Apple MacBook (Spring 2009)

The Apple MacBook may look the same as before, but it's had a Spring makeover and is now a better deal than ever.


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Ty is a journalist with 15 years experience in writing for IT and entertainment publications. He is in charge of the home theatre category for CNET Australia and is also a PC enthusiast. He likes indie music and plays several instruments. Twitter: @tpendlebury


Design

With the new MacBook in your hands it's difficult to tell at first glance what the differences are over the last version. But look a little closer and you'll realise: "hey, the trackpad's a little bigger, and it's got that unibody thingy". Like the MacBook Pro, the new Macbook features a unibody construction — only this time it's polycarbonate and not aluminium. Apple also cheats a little by including a detachable rubberised base, but this serves its own purpose by ensuring the MacBook doesn't slide away while typing.

The trackpad is a muti-touch glass sandwich and feels good to the touch. The pad is hinged in such a way that any point on its surface can act as a mouse click.

Features

The notebook features a 2.26GHz Intel Core 2 Duo processor, 2GB RAM, a 250GB hard drive, and the Nvidia GeForce 9400M integrated graphic chipset. The MacBook features a 13.3-inch screen which is LED-backlit for better colours and power consumption, and comes in a 1280x800 resolution.

As a unibody the MacBook features a built-in battery, which Apple claims is good for seven hours of life. The new body means it's now a little lighter at 2.1kg. Other additions include a non-slip bottom and a 90-degree MagSafe power cable that should make it harder to knock out. To borrow from the D-Generation it now comes in a huge range of white.

On the left-hand side you have the power adapter, a LAN port, a mini DisplayPort, two USB ports, a combination headphone/microphone input compatible with the newer iPod headphones, and a Kensington slot. On the right-hand side you simply have the slot-loading 8x SuperDrive. If you don't want to try using the combination in/out headphone thingy there is also an on-board microphone next to the integrated iSight camera.

Networking includes a built-in AirPort Extreme 802.11n wireless networking adapter, the aforementioned gigabit Ethernet and Bluetooth.

Performance

In use, the new Apple MacBook is a lot like the old one — no surprises there. Of course, having multi-touch does speed up productivity somewhat, and the new 13.3-inch screen is simply exquisite. The panel is bright, detailed and clear, but it can be reflective due to the glossy, "high-contrast" coating.

The laptop proved itself to be quite capable as a gaming machine, and while this isn't that useful under OS X it really comes into its own once you fire Boot Camp up. Despite the cries of "Dear God! What abomination have you unleashed?!", we loaded and benchmarked a copy of Windows 7 Ultimate onto the machine. Running the venerable 3DMark05 we were able to extract a very usable 2119 marks — most modern games will run on this system without a hitch.

Despite being a new operating system, Windows 7 behaved on the Mac quite well due to the bundled Windows drivers on the OS X disc. Only occasionally did the trackpad have a brain-fart and misinterpret left-clicks as right-clicks. Again, not an issue if you use a mouse.

The keyboard is the "pebble" style we've seen from the company previously, and the action is as good as you'd expect with decent tactile feedback. There's no backlighting, though, so if you often type in the dark it may be better to try its bigger brother, the MacBook Pro.

While we didn't get anywhere near the claimed seven hours, we did manage to get a very decent four hours and 50 minutes using our video playback test. At almost five hours it can outplay most netbooks — which is an excellent result for a "budget" laptop. This is because unlike light internet browsing and word processing, movie files tax both the processor and the video adapter which makes it a "worst-case scenario" of battery life.

Sound quality via the on-board speaker is very good, and while lacking in any bass whatsoever it has a detailed sound that highlights vocals well.

Conclusion

If you have an Apple MacBook already there is no compelling reason to upgrade to this one. While multi-touch is a nice addition, serious productivity hounds will be using a dedicated mouse anyway. But, if you're looking to buy a new laptop and like the flexibility of a dual-boot system then this MacBook and a copy of Windows could very well be the ticket.

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109
10
Rating
 

109 posted a review   

The Good:design, speed, etc. just overall quality

The Bad:nothing

Great if you need a laptop for internet, word, itunes, watching movies online and little more. Real fast in all these things. Multitask easily.
As always, Apple is a quality guarantee.

 

GG posted a comment   

The Good:works well, long battery life, simplicity

The Bad:DVD drive stalls

I use to be a pc guy but when i used this mac i swapped immediately. Its way more simpler to use than a pc, its small but not to small, its fast, and its battery life is huge.

joe
10
Rating
 

joe posted a review   

The Good:every thing

The Bad:nothing as yet

best notebook ever.

hannah
9
Rating
 

hannah posted a review   

The Good:trackpad, graphics, battery life, applications, simplicity, user friendly

The Bad:DVD drive is not the best

really great laptop for a student or someone who wants the quality and style of an Apple product at an affordable price. I paid $1200 at myer and best purchase I've ever made.

Excellent Product :)

Besh Slutison
10
Rating
 

Besh Slutison posted a review   

The Good:Looks great, price, features and quality.

The Bad:Nothing.

This is tres good and looks 100 times better than the previous model.

 

joshhh posted a comment   

The Good:7 hours battery, decent speeds

The Bad:no firewire

@ mwt - i would pay an extra 300 bucks for the aluminium casing (which is sturdier and looks a lot nicer) and for the firewire 800 port and sd card slot it has. hard drive is upgradable too. i know alot of people who dont care about an extra 300 bucks; who wouldnt need the firewire or sd card features but would still go the more expensive option for aluminium look.

 

mwt posted a comment   

The Good:price and features

The Bad:not backlit keyboard

I cant understand why anyone woud go for the macbook pro which has same memory and less storage space at a premium of $300. Am i missing something?

 

NickK posted a reply   
Australia

The backlit keyboard and the SD slot I think, mate.

Max
10
Rating
 

Max posted a review   

The Good:Build quality, multi-touch trackpad, battery life

The Bad:None as yet

The new Unibody MacBook is a great device, with good battery life, and decent oomph in the games section with Windows. It's price is great, too.

10/10

RD
9
Rating
 

RD posted a review   

The Good:Solid build quality, specs and lower price

The Bad:intergrated graphics card

Feels very well made and very snappy for it's price!


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User Reviews / Comments  Apple MacBook (Spring 2009)

  • 109

    109

    Rating10

    "Great if you need a laptop for internet, word, itunes, watching movies online and little more. Real fast in all these things. Multitask easily.
    As always, Apple is a quality guarantee."

  • GG

    GG

    "I use to be a pc guy but when i used this mac i swapped immediately. Its way more simpler to use than a pc, its small but not to small, its fast, and its battery life is huge."

  • joe

    joe

    Rating10

    "best notebook ever."

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