Thoughts on a MacBook Pro – the hardware

A number of decisions were involved in choosing my new laptop. I’d pretty much known I’d go for the Core Duo option (i.e. the Pro). However, it wasn’t until I was in the store and asked Adrian where the white and black ones were that he explained the Pro only comes in brushed metal. No matter.

The first choice was screen size. Pretty straightforward – 13″ too small, 17″ too expensive. 15″ is nice. I spent my test drive in the store using a 17″ model, but that would have been even bigger.

I did struggle to make a choice over the type of screen… glossy or matt. I tried both: played movies, viewed photos. The contrast and saturation on the glossy one was really good. Both are very sharp. There was a bit of reflection on the glossy screen though, and when I got to the point of ordering, the sales assistant asked what I’d be using it for and recommended matt for photo processing. Ironically, I think the Apple website recommends glossy for photo processing, I’ll have to go back and check πŸ˜‰

I wanted the upper spec in terms of memory and CPU, since I knew I’d be working on photos later.

So that was that. Now that I’ve used it a bit, my impressions of the hardware are (mostly) extremely positive.

The power adapter is a work of art, for starters. Magnetic attachment to the laptop. Clip to keep the wire in order when coiled away.  The plug or cable slides sideways onto a little lug which prevents the cable being kicked out of the power brick – very thoughtful.

The machine itself is weighty, and obviously longer than any Thinkpad I’ve ever handled due to the widescreen, but very very slim.

I do find the catch on the case to be a bit fiddly to press in, since it is very narrow (clearly I have fat fingers), but I like the way the sleep light comes on when the machine is in standby.

Keyboard excellent, although the narrowness of some of the keys bothers me a bit, I’ve missed the enter key a few times and switched caps lock on accidentally. I’ll adapt. I like the way it lights up according to ambient light levels.

I’m still getting used to a single mouse button. I love the Trackpoint on the Thinkpads, and have never used the trackpad even on the ones that have it. In the shop, I kept on tapping the trackpad to click. I know you can turn that on, but having used the MacBook for a bit now, I think I’m adapting to the button. I did actually try the tap-to-click function, but found it easier to use the button in the end.

The MacBook Pro comes equipped with Bluetooth. I checked for nearby devices and it immediately found my old Sony phone, generated a random pairing key, and then offered to sync with the phone book – nice – no need for additional software. 

It took me a week before I picked up the remote. I wasn’t sure what to expect. It looks like the old type of iPod shuffle. Press the menu button, and the MacBook immediately switches to Media Player mode, with a choice of playing a DVD; going through your iTunes library; browsing photos (although I’ve yet to work out how to stop it from playing annoying music when it puts on a slideshow); and looking at movies. The movies option also has a pretty trailers option which connects to the QuickTime trailers on the Apple website – advertising yes, but a handy touch when I didn’t have any actual movies to watch in the iTunes library.

I’ve not plugged it in to an external display yet – a moment of potential joy for the future. I like the range of ports on the machine, and the arrangement along both sides… The only thing I’m not so keen on is the lack of PCMCIA or ExpressCard slot – USB or FireWire peripherals all the way.

The only actual, physical concern I have is that the SuperDrive is unbelievably noisy. Is this normal? It makes a really nasty clicky clunky noise when a disc is inserted. It seems fairly quiet after that, though, and reads discs without any issues.

Currently I’m using an old Thinkpad backpack to carry it – I need to look around for a suitable case or shoulder bag.

We were watching an episode of Sex and the City the other night, and I noted that the Apple logo on the top of the iBook that Carrie was using was the other way up to the one on my MacBook Pro. That one was facing the user when the lid was closed. Mine faces away from me, so that it’s the “right way up” to an observer when the lid is open.

And with that statement… I’m going to be one of those Mac fanboys, aren’t I? You can tell already.

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8 responses to “Thoughts on a MacBook Pro – the hardware

  1. Erm, you should find you have an ExpressCard 34 slot of the left hand side somewhere…

    As for bags. I direct you in the direction of Crumpler. Just one hint: download the PDF brochures rather than try and navigate the web site:

    http://www.crumpler.co.uk/2.0/site.html

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  2. “Direct you in the direction of”

    Urggh. Monday morning/illness. Apologies.

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  3. Ah that’s what that slot is? Oops.
    Not that I actually have any ExpressCards at this point, only PCMCIA ones! 😎

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  4. On the G3 Pismo, the apple is upside down. Drove me insane. That’s why I had to upgrade. πŸ™‚

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  5. Bag wise.. I’m a crumpler slut πŸ™‚ I have more crumpler bags that anyone should.. so I’m weak! I use the Crippy Duck (Large) for my macbook, it should fit your macbook pro as well.. its a nice bag thats just right for a macbook and ‘low volume’ stuff.. If i’m out with the camera AND I need the macbook, the Champ is just perfect.. fits the canon, macbook, lens, mid/high volume ‘stuff’ and its a backpack.. IF you want full on crumpler storage try the Horseman although apparently it’s never going to get a European launch, you can order from the US for about $110 inc shipping.

    As for macbook (or any lapbook) protection, get yourself a GIMP (http://www.naquada.co.uk/archives/000291_cometh_the_gimp_again.html) in the correct size.. I use one on my t60p, and the macbook, It provides just a little bit of extra protection if your on the move and dont want to traumatise your book πŸ™‚

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  6. Congrats! Thinkpads are nice, but the MBP are a whole new level. I got hooked back in ’03 with a 12″ PowerBook… I have since upgraded 3x’s. Here is a cool accessory that I recommend:

    http://www.shaggymac.com/index.php?main_page=product_info&cPath=3_4&products_id=72

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  7. @James: thanks for the recommendation, I’ll check it out. Wonder if they are available in the UK.

    @kellyd: you choose the best reasons to upgrade.

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  8. i think my first comment went awol.. but I’ll second the crumpler idea.. I have a crippy duck large for my macbook and stuff, and I use the champ for macbook and cannon 350d + lens, wrap them in a gimp for protections and your sorted… I get mine from http://we-sell-crumpler.co.uk/ they have a nice returns policy if they arent the right size.. I have an eye on the horseman as well though.. thats serious storage πŸ™‚

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