Thunderbolt MacBook Pro: The last notebook you'll ever need
If the new MacBook Pro and its amazing Thunderbolt don't blow your mind, you're not paying attention
Thunderbolt MacBook Pro: A lone issue
Wireless networking is well seen to by Broadcom components and well-placed antennas. The MacBook Pro's 802.11a/b/g/n radio is sensitive and power efficient, and Apple's drivers exploit its rapid multiband network scanning. Reconnecting after suspend is impressively quick. Bluetooth handles all worthwhile profiles, enabling tethering/modem, file transfer, serial port emulation, and high-fidelity stereo with remote control.
802.11 did present the single repeatable glitch encountered during my evaluation. Wireless ping tests between MacBook Pro and a Time Capsule base station revealed widely varying latency. In some cases, response packets lagged by more than 250ms -- latency that equates to forever in LAN terms. The lag was not present with an Ethernet connection or with a Hawking HWDN2 external USB Wi-Fi adapter.
I discovered that the problem disappears when the delay between packets is reduced to 200ms. I believe that OS X is aggressively powering down the wireless radio to extend battery life (radio is a major consumer of power), but that's opinion. Apple acknowledged my report and validated my tests, but a fix was neither deemed necessary nor made available by press time. Because the issue does not affect browsing, video or audio streaming, email, or other common network tasks, it may be purely academic, but I will continue to research it.
There's simply too much to say about the difference in user experience between the Core 2 Duo MacBook Pro and the new Thunderbolt Core i7 models. It's my job to transform subjective to objective through benchmarking and other tests, but in the end, what matters is how the machine feels, sounds, and drives.
After more than two weeks of carrying and living with the new 17-inch MacBook Pro, flipping over to the Core 2 Duo model periodically for testing, the difference is palpable. Every task and action starts and finishes markedly faster, making each return to the "old" MacBook Pro a frustrating experience. Two years is any Mac's prime.
Other differences, like the higher-quality built-in microphone, higher-resolution FaceTime HD Webcam, and support for the mic on an iPhone headset cord just made the experience that much more enjoyable. The only changes I'd make to the test machine are an increase in RAM to the 8GB maximum, and perhaps a trial of the 7,200-rpm hard drive. I expect that these tweaks would handily close the gap between the new MacBook Pro and a desktop. When Thunderbolt peripherals become more commonplace -- a given in light of Apple's brisk sales -- the Thunderbolt MacBook Pro won't just be the only notebook worth carrying. It may be the only computer a professional needs.
This article, "Thunderbolt MacBook Pro: The last notebook you'll ever need," was originally published at InfoWorld.com. Follow the latest developments in computer hardware and mobile technology at InfoWorld.com. For the latest business technology news, follow InfoWorld.com on Twitter.