My MacBook Pro Experience - Day 6

My MacBook Pro Experience - Day 6

Summary: It's day six of my MacBook Pro experience (or should that be experiment?) and today I'm going to talk more about the actual Mac hardware.It's nearly a week into the MacBook experience and since I've now had the opportunity to handle the MacBook Pro quite a bit and use the various features that it offers I think I'm ready to offer some comment on them.

TOPICS: Hardware

It's day six of my MacBook Pro experience (or should that be experiment?) and today I'm going to talk more about the actual Mac hardware.

It's nearly a week into the MacBook experience and since I've now had the opportunity to handle the MacBook Pro quite a bit and use the various features that it offers I think I'm ready to offer some comment on them.

From a standpoint of fit and finish, I have to be honest and say that the MacBook is, by far, the best notebook I've ever handled.  Period.  The solid metal finish is beautifully stylish, yet robust.  I like that the use of plastic is kept to a minimum. 

I'm still adjusting to the keyboard.  I still feel that it's a bit too far away from me when I'm typing and the different keyboard layout from a standard Windows keyboard still trips me up at times.  This is a minor niggle that's almost not worth mentioning apart from the fact that anyone thinking of making the switch to a Mac should be aware that some retraining is required.  I like the backlit keys but I find that the light is sometimes on when I don't need to be and off when it could be useful. 

The screen is also a delight to view.  A 17-inch widescreen running at 1680 x 1050 pixels really is about all you can ever want on a notebook.  The screen is also very easy on the eyes, even in low light (here I think the backlighting on the keyboard helps to reduce eye strain).

There's also plenty of scope for hooking up stuff to the MacBook.  On the left-hand side of the notebook there's the MagSafe power connector, two USB 2.0 ports, audio in, audio out and an ExpressCard/34 slot.  On the right-hand side there's a Dual-link DVI, a gigabit Ethernet port, a FireWire 800 port, a FireWire 400 port, another USB 2.0 port and finally a security slot.  This is a pretty impressive specification, even if I'd prefer to have a couple of extra USB ports instead of the FireWire ports (the FireWire 800 port at any rate).

I'm finding that the trackpad is very responsive and easy to use.  Oddly enough, I find the buttons somewhat on the clunky side and not in keeping with the rest of the design.  I'm surprised that the engineers at Apple haven't come up with something a little more elegant.  I'm not sure why but each time I press one of those buttons and I hear that dull plastic clunk, I feel a little disappointed.

WiFi ... hmmm ... that's one for Apple support I think.

One thing I'm surprised that the notebook doesn't have is an integrated media card reader.  That would be really useful.  Otherwise the MacBook Pro is a really nice, fully-featured and powerful notebook. 

Tomorrow I'm going to look at some of the basic skills that someone planning on making the shift to the Mac platform will need.

Previous installments:

Topic: Hardware

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  • More USB Ports

    Unless you need the extra USB ports while you're out and about with the MBP,
    you might consider getting an external Apple keyboard or Apple monitor
    (except that you have to give the MBP back to Apple when you're finished
    evaluating it, of course). They typically put a few extra USB ports on them. I
    leave my printer, scanner and external HDD's connected to my Apple Cinema
    Display. They're immediately available when I'm hooked up at home and I
    usually don't need them on the road.
    • Logitech Alto

      Not out yet, but due soon, looks promising for those of us with laptops as our main computers:,CRID=2166,CONTENTID=12343
      tic swayback
    • Apple KB USB Ports

      Be aware that the USB ports on the Apple keyboard are USB 1.1 only.

      Tiny USB 2.0 hubs are about $10-$15 at Fry's. Slip one in your notebook bag and it should take care of all your USB needs.
      • USB 1.1 on Keyboard

        That's true. About the only things I hook up to the USB ports on the keyboard
        are things like a Wacom tablet and a wireless mouse receiver. But the Cinema
        Display has 2 USB 2.0 ports and 2 Firewire 400 ports that come in real handy.
      • So the Mac gets even bulkier!!

        Now I not only need to carry around an external keyboard, I also need a USB 2.0 hub [b]and[/b] an external card reader? Wow, that slim, light laptop is now bulkier than the midsized tower under my desk!
        • Make it easier...

          Just get a small pcmcia card reader and carry it with you. The size of a credit card
          and the speed necessary to read my sd cards - for $25 we Mac users can have it all
          (if we are too lazy to carry that usb cable and want those pictures). To be honest
          though, I tend to prefer hooking up that dv recorder by firewire and edit on the fly -
          amazingly simple and a much fuller experience - can you do that with that marvelous
          laptop? (Keep in mind that mine is six years old...and still does it very well...and then
          burns the experience to dvd - also on the go...)

  • Adrian's likely problems

    Here?s what will negatively effect Adrian?s experiment: too much prior knowledge.

    He?s a computer guy working and writing about them for a living. For the most part, his experience is with Windows. Everything different seems awkward when you?re in that situation ? kind of like an American trying to drive on the ?wrong? side of the road in the UK.

    Part of my job entails being the ?computer guy? in a small all mac company. I?ll still get a call about how to save a pdf (hint ? it?s a big button on the print window). The users print plenty so I don?t know how they could possibly miss that. The same goes for faxing ? right in the print window. I get asked how to get to Find (command F). The vast majority of my users NEVER use key commands, but rather the File, Edit, etc menus.

    Most recently I had: ?I put a new color cartridge in my inkjet and it won?t print?. She didn?t remove the protective tape on the bottom before installing.

    The foregoing are more typical in the non-tech world. I?d venture that the problems with the wifi are most likely do to some advanced system that he has versus to more common plug and play.

    So I assume Adrian will be thinking: ?Why is this done this way?? or ?This isn?t the way it should be.? Occasionally he might even scream AH SH-T. If things go really bad, Apple may get their computer back in several pieces.
  • No card reader?

    [i]One thing I'm surprised that the notebook doesn't have is an integrated media card reader. That would be really useful.[/i]

    BRUTAL!! My 5 year old Toshiba had a card reader. Why would I pay twice as much for a laptop that has less functionality than my 5 year old laptop? I guess Apple customers, when presented with something their Mac can't do, just shrug their shoulders and say "Jobs doesn't want me to perform that function so it can't really be important... can it?".
    • Guess it's too hard to plug the device in

      and pull the data off it that way... man to be a Windows user must really be painful! ]:)
      Linux User 147560
      • HUH?

        Huh? What's wrong with a card reader? Professionals use them all the time... at least us Windows users can use any card-reader without scouring for Linux support.
        • Scouring for Linux support

          show how little you know. The generic 15 in one that I have in my desktop works just fine without any futzing by me at all. My point is my laptop (Toshiba A15-S129) doesn't have a card reader so I just plug the component in and read directly from the device. Again with no futzing about by me. The Linux OS just works.

          Do you even understand how Linux or the BSD treat any type of drive? ]:)
          Linux User 147560
          • I agree with you Linux User 147560

            Oh great, now tic will think I'm in love with you!!

            [i]The generic 15 in one that I have in my desktop works just fine without any futzing by me at all.[/i]

            That was my experience too on my MythTV box. So many things to like about Linux. Every time I see Xgl, I'm forced to wonder how Apple zealots can even pretend to be using the innovative platform.

            [i]Installing Linux: $0
            Installing OpenSuSE: $0
            Installing Xgl: $0
            Watching the eyes pop out of the Mac zealot's head when your desktop slides away from the monitor to reveal a cube with 3 other desktops on it: priceless[/i]

      • What does this have to do with Windows?

        I have a digital camera. I [b]hate[/b] lugging around the USB cable. Solution: pull the memory card out of the camera and pop it in the laptop.

        I have a PocketPC that I use to watch video and listen to music. The "base" is big and bulky so I use bluetooth to sync. Video files and music collections are hundreds of megs which would take hours to transfer at bluetooth speeds or minutes if I pull out the card, pop it in the laptop, and transfer the files.

        Neither situation has anything to do with Windows (in fact, the video files are generated by my MythTV box ;) ). If I'm going to pay twice the price for a laptop, I would expect [b]more[/b] functionality, not less. I would want it to make my life [b]easier[/b], not harder.

        However, Jobs has decreed that no Mac owner has need for a memory card slot and so his will must be done!
        • Again you must be too lazy...

          [url=]Get one[/url]
          [url=]Get two[/url]
          [url=]From the Mac Store[/url]
          [url=]It's not that hard[/url]

          I would have to get one for my Toshiba. And for that matter only a handful of laptops come with built in readers. Also did you not think that maybe there isn't a huge demand from the Mac crowd yet? Bottom line is there are inexpensive solutions to this perceived problem you are fabricating in your attempt to devalue a pretty good system. What are you afraid of? ]:)
          Linux User 147560
        • Tough on Mr. Jobs...

          You obviously are NOT a customer. The "customer" is the one that must be served.

          I know many Mac users and none of them care if they have integrated card readers. I
          personally would not like one to add weight to my 5-pound laptop - I am a woman
          and the weight matters to me. (BTW - my external reader - the size of a credit card -
          is located in my camera bag - it is very rarely used and it travels very well there - I
          am very glad that it is not adding extra bulk to my laptop.)
    • No card needed?

      Ye gads, who uses a media card reader anymore? Really? I'd rather
      drag a cable around with me than go through the rigamarole of
      dragging the card out of my camera and stuffing it into the computer
      to slurp the photos off it, and Bluetooth and WiFi are the wave of the
      future for photo transfer. This is the laptop of the future, not the
      laptop of the past.

      Media card reader, dozens of USB ports, other use-it-twice-a-year
      gadgets -- do you really want these inside the laptop, where you
      have to carry them with you everywhere you take the machine?
      Really? If you want a draggable desktop get an iMac or something
      like that. I'll take the sleek design and portability of the MacBook
      over those hulking 4 inch thick Toshibas any day. If I really need a
      media card reader, I can buy one in any drugstore for $20 and throw
      it away if I don't want to carry it around.
    • No card reader?

      Card reader-schmeader!

      There are payoffs that happen when function follows design. Sorry, but I'd still rather be seen with my gorgeous little Powerbook than with some nasty old Toshiba with a card reader.

      Jealous much? ;)
    • Hey NonZealot (I mean "Ultra"Zealot)...

      Why don't you do us all a favor, take a pill, log off, and take a vacation from these
      forums for a while? Your biased raving is just plain tiresome. Do you always have to
      be so over-the-top? Do you really believe that you're so much smarter than everyone
      else? Do you have no social skills at all? Maybe if you spent as much time researching
      and studying the technology you constantly bash, you wouldn't have so much time to
      spend typing your diatribes. Honestly, you really need to let up on all the sincere,
      intelligent, productive, fun-loving Mac users out there. Who agrees?
      • I don't.

        I happen to think NonZealot is completely dead-on. What kind of a decent laptop doesn't have a freakin' media card reader? LOL... Not to mention a WiFi solution that actually works easily.
        • I do.

          I have a decent laptop, running Windows XP without a media card reader. I have two Dell PC's, running Windows XP without a media card reader. I have an iMac mini, running OS X without a media card reader... oh, and I have a 15-1 USB 2 card reader that cost me ?10 and works on all of them without having to install drivers to ANY of the OS's. I use it when I want then put it away.

          This is a non issue and not a differentiator between Windows and Mac. NonZealot yet again is making mountains out of molehills and upsetting the serious readers like myself who want to learn something rather than listen to his rhetoric and rantings.
          Rising Star