After the keynote at the World Wide Developer Conference (WWDC) 2009 on June 8 when they announced the 13” MacBook Pro, I decided to take the plunge and buy it. For almost 2 weeks I stalked various Apple fan sites, like macrumors, to find out what I’m actually getting myself into. There were various problems I was concerned about. For example, the SATA II was capped at 1.5 Gbps, which a firmware patch was released several weeks later, and some screen models weren’t as good as others, the glossy screen, etc.
I finally bought the 13” MacBook Pro, 2.53GHz with an 8gig RAM upgrade. I’ve used it for more than 2 months and here are my thoughts on it. I’m splitting this post into 2 parts, where I’ll talk about what I like in this post, and what I dislike in the next post.
I love you, MacBook Pro
One of the things I really love is the hardware itself. The unibody case is very well crafted together with the screen. The aluminium gives it a very nice touch and feel to it, although be very careful if there are power leaks. My MacBook Pro had a power leak once and got pretty feisty because of the aluminium casing. For those who know me personally, I have the tendency to caress this marvellous piece of craftsmanship very lovingly.
The screen is brightly lit with LED backlit, displaying great graphics and clear images. Even though the screen is glossy and reflective, I don’t really have any problems with the reflection as I initially thought I might have. I like the glass panel protecting the screen although it adds a little weight to the overall laptop.
The multi-touch trackpad is a pleasure to use, with various multi-touch gestures that are inbuilt into the operating system. For example, I love the 2 finger scroll up/down gesture; the 3 finger back/forth gesture; the 4 finger swipe up/down for expose and swipe left/right to switch applications. It is well integrated into the operating system and works on most applications which really makes the experience all the more complete.
The keyboard feel is not too stiff and not to deep to type. It isn’t stiff and clickity like some keyboards out there. It has a different feeling from my usual Thinkpad keyboards, but I like this new MacBook Pro style of keyboard. The backlight on the keyboard is a refreshing change from the slowly deteriorating ThinkLight technology.
The new non-removable battery is exactly as what Apple proclaims, of much better quality. Although I can only get less than 3-4 hours with my virtual machine turned on, and a little more than 5-6 hours with my normal applications running, it is more than satisfactory as opposed to my previous Thinkpad. It’s been 2 months, yet I’ve been able to get consistently 96-98% full battery charge, which is pretty good. The battery usually gets reduced to 93-95% or less after 2 months of my normal usage on previous laptops. Just a refresh of the battery usually brings the maximum battery charge back a little higher. I’m very impressed with the quality of the battery, and what Apple has done to make it robust and last for quite some time. To get almost all the information you need regarding your battery, download coconutBattery. The maximum capacity for this battery is 5450 mAh and my current maximum charge is 5300 mAH with about 60 charges.
One of the greatest features I love on the Mac OS X is Spaces. Now I can’t live without Spaces. I assign different Space for different uses. Space 1 contains my web browser, which is mainly what I use, and various other activities like QuickTime for watching movies, and listening to music. It is my main workspace. Space 2 contains my various communication avenues, like twitter, IRC chat, instant messengers, etc. Space 3 contains my news reader and various news related applications. This is the workspace where I just sit back and relax, reading my news for a few minutes before I get back to work. Space 4 contains my Windows 7 virtual machine, which I use for coding, and other Windows related activities. I love this ability to compartmentalise my life into different spaces to manage my tech lifestyle. There are many applications out there that allows virtual desktops on Windows 7, but I haven’t really found anything that’s nice. If you do, leave a comment.
Spotlight is another really great tool that I find really useful to load up applications and search for various information related to your search criteria. Windows 7 has the feature too, but it isn’t as powerful as Spotlight. One things that Spotlight wins over Windows 7’s search implementation is it has it’s own dictionary application which is able to search for the definition of a certain word. That, my friend, is the most useful feature I’ve ever come across, especially when writing articles, emails, documents, or just chatting with friends. You are also able to use it as a calculator just to do quick calculations. There are applications that offer this feature too, like Skylight and Launchy, but it’s either too resource intensive or just isn’t as clean and good as Spotlight.
But I think the best feature, which I’m sure everyone would agree, is the speed it takes to sleep and resume from sleep. To me, it is an amazing experience to be able to open your MacBook Pro and just able to use it within 2-5 seconds, as opposed to Windows 7 which takes a fair amount of time to wake up for its sleep. Putting it to sleep is really a pleasure, especially when you’re in a hurry to go somewhere. Although it is great, but it didn’t fully sleep for just once, which made the MacBook Pro extremely hot. I had to turn it shut it down manually in order not to let it overheat any longer.
Although there are many features on both the MacBook Pro, hardware-wise, and the Mac OS X, software-wise, that I like, I have many complaints about it. There is a love-hate relationship between my MacBook Pro and myself.
Stay tuned for Part 2 when I discuss the bad and the ugly of both the MacBook Pro and Mac OS X.
Disclaimer: These are my own opinions, and do not represent anyone, any organization or any company’s opinions.