While I mainly use Windows machines for work and at home, I’ve also used Apples since the late ’70s. Among my computers is an old PowerPC Mac Mini, but I needed a new laptop so for Festivus I bought myself a new Macbook.

It’s one of the aluminum ones with the LED-backlit screens. The screen is amazingly bright and easy to read. I’ve always preferred non-glare screens, so I was wary of the gloss screen the Macbook has, but I’ve been pleasantly surprised. Aside from having a lamp directly behind me that reflects its image on the screen, it isn’t a problem. In fact, it actually seems to make what’s on the screen more readable and, well, shiny.

The other big question mark was the keyboard. It’s more of a chicklet-type than your usual laptop or desktop kind, but I’ve been amazed at how easy and enjoyable it is to type on. In fact, it ranks as the second or third best keyboard I’ve ever used over the last 30+ years! On top is still my late-80’s PC keyboard that’s built like a rock and can’t be beat for feel. Nothing allows me to type as fast as I can on that, but the Macbook’s keyboard is astonishingly close.

While the Macbook isn’t as thin as the Air, it is quite thin and fairly light. Battery life I’ll leave to the magazine testers to thrash out. One nice touch is the clever latch underneath that pulls off a cover over the battery and hard disk. Apple has made it very easy to swap out hard disks as the technology drives capacity higher.

So, what’s bad? Not that I have a current use for it, but there is the much discussed lack of Firewire support. If USB 3.0 were here with it’s vastly higher transfer rate then I could see it. But for a consumer grade laptop, many of whose users have video cameras and other devices that use Firewire, it seems like a slap in the face. I just don’t buy the “not enough room for the connector” excuse.

Another pain is the replacement of the DVI connector with the mini-DisplayPort. Why? Plus, unlike with my Mini, no adaptor to VGA or DVI was included. I want to hook up my 32” TV to the Macbook, but noooo. Not without a $29 adaptor. Apple has released the specs to manufacture them, so there should be cheaper ones soon as well as an adaptor to HDMI.

I’ve left the glass (although you’d never know it unless you were told), Multi-Touch trackpad for last, partly because I hate trackpads. I’m a mouse guy. Period. Gestures using it with pictures is definitely cool just like on the iPhone. No buttons. You press the pad for that. But for general use, I need a mouse.

Other improvements, including the faster Nvidia graphics chip, make my new Macbook a pleasure to use. Oh, yeah.. it runs OS X, a distinct improvement over Vista which I have running on an HP box I bought a few months ago and XP on others.

Yeah, it’s expensive for a laptop these days, what with cheap netbooks becoming the newest thang, but now I have the best of both the OSX and Windows worlds (with Parallels installed for the few Windows-only programs I need). A few negatives, but in the end, worth the cost.

  1. #30 – Animby

    >>That pretty much describes the situation when
    >>ANY laptop goes screen bad.

    Yeah, but it goes in spades for a Mac. I can get a replacement for my Toshiba screen for about $250 (DIY install). Mac screens are much more than that, and if you were to be so bold as to actually send it back to Apple for the repair, it would probably cost more than a new machine.

  2. Paul says:

    I prefer the mouse.

    Gestures on my iPod Touch I tolerate ’cause there’s no mouse. On my MBPro, a few weeks of practice went nowhere, so I put a mouse on it.

    A week with the keyboard had me getting an external. Besides, running XP under BootCamp, I need a PC keyboard (software on the Mac side changes the Windows-key to the Mac-cloverleaf).

  3. Uncle Dave says:

    #29: Haven’t used previous versions, but the latest, version 4, is supposed to be significantly faster.

  4. Uncle Dave says:

    #26: It depends on what I’m doing. Expose is very useful at times when I have a lot of windows open. Spaces less so, for me anyway, although I can see where it could be very handy.

    Haven’t used Time Machine yet. Once I get around to getting a NAS built (I’ve only been talking about doing it for a year) then I’ll give it a try. Don’t really have anything worth backing up on it right now. For now, I use DropBox which backs up docs to John’s fav — the cloud — plus a section of a USB backup drive I use for Windows stuff.

  5. zancudocom says:

    Why hasn’t anyone mentioned vruses, spyware and malware? It’s not just the cost of virus protection software, it’s the performance hit, it’s the time spent on updates, and its the day or two spent wiping the hard disk and redoing everything if you get hit. I used a PC with XP at work and every time I started it up was an adventure with error messages and cryptic notes about versions of software that I didn’t use or know I had, apparently bloatware loaded on the system by the manufacturer to earn a dollar or two more.

    Should I have spent a day cleaning it up, maybe, but I was at my favorite watering hole the other night talking to a programmer for a major ecommerce company and he says he has the same experience. He has tried to clean things up and speed up his system but the IT department freaks out. Most people don’t consider the boot time it takes for a PC vs. a Mac, they’ve gotten use to turning on their system when they get in, making coffee, going to the bathroom, chatting with co-workers and hoping by the time they get back to their desks they’re ready to go. Would it be asking too much of Microsoft to perfect their sleep mode?

    Last week my neighbor told me something funny, he said Microsoft was now going to take responsibility for the security of their operating system. Vista included virus protection for free, like it was some kind of bonus. Let me explain to those who have never used a Mac. There has never been a Mac virus in the wild. I have been using Macs for ten years without “protection”. I have been using different PC’s for ten years with protection and have gotten three viruses.

    To the guy who recommended PC’s to 60 seniors. Where do they go when they have a problem with their PC? To the genius bar at the Dell, HP, or Acer store. No? You mean they have to get on the phone and talk to somebody in India who pushes them to Microsoft who pushes them back to the PC manufacturer. If you spend an extra 50 hours messing with your PC over the life of the computer and your time is worth $5 an hour, then you should have got a Mac.

    Come out of the darkness, walk toward the light.

  6. Paddy-O says:

    # 35 zancudocom said, “Why hasn’t anyone mentioned vruses, spyware and malware? It’s not just the cost of virus protection software, it’s the performance hit, it’s the time spent on updates, and its the day or two spent wiping the hard disk and redoing everything if you get hit.”

    I’ve bench marked good AV & there is very little difference from a machine w/o. In all the years I’ve never had to wipe a HD because of malware. Only non-technical users have to go that route.

  7. zancudocom says:

    Good for you Paddy-O! You’ve never had to wipe a hard disk because of malware. Does this mean you never had a virus or malware that you had to remove? Why did you waste your time benchmarking anti virus software. Why didn’t you just switch to Mac?

    I think the answer lies in your dismissive phrase “non-technical user”. I’ve been in computers since 1977. I’m a non-technical user. After learning a few DOS commands I quickly realized that I didn’t want to waste my time learning how a computer worked, I wanted to work using a computer.

    The arcane workings of PCs bore me. Not that there’s anything wrong your enjoying getting into the technical stuff. I’ve know some people who are really into horses. They seem to enjoy cleaning out the stalls and feeding them and such. I just use a car.

  8. Buzz says:

    I flow from Mac Pro tower (with mouse and 30″ screen) to Macbook Pro with track pad on a moment to moment basis. Getting used to the trackpad comes in Month 2. Once it arrives, the pad is a major useful thing. Fight it, and you will reap the rewards of ignoring a cool item.

  9. #36 – Paddy-RAMBO

    >>Only non-technical users have to go
    >>that route.

    One of the benefits of working down the ‘Shack, eh? I’ll bet you get a great deal on batteries too.

  10. #23 – Unk

    I predict that when you DO try out the speakers (you don’t use headphones for Youtube videos, I assume?) that they will be tinny and crappy.

    For some reason, the Mac speakers are always tinny and crappy.

  11. Uncle Dave says:

    I have powered speakers plugged in.

    All laptop speakers are going to have a tinny sound because they don’t have room to build in a subwoofer.

  12. #41 – Unk

    >>All laptop speakers are going to
    >>have a tinny sound because they
    >>don’t have room to build in a

    I’m aware of that, Unk. However, most laptop speakers are adequate for low-quality listening. Some are better; for example, the Harmon Kardon speakers on my Toshiba are about as good as a table-top radio.

    On the other hand, all the Macs I’ve had or used have had speakers so tinny and bad that it’s not even worth listening to.

  13. ronin ronin says:

    #25 You are a phony. You say you have 8 or 9 Macs? Right. Why would one person need that many?

    And the you say you got a new “Mac Powerbook in 2008.” It called a MacBook and has been for years.

    Find something better to do with your time.

  14. Lead Goat says:

    #43 Ahem. I own 33 iBooks.

  15. Quick Look is a useful feature. I often use it to open .doc files without having Office installed.

  16. DocColorado says:


    Read this post about Apple Laptops screen cracking.

    Warranty will NOT Help you, nor will Apple Care. Your home owners insurance with a computer rider might !

    Too many people having this problem by just opening and closing the screen.

    and you can buy a fairly good PC laptop for surfing, under $400.

    Much cheaper when it breaks to just toss it in the trash and get another !!

    I will continue to recommend to Sr Citizens surfing the web to go this PC route.

    – Phony eh? We’ll when you spend $200,000 on equipment to edit films, give me a call and we’ll let you have a tour of my studio, perhaps you could learn a few lessons.

    – Also, do Liberals everywhere always begin conversations by calling people names? Dead giveaway.

  17. Zancudocom says:

    I’m sorry that you had a problem with your Mac, and even more sorry for those who you steer to other computer makers. Here are the facts, a survey just out from PCWorld:

    Apple’s ratings for reliability and service, though stellar among laptop manufacturers, fell slightly from last year’s results. Survey participants again rated the MacBook maker better than average in six of nine categories–by far the best showing achieved by any notebook vendor–but they also reported a higher-than-average incidence of problems with failed components.

    Acer, Dell, and Sony did well overall, too, though not at Apple’s level. Acer and Sony laptops earned praise for their reliability, and readers reported that Dell did a better job of resolving customer problems in 2008 than in previous years. Dell’s efforts to reduce hold times for phone support seem to be paying off as well: The company’s score on this measure rose to average from worse than average. On the other hand, Dell needs to do a better job of replacing failed parts, according to our readers.

    Lenovo, which last year challenged Apple for the top spot, posed less of a challenge this year. Its only high mark came in overall reliability; last year it earned five better-than-average grades, mostly for aspects of its service.

    At the other end of the spectrum, HP repeated last year’s dismal last-place finish with six subpar marks, plus another one for its Compaq brand. In fact, HP’s 2008 grades are even worse than its 2007 marks, which included two ahead-of-the-pack scores for reliable components. The good news this year? Well, HP says that it has been working to shorten phone-support hold times–and our readers noticed the difference. The world’s biggest PC vendor rose to average from worse than average in that area.

  18. rajinder says:

    Heya, #47 (Zancudocom),

    Could you please post a link to that survey? Thank you. 🙂

  19. Asiafish says:

    I own the new unibody MacBook Pro and have had the previous-model Pro, a MacBook and 3 12″ PowerBooks (still have one for travel) before. My office is also all-Mac except for our Exchange Server (works great with Entourage on the Macs), and have for staff two MacBooks, an iMac and a Mac Pro.

    I have never had any trouble with any of them regarding malware or other OS issues. I ran into a graphics glitch in a specific situation on my previous MacBook Pro, and since Apple was unable to resolve it (its a software issue) then replaced it with the new unibody model. My old MBP was 4-months-old, and the replacement was yesterday.

    If that isn’t ABSOLUTELY STELLAR service, I don’t know what is. Oh, since I owned a second battery for my old MBP, the swapped that for a brand-new second battery for the new MBP as well, and the Apple Store (corporate arranged for a local exchange) even loaned me the cables to do a data migration.

    Even if a PC manufacturer decided to replace a computer (I’ve had IBM replace a ThinkPad), the best they would do is mail you the new one. Apple really does go the extra mile, and their ratings at the top of the industry for support and service bear that out.

    Apple is a company, they are here to make money. That said, they understand that the best way to make money is to sell superior products and then take care of their customers. I’ve been a loyal Apple customer since 1993 for that reason, and so long as they continue to offer superior products and provide superior service, I will remain a loyal customer.

    Oh, the new MacBook Pro, despite my preference for matte screen, is just awesome. I haven’t even tried the discreet graphics yet and performance is superb, and while the glossy screen does reflect, it has such sharpness and beautiful color that it may just be a worthwhile trade-off.


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