June 5th, 2007 • 4:23 pm
As someone who purchased a new MacBook Pro just a few weeks ago, it is only natural that I should wonder whether I should have waited until after the release of the new MacBook Pro models announced today.
The short answer, as far as I am concerned, is clearly, “No.” I don’t really need to have any regrets. Here is why.
- The new model that replaces the one I bought is now $50 more (educational price).
- The processor upgrade is a minor one. I would have a 2.4 GHz Core 2 Duo instead of a 2.33 GHz. Presumably there are other improvements to the processor beyond the GHz rating. But it doesn’t sound like it should make a whole lot of difference in most real-world computing situations.
- The graphics card is a GeForce 8600M GT, as opposed to the ATI Radeon X1600 that came with my MacBook Pro. Again, it’s presumably a better card, but it still has the same amount of video RAM (256 MB), so it can’t be orders of magnitude better, and my MacBook Pro is emphatically not a machine for gaming or high-end graphic work anyway.
- The hard drive capacity is the same.
- There is now an optional “high resolution” screen for the 17″ model which is 1920 by 1200 pixels, as opposed to my machine’s 1680 by 1050 resolution. It costs $120 extra (again, educational price). This is the one option that I might have been interested in. But the truth is that, at present, Mac OS X and its applications are not resolution-independent. This means that, if you use the new 1920×1200 display at its native resolution (which is the only viable option), lots of things are going to be pretty tiny and not adjustable. That’s great for people who have sharp eyes and really need to cram as much as possible in their screen space. But for my wife, and for what she does with the machine, the drawbacks of resolution-dependent graphics outweigh the potential benefits of the higher resolutions at this point in time. When Mac OS X is finally resolution-independent and most Mac OS X applications are as well (which will probably take years: do you really think developers like Adobe and Microsoft will rush to make their own application interfaces resolution-independent?), then yes, a higher resolution will become quite desirable. Until then, the high-resolution screen will probably remain a niche option.
As expected, the new LED backlighting is only for the 15″ model. The Tech Specs page doesn’t even mention this characteristic yet, but the front page for the MacBook Pro models says this:
The new MacBook Pro is available in 15-inch models with a new mercury-free, power-efficient LED-backlit display and a 17-inch model with an optional 1920-by-1200 pixel display.
It’s kind of sneaky on Apple’s part, but they do have clever ways of phrasing their descriptions, don’t they? There’s nothing negative in the above sentence, yet if you analyze it carefully, it clearly does not say that the 17″ model comes with the new LED backlight—which means that it does not.
I think I remember reading somewhere that bigger LED-backlit displays will only become available at affordable prices later on. So for now, the 17″ display keeps its fluorescent backlight.
If I had wanted a LED-backlit display, I would have had to buy a 15″ model, so I wouldn’t have had the option of the higher resolution.
So there you go. It’s one of those “incremental” model upgrades that do not really cause a sharp drop in the value of your current model, even if you bought it just a few weeks ago. At least that’s how I see it.