pro and its quad-core processor are clearly geared for. But I do usually have multiple tasks going -- the occasional Netflix video stream, Safari, Mail, Word, Spotify, and iPhoto to name a few -- and tens of windows going at any given time. In our day-to-day use, our notebook didn't skip a beat, and often hummed along for over five hours in between charges. It's not quite the promised 7 hours, but acceptable given real-world usage and enough for a cross-country flight.
We got our hands on Apple's much-coveted new laptop. Here's a first read.
FORTUNE -- Don't call it a MacBook Air. Apple's newest 15-inch uber-notebook may be thinner and lighter than older MacBook Pro models, but its redesigned aluminum body houses a potent array of features. For $2,199, users get a 2.3 GHz quad-core Intel i7 processor, 8-gigabytes of RAM, a 256 GB solid state drive, two USB 3.0 ports, and MOREJP Mangalindan, Writer - Jun 13, 2012 12:55 PM ET
Overtook Samsung and HP in 2011 on sales of iPhones, iPads and MacBook Airs
The pie chart at right, created from data that showed up in Gartner Inc's RSS feed on Thursday, tells only part of the story. It shows Apple (AAPL) consuming 5.7% of the world's semiconductor capacity, overtaking Samsung and Hewlett-Packard (HPQ) in 2011.
But to get a sense of how dramatically conditions changed in the worldwide chip market last year, check out MOREPhilip Elmer-DeWitt - Mar 23, 2012 7:48 AM ET
Cupertino's largest acquisition since it bought Steve Jobs' NeXT in 1997
According to Reuters, Apple (AAPL) has sealed the deal that was rumored last week to buy Anobit, the Israeli company that makes the flash memory technology used in Apple's iPhones, iPads and MacBook Airs.
For Apple, this is a big acquisition, both in dollar terms and in technology. The price -- a reported $500 million -- is larger than the $472 MOREPhilip Elmer-DeWitt - Dec 20, 2011 6:40 AM ET
PC sales were down 8% Thanksgiving week, but demand for the MacBook Air was strong
In a note to clients Thursday, Morgan Stanley's Katy Huberty rattled off several reasons to explain why retail sales of personal computers in the U.S. were down 8% year over year for the week of Nov. 20 to 26, as reported by the NPD Group.
Hard drive shortages, the lingering effects of flooding in Thailand
Price reductions in MORE
On this one, most analysts agree: Summer '11 was even bigger than Christmas '10
The Mac was one of the few products that failed to live up to expectations in the June quarter (Apple's fiscal Q3). Analysts were looking for sales of 4.2 million. What Apple (AAPL) delivered was 3.95 million.
That's not likely to happen again on Tuesday, when Apple reports its earnings for fiscal Q4.
Everybody seems to agree that MOREPhilip Elmer-DeWitt - Oct 16, 2011 10:23 AM ET
Intel is prodding PC manufacturers to make better ultra-thin and light laptops like Apple's MacBook Air. But the concept faces strong headwinds -- and tough competition.
FORTUNE -- When Apple launched the MacBook Air, it got flack: not fast enough, not enough ports, too pricey, the optional external optical disc drive had as much portable appeal as a brick. Fast-forward three years, and the current version of the Air has become MOREJP Mangalindan, Writer - Sep 12, 2011 12:13 PM ET
Greeted with long lines and stock outs when it arrived in Hong Kong this week
In a note to clients Friday, Ticonderoga's Brian White reported that the new MacBook Air -- which was launched in the U.S. more than four weeks ago -- was greeted with long lines and stock outs when it finally arrived in Hong Kong this week.
Not only did stores run out of certain MacBook Air models, but MOREPhilip Elmer-DeWitt - Aug 26, 2011 7:40 AM ET
Why can't HP, Dell, Sony or Samsung compete with the iPad and MacBook Air?
The old conventional wisdom was that any advantage Apple (AAPL) gained in the marketplace was necessarily short-lived. Competitors licensing widely available operating systems -- from Microsoft (MSFT) or Google (GOOG) -- would soon undercut Apple's premium pricing and steal its market share. Case in point: The army of Android phones that now commands roughly 50% of the MOREPhilip Elmer-DeWitt - Aug 14, 2011 9:59 AM ET
Sterne Agee's Apple analyst sees lots of room for growth in PCs and mobile phones
In a note to clients issued Wednesday, Sterne Agee's Shaw Wu makes the case that Apple's (AAPL) shares, still down 8% from their recent highs, are a "compelling" buy. He offers four reasons:
"As much success as AAPL has had," he writes, "the company has only 4%-5% share in mobile phones and 4%-5% in PCs (12%-13% including MOREPhilip Elmer-DeWitt - Aug 10, 2011 7:56 AM ET
|Sony shares boom on spin off speculation|
|Microsoft unveils new Xbox One game console|
|Apple grilled about tax havens|
|Bank of Japan maintains policy, cheers Abenomics|
|Judge rules Airbnb illegal in New York City|