Note: I keep updating this review with what I think are important points when I think of them. Hope this helps.
***Please also do read the comments left by others below this review. You'll find excellent points and welcome additions to this review in some of those***
So my old Windows laptop (7 years old) finally died on me. I don't own any desktop computers, so I needed to purchase a new computer. I have always admired Apple from a distance. The only Apple product I've owned is my iPhone 3GS; which I love; and which has never failed me yet (had it for 2 years). So, I decided to take the plunge and convert to a Mac laptop; having grown tired of Windows always performing slowly.
I purchased the Macbook Pro 15" early 2011 model (the one you can see on this page above my review). I bought it from the Apple Store in town, rather than Amazon, because I wanted to also purchase one-to-one and I've been told the customer service in Apple Stores is great...and I can honestly say that having now experienced it, it's definitely true.
I love this laptop. It's by far the fastest computer I've ever owned. It starts up and shuts down very quickly indeed, which is so nice after having been used to the tedious booting up of my old Windows laptop. The graphics are excellent (I haven't tried any games yet; I'm not really a big gamer) I've been assured that games look great on it.
There's enough power here to do just about anything you want to do. I run things like iTunes, word documents, Safari browser all at once and there is absolutely no sluggish behaviour at all. Everything opens quickly. I've also edited some videos from my camcorder using the iMovie software which comes included; and the Macbook didn't even break a sweat. It rendered video and effects like dissolves etc, really fast.
It is a very quiet machine. My old Windows laptop was very noisy (you could hear the clicking of the processor and the whir of the fan). In comparison, this Mac makes hardly any noise at all; it's practically silent.
The Mac OS X operating system is very easy to use. It's taken me a couple of days to take a look around most of the features, and I'm sure there are things I'll discover yet; but so far it's been easy to use.
The battery life is excellent...a full charge lasts for around 7 - 8 hours (less if you're running a lot of programs).
It's not the lightest laptop in the world, but it's not so heavy to carry to and from work, or out to a cafe etc.
1) Undoubtedly the price! I had a bit of spare cash and was prepared to spend the money; but you could probably buy the world's best PC for this price! I'm a little disappointed that for such a large price tag; Apple have not included a bluray drive. Surely they're missing out on a trick with that? There's more than enough power here to handle bluray playback. I wonder if they'll release bluray drives in the future? It would seem incomprehensible that they would not do this.
Update: A fair response to my point about pricing has been made by A. Bell in a comment below. I still do think, however, that even with the cheaper Amazon pricing; the MacBook is still priced a little high (especially for the spec). An equivalent spec PC would be likely cost less.
2) Only 500GB sized Hard Drive. Surely, if you're spending this much money Apple should have put a 1TB Hard Drive inside? Of course you can always purchase an external Hard Drive quite cheaply; but why should you have to spend even more money when you've already spent this much?
3) Only 2 USB ports. I know this is pretty much the standard on laptops; but I class this as a desktop replacement laptop so this point should be taken with that in mind. 2 is OK, but I have an external hard drive plugged in permanently into 1 of the USB ports which only leaves me with 1. If I then use my wireless mouse, I have no more USB ports available. An extra USB port would be welcome because some people may also need to plug in an adittional device such as a printer. It's not a major problem as such because you can always swap devices around when needed; but it is worth bearing in mind if you want 3 devices connected all at once via USB. Of course, you can always buy a USB hub to solve this problem; but again why should you have to spend even more money after spending this much in the first place?
OK, so there are a few downsides. The main one being the price. But, I still think it's worth buying this Macbook if you're after raw power, excellent design and everything that comes with owning an Apple product; most importantly of which is the Customer Service which is second-to-none. If you're seriously considering buying this; and you don't mind spending the money; I couldn't recommend it highly enough.
I've been using the Macbook for 1 day short of 2 weeks now and on the whole I'm extremely impressed and happy. My advice is that you should also purchase some sort of specialist cleaning product to keep the unibody, keyboard and screen clean. I've cleaned it once since I got it with 'Keepit Clean' for MacBook. It's a handy anti-bacterial spray that comes with a cleaning cloth (still haven't used the cloth provided in the MacBook box) and this works very well indeed.
Another downside to note though:
4) The advertised battery life of up to 7 hours may be true if you're only running one or two light programmes; but in truth I have found that a full charge will last me approx. 4 - 5 hours; sometimes less if I'm using graphics-heavy programmes (I am a part-time 3D artist and animator and use Blender and 3DS Max...though not at the same time; and these really drain the battery quickly). So I really doubt that most users will ever reach the magic 7 hours; unless literally all you are doing is perhaps word processing, with no other, or only one, programmes running in the background. I think the older MacBook pro's (2010 editions) had longer-lasting batteries (advertised as up to 8 or 9 hours) but then they were running lesser graphics cards and lesser processors. Of course, if you're always near a plug socket then this issue is largely negated; but it is worth noting for people that need to use the MacBook on long journeys or away from a power supply.
5) Been using for 3 weeks now and up until recently I hadn't watched any DVD's on it. A downside of watching DVD's is that the superdrive (the disc drive) is VERY noisy when starting up when you put a disc in and is also very noisy if you're accessing different parts of the DVD, such as menus and sub-menus. It makes an electronic whirring sound which can be annoying and distracting. It doesn't make that noise during playback however, which is just as well. So, a silent DVD drive would have been preferred.
I realise that a lot of the downside points made above are probably nitpicking in the eyes of most readers of this review; but I do think if you're paying (yes, sorry, that old chestnut again) this much money then you expect as close to perfection as you can get. So all of the things I have mentioned above are areas in which; in my own opinion; Apple can improve upon their already excellent standards. With all things considered, that is why I can only give this MacBook pro 4 stars.
6) Been using for over a month now. The screen is gorgeous; displayed images just look outstandingly good; but sometimes the reflections are bad. It is a very glossy screen this. I know there is a model which has an anti-glare screen but...yes; you've guessed it...it's even more money! Come on Apple; we know you're great...but again, if we're spending this much to start with; give us the very best you've got please! Anti glare as standard would've been nice. Sorry, but my argument about being overpriced still stands!
I've now been using the MBP for a week short of 4 months and have been probing it for weaknesses. I'm genuinely at a loss to add anything to that which I have already pointed out above. I'm absolutely in love with this machine. Unlike my old windows laptop, which seemed to crash or freeze or have to update itself every day more or less; the MBP has suffered none of these things. Not even once. Whenever it has required a software update (rare occurrence that...I've had to update perhaps 6 or 7 times, most of which have been a minor update or security update) the process has been simple, flawless and fast.
I'm going to provide an update here once I have purchased and installed the new operating system, Mac Lion. Rumours are that this will be released within the next week; so I will use it for a week and then update with my thoughts here.
***UPDATE...MAC OSX LION***
So yesterday I upgraded to the brand new operating system for Mac computers, OSX Lion. I loved the previous version (Snow Leopard) and after using Lion for 24 hours now I think it's taken things to a whole new level. Now, my Macbook feels like a cross between a traditional laptop and an iPad or iPhone. The multi-touch gestures are sublime. It makes browsing the web, when using Safari, very much like the experience of browsing on an iPad, with your fingers swiping, pinching, flicking and tapping on the trackpad to great, intuitive, effect. So far, my favourite thing about the browsing experience on Lion has been the fact that you can 'swipe' left to go back to a previous page and there is no loading time. It eliminates the need for a back button and the previous page simply fluidly 'slides' in from the side of the screen. You can also go 'forwards' through pages like this too by 'swiping' to the right. I also like the fact that full screen web surfing looks great. You can zoom in on a web page to single out a specific area. Read more ›