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Wednesday, June 23, 2010

2010 MacBook Pro Review: 10 hours battery life

The 2010 Apple MacBook Pro 13" model. 

In my last reviews, i covered the unboxing, physical features, and then on the usage of the MBP (Using Mac OS X versus Windows).
This time we will take a look at the Battery life.

A 13" Laptop (or arguably any laptop) must consider portability into it's design. It's supposed to be used away from the usual desktop situations. Therefore Battery life must be an important factor, after all, when the energy flow stops, so will the laptop, regardless of any of it's other features.

So how does the 2010 MBP 13" model perform in terms of battery? Read on to find out:

Apple claims to have a milestone on it's hands with the 2010 MacBook Pro 13" model. The battery life is supposed to last 10 hours on a full charge. This is a huge claim. 10 hours is already stepping into the turf of ultra-portable netbooks that sacrifice power for portability.
At first, I gave Apple the benefit of the doubt with that claim, for a few reasons:
1. Apple builds their own hardware to run their software. So they are in the perfect position to control many of the factors affecting battery usage. They claim that the new design of the MBP (having an integrated battery, not user-replaceable) is supposed to positively affect the energy usage.
2. Many reviewers also praised the battery life of the new 2010 13" model from their own actual usage.
3. The Apple iPad battery lasts me very long on a single charge, also with an integrated battery setup. 

Can the 2010 MacBook Pro really give a lot of usage on a single charge? Is the 10 hour usage really accurate? I put that to the test myself on several occasions, and found the claim to be good, but not entirely accurate. First of all, it's important to note that the claims of battery life are exaggerated in all products by all companies. 
In this case, Apple has also done the same, because I was able to get 10 hours battery life only when i turned off the keyboard light, reduced my screen brightness to ~30%, and have no connections (bluetooth/Wifi) and worse of all: No Applications were running.
What good is having a laptop then? The darker screen is fine, but not running any applications is a problem. Of course we want to bring it around to use it, right?

Well, there is a big silver lining to that "dark" cloud. With that same setup, If I lower the brightness to 25% (which is still quite usable, more so in a dark room), and surf the web connected to WiFi, the battery life doesn't drop too drastically from 10 hours. In fact, as you will see in the short video below, I could still get an estimated 8.5-9 hours of battery. By "estimate" I mean the built-in battery meter on the Mac OS X tells me the approximate time I have left depending on current usage and settings. I find that meter to be 'not too bad' in terms of accuracy, so I base on that only (Don't worry, the video below isn't 9 hours long!).
Of course, that estimated time will continue to go down depending on the websites you browse (Flash websites will DRAIN battery), and how active you are at surfing the net. 

Still, I am very pleased at the performances I am getting in the last month of use. Compared to the other laptops I have used (13" Lenovo, 15" HP, 15" Vaio, 18" Vaio) the 2010 13" MacBook Pro has the hands-down BEST battery life on a single charge.
The only things that could compare with it are the Netbooks. Unfortunately, you will NOT have the same processing and graphics power on your hands if you take a Netbook along with you, as compared to having the new MBP with: 2.4GHz, 4GB ram, Nvidia 330M graphics laptop.

Note: This review is ONLY for the 2010 MacBook Pro 13" model. The 15" and 17" models are not claimed to have as a good battery life, especially since they are packing the new Intel i5 and i7 chips. Also, with their size, they aren't as practical for portability as the 13" model anyway.


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  2. To clarify using the MacBook for video editing, I think it all depends on which program you are using. If you edit with iMovie, the MacBook should work fine. Apple clearly states on its website that Final Cut's system requirements are not fully supported on this computer. The best bet is to read reviews from owners who have edited video on the book or find a way to try it yourself.