Friday, February 26, 2010

Macbook Unibody 15.4" - Part 2

Well now I have lived with the Macbook Pro for 9 months or so, I've come to admire the good parts of the design, and to reluctantly live with the bad parts.

The good:
  • Speakers are great
  • Screen Brightness and Clarity
  • Hotkeys to easily change volume, tracks, brightness
  • Glowing keyboard at night
  • Quiet when using the 9400M video card
  • I love the Expose feature for switching between Apps.
  • The Dashboard widgets are great - very useful and fun
  • Smooth scrolling, multi-touch trackpad rocks!
  • The screen zoom in any application works very smoothly, and I've used it a lot - Windows 7 has a zoom (windows Key +) but it doesn't work nearly as nicely
  • The built-in screen shot utility is great, although Windows 7 has the snipping tool which works fine as well

The bad:
  • Boot camp on Windows 7 64 Bit -- it runs nice and fast, but the battery lasts 1.5 hours - come on! I upgraded my Thinkpad from XP to Windows 7 and got an additional hour of battery life - now I get 4 hours on a 3 year old battery! Apple needs to fix the drivers so the CPU and GPU can clock at a lower speed. Right now the machine just runs full tilt, and gets very warm in the process.
  • Noisy under boot camp. I enjoy the quietness of the Mac -- but Boot Camp ruins that. The fans slowly kick up and down in speed, as the machine can only utilize the hotter 9600M GPU, and the CPU never clocks down.
  • I really miss Forward Delete, Page Up, Page Down, Home, and End Keys. There is a FN right arrow, left arrow combo that is supposed to map to those things, but for some reason that doesn't work consistently in half of the programs on the Mac. It works fine in Boot Camp, strangely enough.
  • SMB (Samba) networking in Snow Leopard just doesn't work with Standby. After putting the Mac to sleep for the night, half the time I can't ever reconnect to my Vista file server unless I reboot.
  • The bundled apps like iMovie and iPhoto are really nice, but they store the data in such odd folders, tucked away and hidden from the user. I guess it's all well and good for those who just use a Mac and nothing else. But if you like to store your info on a server, the Mac really doesn't work as well in that setup.
  • The line-in jack on the side of the Mac doesn't include a pr-amp -- which all PC laptops have. So if you take any ordinary headset / mic combo that worked fine on the PC, the headphones will work great, but the Microphone won't work. You need to get a USB headset to work with the Mac.
Interestingly enough, I've found that the Office applications, file management, shortcut keys, and ability to sync files with my server make the PC the winner when it comes to getting work done and creating things.

But when it comes to browsing the web, reading things online, watching YouTube videos -- i.e. consuming information rather than creating it, the Mac is actually my preferred platform.

So I'm currently running my Windows 7 64-Bit boot camp partition in a Parallels instance, booting from the Mac side, and dealing with the networking problem by not turning the machine off. I still haven't fully decided which way I will go long term....

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