Apple's laptop range has seen a recent rise in popularity, thanks in part to the success of the iPod. The MacBook (£699 inc. VAT) now offers the latest dual-core Intel processors and the newly released OS X 10.5 Leopard operating system for improved power and usability.
The 2.3kg chassis is ideal for travel, but the glossy white finish is easily tarnished, so a suitable travel case is essential. When working on the move, the battery easily let us work for 300 minutes, so mobility is a clear plus point.
The user interface is excellent. The keyboard is large and comfortable, but is set a little too far back on the chassis. Only one mouse button is used, which may confuse Windows users, but the large touchpad makes it easy to manoeuvre onscreen and scroll through documents.
The 13.3-inch screen is one of the best we've seen. Colour and brightness are outstanding, and show photos and videos to their best potential. The glossy coating increases reflections under bright lights, but the stunning image quality will be worth the trade-off for most users.
Performance is impressive and we saw an obvious improvement over previous MacBooks. The latest Intel Core 2 Duo technology makes it easy to multi-task in comfort. All software ran quickly and reliably.
3D performance was less capable. An integrated Intel graphics chip provides enough power for basic home video and photo editing, as well as entry-level gaming. A built-in camera can be used with Apple's iChat software.
Apple's OS X operating system provides strong stability and usability. While Windows Vista offers most of the same features, OS X has lower system requirements and runs quickly and reliably. Windows can also be installed alongside OS X for maximum software compatibility.
Small hard drive
Storage is where the MacBook falls behind its rivals. The 80GB hard drive suits basic use, but will quickly get filled by large collections of photos and music. An upgrade to 120GB costs £50. The slot-loading DVD drive lets you copy data to CD but only offers playback of DVDs.
Connectivity is another area where the MacBook is limited. Only two USB ports are provided and you can't connect to an external display without investing in a £15 Apple adapter cable. Built-in Bluetooth lets you wirelessly connect peripherals, but this is a small consolation.
With its impressive performance, the MacBook easily stands out and the stunning screen is an extra selling point. Windows users may be hesitant to start using the OS X software, but there's plenty of benefits to be had.