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. Paddy-O says:

    Sounds like a good machine, if somewhat pricey.

  2. GregA says:

    I fell in love with it the day it was released, and I purchased one the day I got my iPhone. However what I never anticipated was how quickly I had become 64bit Vista dependant, and Vista 64 doesn’t work on any of the MacBooks so I ended up taking it back… It was a sad sad day.

  3. jobs says:

    I’m a mouse guy also but after living with gestures a few weeks it becomes second nature. I now use the trackpad 90% of the time. The problem comes when using other laptops, people wonder what I’m trying to do.

  4. jmw says:

    GregA: are you sure about Vista 64 not running under Parallels on a MacBook? I have a white MacBook Core Duo on which I installed Parallels 4.0 and a Vista 64 bit and as far as I can see, it works just fine. Can you explain what your problem was?

  5. jmw says:

    GregA: Correction: I have a white MacBook Core 2 Duo.

  6. keaneo says:

    I’m always baffled by computer geeks worrying [beforehand] about screens that are glossy. Especially since that’s the style so often preferred by TV purchasers.

    The effect of more depth to the image is uniformly recognized among TV geeks; but, computerheads must worry that something too TV-like is being put over on them.

    I had a glossy TV screen before I bought my iMac, so I didn’t have the slightest inclination to worry about reflections. After all, glossy or not, I’ve been arranging computers on my desk to moderate and/or eliminate reflections only for about a quarter century. I think I’ve learned how to do it by now.

  7. GregA says:

    #4,

    I was attempting to install it in bootcamp. Apparently there are work arounds now (googling around) but that was before every thing changed last fall… Don’t think I could expense it anymore…

  8. JoeG says:

    Uncle Dave – I bought a MacBook Pro as a Christmas gift to myself, and I am loving it! It is the best laptop I have ever owned.

  9. weisstho says:

    There’s little question: The MAC Book is the BMW 5-series, and the rest of them (Dell, etc) are Chevys and Dodge Plymouths. It’s not that there aren’t some nice features on a Chevy, but it ain’t no Beemer.

  10. fellaintga says:

    GregA 64 Bit works fine (not sure why you need it over 32 apart from RAM and 2GB photoshop files) Your leopard DVD comes with 64 Bit drivers. I actually thought the same thing a while back but it changed in about February 08. jmw is right it works fine anyway because all Macs are 64 Bit now.

  11. Mister Mustard says:

    How about the built-in speakers?

    Every Mac laptop I’ve had sported crappy, tinny speakers. The Toshiba laptop I have now has OK speakers (about like listening to a radio), but I don’t even bother using the Mac for sound without either plugging in earphones or external speakers.

  12. Special Ed says:

    Get yourself a bluetooth mouse. Comparing OS X to Vista is like comparing a Mercedes to a Yugo.

  13. RTaylor says:

    It’s close to the time I hand my current macbook to my wife and get a new one. The lighted keyboard on the Macbook is a big plus for me. If I can’t sleep I often work in my living room with the lights off. I got stuck with a lemon with the original black macbook, so I always wait until a product matures with updated builds.

  14. sargasso says:

    #12. Yugo’s start in the cold. But I catch your idea, my MB Pro is as much a conversation starter as a solid Unix cored laptop. And with Fink, I can run my 20 year old linux programs written in C as though they were written for the MacOSX. I like the milled alloy shell, it has already been whacked about in field trips and operates in harsh corrosive environments in temperature extremes, and it’s still going strong. The Magsafe power adapter is a work of genius.

  15. qsabe says:

    So if your a windows guy, is the withdrawal from the wide world of windows software available difficult or are you wealthy enough to purchase all new Steve Jobs software? Or do you only use the machine for email and web browsing?

  16. Digby says:

    How much did it COST? And, do you have to go through any kind of cult-like rites or virginity ceremonies before you can use it?

  17. Floyd says:

    #12: Mac hardware is good, but is overpriced. OSX does have Unix inside, but it has a lousy user interface, based on working on my wife’s Mac laptop.

    There are reasons why Windows and the various versions of Unix and Linux GUIs have similar, easy to use interfaces, made for most of us.

  18. BurkPhoto says:

    As one whose livelihood depends on using Macs and PCs for a living, I will swear to you that in 20+ years of using both, I have always, always preferred the Mac. It just works better, more intuitively, and less intrusively on one’s thought processes.

    My MacBook Pro runs mostly Mac Apps, but I also have Parallels 4.0 installed with Win XP Pro, and Windows runs better that way than it ever has on any of my desktops or laptops in the PC realm. Sure, Parallels is $80, and then you buy the OS, but being able to run ANYthing, any time, anywhere, is a relief from frustration if the different software you need to do your job is only available on several different platforms.

    I’ve seldom found Mac hardware to be much pricier or consistently pricier than off-the-shelf PC hardware from HP, Dell, Gateway, etc. when comparing similar feature sets. Most people who complain about Mac hardware prices simply haven’t priced an identically-configured PC. Apple builds in a lot of features that may not make sense until you look at their software and what it does with them.

    I, too, lament Apple’s decision to remove FireWire from the MacBook, but it’s still in the MacBook Pro (which is why I use one). Otherwise, it’s a very powerful, and truly elegant machine for the money.

    If you’ve never used OS X, it may take you a little head scratching to get used to it at first, but if you give it a few weeks, pretty soon you will realize how shallow Windows is, and how deeply brilliant the OS X GUI has become. It’s not perfect, but it’s the closest thing you’ll find.

  19. Floyd says:

    OSX is all sound and fury, signifying nothing. Who really cares if an icon bounces when I tickle it? If i could add a decent interface over BSD Unix, I might sign up.

    Windows, Unix, and Linux interfaces are meant for doing actual work.

    On price: Any non-Mac PC is substantially cheaper than an equivalent PC. Look at any computer catalog selling both Macs and PCs (try Micro Center as an example).

    Now try to convince me that the “special chip” on Mac motherboards is used for anything but protection of Apple’s profits.

  20. Uncle Dave says:

    #13: I bought the lowest priced aluminum Macbook which doesn’t have a lighted keyboard.

    #15: Au contraire, if you had read more closely I mentioned that I installed Parallels which allows me to run Windows and Windows programs along side Mac programs.

    #16: Bought it from ClubMac which apparently is owned by MacMall/PCMall, only it’s prices are slightly lower. In addition to the MacBook ($1149 after $75 Apple rebate), I got an Epson NX400 printer/scanner, a USB hub, Parallels, ArtRage and Toast 9. All those extras were FREE after the mail-in rebates (~$300). Um, plus $3 shipping. And no sales tax.

  21. Mister Mustard says:

    #20 – Yeah, but what about the speakers, Unk?

  22. Uncle Dave says:

    #16: As with any Mac, unlike with Windows, the setup was only a couple of minutes, plus it connected to my wireless router without any screwing around other then entering the WEP key.

    #19: You obviously haven’t used a Mac very much. Sure, some of the interface is cutesy, but so is Vista. Plus, unlike Windows, you get a ton of software (iLife & Linux apps) which is worth hundreds in Windows-land. Having built my own computers for 30 years, I know I could have built something cheaper, but that’s the point. Why have cheap when I can afford quality?

  23. Uncle Dave says:

    #21: Haven’t really checked them out. Not a music listening kind of guy. And if I were watching a movie I’d have either headphones or speakers plugged in.

  24. Special Ed says:

    #17 – ZZZZZzzzz…

  25. Doccolorado says:

    I too use quite a few Mac’s, I must have 8 or 9 of them with Video and artwork I do for a living.

    We are on vacation in Carefree, Az, and I am typing using my wifes iBook G4.

    Unfortunately, I too picked up a new Mac Powerbook in 2008.

    After three months of usage, just around my studio, I noticed the screen started having diagonal lines running through it, and it was getting worse.

    I made an appointment with the “Genius Bar” and took it in for them to look at. The “Genius” announced that it was damage, in less than 1 minute of looking at it.

    I said ok, fix it, he said on your nickel that Apple was NOT responsible.

    I said what ? I didn’t “Damage” my screen, he said “Sorry”.

    Do a google search on screen APPLE macbook or what ever, and you’ll see thousands of people with the same complaints.

    I wrote a letter to the manager, after they wrote me asking me about my experience explaining what I thought was going on, a defect in Apple’s Screen.

    I also told them about my volunteer work at the local library, where I teach senior citizens how to use computers, which always leads to them asking me for a recommendation.

    The manager immediately called me to offer to fix it free!!

    After reading the blogs of others with the same problem, I declined the offer.

    That was the last Apple Laptop I’ll ever buy or make a recommendation for until Apple decides to fix these issues.

    I have made around 60 recommendations since that incident, none of them apple laptops.

    So, good luck, you’ll be surprised if this happens on your laptop how much apple will try to charge you for repair!!

    Doc

  26. Unk, what do you think of Spaces and Exposé? And have you tried Time Machine yet?

  27. Floyd says:

    #22: I used to manage a Mac network in the late 80s for around 2 years. Macs had their own proprietary network protocol in those days and I learned how to manage it. However, those Macs could only connect to other Macs and an Apple server. In other words, Apple deliberately ignored Ethernet (which was around in those days) and made their PCs less useful. I left that job and moved to the DOS/Windows world, which turned out to be open and more tractable.

    I still don’t like the Apple user interface quirks such as the menu bars at the top of the screen, separate from the application for reasons that make no sense (yes I’ve read the original paper–unimpressed).

    On Vista and older versions like XP, it’s easy to disable almost all cutesy features like interface animations and Vista windows transparency, which makes it harder to read the contents of windows.

  28. Mister Mustard says:

    #25 – Doc

    >>So, good luck, you’ll be surprised if this
    >>happens on your laptop how much apple will
    >>try to charge you for repair

    You bet your boots they will.

    If the screen goes bad on a Mac laptop and it’s not covered under warranty, you might as well pull out anything that can be re-used, throw the machine in the trash, and start shopping for a new computer.

  29. J says:

    # 2 #7 GregA

    I have one of the new Macbook Pros and Vista 64 Ultimate installed just fine. Actually it was very fast and very easy and it can be undone just as easily. The latest boot camp is very nice.

    Parallels? I don’t like it because it is slow compared to the real thing.

  30. Animby says:

    #28 – Mustard – That pretty much describes the situation when ANY laptop goes screen bad. Used to be the screen was 50-60% of the cost of a machine. Not sure how much it is nowadays.


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