We review the new Apple MacBook, the talk of the town that's sporting a new body crafted from a solid ingot of aluminium
Like the previous generation, the Apple MacBook uses Sony-style Scrabble keys for the Qwerty keyboard, and in the case of the 2.4GHz model, keys that automatically light from behind in low-light conditions. Mind your fingers on this Mac, though, especially after eating. Those keys betray any hint of oiliness on your fingers.
The 13.3in display is also LED-lit now, a move that's said to reduce the use of toxic materials in construction, aid battery life and provide better brightness performance. Less welcome for many will be the choice of a high-gloss glass screen cover. The original Apple MacBook also bore a glossy screen, of course, found on many budget laptops now, which gives the impression of richer colours at first acquiantance but can dramatically reduce legibility by introducing distracting reflections in use. This screen can be bright at highest settings but can then look a little washed out and lacking in contrast.
At the top of the screen hidden in the bezel is a tiny webcam, almost invisible behind the reflective glass until a cam-related app such as iChat, Skype or Photo Booth is opened. And then a green LED lights up to notify you that you're on camera.
At the front right of the main body is a small black ‘dash', actually an IR receiver for the optional remote control. Close the lid to put the computer to sleep, and the trademark Apple pulsing white light appears next to it, seemingly out of solid metal - a very neat touch.
Where Apple can claim perhaps its most significant advance over the competition is with the trackpad. Gone is the separate click button at the bottom, as the entire pad - huge at 105mm across - now gently pivots when you press it. There's even an option for a physical right-click, the first time Apple has conceded this on its portables.
This trackpad may be finished in the same satin aluminium colour as the rest of the body but is actually made from glass. Slippery to the touch, it can be configured with a number of multitouch gestures in Mac OS X's preferences, such as two-finger scrolling, three-finger sideswipes, and the notable pinch movements found on the iPhone.
Open a webpage in Safari and you can enlarge text with an opening gesture of finger and thumb, or zoom in to images or PDFs in Preview - a very useful feature that is unavailable anywhere else. There's also three- and four-finger swipes to backtrack on web browsing, activate Mac OS X's Exposé feature (to move open windows off the desktop) and switch between applications.