Apple’s aluminum MacBook

In typical PC hardware enthusiast fashion, we haven’t covered Macs much here at TR. Major Apple product releases often receive coverage in the form of news posts, but we’ve historically regarded Macs with a mixture of disinterest and contempt. I think you can chalk that up to three major factors: you can’t build your own Mac (not without headaches and possible law-breaking, at least), Apple’s own desktops are expensive and closed-off, and Mac OS X isn’t quite what you’d call a gaming OS.

That picture changes somewhat when we look at Apple’s most recent notebooks. Sure, they’re closed-off and don’t run many games out of the box, but you could say the same about most Windows laptops. And while Apple’s MacBook Pros do carry a heavy markup, the $999 and $1,299 MacBooks aren’t really all that much pricier than comparable Windows laptops (more on that in a short while).

Last month, I succumbed to temptation and purchased the latter—a $1,299 MacBook with the standard hardware bundle. As a die-hard fan of Lenovo’s ThinkPad line of laptops, I didn’t make this choice lightly. However, the MacBook’s build quality and features proved too tempting to resist. Read on as I share my thoughts on Apple’s latest and greatest consumer laptop and how it compares to its Windows-based brethren.

Like father, unlike son

Where to begin? Perhaps to really understand the MacBook, one needs to go back and study its original ancestor: the iBook. Apple had been making laptops for years before that system, but following the return of co-founder Steve Jobs, the company’s engineers got busy making an affordable consumer laptop to mirror the iMac. Amid considerable buzz on rumor sites (not to mention many poorly rendered 3D mockups), Apple finally unleashed the fruit of its labor in the summer of 1999.

The first iBook cost $1,599 (that’s over two grand in today’s dollars), looked not unlike a candy-coated toilet seat, and featured a 12.1″ 800×600 display, a 300MHz PowerPC G3 processor, 32 megs of RAM, and a 3.2GB hard drive. It ran Mac OS 8.6 (and later Mac OS 9), an operating system that was looking increasingly antiquated due to its lack of protected memory and pre-emptive multitasking. Application crashes often took down the whole system, and because of the non-x86 processor, running Windows was only possible through slow emulators. The Apple faithful loved the iBook anyway.

Almost a decade has passed since then, and aside from the Apple logo on the display lid, you’d have a hard time finding similarities between the iBook and the new MacBook. On the hardware front, Apple has switched from questionably adequate PowerPC chips to Intel’s latest and greatest 45nm Core 2 Duo processors, which it couples with very capable Nvidia integrated graphics. On the software side of things, the MacBook comes with Mac OS X 10.5—an OS that really has more in common with Nextstep and FreeBSD than Mac OS 9—and it can run Windows Vista natively. The latest OS X release even includes a tool that makes it easy to dual-boot with Windows.

Apple has come very far in the aesthetics and build quality departments, too. The new MacBook’s shell is carved out of an aluminum brick, which results in a machine that’s at the same time sleek, sturdy, and sexy. Of course, whereas Apple intended for the original iBook to be a kid-friendly consumer system, the aluminum MacBook is more of a luxury laptop by today’s standards. But I digress.

The hardware

Before we get started, let’s have a quick look at what kind of hardware the new MacBook is packing:

Processor Intel Core 2 Duo 2.0GHz (3MB L2 cache, 1066MHz FSB)
Memory 2GB DDR3-1066
Chipset/graphics Nvidia GeForce 9400M
Display 13.3″ TFT with 1280×800 resolution and LED backlight
Storage 2.5″ 160GB Serial ATA hard drive (5,400 RPM)

8x slot-loading SuperDrive (DVD+/-R DL, DVD+/-RW, CD-RW)

Audio Stereo HD audio via Realtek codec

Built-in microphone

Ports 2 USB 2.0

1 mini DisplayPort

1 RJ45 Gigabit Ethernet

1 combined analog/digital stereo output

1 combined analog/digital line in

Communications 802.11n Wi-Fi

Bluetooth 2.1 + EDR

Input devices Full-sized keyboard

Glass multi-touch trackpad

Camera iSight webcam
Dimensions 12.78″ x 8.94″ x 0.95″ (325 x 227 x 24 mm)
Weight 4.5lbs (2.04kg)
Battery 45-watt-hour lithium-polymer battery

That’s a pretty well-rounded feature set for a notebook these days—especially with the GeForce 9400M, which elegantly rolls core logic and surprisingly decent graphics processing features into a single chip. The Core 2 Duo is one of the latest 45nm models from Intel’s Centrino 2 lineup, too, so it mixes power efficiency and great clock-for-clock performance.

The only sour note in my view is the mini-DisplayPort connector, which requires adapters to hook up to… well, pretty much anything except Apple’s own 24″ LED-backlit desktop monitor. DVI and VGA adapters both cost $29, and the dual-link DVI one will set you back $99. That’s regrettable, although I should point out that the first-gen MacBook featured a mini-DVI port that also needed adapters for pretty much everything. Fans of the old MacBook may lament the disappearance of FireWire, as well, but that’s not a major drawback unless you really must use a 13.3″ laptop for video editing.

You might interject that those specs don’t really justify the $1,299 price tag. I won’t argue for a minute that Apple products don’t carry premiums, but the MacBook seems like one of the least marked up. Think about it: perks like LED display backlighting, a slot-loading DVD burner, 802.11n Wi-Fi, a 45nm processor, and competent graphics usually come as options in other notebooks. Price out a comparable Windows system with the same features, and you may be surprised to find the price tag climbing well over $1,000. I tried it with Dell’s XPS M1330, and the price rose to $1,344 with a similar feature set (albeit with a 2.1GHz processor, 3GB of RAM, and 250GB hard drive—Dell didn’t offer other choices).

The difference here is simply that Apple doesn’t let users opt out of the fancy extras. Whether you agree with that approach depends largely on your needs and budget, but don’t go thinking Apple is robbing all of its customers blind. You can make a pretty compelling case for the MacBook’s unique industrial design, too.

Instead of going with a pretty plastic enclosure, Apple has clad the new MacBook entirely with aluminum. Not only that, but it has carved the top part of the enclosure (including the palm rest, keyboard holes, and side ports) out of a single aluminum brick. That removes the need for a separate internal “cage” to ensure structural integrity, and it means the MacBook doesn’t creak, bend, or budge at all when you pick it up or rest your hands on it to type. You can’t say the same for most other notebooks, including Lenovo’s notoriously rugged ThinkPad laptops.

I don’t know if Apple uses the same aluminum brick-carving techniques to make the display lid and bottom panels, but both of them are made of equally sturdy-feeling aluminum. That’s an especially reassuring trait for the lid, since the MacBook’s LED-backlit display is very, very thin (about 6 mm by my count). The weakest link of the bunch might be the removable panel that conceals the battery and hard drive. It’s not completely flush with the other bottom panel on my MacBook, and there’s an ever-so-slight amount of horizontal play that allows it to wiggle back and forth a tad. I’ve seen users cry and moan about this issue on forum threads, but judging by the design of the retention mechanism, I don’t see any way there couldn’t be at least a small amount of wiggle. Fault or slight design weakness, I can’t say I care much, especially since this is the only part of the MacBook that has any play at all.

Despite its thinness and slight wiggle, the removable battery/drive cover feels very sturdy and doesn’t flex under pressure. You can easily pop it off by pushing and then pulling a small lever above it, and doing so reveals the battery and hard drive, both outfitted with transparent plastic tabs to make removal easier. Apple has etched instructions for upgrading memory on the inside of the panel, but don’t look for SO-DIMM slots under the battery or HDD—you’ll have to unscrew the other bottom panel and expose the whole motherboard to access them.

Part of me likes the concept of having an easy-to-remove cover under a laptop to upgrade memory, but practically speaking, I’ve only upgraded my ThinkPad’s RAM once in four years. I may decide to cram 4GB of memory in the MacBook one day, but I don’t expect to have to make that kind of upgrade on a regular basis. Mind you, I may never replace the hard drive, either, and Apple has made that really easy to upgrade for some reason. Perhaps it’s betting users will want to slip in a solid-state drive once prices go down.

What’s really striking about the folded MacBook is just how little sticks out. Turn over your typical Windows laptop, and you’ll usually see an array of grooves, bumps, panels, vents, and labels, including the all-important Windows product key sticker. By contrast, the MacBook’s bottom panel is almost as bare and elegant as the top one. Some might complain about form over function, but aside from the hidden DIMM slots, I don’t see any major drawbacks with Apple’s approach. And I find it refreshing to see a well-designed laptop with an underside that doesn’t look like an afterthought.

Lifting the lid

Removing the battery and HDD cover is all well and good, but most of us will want to open the display lid first and have a look at our work space. Here, too, Apple does almost everything differently. You don’t need to open a latch to free the lid from the base, because it’s held in place magnetically. Just pull it up. The black display bezel is flush with the TFT panel, and a glossy glass screen covers them both. Instead of a single block wedged into the enclosure, the keyboard has each key poking out through the aluminum enclosure. And the trackpad has no buttons.

Let’s talk about the display first. I know many of you hate glossy displays, and I’m not going to argue with personal preferences. However, I will say the brightness of the MacBook display’s LED backlight more than makes up for the glossiness. Unless you’re sitting with your back to a window, you’re probably not going to notice any reflections outside the bezel. Besides, it’s not like matte notebook displays aren’t vulnerable to glare. You just need a sufficiently bright backlight to cancel out other light sources in both cases, and the MacBook’s does a fine job of that.

Speaking of the backlight, I thought my MacBook was flaky when I noticed the display brightness dim while browsing the web. Further investigation revealed that the backlight was adjusting automatically depending on how much light the integrated iSight camera perceived. Covering the camera lowered the brightness, while putting it under my desk lamp made the display noticeably brighter. I turned off the feature because it seemed to adjust brightness when I leaned forward too much, but I can definitely see the appeal for people who need to use their laptops on the go.

One aspect where I think Apple could have done better is the display resolution. 1280×800 may be good enough for a 13.3″ display, but in a $1,299 laptop, 1440×900 would have been more appropriate. That said, Mac OS X and the multi-touch trackpad really make dealing with limited screen real estate a breeze.

What about the keyboard? In one of our podcasts last month, TR blogger Matt Butrovich said getting used to the MacBook’s unusual “chicklet”-style keyboard took him about a month. I expected a similar learning curve, especially since I’m particularly picky about things like tactile feedback. Much to my surprise, I was able to rattle away effortlessly after just an hour or two. Lenovo’s ThinkPad keyboard was and remains my gold standard, but I find the MacBook’s keys pleasantly comfortable. They need less pressure to hit, and they’re just a wee bit bigger. The completely flat design feels a little unusual at first, but because of the marked gaps between each key, you rarely find your finger hitting another key by accident.

While I like the keyboard, I should probably mention the finish issues I’ve seen both on mine and on display models in stores. Some of the keys are slanted. I can’t see it by staring down at the keyboard, but if I look a bit closer from the front, the function keys, the tab key, and the “1” number key aren’t perfectly horizontal. This flaw doesn’t impede typing at all, but it’s a bit incongruous in light of Apple’s usual attention to detail and the finish on the rest of the notebook. Here again, some users are crying and moaning about this problem on Internet forums. I’m personally not bothered (I rarely look at the keyboard anyway), but you may want to shop for another laptop if small imperfections like that bother you.

Below the keyboard lies the glass trackpad. Apple is treading some new ground here, since this trackpad is the biggest I’ve ever seen on a notebook, and it doesn’t have buttons taking up space. Instead, the front side of the trackpad depresses to work as a single button. I normally prefer the TrackPoint “eraser head” pointer on ThinkPads and some other laptops, but I’ve become a big fan of the MacBook trackpad. The large, smooth surface is very comfortable to use, and it leaves plenty of room for gestures in Mac OS X. Wanna right-click? Just click (or tap, depending on how you have the thing set up) with two fingers instead of one. Scroll? Just glide two fingers up, down, or to the sides. Zoom in and out? Make pinching motions. Go back and forward in Safari? Sweep three fingers back and forth. My favorite gestures are the ones that drive OS X’s Expose: move four fingers down to get an overview of all open windows, and move the same fingers up to conceal open windows and show the desktop. Window management doesn’t get any better than this, folks.

Before we go on, I should spend a little while exploring the MacBook’s sides. Apple is quite economical there, too: the left side plays host to all six of the MacBook’s ports, plus the very handy MagSafe power connector. Like the display lid, the MagSafe plug uses magnets to stay attached to the laptop’s base. It latches on quite securely and almost guides your hand in the process, but it’ll unfasten just as well if you trip over the power cord. Handy. To the right of the port cluster, you’ll see a small, unlabeled, round button next to a row of tiny holes. Press the button, and the holes light up to tell you how much battery life you have left. Also handy.

The right side of the MacBook houses nothing but the slot-loading SuperDrive. I’ve used laptops with front-mounted optical drives before, and they were always a pain, so I’m definitely happy with that placement. I also enjoy the slot-loading aspect, if only because it makes inserting a DVD that much quicker and more foolproof. Not having the drive’s innards slide out each time is a nice plus, as well. Now I’m just paranoid about getting crumbs in the slot (even if I shouldn’t be, because there’s what looks like a felt pad keeping it shut).

You won’t find any ports at the back. That’s because the MacBook’s hinge design makes the display slide over that part when you open it, and the rear of the notebook body serves as the exhaust vent. You can feel hot air blowing down under the display when the fan kicks in, but you can’t see (or block, for that matter) the vents unless you’re looking for them. Thankfully, the fan rarely kicks in to a noticeable degree. In daily web browsing and desktop activities, the MacBook is whisper-quiet and lukewarm to the touch. I can’t say the same about my ThinkPad, whose fan has always started emitting a pulsating whine after a few minutes of activity.

The operating system

Although it’s essentially a PC notebook in an unusual enclosure, the MacBook really stands out from the crowd because of its operating system. Apple has been selling computers with its own graphical OS since before Windows even existed, and it’s not about to stop now—especially when it’s more convinced of Mac OS’s superiority than ever.

Blindly touting complete superiority is an Apple tradition, of course, but Mac OS hit a really rough patch in the late 1990s and early 2000s. Apple had attempted a transition to a modern OS with protected memory and all that jazz in the mid-90s, but the effort (code-named Copland) essentially failed. As late as the year 2000, Mac users therefore had to put up with an antiquated OS when their PC-using pals were enjoying things like protected memory and smooth multitasking with Windows 98 (and, later, Windows 2000).

Luckily, during his exile from Apple, Steve Jobs got some smart people together and had them create Nextstep, an object-oriented OS with *nix roots. For an idea of just how far ahead Nextstep was for its time, just watch this 1992 video, in which Steve Jobs showcases features like platform-agnostic network browsing and dragging voice recordings into e-mails. I won’t go into the detailed history, but Jobs essentially returned to Apple and brought Nextstep back with him in 1996. Four years later, Mac OS X was born.

The transition to OS X was a long and difficult one, however. Running old Mac apps on the new Nextstep-derived OS involved using an emulation layer, and it took several releases until professional users deemed OS X mature and fast enough to use on a day-to-day basis. I believe OS X really hit its stride with release 10.3 in 2003, and subsequent updates have turned it into a fierce and very capable competitor to Windows.

Wait, how do you uninstall applications again?

Of course, for a Windows user, getting around OS X involves learning a few new tricks. While most Linux distributions try to cater to Windows users by offering familiar shortcuts and menus, OS X really has a personality of its own—one part classic Mac OS, two parts Nextstep, and one part “holy crap, look at those iPod sales numbers.”

If you plan to use a Mac without loading Windows on it, you’ll have to rewire your brain to hit Command-Q instead of ALT-F4, to install programs by dragging and dropping them into the Applications folder, to stop trying to maximize windows (you usually can’t), and to make peace with the concept of applications staying open after you’ve closed all of their windows. If you open a command prompt, don’t be surprised if the “ls /” command lists /usr, /bin, and /etc directories alongside /Applications and /Users, either. Coming to grips with those eccentricities is easier said than done, even from the perspective of a former Mac user like myself.

Assuming you’re willing to give it a chance, I think you may well find yourself liking OS X. Subjectively speaking, everything feels just a bit smoother and more polished than in Windows. It’s kind of like hopping from a Toyota Camry into a Mercedes C-class. Both are excellent cars, but everything is just a little bit nicer (and more expensive) in the latter. I found myself enjoying both the little things, like Apple’s font choices and user-interface animations, and major features like the standardized search field in most apps’ help menus.

For a laptop, three things make OS X particularly pleasant to use: Expose, Spaces, and the seamless trackpad gesture integration. I have two monitors hooked up to my desktop PC, so I rarely find myself running out of screen real estate. Moving to a small laptop display makes me feel a bit claustrophobic, though, since web browsing takes up most of the screen and I constantly have to switch windows. As I noted on the previous page, Expose coupled with the new multi-touch trackpad makes window management incredibly smooth. Gliding four fingers down to get an overview of open windows has become a reflex for me, and I think it’s a shame most other notebooks don’t offer anything similar.

Expose in action

The same goes for Spaces, which is essentially Apple’s take on the virtual desktop concept. I can have my VNC viewer running on one virtual desktop and my web browser on another, and Spaces lets me effortlessly switch between the two with a keyboard shortcut of my choosing. Apple doesn’t let you tie virtual desktop navigation to trackpad gestures, unfortunately, but I still find the feature very useful.

Is there anything else prospective switchers should know? Maybe a couple. For one, be prepared to hunt down (and pay for) new applications. You’ll find a handful of cross-platform favorites—like Firefox, Openoffice.org, and Skype—but you’ll often have to rely on somewhat different tools to do the same things you do in Windows. Expect to trade Trillian or Pidgin for Adium, uTorrent for Transmission, and Paint.NET for Pixelmator. That brings me to my next point: little third-party OS X apps often cost money. I do remember a similar prevalence of shareware apps in the 1990s, but I expected freeware to have largely taken over. Not so. My quest for a full-featured text editor with macro support for OS X led me to TextMate, which costs a whopping $51, and BBEdit, which will set you back $125. Desperate users can turn to Linux apps through port schemes like Finch, though.

My biggest gripe with OS X is the lack of package management. Apple makes the installation process extremely easy for 90% of applications, since you simply have to drag an application file (technically a folder with a .app extension) to the Applications directory. To uninstall, just drag that same file to the trash. Simple, right? Yes, except when you encounter apps or tools that come with .pkg installers. Those tend to scatter files throughout OS X’s directory tree, and many of them don’t provide a simple way of uninstalling—in several cases, I had to use a menu option to see which files the installer extracted before hunting them down individually in the Finder. Even simple .app packages can spread files all over the place, although tools like AppCleaner exist to remove those more cleanly. Still, that’s a far cry from Ubuntu’s Synaptic package manager and even Windows’ Programs and Features control panel.

From my previous brushes with OS X, I’ve usually been favorable to the idea of Apple selling its operating system to PC users. After getting to know it a little more, though, I don’t know if that’d be such a good idea. I think OS X works so well because Apple has complete control over the hardware behind it, and it can elegantly intertwine the two to work smoothly. I just can’t see third-party hardware makers doing the same kind of work, like implementing their own gestures with another kind of trackpad. And without a straightforward package manager, users might have trouble with things like rolling back driver releases and uninstalling fishy adware apps (let’s not pretend OS X is immune to that sort of thing). The absence of features like Windows’ System Restore could make troubleshooting problems a little trickier, too.

If Apple wanted to start competing with Windows in the PC market, I expect it would need to do a considerable amount of work to support enough third-party hardware out of the box and allow users to add and remove hardware and software more easily. Like it or not, Windows does a pretty great job of running on just about any PC. Speaking of which…

Installing Windows

The MacBook doesn’t have a BIOS, so don’t expect to just slip in a Windows installation DVD and get things going. However, Apple makes installing Windows trivial thanks to Boot Camp. Accessible in OS X’s Utilities folder, the Boot Camp tool seamlessly partitions your hard drive and offers to let you reboot into the Windows installation DVD. Installation goes on as normal from there, although you do need to select and format the right drive partition.

Once you’re in the Windows desktop, you can simply pop in the OS X restore disc, and a friendly Windows installer takes care of loading up drivers. The installer also adds a little system tray tool through which you can change settings for the trackpad, keyboard function keys, and infrared remote support, among other things. Once you’re all set, you can boot into either Windows or OS X by holding the option key at startup. Cool.

Update: It looks like the MacBook’s BIOS compatibility module does let you boot from a Windows DVD out of the box by holding down the option key. You’ll still need Boot Camp to partition your hard drive without erasing OS X, however.

You can tell Windows wasn’t the first thing on Apple’s mind when it made the new MacBook, though. The default Realtek audio drivers seem to prevent Service Pack 1 from installing in Vista, and when I grabbed the latest driver from Realtek’s website, the sound cut off altogether. The trackpad implementation is also a little buggy. While you can use two-finger gestures for scrolling, depressing the trackpad with your thumb makes the cursor move, and right-clicking in tap-to-click mode involves depressing the trackpad with three fingers (instead of just tapping with two fingers like in OS X). Also, leaving the pointer in a text field can causes the system to erase random chunks of text—presumably because one’s palms come in contact with the trackpad surface.

Despite those little kinks, Windows Vista works just like you’d expect—and it’s fast. Since the MacBook has a decent graphics processor built in, you can also run current PC games well above slide-show speeds, provided you don’t mind turning down detail settings. I still wouldn’t recommend the MacBook if you’re planning to run Windows as your primary OS, however. Apple could very well iron out the issues I just mentioned in future driver updates, but Boot Camp driver support just feels too flaky for everyday use right now.

That said, you don’t have to dual-boot to run Windows apps on your Mac. Thanks to the magic of hardware virtualization, virtual machines like VMware Fusion and Parallels can run Windows inside OS X with a minimal performance penalty. You don’t even need to have Windows open in its own, isolated window: both of those VMs support running Windows apps within the OS X desktop. If you don’t want to buy a Windows license, you can also use CodeWeavers’ CrossOver, which is essentially a pimped-out Mac version of the Wine compatibility layer for Linux. CrossOver doesn’t run everything, but it can take care of things like Microsoft Office and Valve’s Source Engine games.

Performance and battery life

Unfortunately, time constraints and other obligations prevented me from running a detailed set of desktop productivity benchmarks on the MacBook. With a 2GHz Penryn Core 2 Duo and couple gigs of RAM, though, this machine is more than speedy enough to handle just about anything you’d want to run on a 13.3″ notebook. Heck, the CPU in this thing might actually be slightly faster than the one in my desktop PC (a first-gen Core 2 Duo running at 2.13GHz).

I ended up testing two things: gaming performance and battery life. For gaming, I ran Valve’s popular team-based shooter Team Fortress 2 with a custom timedemo at two custom detail levels. I set all the options to “high” and reflections to “reflect world” for my “High” preset. For my “Medium” preset, I toned down shader detail to “low,” other detail settings to “medium,” and reflections to “simple reflections.” I also disabled color correction, motion blur, and high-dynamic-range lighting. Both tests were run with antialiasing, anisotropic filtering, and vsync disabled.

As you can see, TF2 runs quite well on the MacBook. Even at the high detail level, I found frame rates stable enough for relatively smooth gameplay. Actually getting kills was a different story, since I was too lazy to find a spare mouse and ended up using the trackpad to look around and fire. Anyway, the MacBook isn’t a gaming machine by any means, but it’s a surprisingly capable backup if you’re far from home and feel like hopping in a multiplayer game with your friends. (Just don’t tell them you’re using a Mac.)

What about CrossOver Games? CodeWeavers’ tool allowed me to install Steam and TF2 inside OS X without a hitch, although the actual game ran in DirectX 8.1 mode and had a few minor graphical glitches. Still, performance was shockingly decent:

I had to use slightly different settings in these tests, since CrossOver’s DirectX 8.1 compatibility layer doesn’t support graphical options like HDR lighting and motion blur. Nevertheless, you clearly don’t have to install Windows to play TF2 (and presumably other Valve games) on a Mac. The CrossOver Games compatibility list includes a healthy number of other titles, too, from recent ones like Prey and The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion to older games like Fallout II and Deux Ex.

At this point, die-hard Apple fans might point out that you can get Mac versions of recent games like Call of Duty 4 and Spore. I won’t disagree, but considering the MacBook’s obvious unfitness as a primary gaming platform, I wouldn’t recommend buying another copy of a game just for it. If anything, loading up a leftover copy of Windows XP with Boot Camp is probably the cheapest and easiest way to game on the MacBook. While CrossOver Games is neat, not everybody will want to pony up 50 bucks for the full version.

Testing battery life was a bit more straightforward. With Wi-Fi on, Bluetooth off, and the display brightness set to around 66%, the MacBook stayed on almost exactly four hours while I wrote this review, browsed the web, watched YouTube videos, and installed some software. In Windows Vista, I hit the 50% mark in just an hour and 18 minutes with a similar config and the “Power saver” preset enabled. That’s another reason not to use Windows as the primary OS on this system—at least not for the time being. The MacBook can’t exactly match a new Eee PC’s battery longevity in OS X, either, but four hours of desktop productivity ain’t half bad for a full-featured 13.3″ laptop.

Conclusions

I sought five things when looking for a replacement notebook: a rugged chassis, a 13.3″ display with LED backlighting, a good trackpad and keyboard, a modern and full-featured operating system, and the ability to run Windows if necessary. After about a week and a half of use, I can now say the MacBook has fulfilled four of those five requirements brilliantly. Windows support still leaves something to be desired, but I’m very happy with OS X and don’t expect having to use Vista on a regular basis. And who knows—maybe Apple will iron out Boot Camp kinks in the near future. I’m not holding my breath, though.

I think Apple has a winner with the new MacBook overall. Sure, this is an expensive laptop, but it’s also years ahead of most Windows notebooks in the build quality, human interface, and window management departments. My ThinkPad feels kludgy and awkward to use without Expose, gestures, or a giant trackpad; and even its build quality isn’t anywhere near the MacBook’s. For years, I boasted about the ThinkPad’s tough magnesium display lid, but I can easily bend it and make funny patterns on the TFT. I can’t do the same with the MacBook’s much thinner aluminum lid. Perks like MagSafe, a magnetic display “latch,” a slot-loading DVD drive, and a concealed heat exhaust vent only add to the MacBook’s design cred. It just looks gorgeous, too.

That leaves the big question: should you buy one? I won’t turn into an Apple fanboy and say you should get a MacBook no matter what, because that’d be very poor advice. You shouldn’t get the MacBook if you need to run Windows on a day-to-day basis. You shouldn’t get the MacBook if you want an ultra-light, ultra-portable system that can run on one battery for a whole work day. You shouldn’t get the MacBook if you’d be just as happy with a 10″ Eee PC instead.

However, if you’re looking for a portable (but not too portable) desktop replacement, if you don’t mind paying extra for the luxuries Apple offers, and if you don’t mind getting used to Mac OS X, I think you may be extremely pleased with the MacBook. Just prepare yourself for snide comments from your PC-using friends (I’ve gotten a surprising number already), and try to keep the reality distortion field from making you build a shrine to Steve Jobs in your basement.

Comments closed
    • indeego
    • 11 years ago

    NM…. expose scaling. hence why it is difficult to readg{<.<}g

    • no51
    • 11 years ago

    Can the touchpad middle click?

      • MathMan
      • 11 years ago

      Yes, … sort of. Middle click is emulated by doing [Cmd]+Single click. Not as convenient as a sort tap with two fingers. (Maybe they could do it with a short tap and 3 fingers?)

    • PRIME1
    • 11 years ago

    Now run Linux on it. I bet KDE 4.1 will look real good on that screen.

    • Synchromesh
    • 11 years ago

    “In typical PC hardware enthusiast fashion, we haven’t covered Macs much here at TR.”

    Whaaa? If there was any more Apple-related news here, the admins might as well change Tech Report’s logo to a bitten Apple one.

    I’ve read through the whole review and there are several pieces I disagree with, especially when it comes to Thinkpads. I’ve used both Thinkpads and Apple’s crapbooks (albeit lightly) and I like the Thinkpads much better. In all these years mighty fruit hasn’t come close to Thinkpads when it comes to keyboards. All this especially considering prices for top of the line machines on the used market.

    While they do look decent, the fact that Apple makes it is a big no-no in my book. And the fact that you can’t run Windows or Linux natively (ie without OS X present at all) is a total deal-killer.

      • adisor19
      • 11 years ago

      *Sigh*

      TR has never reviewed an Apple system before. Yes, there have been news related to Apple but reviews of an actually Apple product, there have been NONE.

      And then you have this beauty :

      ” And the fact that you can’t run Windows or Linux natively (ie without OS X present at all) is a total deal-killer. ”

      You CAN run Windows or Linux natively as the EFI firmware has a BIOS emulation layer that allows it to boot just like any PC out there.

      Adi

        • Meadows
        • 11 years ago

        That’s the only reason I’d get it for.
        To piss off people by using a cool-looking Apple device with Vista installed on it, har har.

          • End User
          • 11 years ago

          I beat you to it. I am running Ultimate on my MBP. Every Mac user I know runs either Windows/Linux in a VM or Windows via Boot Camp.

            • cygnus1
            • 11 years ago

            which shows the inadequacy of OS X

            • adisor19
            • 11 years ago

            I’m sorry, how is that inadequate ?

            Adi

            • cygnus1
            • 11 years ago

            simple, as the previous comment states everybody with a mac runs linux or windows in a VM or bootcamp. that clearly means that OS X is inadequate as an OS as everyone needs something from another OS. whereas I know lots of people that run only linux, or only windows.

            /sarcasm

            • End User
            • 11 years ago

            lol

            Hardly.

        • Synchromesh
        • 11 years ago

        But can you run just Windows and/or Linux without OS X being on the machine at all? I think not. That’s what I was talking about. I don’t need no stinking OS X on my system.

          • forthefirsttime
          • 11 years ago

          sure you can, just format the hard drive

          • adisor19
          • 11 years ago

          I know what you meant and YES, YOU CAN. Just pop in your boot install CD of choice and install away. Just erase the partition that comes pre installed with OS X and that’s it. You got yourself a very capable laptop running whatever os you want.

          Adi

            • Synchromesh
            • 11 years ago

            You sure about that? I remember trying that to do that on an Intel Mac Mini and I don’t think it was possible because of lack of BIOS.

            • Meadows
            • 11 years ago

            “Lack of BIOS” sounds intimidating, can you clarify?

            • adisor19
            • 11 years ago

            I’ll do the honors. The Macs don’t have a BIOS, they have an EFI firmware. This firmware can be made compatible with the old BIOS from good old PCs with a “BIOS compatibility layer”. This addition will make the mac boot up any OS that requires a BIOS to be present, which unfortunately is the majority of PCs out there.

            Adi

            • adisor19
            • 11 years ago

            Your mac mini probably did not have the latest firmware update installed. It needs to because that’s when the EFI BIOS compatibility layer was added to it thus allowing it to boot legacy OSes that require BIOS hooks. Nowadays, all new macs already have that layer pre installed and thus are able to pull it off without you first having to boot in OS X and making sure you got the latest EFI firmware on it.

            Adi

            • derFunkenstein
            • 11 years ago

            …and firmware updates are exactly why you continue to need OS X on the machine regardless. Only a moron buys a computer with commercial software (an OS and in this case iLife) and then removes said software.

            • adisor19
            • 11 years ago

            Take it easy there. If i don’t feel like using OS X i won’t use it. Hell i can just as easily keep a small external HD around just in case there are Firmware updates to be made for the reason you mentioned, but other than that, there’s no reason to keep OS X installed if i have no use for it and no, that doesn’t make anyone a moron.

            Adi

            • derFunkenstein
            • 11 years ago

            wtf is this, bizarro world? You not use OS X?

            • Synchromesh
            • 11 years ago

            So what you are saying is that if someone buys a PC with Winblowz, removes them completely and installs Linux instead it makes them a moron? Interesting way of thinking. I guess all those hardc0re Linux user CAN be wrong according to you.

            • derFunkenstein
            • 11 years ago

            Yes, they’re idiots. They’re spending money on something they’re not using.

            • Tamale
            • 11 years ago

            one of the many problems with this ridiculous argument is there’s no way to get an apple macbook without OSX.

            if you could, I’m sure lots of people would.

            • Synchromesh
            • 11 years ago

            That is pure bs and you know it. I’m positive that vast majority of people that buy Macs don’t use 100% of the machine’s capabilities but technically they do pay for it, which would make them idiots according to your own argument.

            Also, Tamale brings a legit point about Macs not being available with OS X. If they were, it would make them cheaper and more interesting to the masses.

      • derFunkenstein
      • 11 years ago

      I was waiting for a “Mac Report LOLOLOLOL!!!!11” comment. I’m disappointed it took so long.

    • Forge
    • 11 years ago

    You can also have Time Machine back up to a partition for that ‘last second’ recent point, and have a network FreeNAS share or Time Capsule set up for the long term retention.

    Time Machine will use multiple target points without any fuss. I currently have my iMac making the most recent TM snapshot to a local disk, with at least one week being kept on the external HDD, and as many as space allows being stored on a network share. It’s not hard to set up, and it’s a pretty bulletproof backup system. At any point I could take a sledgehammer to my iMac, bring in a new one (even a different model altogether) and then restore my last TM point onto it. OSX doesn’t really care about the hardware changes, and I’ll lose at most a day’s work. More likely I’d lose somewhere around one hour’s changes.

      • adisor19
      • 11 years ago

      Indeed, that’s about my current setup. I have to mention it again though : FreeNAS needs to be at version .69beta4 and up in order for it to be compatible with Time Machine. Anything lower than that and your TM backup will get corrupted as soon as the network share gets full.

      Adi

      • indeego
      • 11 years ago

      Fire, most frequent disaster, move your data offsite as a third optiong{<.<}g

    • ssidbroadcast
    • 11 years ago

    Anyone else frustrated that there are only 2 USB ports and they are both on one side?? It’s just that sometimes there are devices with short cord lengths that ideally should be plugged into a right side and not a left. (logitech USB speakers, for one)

      • derFunkenstein
      • 11 years ago

      the number is disappointing, the placement to me isn’t; a USB port on the right tends to get in the way of my mouse. It basically makes the two right-mounted ports on my work computer worthless.

        • ssidbroadcast
        • 11 years ago

        I read it thrice and I still can’t make sense of it.

        How would a right-mounted USB port “get in the way” of your mouse? Just because it’s there, doesn’t mean you have to plug into it.

        Also, what is this “other computer” with 2 right-mounted USB ports you’re speaking of ?

          • Palek
          • 11 years ago

          The Thinkpad X61s, for example. They’re right near the front edge, too. 🙁

            • derFunkenstein
            • 11 years ago

            Yeah, that’s what I’m talking about.

            And to put one on the MacBook without moving anything else, that’s where it’d be. The optical drive occupies where you might normally put it.

          • derFunkenstein
          • 11 years ago

          The cable sticks out to the side of the machine and the mild resistance the cord gets drives me batty.

    • adisor19
    • 11 years ago

    “The absence of features like Windows’ System Restore could make troubleshooting problems a little trickier, too.”

    This features you speak of is actually part of Time Machine. Every time Time Machine makes a backup, it created a “System Restore” point where you can boot up with your OS X install DVD and restore your system to any of those points in time. Since TimeMachine makes a backup every hour, that’s pretty good 🙂

    Adi

      • derFunkenstein
      • 11 years ago

      Yeah, that made me scratch my head too. I just let it go because I was too busy drooling.

      • Cyril
      • 11 years ago

      Don’t you need to lug around an external drive or at least partition your hard drive for Time Machine to work? That’s a bit more complicated than System Restore, as far as I can tell.

        • derFunkenstein
        • 11 years ago

        true, if you had a failure on the road you’d need to have your HDD with you.
        edit: you can partition your HDD and use the second partition for time machine, but that seems like a bad idea.

        • adisor19
        • 11 years ago

        Well, you have a few options :

        1) Keep a small, portable HD with you al all times.
        2) Use a Time Capsule and do your backups wirelessly over WiFi n.
        3) Setup a FreeNAS system with the latest FreeNAS version that includes AFP FPDir support(Freenas .69RC1 has it) (needed for Time Machine compatibility) and force Time Machine to use it instead of a more expensive but certified to work 100% Time Capsule.

        I picked the last option as i’m a cheap bastard.. As soon as my MacBook Pro is in WiFi range of my LAN, it starts backing up 🙂

        Adi

          • A_Pickle
          • 11 years ago

          Meanwhile, System Restore and Previous Versions work without any external volumes.

            • adisor19
            • 11 years ago

            Of course they do, until your C: drive dyes and you lost everything. That’s the point where you wish you had Time Machine to save the day with that extra bit of functionality called : external backup.

            Adi

            • A_Pickle
            • 11 years ago

            …of course. Because Windows can’t do scheduled backups to external volumes.

            • derFunkenstein
            • 11 years ago

            what a detriment to the system! someone should fix that.

            • Tamale
            • 11 years ago

            the point is, can you have ‘time machine’ create system restore points for you WITHOUT buying an external drive of some sort?

            if not, this is a serious flaw in my opinion. your OS gets messy way before you lose a hard drive, typically. (mac and windows alike)

    • darc
    • 11 years ago

    “My ThinkPad feels kludgy and awkward to use”
    Well, duh. A ThinkPad is kludgy and awkward compared w/ most wintel notebooks. They’re good machines, but not exactly the measuring stick in terms of elegance. A comparison that might almost be relevant would be a vaio sz vs. the aluminum macbook.

    Hey – is that the same “MathMan” as from the HFC, below? If so, small world!

      • MathMan
      • 11 years ago

      Not the same MathMan… Sorry.

      • darc
      • 11 years ago

      Ah well, our anonymity is preserved then. 🙂

    • MathMan
    • 11 years ago

    I bought the same machine, my first self-paid laptop that I’ve ever owned. I’ve had many company laptops, all running Windows, of course, and this is by far the best I’ve ever used.

    Apple has its share of love/hate features, but they often manage come up with a singular item that makes it all worth it. My initial reason to finally make the switch, a year ago, was the introduction of TimeMachine. I’ve never felt more comfortable about the integrity of my data.

    For the MacBook, the trackpad takes center stage. Its greatness can’t be stressed enough. I used to be a fan of the TrackPoint on a ThinkPad, but this one blows it out of the water and the ease of scrolling is a fantastic help to work around the relatively small resolution of the screen. I was never a heavy user of Expose but the 4-finger gesture makes it suddenly so natural that it’s now used all the time.

    I’ve reconfigured the trackpad such that simple tapping it with 1 finger makes it issue a mouse click, so there’s no need to depress the track pad.

    • FubbHead
    • 11 years ago

    I’d rather get something like Fujitsu-Siemens’s Amilo Pa-3553 or any of its derivates. Cheaper, bigger and cooler look and tech. 🙂

    • derFunkenstein
    • 11 years ago

    I was all set to settle for an iMac, but this has renewed my interest and desire for the new MacBooks.

    My main concern is how it’d run Starcraft II and Diablo III, but we’ve got a while before they’ll even be out to test. From what I can tell poking around the WoW forums, it runs WoW in OS X pretty well (way better than the GMA950 in the Mini, at least).

    For everything else I do (mostly audio work) it looks like it’ll be a winner. And only having to pop an extra $50 for a 7200RPM drive doesn’t seem like THAT BAD of a tax to me.

      • StashTheVampede
      • 11 years ago

      Blizzard has a habit of making games that work on hardware 2-3 years old. You may not get the highest of textures and effects, but I’m betting the playability will be good.

      Having said that, I know many PowerBook users that were playing WoW in … 2005.

        • derFunkenstein
        • 11 years ago

        well, yeah, but those powerbooks had integrated GPU’s. WoW playability took a step back from the iBook with the Radeon 9550 to the MacBooks/Mac Mini’s with the GMA950.

        And you have a good point about SC2 and D3…it’ll probably play fine. Just waiting for the EOY cash to be distributed, then I’ll be ordering.

          • sheltem
          • 11 years ago

          The Geforce 9400m is the best integrated graphics ever made. If you want a performance comparison, it is better than last year’s Geforce 8400m, which was a discrete card.

    • ReAp3r-G
    • 11 years ago

    the one thing that caught my eye with these new macbooks and MBP’s is the aluminum enclosures…absolutely eye catching and it’s a first for me since i never fancied any of Apple’s notebooks…but this time it’s different mainly because the build quality has improved tremendously

      • sheltem
      • 11 years ago

      Not only is the build quality good, but the weight is actually in line with most 13.3″ laptops; 4.5lbs with a 6 cell battery is fairly reasonable. The old macbook was VERY heavy for a 13.3″ laptop; 5.2 pounds! The macbook pro was only .3 pounds heavier, but had a 15.4″ screen.

    • forthefirsttime
    • 11 years ago

    I feel compelled to reply and say that I get much of the same ‘comfort’ as described in this review by using Ubuntu on my HP business laptop.

    plus, I’ve got even more graphical goodies akin to ‘expose’ and ‘spaces’ than OS X, like transparency, ring switcher, and even better virtual machine support with virtualbox

    I feel like macs are the rich and lazy way to get the experience offered by a nice business notebook + linux and compiz.

      • MathMan
      • 11 years ago

      As a new MacBook laptop owner, I don’t really disagree about the ‘lazy’ part, but maybe that’s just the point? 🙂

      I’ve been running Linux at home since ’95 and building my own machines and all that, but at some point, I wanted something that ‘just works’ under all circumstances. Fonts that are correct and pleasant for the eye under all circumstances. Invisible backup solutions. The integration simplicity of your iPhone with iTunes etc.

      Most of it can be done with a lot of effort, scripting, and a fair amount of frustration, and I admit that the feeling of victory after a long struggle to get things to work and the (somewhat justified) smugness over those lazy technofobes who need handholding all the way is sometimes a powerful motivator. But with other priorities in my life, I’m perfectly happy to pay a few dollars more to avoid spending time on all of that.

        • forthefirsttime
        • 11 years ago

        ubuntu’s pretty much like that now, especially 8.04 and 8.10… nothing much has to be done from the command line anymore.

          • A_Pickle
          • 11 years ago

          What sort of smartphone contacts/tasks/file synchronization support does Ubuntu have?

            • forthefirsttime
            • 11 years ago

            thunderbird with the right add-ons supports as many syncing protocols as outlook, and then some.

    • Thresher
    • 11 years ago

    Thanks to TR for doing a fair and balanced review of the MacBook. It’s not perfect, I need a slot and a few other things, but it’s a great laptop.

      • muyuubyou
      • 11 years ago

      My main gripe: lack of FW … this machine is perfectly good for video editing.

      just 1 FW port, lit keyboard in the 13′ machine and I’d be all over this (even at 200 more). But then who’d get a MBP…

        • Thresher
        • 11 years ago

        It shouldn’t be an all or nothing situation though. This is one thing I do not like about Apple’s positioning. There are some people, myself included, who want the Pro features in a 13 incher. Why should I have to step up to a larger screen to get the features I want. If they had at least put a slot on the damn thing, I could have added a Firewire card.

          • A_Pickle
          • 11 years ago

          It doesn’t have an ExpressCard slot?!?

            • adisor19
            • 11 years ago

            Nope. Only the MacBook Pro has an expresscard slot. This is the main reason for the super bitching that took place all over the mac intarweb about the missing FireWire port.

            Adi

            • A_Pickle
            • 11 years ago

            Other than the missing firewire port itself, I assume.

            Not… not a good move, Apple…

    • CampinCarl
    • 11 years ago

    No security lock port?

      • SNM
      • 11 years ago

      It’s got one, and it locks the battery and hard drive in place too.

      • adisor19
      • 11 years ago

      It has the “Kensington lock slot” on the left side right next to the Headphone jack.

      Adi

    • bozzunter
    • 11 years ago

    I still fail to see why one should use BootCamp. If it’s for gaming, well a MacBook isn’t intended for gaming. If it’s for anything else, Parallels and Fusion take 10 minutes to install Windows, they don’t have problems with drivers and they are 5 times much more comfortable than BootCamp if you need to use Windows – namely for Office 2007 which is the real application Mac is missing (Office 2008 is a kind of a bad joke, with Excel 2008 not being able to filter by colored cells, to quickly open its own files (XLSX) and so on).

      • stmok
      • 11 years ago

      I tend to agree on that point.

      While the article was reasonably balanced, (good job), I’m not sure why the reviewer didn’t consider VMware Fusion for OSX. You’ve spent US$1299, so what’s another US$80 more?

      That way, you can stay with OSX and call up Windows when you need to. (without rebooting).

      That’s what I do with my ThinkPad + Linux + VirtualBox with WinXP Pro as Guest OS. (Unlike VMware Fusion or Workstation, I can’t play 3D games through it. Its a null point for me, as I’m not a gamer anyway.)

      • Tamale
      • 11 years ago

      this new macbook is more than capable for light-to-moderate gaming..

    • clone
    • 11 years ago

    while aluminum can look quite shiny and is light it’s also not very strong unless you triple the thickness and it’s also scratch prone unless treated.

    I’m kind of curious why Apple went with aluminum it’s benefits and popularity were born from racing.

    those being that it’s easier to optimise compared to steal as you can specifically design a frame to be stronger at certain points where needed and also save weight where the strength isn’t needed.

    it’s also easier to weld comparatively speaking specifically because more of it’s needed whereas a comparable steel design would need to be thinner to realise the same weight savings making it more prone to stress cracking, difficult to weld as well as corrosion susceptable throughout the year…….. none of this has anything to do with notebook useage aside from the weight concerns while the negatives for aluminum still apply.

    curious what a long term test will show.

    • fpsduck
    • 11 years ago

    l[

      • Forge
      • 11 years ago

      Not necessary. Most ‘native’ A list OSX games recently are actually Win32 games bundled with Transgaming’s ‘Cider’ wine layer. Particularly everything from EA has been Cider, Spore included.

      In those cases performance between the ‘native’ and Wine versions will be exact, version differences aside.

        • cygnus1
        • 11 years ago

        I understand wine isn’t an emulation layer, but it is at the very least a translation layer. It does NOT perform the same as native windows for directx apps.

          • Corith
          • 11 years ago

          He’s not saying they’ll run at the same speed as a native DirectX app. He’s saying there won’t be any difference in speed between the Mac version and the PC version running on WINE.

    • Meadows
    • 11 years ago

    g{

    • grug
    • 11 years ago

    I succumbed and bought the 2.4GHz model on launch day too. I thought I’d hate the glossy screen but it really hasn’t been an issue.

    • Pachyuromys
    • 11 years ago

    Time was when TR wouldn’t touch anything OEM with a ten-foot-pole, and Apple wasn’t even in the TR lexicon, let alone within satellite distance of a TR sweatshop.

    Man, how times have changed.

    So, now that we’re reviewing pre-fab laptops, notebooks, and netbooks (not to mention office chairs, -[

      • MadManOriginal
      • 11 years ago

      For price/performance I don’t think any OEM unit can compete with a DIY box, certainly not the botique or high-end PCs. They might compete at the low-end because those PCs are sold with very little margin and the OEMs can get better prices on the parts than we could.

      For the unique aspects you talk about, mainly special parts that are manufactured which are hard or impossible to recreate on an individual basis, sure I’d like to see some of those things just to see them.

        • Pachyuromys
        • 11 years ago

        The point of my post has nothing to do with price/performance. It’s all about the benchmarks.

        To be sure, you can (probably) build (*cough*… that term always makes me laugh. As if plugging together pre-fitted stand-alone massively pre-engineered ICBs and other self-contained parts, like sticking together electronic Lego blocks, constituted “building” a PC. Lemme know when [most of] you solder or wrap a single wire or layout a single chip lithograph…) a top-end PC for less than the $5K+ most OEMs charge.

        What I’m interested in seeing is how well an OEM Ferrari benchmarks against your basement- or garage-“built” hot-rod PC. Back in the day, Dell used to smoke most of the competition, and the competition was fierce. Lately, I’ll admit, their mainstream systems are clocked rather pedestrian, but I’d really love to see how much (if at all) their top-end line fares against the mix-and-match market.

        Granted, most OEMs are already reviewed elsewhere, but only against other OEMs. I’ve seldom, if ever, seen an OEM pitted against a self-assembled top-tier motherboard/X-way Crossfire or SLI system. And /[

          • MadManOriginal
          • 11 years ago

          I wasn’t aware Dell ever smoked the competition but I guess you learn something new every day, maybe you mean versus the competing OEMs. For people who are willing to -[

          • adisor19
          • 11 years ago

          Heh, Dell isn’t getting those DEEP discounts from Intel anymore so they can’t afford to shove high end CPU in all their boxes without a price premium. Hehe oh how times have changed 🙂

          Adi

      • Forge
      • 11 years ago

      Well, I can’t speak for TR, but I have been here long enough to remember this discussion happening in 2000 or so. The ‘bias’ here against big OEM machines had less to do with any hate for HP/Dell/Whatever and more to do with them declining to supply review hardware. You’ll notice that Apple did not provide this Macbook, Cyril did (go Cyril!). I can recall on one or two occasions someone mentioning Macs or Macbooks and Scott mentioning that Apple will not deal with smaller reviewers at all.

        • indeego
        • 11 years ago

        That is a good thing. All too often TR gets preview hardware and the performance/drivers/bugs appear to not quite be ironed out come review time. IIRC XP and Vista had a number of performance hotfixes pre SP1 that improved performance and were released after a number of reviews had already been publishedg{<.<}g

    • MadManOriginal
    • 11 years ago

    I agree with DrBillyBar, Apple can design great looking hardware. Not that I’ve used the touchpad but I do think the removal of mouse button(s) altogether isn’t great. I’m also happy to read a reviewer writing sanley about glossy screens, while I think that glossy screens in laptops are a negative at least you didn’t post pictures of a powered off screen, because we all know that’s how one actually uses a computer :rolleyes:, with a window directly behind it.

    Something that finally struck me when reading the article is that there’s something ironic about the Apple ads that attack Vista so vigorously and yet Apple provides a simple way to install Vista or another Windows version.

    • glynor
    • 11 years ago

    Windows XP SP3 works fine in Boot Camp on my last-gen Macbook Pro. I do see the battery life difference though. Some of that seems to be that the CPU runs harder in Windows (it certainly seems to get hotter)…

    Still, I use it about 50/50 in Windows/OSX. Works quite well for either, and I love having the flexibility to use either.

    • HurgyMcGurgyGurg
    • 11 years ago

    Well I’m a die-hard gamer and fan of performance for price ratio, so the MacBook fails on both of those desires, especially when you try to unite the two.

    For instance, a HP Dv7t with 250 Gigs of storage, 4 Gigs of ram, a 9600 GT, and a 2.4 GHz Core 2, has the same hardware as a MacBook Pro, which I would be forced to get to satisfy my needs, but is the same price as the regular MacBook.

    However, if I were to shed these two needs, I agree this is a great laptop, but sadly is not for me. It does make me jealous though, if only I had the extra money around to ignore the pricing of the Pro.

      • Thresher
      • 11 years ago

      The HP doesn’t have an aluminum case, doesn’t have LED backlight, etc. etc.

      They really aren’t competitors. Not saying the HP isn’t a decent machine, but comparing it to the MacBook is absurd.

    • SecretMaster
    • 11 years ago

    The only reason why I ever jump on my friend’s macbook here at school is to tinker away with Garage Band. That is perhaps the coolest application ever to come standard on a laptop. I’d love to find something like that for my laptop, so I could tinker away with my inner musician.

      • Tamale
      • 11 years ago

      have you tried anything in sony’s line of audio software like acid, etc?

    • MrPippy
    • 11 years ago

    q[< The MacBook doesn't have a BIOS, so don't expect to just slip in a Windows installation DVD and get things going <]q Actually, it does (a BIOS emulation layer in EFI), and you can. The assistant is just needed to non-destructively resize the Mac partition and create a partition for Windows. Stick in a Windows or Linux boot CD and hold down option on boot--it'll show up, and boot as usual.

    • leor
    • 11 years ago

    big ups to the first ever review of an apple computer on The Tech Report!

    It was very well done and well written. I bought my 17 inch mac book pro last year, and it’s the first laptop I’ve ever bought. All of you who know me know that I am addicted to power and quality, and until that moment there had never been a laptop invented that fulfilled all the requirements I have for a laptop. Very high res screen (1920×1200) very fast CPU (2.4ghz C2D) lots of RAM (4gb) good GPU (8600GT) and a 7200 RPM HDD while being under 7lbs. I play games on it in windows vista, they run perfectly.

    I also had a very strong anti apple bias going back to 1996, but I have to say with apple’s adoption of intel CPUs and boot camp, I can’t picture buying a non apple laptop unless it’s a netbook. there is just no comparison in terms of build quality and even though I’ve been a die hard PC user since 1995, I am in awe of OSX as an OS. It doesn’t help that vista is pretty much a POS, maybe windows 7 will make me feel differently, but for now OSX 10.5 makes vista look like windows ME on a pentium 4 1.7ghz with rambus RAM and a 4200 RPM hard drive and a power supply that runs off the farts of a pile of drunk monkeys.

    I will probably always have a windows based system as my main work station because my main system will always be something I build myself because I’m a control freak and I want every single component of my system to be hand selected and I like to cut the skin of my hands on metal sh$t.

    Word.

      • darc
      • 11 years ago

      LOL. At least twice. 🙂

      • derFunkenstein
      • 11 years ago

      I remember all the horrible names you called me when I bought my first Mac since college.

    • DrDillyBar
    • 11 years ago

    Sure do look purdy.

    • SNM
    • 11 years ago

    I’m not a heavy text editor, but TextWrangler (once called BBEdit Lite) is free and is pretty full-featured from what I’ve seen.

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