MacBook 2.0GHz [ALUMINIUM] 2008 full review - Page 3

The MacBook's battery life and audio quality
Apple also moved the battery indicator lights to the front left side rather than on the bottom, so you don’t need to flip the MacBook over to see the remaining charge (it also indicates when the battery is missing). And speaking of batteries, Apple has redesigned the battery itself and how you access it. On the previous MacBook, the back of the battery could be seen as a panel at the bottom of the case, and you needed to unlock the battery by turning a lock with a coin or screwdriver. The battery in the new MacBook is housed underneath a thin metal door that unlocks with the flick of a latch. Remove the door and you have quick access to the battery, as well as the hard drive (a single screw keeps the drive in place) and RAM (after removing eight other screws).

Apple claims five hours of battery life for the new MacBooks, which Apple measures by wirelessly browsing Web sites and editing text in a word processing document with display brightness set to 50 percent. In our testing, battery life was 2 hours and 35 minutes for the 2.0GHz model and 2 hours and 33 minutes for the 2.4GHz model; we tested for watching a movie on an airplane, playing a movie clip in QuickTime ripped from a DVD to the laptop’s hard drive. We played the movie at full screen with brightness set to maximum. Although you can’t directly compare Apple’s numbers and ours, both MacBooks lasted a little longer than the new MacBook Pro models, even when running the MacBook Pros with the 9400M graphics processor (the more battery-conserving option). The previous white plastic 2.1GHz MacBook, however, beat the new MacBooks in battery life, lasting nearly 3 hours.

Apple moved the stereo speakers underneath the keyboard and I expected the sound to suffer. But music played in iTunes was surprisingly loud and clear, and hiding the speakers has the effect of making the sound seem like it’s coming from the whole computer rather than from a portion of it. The speakers are some of the best I’ve heard on an Apple laptop.

Also, the iSight camera and its microphone are now separated. The camera is centred at the top of the display, and the mic moves next to the keyboard. Although the mic is therefore closer to the keyboard, Apple says it has built noise reduction into the microphone (it’s on all the time) to reduce ambient noise pick up. In a video chat with a friend 400 miles away, the camera and mic performed very well, and a recording of my voice using QuickTime Player didn’t pick up any unwanted hum or hard drive noise.

Next: The MacBook's LED glossy display

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