After an annoying few days of calling the Milton Keynes Apple store every morning and even going in and getting right up to the point of ordering it and being told actually they have just sold out I finally have my shiny new Macbook Pro. They were only updated last week so this is basically the best time to buy.
I am upgrading from a 2006 Core 2 Duo iMac with a 2.16GHz processor with 3GB RAM. I wanted to get the 13″ Macbook Pro as I think they are the perfect size… not to mention the 15″ is starts at around £1500. I opted for the low end model (2.4GHz Core 2 Duo, 4GB RAM, 250HDD) because i really can’t see myself noticing the 160MHz jump in clock speed between the low and high end model and if I want a larger hard drive then I’ll pay the £50 and install it myself. As I am currently doing my Open University course I managed to snag myself a 15% discount.
So what do I think?
As you can imagine I was pretty excited when I opened up the box and was greeted with Apple’s trademark fancy packaging. I never fail to be impressed when I buy a new Apple product. It sometimes feels like Apple put more care and attention into their boxes than most tech companies put into their products.
The laptop itself is stunning. For anyone unfamiliar with the Macbook Pros then I recommend having a quick look at the Apple site. Upon turning on the machine you realise how good the screen is. This was one of the major upgrades when the aluminium Macbook gained its Pro moniker back in the summer of 2009. The aluminium Macbook’s screen was really quite awful with washed out colours and terrible viewing angles. This certainly cannot be said for the 13″ Macbook Pro. If anything the screen has made me more enthusiastic about the upcoming iPad as I find it comfortable to read on for long periods – dispelling all fears that the iPad’s backlit screen would make reading eBooks impossible.
I used my Time Machine back up and Migration Assistant to completely replicate my iMac including applications and users. This made switching incredibly easy. After the relatively short wait (about an hour for 150GBs) I rebooted and was greeted with my iMac’s desktop just the way I left it. The one issue I ran into was with my iPhone. For some reason iTunes wouldn’t recognise it. After placing the iPhone it recovery mode iTunes would attempt to restore but fail half way leaving me with a bricked iPhone. I managed to revive it by plugging it into an old Windows machine and restoring it. After the restore iTunes on the Macbook Pro found it straight away. All very odd. This was a minor hiccup in what was a fairly painless switch over.
I’ve now been using the laptop for a few days and the main thing that has impressed me is the huge multitouch trackpad. I don’t think I will ever be able to use another laptop again after being spoilt by this amazing piece of technology. Imagine using an iPhone to control a desktop computer. I know two finger scrolling has been around for years but these new computers have gained ‘Inertial Scrolling’. Basically this means that when you swipe down with two fingers the page will continue on as if under its own momentum. If you’ve ever scrolled with an iPhone you’ll know what I mean. It sounds like a small improvement but it goes a long way and makes navigating long web pages a delight. Also gestures like swiping four fingers down to invoke Expose will now be impossible to live without.
Apple have been touting the 10 hour battery life. Honestly I haven’t got anywhere near that. I have 33% battery left at the moment and its guessing that equates to 2 hours. To be fair I’ve never owned a new laptop with a decent battery so 30 minutes is a novelty to me. The battery is built in on these laptops so there is no option to swap when the juice runs out. Hopefully this won’t be an issue. I can’t really think of many times when I’m without a plug socket for 6 hours.
Due to Apple’s decision to use Core 2 Duo chips in the 13″ this new laptop doesn’t feel a huge amount faster than my iMac. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing as there were very few times that I felt the iMac was lagging behind. It’ll be interesting to see how much faster the Macbook is at encoding a DVD to h264. This seems to be the heaviest task I throw at my computers nowadays. The rest of the specs are fairly standard. 4GB of RAM is nice and roomy. According to iStat I’m using about 1.25GBs with Safari, iTunes, my RSS reader and iCal open. The 250GB hard disk is sufficient now that I have offloaded my video collection to the media server. If I do start to fill it up upgrading is cheap and easy. If I don’t fill it then maybe an SSD will be a nice upgrade when they come down in price.
The graphics chip is an Nvidia 320M. This is an integrated card (shares the main RAM). Integrated graphics have come a long way since they first showed up in cheap laptops. The Nvidia ones can actually run games like Grand Theft Auto IV and Call of Duty (obviously on medium settings). This is good news but not a major concern of mine. I use my XBox for gaming. I doubt anyone buys a Mac with the intention of playing hardcore games on it.
So this is my first impression of the new 13″ Macbook Pro. I’ve only had it for few days so I’m sure there are still many things to discover and get excited about. One thing I’m looking forward to is using the new Mini displayport (that can now output audio) to connect to my TV with HDMI and watching iPlayer HD or Lovefilm’s watch online.
It’s a lovely piece of technology. The main thing Macs do above other computers is make ‘just doing stuff’ fun. I’m enjoying just sitting here typing out over 1000 words on this beautiful backlit keyboard whilst periodically swiping my fingers across the trackpad to check my RSS feeds and e-mail. I know they are expensive and some people couldn’t really care less about fancy computers but for me using anything else just feels inferior.