Apple MacBook (late 2009)
Apple introduces an LED-backlit display and a multitouch trackpad on its cheapest MacBook
- Polycarbonate unibody design, LED-backlit display, multitouch glass trackpad, sturdy body, excellent keyboard
- No backlit keyboard, poor vertical viewing angles, non-removable battery, no SD card reader or FireWire port
Apple's entry-level MacBook improves on its predecessor by offering an upgraded, LED-backlit display, a unibody enclosure and a glass, multitouch trackpad. The glossy display is inferior to the screen on the MacBook Pro model of the same size, and the lack of FireWire and cramped USB ports will pose problems for some users. However, given its price point, the new MacBook comes recommended.
Price$ 1,299.00 (AUD)
Apple's latest MacBook upgrade borrows some inspiration from the more expensive MacBook Pro notebook. It's also priced more affordably than previous models. A unibody enclosure, multitouch capabilities and an upgraded display make this entry-level MacBook a better proposition than its predecessor.
The most noticeable change with the new MacBook is the design: it now uses a unibody enclosure like the one used on the MacBook Pro, albeit constructed with polycarbonate plastic rather than aluminium. Despite the use of a less sturdy material, the MacBook feels strong and well built. Rubber backing on the bottom prevents the notebook from sliding or moving when placed on a flat surface. The gloss white MacBook isn't as kind to fingerprints and light scratches as the more expensive MacBook Pro; you'll need to give it a regular wipe to keep it clean.
The two biggest upgrades from the previous MacBook are an LED-backlit display and a larger trackpad that’s now capable of multitouch. The display is sturdy and exhibits minimal flex when twisted and the LED-backlit screen is clearly brighter than its predecessor. Screens with LED backlighting use up to 30 per cent less power than conventional LCDs, so the new MacBook is more energy-efficient than previous models.
Like almost all Apple notebooks, a glossy display is used — it reflects light both in an office environment and outdoors, which can be distracting. We wish Apple would offer the choice of a non-glossy display. Though the screen is definitely an improvement on its predecessor, we found the viewing angles (particularly vertical) and colours to be less impressive than the identically sized 13in MacBook Pro.
The MacBook now has the same touchpad used on the MacBook Pro. Capable of multitouch, the glass trackpad is large considering the notebook's size. Apart from a thin section along the top, its entire area is clickable. The large size makes it easy to use, but there are a couple of spots that sometimes seem difficult to press. You can individually enable or disable a number of preset multi-touch gestures, including "tap to click", and a secondary button function.
The MacBook's keyboard is comfortable, well spaced and provides good tactility. Unfortunately, the keys aren't backlit, so users often working at night or in dimly lit rooms will be left disappointed.
There is only a single configuration of the notebook available, with options for upgrading the RAM and hard drive. The MacBook is powered by a modest 2.26GHz Intel Core 2 Duo CPU with a 3MB L2 cache, 2GB of DDR2 RAM (with an option for up to 4GB), a 250GB, 5400rpm hard drive and a slot-loading SuperDrive. The notebook also offers 802.11n/b/g Wi-Fi and Bluetooth connectivity. Upgrading to 4GB of RAM adds $140 to the purchase price, while a 500GB hard drive will set you back $210; many buyers would probably be better off purchasing third-party memory and hard drive modules instead (this may affect your warranty, however).
The modest specifications delivered reasonable performance in our tests. The Apple MacBook took just 50sec to encode 53min worth of WAV files to 192Kbps MP3s. We also benchmarked the MacBook using Geekbench and it scored 3263; predictably, this is a lower score than the MacBook Pro,.
An SD card slot is a notable omission, particularly as one now comes standard on the MacBook Pro range. There are two USB ports, a Gigabit Ethernet port, a mini-DisplayPort connection (which requires an extra dongle to connect most monitors) and a combined headphone/microphone jack. The two USB ports sit too close together; we couldn't plug in a Bluetooth dongle for our portable mouse and a USB key at the same time. A standard Kensington lock slot and a built-in iSight webcam with microphone are also included, but there is no FireWire port. Though not a deal-breaker, this will be an inconvenience for many potential users.
Apple claims the entry-level MacBook is capable of up to seven hours of battery life. Though we didn't manage to achieve this, our DVD rundown test produced a good result of result of almost 4.5 hours before the laptop powered off. Unfortunately, the lithium-polymer battery is non-removable, so road warriors are again left disappointed.
Stay up to date with the latest news, reviews and features. Sign up to PC World’s newsletters
Follow PC World Australia on Twitter: @PCWorldAu
Join the Good Gear Guide newsletter!
Gadgets & Things
Most Popular Reviews
- 1 Star Wars Death Star Bluetooth levitating rotating speaker review
- 2 Finally! LG OLED TV 2016 range review
- 3 Fetch TV Mighty review: Better than Foxtel
- 4 Fetch TV Mini review: Make your TV a smart TV
- 5 Panasonic Viera DX900U UHD 4K smart TV review
Latest News Articles
- Settings in iOS 10: Every notable change you need to know
- FBI faces lawsuit because it's stayed mum on iPhone 5c hack
- Early iPhone 7 reviews: You'll miss the headphone jack, but the camera and battery life are tops
- Toshiba's new SSD line features rock-bottom pricing
- Watch out: iOS 10 install is reportedly bricking some iPhones
GGG Evaluation Team
First impression on unpacking the Q702 test unit was the solid feel and clean, minimalist styling.
For work use, Microsoft Word and Excel programs pre-installed on the device are adequate for preparing short documents.
The Fujitsu LifeBook UH574 allowed for great mobility without being obnoxiously heavy or clunky. Its twelve hours of battery life did not disappoint.
The screen was particularly good. It is bright and visible from most angles, however heat is an issue, particularly around the Windows button on the front, and on the back where the battery housing is located.
My first impression after unboxing the Q702 is that it is a nice looking unit. Styling is somewhat minimalist but very effective. The tablet part, once detached, has a nice weight, and no buttons or switches are located in awkward or intrusive positions.
- The top 10 best and worst tech gadgets and products of 2016
- Best phone of the year 2016
- TV of the year award 2016
- Which flagship TV is best? Sony 4K HDR Bravia 2016 versus LG 4K HDR OLED 2016
- 10 Blu-ray movies / Best looking Blu-ray movies
- FTSenior Analyst ProgrammerNSW
- PTRecruitment ConsultantWA
- TPSenior Test AnalystQLD
- FTIT Client Support AnalystNSW
- CCInfrastructure Solutions Architect - ParramattaNSW
- CCDigital Content StrategistVIC
- CCIteration Manager / Scrum MasterQLD
- TPWordpress DeveloperWA
- CCSenior Front End DeveloperNSW
- TPBusiness AnalystVIC
- FTTechnology Solutions Architect - CloudVIC
- FTHadoop DeveloperVIC
- FTRuby On Rails DeveloperVIC
- FTGuidewire Developer - Billing's focusSA
- CCChange AnalystNSW
- CCMainframe Developer (with ASP.NET)QLD
- FTSENIOR DEVELOPERQLD
- CCSolution Designer - Investment/Trading PlatformNSW
- CCBI/DW Lead DeveloperVIC
- CCSystem AdministratorACT
- CCWeb DesignerNSW
- CCWindows System EngineerNSW
- TPJava Developer - ContractQLD
- FTSystem AdministratorNSW
- FTNetwork EngineerSA