Apple's 17-inch MacBook Pro Is Built for Comfort, Speed

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Apple's 17-inch MacBook Pro Is Built for Comfort, Speed

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Look, Ma, No Battery Slot

Because the battery is built in, there is no access port to weaken the solid aluminum base of the 17-inch MacBook Pro clamshell. It's a good thing the battery has such long life (between 4 and 8 hours)-once it loses its charge, it's done until the user gets to an AC power outlet.

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Bright Display

Even running on battery and dimmed to conserve power, the 17-inch glossy display is bright enough to handle word processing and other work projects in normal office lighting.

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Connections and Indicators

From left to right are ports for MagSafe power, Gigabit Ethernet, FireWire 800, USB 2.0 (three total), Mini DisplayPort, audio in/out and ExpressCard/34, as well as the battery indicator lights.

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Slot-Loading Optical Drive

The 8x SuperDrive DVD/CD drive is alone on the right side of the 17-inch MacBook Pro.

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Lots of Space for More Keys

The "whitespace" on the 17-inch MacBook Pro system tends to favor form over function. The downside is a lack of common navigation keys on the otherwise full-sized keyboard. The upside is plenty of separation between the palm and wrist rest area and the trackpad, keeping errant gestures to a minimum.

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The View from Above

The solid aluminum case has one cutout for the Apple logo. In the very short time that I had the system, I didn't see too many scuffs, but early reports from the field suggest visible dings are easy to pick up. But a well-used notebook will retain its inner beauty as long as the delicate insides are well-protected. My review unit gave every appearance of being well-constructed. Labs was required by Apple to return the unit without intentional damage, so durability tests will have to come from the field.

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Three-Finger Navigation

The trackpad supports three- and four-finger navigation, demonstrated in user preferences.

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Here, I've fully enabled all one- and two-finger gestures. The trackpad is easy to use and almost never picks up on stray gestures. The size of the trackpad is proportional to the size of the screen, which made the trackpad very accurate when moving the pointer to the correct spot on the display.

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Energy Saver

I ran in Better Battery Life mode, which uses the Nvidia 9400M GPU. In this mode, I was consistently able to use the MacBook Pro for an entire workday without being connected to AC power.

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Here you see the 17-inch MacBook Pro using Nvidia GeForce 9400M graphics to conserve power.