Apple's redone MacBook is another winner

The roomy trackpad also lets you use a series of "gestures." You can pinch with two fingers to zoom in or out of text or photos, as on the iPhone. Or use three fingers in a swiping motion to browse through photos. Not all the gestures feel natural. Rotating photos with two fingers felt a little awkward at first.

The backlit keyboard on my test model lights up automatically in the dark, a feature not present on cheaper MacBooks. Typing on the keyboard felt fine, though I still prefer the keyboard on my ancient IBM ThinkPad.

•Graphics. Despite its popularity on college campuses, the older MacBook was never a gamer's delight. Nvidia's GeForce 9400 graphics help turn that around. I was pleased with the detail and fluid motion as I played Spore from Electronic Arts and Call of Duty 4 from Activision, Aspyr Media and Infinity Ward.

•Battery. Apple claims up to five hours of battery life for the new MacBook, but its tests don't factor in DVD playback. For my informal tests, I turned off power-saving measures and simultaneously ran a DVD and Wi-Fi, something you wouldn't do, say, on an airplane. Even so, I got about 2½ hours before the battery gave way, enough to get through a movie. You can conveniently peek at indicator lights on the side of the machine to get a quick reading on how much battery you have left.

It's also easy to lift off the back case to remove and replace the battery.

Apple has fashioned a winner with the new MacBook. Unless you can't live without FireWire.

E-mail: ebaig@usatoday.com

TELL US: Have you used or purchased the redesigned MacBooks? Share your experiences and/or performance issues below.

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