I'm convinced that there's no perfect mobile form factor. You can make arguments in favor of and against everything from the smartphone and tablet to 17" desktop replacement notebooks. There's simply a time and a place for everything.

Sometimes you don't need to do a lot but want to be able to couch around and browse the web on a tablet. Other times you need to do actual work but don't need a ton of CPU horsepower; that puts you into 13-inch notebook territory.

For even more productive beings there are larger 15 and 16-inch systems. And given how thin the system is, it's also not hard to make an argument for Apple's 17-inch MacBook Pro. You get a desktop-like screen resolution and mainstream desktop performance.

It's like having a set of screwdrivers. You may use some more often than others but having the entire set helps. Unfortunately having a set of notebooks and mobile devices isn't really an option for most. Inevitably you have to choose. And for portability, that choice often leads you to something a bit larger than a netbook for performance, but small enough to comfortably carry around.

For Apple users this portable sweetspot is the 13-inch MacBook Pro.


Apple's 2010 13-inch (left) vs. 15-inch MacBook Pro (right)

I've praised the 2010 15-inch MacBook Pro as being the one to get thanks to its combination of performance and battery life. When Apple made its 2010 upgrade public however, the 13-inch model was somewhat neglected. It got a faster GPU and bigger battery, but only a mild CPU bump. Priced at $1199 you get a 4.5 lbs aluminum unibody chassis, a 13.3" display and a 2.4GHz Core 2 Duo CPU. Keeping up with recent tradition, a NVIDIA GeForce 320M chipset is also under the hoo..err, keyboard. While the rest of the MacBook Pro lineup got shiny new Core i5 and i7 processors (dual core + Hyper Threading), the new 13-inch is stuck with an older Core 2 Duo.

On the bright side, Apple finally outfitted the 13-inch MacBook Pro with a sufficient amount of memory: 4GB. It's still spread out over two DIMMs (making upgrading more expensive than it should be), but it's enough to get you going. I'd say that given the usage model for most notebooks, 4GB should be plenty with OS X 10.6.


The 13-inch MBP comes with all the ports the 15-inch model has, minus dedicated line in/out. You get GigE, FireWire 800, mini DisplayPort, 2 x USB 2.0, a SD card readerand a shared line in/out port. Click to Enlarge

Apple's 2009 Lineup 13-inch MacBook Pro (Early 2010) 13-inch MacBook Pro (Late 2009)
CPU Intel Core 2 Duo 2.40GHz Intel Core 2 Duo 2.26GHz
Memory 4GB DDR3-1066 2GB DDR3-1066
HDD 250GB 5400RPM 160GB 5400RPM
Video NVIDIA GeForce 320M (integrated) NVIDIA GeForce 9400M (integrated)
Optical Drive 8X Slot Load DL DVD +/-R 8X Slot Load DL DVD +/-R
Screen Resolution 1280 x 800 1280 x 800
USB 2 2
SD Card Reader Yes Yes
FireWire 800 1 1
ExpressCard/34 No No
Battery 63.5Whr 60Whr
Dimensions (W x D x H) 12.78" x 8.94" x 0.95" 12.78" x 8.94" x 0.95"
Weight 4.5 lbs 4.5 lbs
Price $1199 $1199

Today we're going to find out if the sweetspot got any less sweet as a result of the unusual upgrade. If you're unfamiliar with Apple's unibody MacBook Pro and integrated battery design I'd recommend reading our older articles on the topic.

Not Arrandale, but Better Graphics
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  • runebinder - Saturday, June 26, 2010 - link

    Huh? I have a glossy screen too, abysmal is certainly not a word I'd associate with it. I'm sitting in a brightly lit room atm and having no issues with the screen at all. In a pitch dark room it's great. Yes the colours may be more accurate on the matte, however I much prefer the glossy, the contrast ratios are better and everything looks more vivid.

    If yours looks that bad I suggest you get it looked at as it sounds defective.
    Reply
  • Aenslead - Wednesday, June 09, 2010 - link

    Another rather irrelevant review of an outdated, expensive, fruit-themed, fanboi toy that still cannot convince me to try it over an ASUS or CLEVO notebook.

    That's all I have to say. Have a nice one.
    Reply
  • mathias_mm - Wednesday, June 09, 2010 - link

    Seriously, I wish people like you could just get banned. Why do you care to comment on the article if you have nothing constructive to say? It really is just flamebaiting, and everyone knows the Mac users will never stop using Macs because of crap like that, just like it's quite apparent you'll never even try a Mac. Reply
  • Aenslead - Wednesday, June 09, 2010 - link

    It's my opinion and I'm entitled to express it as I see fit. I'm an avid AT reader and I will share my thoughts whenever I want, however I want, regardless of what you think. And the fact that you replied means it wasn't an irrelevant comment for you. :)

    I as well have been reading AT since it began, and don't quite fancy how now every 5/10 reviews are somehow Apple related.

    And yes, I will never get a Mac.
    Reply
  • mathias_mm - Wednesday, June 09, 2010 - link

    Okay, maybe I overreacted with the whole banning thing. I'm just sick and tired of this endless flaming it always ends up with, and it always starts with someone writing fanboi or whatever, in a comment saying "I'll never have none of that" or something else that means nothing. Why is that discussion so important to so many people? Is it a matter of pride to support x company instead of y?
    And that is why i decided to comment. The comment itself remains irrelevant, but the tone and the purpose of it (or at least the effect it usually has), is relevant if you value a meaningful discussion in the comments. Which i do.

    I also fail to see how the amount of time you've been here is relevant at all. I've been reading the site for what i guess must be around the same time, some times more often than others, but that doesn't mean i can come here and post whatever. And if Anand prefers to write more about Macs, too bad for you, I really doubt he ever started the site for you in the first place.

    And I will also state you should try a Mac seriously some time. I'm not saying buy one, but try t out somehow. Can it ever hurt? :)
    Reply
  • Aenslead - Thursday, June 10, 2010 - link

    Totally agree. I do not think someone like Anand would care to please me - he is bright enough to do whatever he pleases with HIS site, which, I must say, is the one I fully trust in reviews and comments.

    My post was not meant to be productive, constructive or helpful at all - it was a rant. I complained about something I didn't like. Sort of like "why do women get PMS?!"

    I've gone through hell with Mac's, honestly. The business I own provides support for Mac and PC users alike - my latest fight was trying to get a conventional cablemodem-router network to work with a MacBook Pro, a 27" iMac, and some PCs. the MBP kept acquiring 189.170.xx.xx addys, whereas the DHCP was enabled and configured to 192.168.1.xx - setting it manually helped, but it did not enable discovery of the MBP, and could not configure a Calendar program to share schedule with the rest of the PCs.

    I found them less intuitive, more complicated, hardly friendly-user than even a Windows 95 PC.

    I have a PowerMac G4 and a 15" MBP (GF8500, C2D) at the office for software testing and I even tried once or twice to use them as my main working machines, but failed. Linux-failure type, you know? "It's cool, but... I just don't find my way through it".

    Maybe I'm a PC fanboi. Maybe it's what I enjoy the most, besides ranting. I will take a Core i5 Alienware M11x ANY DAY over this Mac.
    Reply
  • B3an - Friday, June 11, 2010 - link

    Aenslead, i totally agree with you.

    And i think Apple in general get way more press and coverage than they deserve, especially on yank sites.

    Also do not like how Anand always seems to be a little bias when reviewing Apple gear, he does not point out obvious floors like he would in other hardware reviews.
    Reply
  • zer0sum - Wednesday, June 09, 2010 - link

    Maybe put a little more thought into your opinion next time...
    The last ten Anandtech reviews are as follows:

    HTC EVO 4G
    MBP 13
    Acer Ferrari One
    OSX Steam performance
    AVADirect Clevo W860CU
    Value SSD Roundup
    ASrock X58
    HP ZR30w LCD
    Asus U30Jc
    Nvidia GTX465

    Throw in at least 3-4 other stories about Asus Computex, Eee Pad and tablet as well.
    Hell, they haven't even mentioned the iphone 4 yet!!

    Whilst you might find an Asus or a clevo more to your liking a lot of people buy a 13" MBP pro because it has some truly impressive features over other brands

    Design, dimensions, weight, build quality, battery life, operating system, trackpad and gestures, firewire800, applications, etc.

    For reference I have a new 13" MBP, a 2008 15" MBP and a new MSI GX640.
    There is no perfect laptop for me and they all have their pros and cons obviously...
    Reply
  • Johnmcl7 - Wednesday, June 09, 2010 - link

    Agreed - for a technical site there's an awful lot of Apple coverage even when there's little to write about while genuinely innovative and more technologically advanced machines are ignored. Specifically I'm surprised the site has never covered the new Sony Z series - Sony have managed to do what Apple claim isn't possible by having up to an i7 processor in a 13in chassis with an Nvidia GT 330m that's smaller and lighter than the 13in Apple Macbook as well as pack in *four* SSDs and packing a 1080p display. Despite all the power it packs, its hybrid graphics setup allows for long batterylife, it also offers an extended battery. I think there's a lot to benchmark and test there particularly the likes of Trim support and general performance of the quad SSDs. Reply
  • Tros - Thursday, June 10, 2010 - link

    Care to mention a model number? I can only find the 13-inch Vaio VPCZ1190X on Sony's website, which comes with NONE of those features, except for a disclaimed 7.5-hour battery life. If you halved pretty much all of those specs and got rid of the GT330m, that matches the Vaio VPC1190X.

    And innovative? Not really. A keyboard backlight is innovative (and Sony was beaten to the punch by a few years). Auto-adjusting screen brightness is innovative (IIRC, Alienware did this a long time ago). Utilizing an accelerometer to shutdown HDDs before crash-impact is innovative (credit to IBM ThinkPads). The multi-touch finger gestures are innovative (first saw this in X11). Switching to a LLVM compiler to transparently take advantage of GPGPU power when it's magnitudes faster/efficient than CPU computation is innovative (Apple). This Vaio laptop? This is doubling transistors among of a sea of manufacturers that believe doubling transistors is the only way to make a better PC. The 13-inch MBP gets special attention for the innovations it brings to the tech-world, while nearly all PC manufacturers depend heavily on CPU-upgrades to sell their machines. More power to AT for focusing on innovations, rather than every variant of laptop that has a few hundred more megahertz.
    Reply

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