Apple's new 17-inch MacBook Pro rocks

Upgrades can push the price past $5k, though, so choose wisely

The biggest of Apple's laptop line compared to the smallest, a second-generation MacBook Air (right).

The biggest of Apple's laptop line compared to the smallest, a second-generation MacBook Air (right).

You can't possibly live with only 4GB of RAM? Toss in another US$1,200 to double the RAM to 8GB. (Those 4GB sticks don't come cheap.)

Price out the door for the ultimate MacBook Pro is a recession-denying US$5,049, plus tax. At least the shipping is free.

The MacBook Pro's ports are all lined up on the left. The new addition here is the Mini DisplayPort, just to the right of the three USB ports

That's the configuration Apple sent over for review purposes, a configuration I affectionately dubbed the MacBook Pro "Pinnacle," because it's hard to imagine what more you could want in a laptop.

Apple officials say this configuration offers up "ultimate Mac performance." I can vouch for that. Short of something like DNA sequencing or editing hours of hi-def video in Final Cut Pro, I haven't yet found a way to tax this setup to the max. But I'm going to keep trying until Apple pries this thing out of my hands in a few weeks.

A screen that sizzles

For now, I'll focus on what's new (and really, really good) in this laptop. Four things stand out: the screen, the integrated battery, the 256GB SSD, and the screen. (OK, I'm counting the screen twice; it's beyond anything I've ever seen anywhere else except maybe an IMAX theater.)

I've long been a fan of screen real estate. The bigger the screen and the higher the resolution, the happier I am. After spending some time staring at this glossy display -- LED backlit, of course -- I couldn't be happier. It appears to be just as bright as my second-generation MacBook Air, meaning you can use it in bright sunlight and have no problem seeing what's on the screen. More important for users who plan on doing a lot of Photoshop or video work, the display offers a wider gamut of colors than before, according to Apple officials. That translates into even richer color saturation and deeper blacks.

Not surprisingly, you do get some reflection from the glossy finish, and if you think that's going to be a problem -- or if you simply prefer Apple's matte-finish screen -- you can get the antiglare screen for US$50 -- but only on the 17-inch model. All other Apple laptops are now glossy-only.

In addition to the 250-nit brightness and truly deep color saturation, the high pixel count delivers razor-sharp text and true high-definition capabilities for anyone working with -- and needing to preview -- hi-def video. For those keeping track, the pixels-per-inch count is 133; that's high, and might make some on-screen elements such as menus or text look a little small. To my 47-year-old eyes, everything looked fine.

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Ken Mingis

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