08 February 2009

MacBook Pro

So Urmi and I recently purchased new computers, upgrading from our dated and overloaded Powerbook G4 12" computers. We opted to buy 15.4" MacBook Pros, with the 2.8 GHz processor and 4 GB RAM. Let me tell you, as a first time Intel Mac user, these things are amazing machines. The screens are gorgeous and, for the first time in my life, I have a computer that responds as fast as I use it. Of course, I doubt the latter will last very long -- Moore's law being what it is and everything. There are a couple things I wanted to highlight about my new computer.
  • The Trackpad
    The new MacBook Pros come with a multitouch trackpad with a plethora of new features. For one, it's possible to click anywhere on the trackpad, which makes single-finger use very efficient. It also includes a number of iPhone/iPod Touch features, such as pinch scaling, scrolling with two fingers, and a few new ones specific to the macbook. On the whole, the new upgrades are quite nice, but it sure would be great to have the ability to modify some of the new features. For example, sliding up on the trackpad with four fingers shows the desktop; it'd be nice if it could pull up Spaces, or something similar. Also, there's no way to disable any of the features. The rotation feature is particularly frustrating some of the time, and it'd be great if it could be selectively turned off. Unfortunately, Apple is notorious for not giving you the ability to disable some of their eye candy features (notably the coverflow "feature" on the more recent iPod Nanos, which would activate when stored in a pocket and prevent the UI from doing what it's supposed to; this was fixed in a recent update), so I'm not going to hold my breath on this one.
  • The Screen
    The screens on the new MacBook Pros are absolutely gorgeous. Colors are perfect, the display is sharp, blacks look great, and the dimming of the backlight actually has a wide range. I'm a bit worried that it'll pick up a lot of oil from the keyboard, but it's been okay so far. Given that my last computer had a 12" screen and was stuck in a 1024x768 resolution (whereas my new 15.4" screen has a native 1440x900 resolution), the new screen real-estate is amazing.
  • The Keyboard
    Apple changed the keyboard on their MacBook Pros to be more like the older MacBooks, with wide spacing between the keys. The keys feel somewhat different as well, but I've gotten used to that. The new keyboard features backlighting, which I guess would be cool occasionally. For now, I'm just trying to figure out how much battery life I'm losing to this feature.
  • iLife '09
    One weird thing about our computers is that they didn't come with the latest version of Apple iLife software. Actually, we both had to order it separately for $10 each, which I thought was somewhat strange given that we ordered our computers weeks after iLife 09 was on the shelves. Oh well. This problem has apparently been dealt with, but we would've held off ordering our computers if we had known it was going to be an issue.
  • Other Issues
    Apparently my MacBook has issues communicating with the VGA port on our Samsung flat screen television. Since Urmi and I use our computers to watch DVDs, this is somewhat frustrating. The word on the intertubes is that Apple is working on a firmware fix for this issue, but, again, I know better than to hold my breath.

In short, this is a pretty awesome machine that has just a few minor issues. I'm definitely glad that we've upgraded, although some of my favorite software (including Quicksilver and Journler) either became defunct, open source, or otherwise abandoned since I last checked into them.

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