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Mac Book Pro; Mini Review

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MacBook Pro. I hate the name. I mean, I really hate the name. Say it out loud and you’re almost guaranteed to mess it up. Despite its horrendous name, the MBP (as I will call it for the duration of this article), certainly has a lot going for it. Apple likes to awe the press with its internal tests that show that the MBP is 4x-5x faster than the current top end PowerBooks, but in reality, how many people can actually make an association between a benchmark score and how a machine handles in every day use. Yesterday afternoon, I set out to test just that.

Even 3 hours after its announcement, the MBP was still surrounded by a layer of press 4-5 people thick (its down to about 3 today). I patiently took my place in line, and began waiting. Now, no matter how patient you are, when the guy in front of you keeps playing around with the toy you want so desperately to fondle, all those laws against maiming and rioting start to seem a bit silly.

After about 20 minutes of standing around, it was my turn. Naturally, the first thing I did was shut the machine down. The first and best indication of how fast a computer starts up. We are all used to pressing the power-button on our respective Macs, seeing black, then grey, then blue, then the login screen/desktop. I think David Pouge of the New York Times described the boot process of the MBP best.

You know normally you see the Apple logo and the spinning circle on startup. On these things it’s more like; press the power-button, BLIP, and you’re up and running”

So the MBP passed the boot test, but I wasn’t done putting it through its paces. Jobs had noted the speed of Safari on the new machines, and he wasn’t kidding. I can say with 100% certainty that the Intel build of Safari is the fastest web browser that I have ever used, on any platform. Instead of bouncing in the dock and forcing you to wait, Safari opens a new window and loads a page almost instantly when you open it.

One program at a time is nice, but Macs are about multitasking. I went to the Applications folders, selected all, and double clicked. Now, I know this is far beyond anything that would show up in normal use, but just wait until you hear the results. After slowing down significantly for around 30 seconds, the MBP started working smoothly again. And I mean smoothly. If you have ever had 3 or 4 resource hungry applications running simultaneously, you will be all too familiar with OS X taking a few seconds to switch between applications. Not so with the MBP. Clicking around between applications produced instant results, new documents opened quickly, and pages “Scrolled like butta,” as Reverend Jobs would say.

I didn’t have a chance to play with the remote or iSight, but I think its safe to assume that they work, and not much beyond that. Gimmicky is certainly the word that best describes those two features.

I hasten to say that the MBP is the fastest Mac I have ever used, keeping in mind I have not yet had a chance to play with the Intel iMac.

However, the MBP doesn’t lack its down-points. The MBP looses two things near-and-dear to my heart, a PCMCIA slot, and FireWire 800.

First, lets chat about FireWire. Apple was the first major manufacturer to include Firewire standard on their machines. This was a good thing. Firewire is a terrific interface with advanced features and blazing speeds. However, not many people actually need 800 megabit/s speeds, especially at the premium they were running. Apple started killing Firewire with the nano, and soon it was gone from the iPod. However, I don’t see Firewire going away for good any time soon. FW400 will certainly be with us on consumer level machines for a good time to come, and 800 should reappear soon. My hypothesis is such: At this point, the Pro Applications are not able to run natively on the MacBooks. No Final Cut, no need for fast ports. I see Apple announcing 12 and 17 inch MBP’s along side native Pro Applications some time in March.

As for PCMCIA, Apple obviously knows something we don’t about the new ExpressCard. PCMCIA is obviously still the de-facto standard, and this says to me that there is a big influx of ExpressCards coming to the market.

A nifty new feature on the new machines is a re-designed power plug. Apple designers have finally conquered the ages-old problem of cord trippage. Everyone has a story about tripping over a power cord plugged in to their machine, with the result of the machine flying across the room. The new plug attempts to solve this problem by introducing a mechanism that you don’t plug in, per se, but clip on. The plug is magnetic, and when you get the adapter close to the machine, it clicks snugly into a small depression.

A few little notes about the new machine before I sign off:
– The MBP uses a battery with a similar form factor to the 17 inch PowerBook
– The Airport antennae have been moved from the sides of the display to the hinge below the display.
– The track-pad is now the same size as those found on the 17 inch PowerBook

Update: No, the Pro Applications (Final Cut, Soundtrack, Motion, etc) do NOT work on the MBP, and will not until Apple releases native versions of the applications sometime in March.

228 Responses to “Mac Book Pro; Mini Review”

  1. Wow – some serious hate going on. I got my first mac – the macbook pro when it first came out. I’ve never had a single problem. I don’t know what that guy is talking about, “the memory card incorrectly correctly).” My experience with apple support has been pretty good too. Well you should play around with different computers and see what you like. As far as problems go… I’ve had none.

  2. ThE bARD

    WARNING:

    IF YOU WANT A STRESS FREE LIFE AND ARE NOT INTERESTED IN TAKING ANGER MANAGEMENT CLASSES OR LEARNING TRANSCENDENTAL MEDITATION THEN DO NOT BUY AN APPLE COMPUTER PARTICULARLY A MACBOOK PRO UNDER ANY CIRCUMSTANCES…..OVER 18 MONTHS APPLE HAVE GIVEN ME 4 REPLACEMENT LAPTOPS.
    1ST Powerbook lasted 5 days
    2nd Powerbook had flickering screen
    3rd Powerbook had unexplained s/ware problems
    4th replacement was MACBOOK PRO.(had to be returned as the memory card incorrectly correctly).

    BEST FEATURES:
    Overpriced
    Safari memory leaks so you have to force quit browser.
    Crashes – so you have to pull the battery out to switch off
    They get unbelievably hot to touch
    They are noisy – the fan comes on A LOT (not helped by safari memory leakage)
    Mail preferences change – view etc
    etc etc etc

    ThE bArd

  3. HI,
    Does anyone knows about software for mac book pro. when installing xp pro. ? like ethernet card, sound card, camara etc. would be much appricited ,thanks.

  4. I order 3 Macbook 13″ white for my kids about 10 days ago and we love it. everthings work so good.
    But see one problem, if look closely a above the isight the seam splited was crack open. look like glue are not stick together. u can put your finger nail in between and sliced.
    I called the apple ..they asked me if i have apple care. wow..just got 10 days

  5. Poor writing and spelling errors, rant about not liking the MacBook Pro name, and other comments make this reviewer less than credible. This reviewer does not have a clue how to describe technology, how do these people get hired for the job? This uneducated writer uses “looses”, rather than the correct word “loses”, and spells “Pogue” incorrectly as “Pouge”. The writer is unclear on the concept of accuracy.

  6. Chrissy K

    I just purchased the macbook pro on apple.com; I received it via FEDEX late this afternoon.. SOOOO excited about my new mac! I open it, turned it on and already notice several problems:
    1.the metal part above the button that actually opens your laptop was bent. It looks like it was pried open.

    2. my button on my trackpad is “funky” on the left side.

    3. I placed the laptop on my desk and looked at it at eyelevel; I found that it was bowing in the middle of the laptop! The little rubber nubs on the bottom of the laptop weren’t even touching the desk!

    4. I placed a cd in to upload pics frmo my dell laptop and I found it to be very loud!

    5. As I’m tying this, the laptop is on my lap and it is excessively hot! Like seriously!

    I just got this 4 hours ago! How can things have gone so wrong? I though Apple was superior in quality? I have a Dell laptop (fairly new) and I purchased thsi Apple for personal/music production.

    As soon as I got home from the office, I called Apple Care and I really don’t know which is better; Dell technicians that can’t speak English very well or snobby Apple technicians. Anywho, I called and told them the situation, I was on the phone for about 20 minutes total. They are sending me a replacement as soon as I ship this laptop back (which will be first thing tomorrow morning!). I’m also getting a $50 credit for this mess. I must say that this experience has been very disappointing. If Apple’s replacement has anything wrong with it, I’m done. I will request a full refund, and they can take their piece of shit back. They won’t get any of my business.

    When I pay twice as much for a laptop, I expect twice the quality.

    Thanks for reading, and I hope this helped.

    ps. I will be posting an update when I receive the replacement.
    CK

    KEYWORDS: overheating mac book pro, mac book pro issues, mac book pro problems, defects with mac book pro