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This is a "Pro" in every sense.
on March 12, 2008
In March 2008, I decided it was time to upgrade from a G4-based laptop to one of the new Intel models. I deliberated back and forth whether the lower priced MacBook would be sufficient or whether to pay the premium for the "Pro" model. Ultimately, I decided upon the MacBook Pro for these reasons.
The aluminum case of the MacBook Pro reminds me of a product made by the Swiss. The build quality is outstanding for a mass-produced device. It feels very substantial, and all the pieces fit together nearly seamlessly. The MacBook's case, however, is made from a high-grade plastic rather than metal. It's nice ... but I found the front edge of the MacBook's case a bit sharp on my wrists as I typed.
Compared with the MacBook, the MacBook Pro provides an additional USB port plus Firewire 800. The latter is desirable for people who work with video and external drives that have Firewire 800 connectors. The ExpressCard slot is useful for future expansion and services such as wireless broadband (EVDO).
Keyboard experiences are subjective; but I find the keyboard on the MacBook Pro the most comfortable of any laptop I've ever used. It feels solid and responsive. Plus, its backlighting is helpful when typing in dark environments.
Unlike the MacBook that shares system memory for video (integrated graphics), the MacBook Pro has a dedicated video processor. This is beneficial for driving large external displays and running graphics-intensive applications.
Is the MacBook Pro worth the $700 price differential over a MacBook? That depends on whether you are a general home computer user (i.e., e-mail, web browsing, iTunes, word processing) or someone who uses their laptop for more advanced purposes. My user profile is more in the second category. Also, since I intend to keep this computer for three years, I figure that the premium breaks down to about $233 each year. This seems reasonable to me for something I use every day.
In view of the additional quality and benefits that the MacBook Pro offers, I think its higher price brings with it commensurate value. It's hard to imagine even finicky laptop users being disappointed with the MacBook Pro.
P.S. -- There are two 15-inch MacBook Pro models. I bought the 2.4 gHz "entry level" model. It is the better value. I do not feel the 2.5 gHz MacBook Pro is worth the extra $500.
Also, people who care to add system memory (beyond the stock 2 gigabytes supplied by Apple) ought to purchase it from a third-party vendor and install it themselves. It is a simple process.