13-inch MacBook/2.26GHz (Late 2009)
In just three and a half years, the MacBook, targeted at average computer users, students, and PC switchers, has become Apple's best-selling Mac model. In its first major remodeling since 2006, the polycarbonate MacBook has gained many of the marquee features of the 13-inch MacBook Pro ( Macworld rated 4.5 out of 5 mice ), including a unibody design, a glass trackpad, and an LED-backlit display.
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In many ways, the white MacBook was the lone holdout among Apple portables. As the least-expensive model, it was missing several of the new design features that had already been made standard across the rest of the laptop line. One of the big ones was unibody construction. Making the MacBook's main case out of a single piece of polycarbonate plastic (aluminum on all other Apple models) results in fewer parts, fewer screws, a lighter weight, and better durability. In switching to a unibody design, the new MacBook sheds the grayish surface that appeared grafted atop the frame in the previous model ( Macworld rated 4.5 out of 5 mice ). The result is a consistent white color, and a smoother surface without the sharp edges of the earlier generation. The keyboard also feels more solid and consistent.
Instead of nonskid pads in the corners on the bottom of the MacBook, the entire surface is one giant rubberized foot secured by eight Phillips screws. This surface is smoother and doesn't provide as much friction as the pads on the older MacBooks did, and it collected a fair amount of dirt and debris from my desk (although a quick rub got it looking good as new).
Another problem with the unibody design is that it requires that the battery be built in. As with Apple's other unibody laptops, the battery is not user-replaceable, but Apple says that the battery gives you between three and a half and seven hours of juice and up to 1000 charge cycles before being reduced to 80 percent capacity. Apple says that the battery should take about five years to reach that point, but your mileage will vary. The company charges $129 to replace the battery--the same price you'd pay for an extra battery for an older MacBook--which can be done as a same-day service in an Apple Store (or whatever they're called in 2014). It is still pretty easy, however, to access the hard drive and RAM slots for quick upgrades or replacements in those areas.
Integrating the battery into the design allows for a larger (and therefore longer-lasting) battery, plus it reduces some weight. In our battery test, the charge lasted for an impressive four hours and nine minutes while playing a looped video clip in QuickTime X at full screen and full brightness, but with AirPort turned off. That was exactly the same duration as the 13-inch 2.26GHz MacBook Pro, and 40 minutes longer than the previous MacBook. During that time (and during our other testing) the bottom of the MacBook never got very warm, which had been a complaint of some MacBook users in the past.
(Image Caption: The new MacBook has a fixed battery, located to the left of the hard drive (photo courtesy of iFixit.com).)