While still a fairly niche market, Apple's transition to the use of Intel processors has seen a boost to its laptop sales. Able to run Microsoft Windows alongside its own Mac OS X operating system, the Apple MacBook (£749 inc. VAT) is a stylish and versatile laptop.
Only Apple laptops can run Mac OS X along with Windows XP or Vista, so you can enjoy the best of all worlds. With its slim chassis weighing just 2.3kg, the MacBook is ideal for frequent travel. Its battery life of 268 minutes is excellent and kept us working on the move. Build quality is strong enough for mobile use, but the glossy finish unfortunately scratches easily.
Providing excellent usability, the keyboard is broad and spacious. With well-spaced and responsive keys, speed-typing is comfortable. The large touchpad is equally usable. However, all Apple laptops use a single mouse button, which Windows users will need to get used to.
Mobile media centre
Great for home users, Apple's pre-installed iLife software package provides tools for such tasks as organising photos, building websites and creating DVDs. Apple Front Row software also provides a one-stop multimedia hub, easily accessed using an included remote control.
Using an Intel Core 2 Duo processor, the MacBook makes light work of all tasks. When editing photos, playing MP3s and browsing the internet, the speed on offer was impressive. Interestingly, the MacBook also runs Windows XP faster than most native Windows laptops.
3D power is less capable, but suits home use. Using an integrated graphics chip from Intel, high-performance gaming is out of the question. However, basic games of chess and solitaire run quickly, as do multimedia presentations, photo slideshows and DVD movie playback.
Available with a choice of standard or glossy screen coatings, image quality is superb. Colour and brightness are stunning and show photos and videos to their best potential. For taking your own photos and filming video, a tiny camera is built into the top of the screen panel.
Wireless compatibility is excellent. 802.11a/b/g Wi-Fi lets you connect to hotspots at high-speed, and built-in Bluetooth lets you wirelessly sync data with peripherals. For connecting to fixed home/office networks, Gigabit Ethernet allows the fastest possible connections.
With an impressive specification and broad software compatibility, Apple has asserted itself as a serious contender in the laptop market. While the styling of the MacBook may not be to all tastes, the power and ability on offer at this price makes it highly recommended.