Hands on: new Apple MacBook Pro review

The news is finally out, and Apple has launched a range of new aluminium laptops under its consumer MacBook and professional MacBook Pro brands.

Following a meeting this afternoon at the Apple HQ in London, What Laptop magazine got hands-on with the 15-inch MacBook Pro. With prices starting at £1399 for this model, it's certainly not an impulse buy, but as with most Apple products, it delivers design and features that you won't find anywhere else.

The rumours of the new design featuring a body cut from a single piece of aluminium are true, and the new metal casing adds a great deal of style to both ranges. It also makes the laptop far more recyclable, as does the glass screen, and Apple looks to have vastly improved its previously criticised use of non-recyclable materials

Bright screen

The glossy LED screen is eye-squintingly bright at its highest setting, and delivers fantastic image quality.

The 1440 x 900 pixel resolution will be high enough for most design professionals, and has so far proved incredibly sharp in our initial tests. The glass enclosure is of course hugely reflective, but no more than most standard Super-TFT screens

Another new addition to the Pro range is the keyboard design. Each key is cut through its own hole in the aluminium chassis and has plenty of space between each key, so typing is very comfortable.

The keyboard is also fully backlit, and automatically adjusts brightness as ambient light gets brighter or darker. Die-hard Apple users may miss the old keyboard seen on previous MacBook Pro's, but we like the new choice

Very large touchpad

Most noticeable is the huge touchpad, as you immediately notice that there are no mouse buttons. The touchpad measures 106 x 76mm and the entire pad is clickable, to provide full right-click, left-click and gesture control functionality. At first it's proving a little tricky to get to grips with, but we're sure that it will quickly become second nature

The gesture controls include pinching two-fingers to zoom in and out of documents, four-fingers to gain instant access to all open windows, and rotating your fingers across the pad to spin images onscreen. Anyone that has used a MacBook Air will be used to these gestures, but again newcomers will need a slight bedding-in period

A range of ports are lined along the left side of the chassis and includes two USB ports and a FireWire 800 port. The latter is an especially useful touch, as it proves far faster than USB when transferring large files to and from external drives. The right side of the chassis features the slot-loading optical drive and also a Kensington lock slot

Another nice touch is that when a Kensington lock is attached, it also locks the battery (underneath the chassis) in place, so potential thieves are even unable to steal your battery or – more importantly – the hard drive beneath.

TechRadar also has the new Apple Macbook, so come back on Friday for full reviews of both. In the meantime, check out What Laptop for all your laptop-related queries.