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Posted on Thursday, November 16th, 2006

Dave!My new MacBook Pro has arrived, so any time I would have spent blogging tonight was consumed with installing my software and making sure my data transferred across okay. Fortunately I have a .Mac account, so most of the configuration and settings were adjusted automatically, but there was still a few hours of work to be done.

The good news is that everything is up and running just fine...

Photo Booth

I kept notes on my thoughts, impressions, and complaints as I went along and am putting them in an extended entry. Mostly boring stuff, but I like to keep a record of things like this for future reference.

PACKAGING. Nobody does packaging better than Apple, and the beautiful carrying case box for my new laptop is sexy as hell. I won't be tossing out this box, but will instead be displaying it on my shelf!

SIZE. The first thing I noticed is that my new MacBook Pro is bigger AGAIN. Just like my previous Aluminum PowerBook was bigger than my Titanium PowerBook before it. WTF?? Why do they keep making the shit BIGGER? Aren't things supposed to get SMALLER as technology gets better? This is a problem for me, because I travel a lot and would prefer my equipment be as compact as possible.

FINISH. Not much has changed from my previous PowerBook... it's the same crappy aluminum enclosure. This is unfortunate, because it means that the finish is going to be pitting and peeling off on the wrist-rest and mousepad button just like last time. This makes your $3000 laptop look like shit in short order (something that never happened with my beautiful titanium PowerBook). I've ordered an "Invisible Shield" to try and keep this from happening, but it's pretty lame that Apple doesn't come up with a better solution.

CONSTRUCTION. The metal enclosure feels solid, and looks better than any other laptop on the market. The problem is the keyboard, which is total shit, and the mouse button, which is worse than shit. My old titanium PowerBook had a responsive keyboard that made typing a dream and a mousepad button that has a nice "click" to it. All the aluminum models have had mooshy keyboards and mooshy mousepad buttons that drive me insane. I love the the backlighting on the keys, but it doesn't compensate for how bad the keyboard is to actually use (just like last time, some of the keys actually seem to stick!). This is inexcusable, and I just don't get it. When you buy Apple, you're supposed to be buying the best.

ISIGHT. An iSight camera is built into the lid's frame above the display. I use a camera only rarely, so this wasn't a big deal for me. Surprisingly, the tiny built-in lens produces a brighter, better-looking picture than my full-size external iSight. This makes the included "Photo Booth" software even more useable, though "useable" for what is anybody's guess (posting your face to your blog, perhaps?).

DISPLAY. Okay, here's where I start getting pissed. After going from a resolution of 1280x854 to 1440x960 with my new PowerBook last year, I was shocked... SHOCKED... to discover that my new MacBook Pro takes a step BACKWARDS to 1440x900. I've gone "pro" but have somehow lost 60 vertical pixels? Seriously... WTF?!? I am guessing that the loss was to make room for the built-in camera, but what kind of dumbass decision was that? Even if you use the camera every day, you will NEVER use the camera more than you're going to use your display! Vertical "real estate" is precious, and losing even 60 pixels is a very big deal. This is just plain idiotic. Since when does screen real estate get WORSE in a newer generation computer? I can forgive a lot, but losing 60 vertical pixels is going over the line. On the up-side, it does display a beautiful image.

PERFORMANCE. Now here's where things start looking up. I did not notice much of a difference between my 1 GHz titanium PowerBook G4 and my 1.66 GHz aluminum PowerBook G4. Sure things were a little snappier, but overall it wasn't a major leap. The only reason I upgraded was because I needed more powerful graphics for 3D work... the processor was just fine. There is, however a very noticeable difference in moving up to the wonderful Core 2 Duo 2.33 GHz chip in the MacBook Pro. This sucker screams. Any software that's been compiled as a "Universal Binary" for Intel chips runs brilliantly. Apple's Final Cut Studio and Aperture run so much better than on my previous PowerBook. The performance of this machine almost compensates for every other problem I have with it.

ADOBE. Sadly, Adobe applications are not "Universal Binary" and take a severe performance hit when running on an Intel Mac. Even worse, they crash... constantly. Part of this is not Adobe's fault, because things got much worse after Apple released their 10.4.8 Mac OS update, but the lion-share of the problem lays on Adobe's shoulders. Yet they don't seem to be doing anything about it. I understand that it is a mammoth task to re-write programs as complicated as those in Adobe Creative Suite. It's going to take time, and I'm fine with that. But for heaven's sake... at least patch up your current stuff so it doesn't crash every ten minutes! For this reason alone, I am going to be very happy to be getting my PowerBook back from Apple Service. Creative Suite 3 can't come fast enough.

SOFTWARE. As usual, you get Apple's amazing iLife suite (iPhoto to manage photos, iTunes to manage music, Garage Band to MAKE music, iWeb to build web sites, iMovie to make movies, and iDVD to burn your movies to a DVD) which (along with Mail and the Safari web browser) is just about everything you need. But you also get a couple nice extras: OmniOutliner (idea organizer) and Comic Life (comic maker). This is less than last time, because my old PowerBook also came with Art Director's Toolkit (design tools) and the much-loved OmniGraffle (flow-chart maker). Still, the stuff you can do with a Mac right out of the box is nothing short of brilliant. It's not just comprehensive software, it's fantastically useful software that's easy to use and wonderfully designed.

EXTRAS. The MacBook Pro can be used as a media center thanks to Apple's "Front Row" program, and comes with a remote control to use with it. Firewire 800 is back (after having gone missing in the original MacBook Pro). New to the Apple laptop is an ExpressCard/34 slot, which takes the place of the PCMCIA card slot (and is bad news, since now I am going to have to buy a new FlashCard reader). You also get a monitor adapter in the box, since the MacBook is capable of either mirroring or extending the internal display with an external monitor.

CONCLUSION. Overall it's a good laptop. I would have preferred to get more than a year out of my previous PowerBook, and hope against hope that this one holds up better, but I'm going to start crying over it. Apple hardware is the cream of the crop, and it doesn't get much better than the MacBook Pro. If I could change one thing, I'd give it a better keyboard... but it's hardly a deal-breaker. In the end, I may question some of Apple's decisions, but can't deny that I am happy with my purchase and look forward to using it. As with most every Apple product I've ever purchased, I'm giving it a thumbs-up.

Categories: Apple Stuff 2006Click To It: Permalink


  1. Kapha says:

    Is that a voodoo doll of Bad Monkey pinned to the map behind you?

    And how the heck did you get Pete Townsend to pose in that last photo? :O

    P.S. Your experience sounds somewhat Windows-ish to me? Is Apple slipping? Aieeeee!!!

  2. Dave2 says:

    It’s a “flying howler monkey” toy that you can fling across the room while it screams. My brother gave it to me, and it’s pretty cool actually.

    That’s not Pete Townsend, it’s Ringo Starr. πŸ™‚

    No no… you’ll note that I said “everything is working now” — if this were a Windows laptop, there would just be a lot of cursing and a sledgehammer…

  3. Laurence says:

    MMmmmm… I saw that you have fun with your new MacBookPro…
    Iouhoo !!! πŸ˜€

  4. Mooselet says:

    Those pictures are totally freaking me out. I’m going to have nightmares now.

  5. Hayley says:

    Is this an advert for Apple? Must say, Apples are just not the norm here in Australia, so it’s weird to read all the Apple/Windows wars going on over there!

  6. MRKisThatKid says:

    According to my calculations 1440×900 gives you a proper square pixel 16/10. Whereas 1440×960 must have given you some kind of mad mutant of an aspect ratio. So maybe the loss of 60 pixels isn’t such a bad thing?

    Oh, so you use aperture, I tried the trial and couldn’t find a way to share the aperture library with iPhoto over a network. Which is a major bummer, you ever had any luck in that department?

  7. Great Dave. Way to use pictures to scare the bejesus out of me when I wake up in the morning. I haven’t even had my freakin’ coffee.

    And honestly, I thought the last picture was a very young Harry Shearer. But like I said, no coffee yet.

  8. Wayne Hall says:

    Not being a Mac Whore, I can’t ‘feel’ most of your bullet points. But I’m currently going through an upgrade from my Dell D610 laptop to a Dell D620. The D620 is a dual-core 1.83Ghz Centrino vs the D610’s single-core 1.73Ghz Pentium M, so I’m expecting a huge performance increase.

    But then I really look at the screen and it’s a huge difference going from 1440×1050 14″ regular to a 1440×900 widescreen. It’s going to be different going to a shorter but wider screen. It seems it will be a lot easier to use on the plane since it’s a full inch shorter from front to back, and the screen is a full inch shorter from top to bottom — and that’s been my major complaint with the d610 since the laptop and my belly keep fighting for the tiny space between my seat and the seat of the person in front of me.

    Something of GREAT importance to me is the docking station – specifically the D-view that I use which raises up the laptop at a 45-deg angle so it becomes a 2nd monitor, and so that I don’t need to use the keyboard on the laptop when using it at my desk (which extends the keyboards life) — does Apple support docks and such?

  9. Chaz says:

    Man, I really want one of the new MacBook Pros. I’m dying to switch off of Windows, and if it weren’t for the fact that Linux doesn’t support everything I want, I’d already be completely rid of it. As it stands, however, I think an Apple/Linux setup would be just what I’m looking for. I get OSX will most of the cool *nix features I want plus the ability to do all the creative editing that *nix boxes just don’t do. From the research I’ve done, however, it looks like Intel is releasing an update to the Core 2 Duo Mobile processors in April of 2007–that’s not way too long after Leopard should be released. So I figure I’ll just wait until then for Apple to release the even newer MacBook Pros and get OSX Leopard. I’ll tell you what, though; it sure is hard to wait!

  10. I will never forgive you for that picture of your big eye. Scary, scary.

    Congrats on your new toy!

  11. delmer says:

    I always take an ice cold shower before I hop on a plane. This, the ‘Costanza’ method, is the way I ensure that my equipment is as compact as possible.

  12. diane says:

    HA! Delmer’s comment cracked me up.
    And I should NOT have been blog surfing before bed. Those images made me have really weird dreams!

  13. jodi says:

    it shouldn’t crash every three minutes. it doesn’t. i don’t mean to be defensive, but please keep in mind that i, and many others, run our software every day on my mactel and it doesn’t crash every ten minutes. so… come one, be fair. you are having an isolated experience that should be explored and dealt with…. it doesn’t have to be like that.

  14. Dave2 says:

    I’m not making this stuff up. There are indeed times that programs are crashing almost constantly. This past weekend, I kept count. The grand total was 52 times over the course of 25 hours of work in InDesign and Illustrator.

    I was working on a project just yesterday and 50%+ of the time when I placed an image in InDesign, it crashed. I tried everything to isolate the problem, but to no avail. I save after every move I make because I don’t know when it will crash next or what will be setting it off.

    Illustrator crashes with Pathfinder tools every time unless you have some mysterious assemblage of pallets on or off when you start the program. Other random crashes plague the mesh gradient tool when dropping in colors. Other crashes happen for no reason at all that I can find.

    GoLive crashes or stalls half the time when I upload to an FTP server. I’ve taken to using an external FTP app, because I never know if attempting an upload from within GoLive will cause problems.

    Photoshop is the only app that’s not giving me crashing problems, though saving and reading files is very slow.

    As I said, I don’t entirely blame Adobe, much of this happened after the 10.4.8 update. But the forums have postings by others with similar problems, so I am not alone.

  15. Laurence says:

    I have just noticed something. When you are normal, you are always in black and white… Now, you make funny faces and you are colors!!! Why this artistic choice ? Is it because you want to appear sexier in black and white ? πŸ˜‰

  16. Hilly says:

    Please don’t ever show me those faces again….and I explain you as a *cute guy*…..eeeeeek!

  17. ChillyWilly says:

    Welcome to the MacBook Pro community. I was tempted by the new Core 2 Duo model, but there wasn’t enough features over my current 15: MacBook Pro that I bought in April to justify the purchase.

    Plus, i don’t have any Firewire 800 devices and I don’t burn dual layer DVDs all that often, so it wasn’t so much a priority at this time. I’m saving up for an iMac 20″ that will eventually replace my great little Mac mini.

  18. Dave2 says:

    Laurence… Yes, the camera is indeed fun! But I have much work to do, and so playing with the camera is not a good thing! πŸ™‚

    Mooselet… Sorry. You should see me in person, it’s much worse… the Photo Booth images are a big improvement!

    Chaz… I gave up on playing the waiting game a long time ago… I just buy new hardware when I need it, and try not to worry too much about it being obsolete two days after I buy it! You can go crazy doing that! Hah! I HAVE gone crazy doing that! πŸ˜€

    Frances… You think those are scary? You should see the out-takes! πŸ™‚

    Delmer… I think that would void the warranty on my MacBook!

    Diane… I seem to have that effect on people. When you see me in person I’d imagine that the effect is much worse!

    Laurence… No… I was playing with the filters available on Photo Booth. I prefer black & white for people because it allows you to focus easier on the image instead of being distracted by colors… but the “warp” filters are available only in color. πŸ™

    Hilly… Well, the next time I am down in L.A. and we meet in person, you will probably change your description from “cute guy” to “scary guy” – I don’t know why it doesn’t come across in photos… hmmm…

    ChillyWilly… I wouldn’t have been tempted either. But compared to the aluminum G4, it’s far more tempting!! πŸ™‚

  19. sultana says:

    That right upper photo is freaky-deaky!

    I hope you can get fixes for those constant crashes. I hate it when programs don’t work correctly.

  20. nancycle says:

    Those pictures are HILARIOUS!!!!! Omar thinks you look like crazy frog in #2. The bottom two, all I can think is “Mohamed-Mohamed”. Nice Heli hat!

    My comments on your comments:

    PACKAGING. Nice!

    SIZE. I don’t get that. I wonder what Apple would have to say about that…

    FINISH. That’s just wrong. Flaky work stuff = not good. Everybody likes quality and their stuff to look good. Not a deal breaker, but disappointing.

    CONSTRUCTION. A mushy keyboard would drive me simply MAD.

    ISIGHT. Mm. It will be interesting to see how you end up using this. I don’t quite “get” the purpose of it.

    DISPLAY. When I was on course in TO a few weeks ago, digital imaging and xray diagnosis were discussed. What I understood from our in house specialist was that even with the highest quality digital radiograph, the monitor becomes the barometer of image quality. I can’t imagine WHAT they’re thinking removing pixels. I’d be pissed. Maybe you could take a picture of yourself holding up a sign “Where are my pixels?” and e-mail it to them! πŸ™‚

    PERFORMANCE. Now that’s good news!

    ADOBE. I wonder how long the wait will be…

    SOFTWARE. πŸ™‚

    EXTRAS. My head hurts too much from an all day course to understand this right now any more information might cause an implosion.

    CONCLUSION. Apple does it like non other and in a sexy package! Yay! Dave is happy.

  21. adena says:

    Blockhead Dave made me giggle.

  22. Rabbit says:

    That last headshot looks a lot like the IT guy at work. Creepy.

  23. Lisa says:

    HOLY COW! I opened my Bloglines and the first thing I saw was those pictures except I had some soda in my mouth. Now the soda is on my desk, keyboard and up my nose. I know, TMI on the nose.

    That made my day.

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