Glossy Borders and Submarines: A Couple of MacBook Observations

I’ve now had my new MacBook for two days, and the expectations of what I’d hoped or suspected the machine to be have been true. It really is sweet and, along with the PowerBook 170 and the PowerBook 12″ G4, may be the best overall portable Apple has ever made. 

Of course, nothing is prefect, and there are a couple of things I’ve noticed that I’d like to point out. One of them can undoubtedly be fixed via software, but the other is what it is. 

Glossy Border on the Screen

I’ve been using a white MacBook out and about quite a bit and must admit I’m a huge fan of glossy screens. It’s never been a big issue for me to change position slightly to reduce glare/reflections, and then you simply don’t notice it. (In contrast, while changing position can “fix” a glossy screen’s glare, there’s nothing I can do to a matte screen to make it not look so dull, boring, and lifeless.)

Given that the new MB’s screen is even brighter than the old model, the gloss should even be less of an issue. And it is…except for the border! I love the black border around the MB. Much like with the iMac, I think it helps make the screen colors pop out even more, and it also hides the “bullet hole” camera as well. 

The problem is that the border is always reflective. Since the screen doesn’t shine through, you’ve got over a half-inch “mirror” around the screen! This can be especially distracting because it naturally leads the eye to notice the reflections on the display itself that may otherwise have been easily ignored. 

On my iMac this is not an issue because it’s permanently situated to minimize glare in the first place. Plus, I think it’s less of an issue on a 24″ screen than 13″. As it is, as great as the border looks, I’m finding it a bit more problematic in terms of glare. 

The Cursor is “Going Deep”

Remember cursor “submarining”? In the earlier days of Windows laptops, when you used to strap the mouse to the side of the machine, and the OS wasn’t exactly responsive, sometimes the cursor would disappear (frequently in the middle of moving it). It was basically a performance/graphics thing, but it was akin to the cursor “sinking” and then “surfacing” in another location. This gave rise to the name that described it. 

Well, I’ve had my cursor disappear on the new MB as well. It’s not really the same, as it never happens while moving, but rather when I go to move the cursor I simply don’t see it. I have to move around on the trackpad a bit and then it shows up in a couple of seconds. 

It’s happened perhaps 10 times in the last two days. It’s not that big of a deal, but it’s quite irksome. I assume this is a software issue that will get corrected. 

So far I’m thrilled with the new machine (and people at work think it’s cool, I’ve got VMWare Fusion and XP Pro on it), and the above are my only negative observations on it. I’ll post more as I run into them.

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