Apple's notebooks become more affordable
Pros: Powerful; good value; media software included
Cons: No office software bundled
Bottomline: A powerful computer at a very impressive price
Apple’s recently refreshed Macbook range offers three computers, all of which have 13in widescreen displays.
That might sound a bit small, but the fact that they’re widescreen means that there’s still a fair amount of room on screen – more than enough for most tasks.
The one we looked at, at the bottom of the range, uses an Intel Core 2 Duo processor running at 2.1GHz.
That’s fairly fast by modern notebook standards, and Apple has managed to put it together at under £700 – something previously unheard of in Apple circles.
There’s only 1GB of memory, which is low by Windows standards but is more than enough for the more efficient Mac operating system.
The latest version of that is installed on the Macbook, and it comes with iLife, the suite of applications that covers everything most users need, such as photo organising and editing, music making and video editing.
Disappointingly, given its video credentials (it includes a full-size Firewire port for connecting a camcorder, for instance) it only has a DVD reader (it can read and write CDs, but it can only read, not write, DVDs). It does include a large 120GB hard disk for general storage. The next model up, at £130 more, includes a full DVD writer as well as a faster processor.
Neither does the Macbook include Apple’s excellent iWork application, which includes a great word processor and desktop publisher, spreadsheet and presentation tool. That’s not something the like of which is included with Windows computers either, to be fair, and it’s well worth the £55 upgrade cost.
Like all recent Macs, this Macbook can be converted to run Windows XP or Vista using the supplied Boot Camp tool, so users switching from PCs needn’t cut Windows out completely.
In terms of design, the new Macbook continues Apple’s recent tradition of blending form with excellent functionality – the Macbook is thin and light at 2.2kg, and the keyboard and mouse trackpad are designed to use up the majority of the available space.
Apple’s keyboards have long been a bugbear of ours – as usual the one on this computer is too shallow for our liking, leading to discomfort after a few minutes of typing. There’s a webcam built into the top of the case, which clips shut neatly to store the computer for transport.
In addition to the aforementioned Firewire socket there are two USB ports, monitor and audio connections and a network port. It can also connect directly to Bluetooth and wireless networks, even the latest 802.11n networks. That's a lot of computer you get for £699, and at that price it's impossible not to recommend it heartily, both for new computer users and hardened Windows users looking for a change.