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Unboxing the MacBook and ThinkPad

As part of Mitch Ratcliffe's ongoing examination of the strengths and weaknesses of the Vista and Mac OS mobile computing experience, we look at the packaging of the ThinkPad X60 and MacBook Pro. Apple's design aesthetic wins hands down, from the elegance of the packaging to the amount of material used.

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Topic: Apple
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The Lenovo ThinkPad arrives in a Russian doll-like package, a large box containing two more boxes. The box containing the system includes a third box full of accessories and documents. There are several pounds of cardboard, plastic and styrofoam to toss out when you're done unwrapping.
The MacBook Pro, by contrast, is delivered in a box smaller than the briefcase you'll need to carry the computer. It's packaging one would want to keep around, because it is beautifully designed, and there's not much more than a pound of materials used.
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Apple reinforces its brand and product identity at each step of the unboxing. The styrofoam inside the box is imprinted with the MacBook Pro name, besides being perforated to reduce weight and bulk.
Opening the ThinkPad is like opening any other computer. Lenovo should think about how the first encounter with their computer can be more memorable.
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When the styrofoam is lifted, everything purchased is displayed with the MacBook Pro. Power supply, power cord, display adapter and the Apple Remote are laid out before you. Only the documentation isn't visible, because it hides beneath the computer in a black box with the "Designed by Apple in California" message familiar from all the company's products.

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Again, there is a spare quality to the accessories in the MacBook box, but there's also a lot less packaging to deal with compared to the individually wrapped documents, pen, spare pointer pads and the battery in the ThinkPad box.
The Apple documentation (below) is clean and compact. Lenovo's documentation is typical of the PC world, functional and extensive when the system itself has to deliver the user experience. Apple's battery is already installed, where you have to unwrap Lenovo's battery.
Apple's packaging also includes backup discs, which Lenovo provides on the hard disc in the ThinkPad.
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The Lenovo ThinkPad is primarily a business machine, which is why it has been my preferred travel system. It is offered with an optional ($179, $249 with CD-RW/DVD-ROM) dock multimedia, as well as a lot of additional ports (modem, Gigabit Ethernet, parallel port, SVGA, four USB 2.0 ports, audio, power passthrough and space for an extra external battery.
It is delivered in another box in the larger package, with a key and two-sided instruction poster, documentation and a plastic adapter that seems like it ought to be part of the base itself.
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The MacBook Pro is protected by an envelope of fiber-based material that tightly wraps the metal case. The ThinkPad comes wrapped in plastic. The former looks engineered, the latter only wrapped.
The MacBook Pro also ships with a screen protector to prevent the keyboard from scratching the screen. It's a small touch, but one missing from the ThinkPad.
And now we're done with the unboxing.

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