on 25 October 2009
You'll love the machine; it is powerful, slim, oozes quality, light, great to work with and Mac OS X is a good operating system. It is good value for money for the spec (pardon - is this Apple?), until you see the extortionate extended warranty cost. Take care of it - get a neoprene sleeve to keep it in.
Here is the detail in comparison to any windows machine in this price territory (I looked hard). The good:
- Slim, weighs 2 kg, around 0.5kg less than most
- Fast processor and 1066 MHz DDR3 RAM. Its 2.53GHz pricier sibling is a touch faster but I would only go for that for photo/video work with its extra RAM and disk.
- Excellent design and finish - it should get an award
- Reliable, secure, small footprint OS
- Excellent battery life, LED backlit display
- Low noise - essentially silent in operation until the noisy DVD drive spins up.
The not so good:
- Battery is not user replaceable.
- The aluminium casing is "form over function". It can be scratched and, being metal, it can be dented too; I have seen this at work. The white polycarbonate MacBook is your "student" option. Don't let that "hewn from a block of solid metal" appearance fool you.
- Mini-DVI monitor output will ALWAYS require an adaptor at extra cost. Why not HDMI out? Only 2 USB, no eSATA, but does have fast Firewire.
The terrible (one star off ...I can't divorce this from the machine; applies to its 2.53GHz sibling too):
- Extortionate, £195, AppleCare warranty extension; twice the price of most notebooks. AppleCare costs just £50 for educational use. Which is it? Will it fail badly (screen or motherboard) or are Apple overcharging?
on 6 January 2010
Like most people here, I made the big leap from PC to Mac. To everyone reading these reviews who are contemplating it...Just do it! They're actually not a lot different from a PC in most ways, just a LOT better and surprisingly easy to use.
Apple want you to enjoy your product right from the start. So before tearing all the packaging off, take a moment to just look at how they've done it. Once your mac is out in the open, admire it for a second. It's a lot more aesthetically pleasing then your average laptop, with smooth casing, everything very minimal and compact. The all-in-one aluminium casing tops the whole thing off to a tee. The keyboard is revolutionary in its design, again being very easy on the eye with its adequate spacing between the keys, making it a lot easier to type. Another plus on the keyboard is the backlight, very useful when using in lowlight conditions. The screen again is the sharpest yet which makes a huge difference whether it be DVDs or general use. Makes everything on the screen look 10x better then a PC screen. On the screen is a built in camera (iSight) meaning no splashing out on a webcam. Can be used for general camera, webcam and is the sensor for the backlight keyboard and screen brightness. Those clever people at Apple have come up with an amazing glass trackpad. So smooth when gliding over it with your fingers, and so big as well. Also can be used for magnification, twisting, bring up applications and scrolling up/down and left/right web pages. The bods at Apple are all about the minimalistic approach to their products, so no CD Drive popping out (juts a slit to put it in) a headphone AND microphone plug in one, no visible cooling vents or speakers. Unfortunately, with this frame of mind they've cut down on the input ports. For instance, no HDMI port. Therefore if you require it, you have to buy an adapter. Everything on this has been thought about carefully, not just shodily thrown together. Example like the charger lead is magnetic into the MacBook, hence if trip over it, it just pops out. No harm done. So simple yet so effective.
~ Operating System/Software:
All new Macs come with the new OS: Snow Leopard. With this being my first Mac, I'm unable to compare it with the older versions. But I have to say it is pretty amazing compared to Windows. To start with everything just looks a lot better, smoother and more polished. A lot faster to, 10 secs maybe to start up, while about 2 secs to shut down. Click on an icon and it will come up immediately as well as l lot of things are easier to find and more compact overall. It is also deathly quiet at all times. Only time it starts whirring is when a DVD is being read, once being played it will shut up again. Also comes built in with iTunes and Safari (which are pretty self explanatory) It's these little things make the whole Mac experience more enjoyable. Blue Tooth is also amazingly built it, so no cables or leads between phone to laptop.
The MacBook comes with built in iLife. An interesting little package of GarageBand, iDVD, iMovie, iWeb and iPhoto. In the months that I've had my MacBook, I've only ever used iPhoto (which is actually a good and useful piece of software) and GarageBand (which I've only ever used just playing around when I've got a minute here or there). Unfortunately I have no intention of using the others which is a shame. iWorks is available for the peeps that want Word, Excell and Powerpoint. I personally don't really see the need as the MacBook comes with Text Editor (a basic Word). So unless it's really needed, then don't bother. A worry that I had was about opening and transferring files from Windows to Mac (ie Word doc. to a Mac). But they've even thought of that, with the MacBook capable of opening Word doc./docx. files in Text Edit.
Now, those big wigs over in the US of A have cleverly come up with a way to install Windows on a Mac! This is where Boot Camp comes into play. A clever little bit of software that lets you install your own version of Windows alongside OS Snow Leopard. Choose how much diskspace you wish for it to take up, then when starting up decide which OS to go with and bobs your uncle. This has the benefits of if you decide to install Microsoft Office having Word, downloading and opening programmes (ie MSN and the like) and various other tasks that are just a pain in arse to try and do in SL.
I honestly can't praise this machine enough, it looks beautiful, acts super-fast with an intelligent OS System, and most importantly is a joy to work with.
Once you've gone Mac, you'll never go back!
on 2 July 2009
I've been waiting for the unibody Macbook Pro line to be updated since early this year, it was worth the wait! This update really has put the 13" machine into the pro line, and even though I was worried that the lack of the dual-graphics cards you get with the higher price models might be a problem I needn't have worried. The screen is amazingly bright with very vivid colours, and it handles games at high quality settings with fps at around 20-50 depending on the game and what it's doing, usually smooth and clear.
This machine does get rather hot, as the aluminium body is used to transfer heat out of the interior, I wouldn't want to use this on my lap. And it would be nice if Apple would start putting Blu Ray in their computers.
I can live with those two problems, and for me this machine is simply fantastic!
on 16 March 2010
I'd resisted the Mac hype for some time, always believing that you paid more bucks for not much more bangs ... and then I bought one of these. I was lucky - got a cheap re-furbished one, although I couldn't for the life of me tell that it was pre-owned.
I have one down-side (thus the 4 stars): the track pad, if used extensively, strains my arm - you have to hold your fingers up from the surface, which is quite a large space, and that was straining the bak of my wrist. The bluetooth mouse has solved that.
Beyond which i like most things about it - but particularly:
1. It runs practically silent; I din't realise what a pain the fan noise from my previous laptops was until this. It makes the working environment (in my near-silent office) a delight.
2. The back-lit keyboard: I work in dark places quite a lot - theatres and venues with the lights out. Now i can see what I'm doing!
3. The quality of the on-board sound card - outstanding; after years of add-ons for my PC's I can now sell most of that gear.
4. Things really do, as they keep saying, 'just work'. My printers - plug them in, use them. My network - oh look, there it all is.
5. Battery - on the grounds that you can't take for 'real world' what any of the computer manufacturers say about their batteries, I'd say this one isn't too bad at all. It's done me five hours on a train, with audio running and some wifi, no problem.
Having checked around for the available options in the PC market, this is the only thing that actually ticked all my requirements anyway: now I've got it, I can't believe I hadn't bought one before.
on 7 November 2009
Having never owned a Mac before I was immediately impressed when I saw the price of this entry-level MacBook Pro. I upgraded to 4GB of RAM which I know was no-doubt helpful. The laptop itself is absolutely outstanding!
The Screen - Owning both a 9-inch netbook and a 15-inch full laptop, I knew I wanted something in between and 13" happened to be the sweet spot. Before it arrived I thought it was going to be a bit too small but as it turns out it is just the right size. The edge-to-edge glass is great for cleaning although it does reflect a lot but you will soon learn automatically how to position the screen depending on the light source around you. The brightness is perfect and can go from relatively dark to extremely bright so is great for all light conditions.
iSight Camera - This is the integrated webcam and it plays one of the most important jobs in my opinion. Not only is it a webcam for your Internet video chat but it also is an ambient sensor which means that it will constantly detect the light around you and brighten and dim the screen and do the same for the keyboard. You won't notice it happening but when you do think about it, it is amazing. The quality of the iSight is sufficiently good for YouTube though it is by no means amazing - you could get away with some video podcasting with it.
The keyboard - This is yet another part of the computer which I had never paid any attention to before - because a keyboard is just a keyboard right? Well actually, this keyboard is amazing to type on - the spacing between the letters is just perfect, it is the right size and has function keys for just about anything you would need. If you use "windows" you'll no doubt notice a few new symbols and the Windows key has disappeared. The best thing about this keyboard is that it is backlit meaning that in conjunction with the iSight camera, it automatically figure out the right amount of light for your keyboard and makes typing so much easier. It will also save your eyes when typing in bright light or in the dark.
The trackpad - Another innovation for me - it feels amazing - it is made out of a specially coated glass where your fingers glide across (not scrape across like other laptops), there are no buttons and in fact the whole trackpad is a button - press down anywhere to click. The gestures are fantastic too - scroll by swiping two fingers downwards, four fingers down launches expose where you can see all your open windows and there's much more to do. It will become natural in a day or two of using it.
Software - Mac OS X is included which is no doubt, in my opinion at least, hundreds of times superior to Windows. The Mac comes with loads of free software including the iLife suite which include everything from website building tools to music making and professional video editing tools. There are programs which allow you to take photos and even create a greenscreen style effect with just any coloured wall behind you. The Mac also comes with no crapware or bloatware what so ever so no Norton Internet Security, 'no antivirus or useless webcam programs. It is all good quality programs are there plus some luxury too. 'Bootcamp' software comes installed which makes a Mac the only machine that can legally allows you to run Windows, Linux and OS X on a machine.
Ports - As far as ports are concerned there are a measly two USB ports which is rather disappointing, a Magsafe (power) port an Ethernet port, FireWire, mini DisplayPort, an SD card slot and a combined headphone/microphone jack, it also has a CD drive and on the right side and it has a power indicator button on the left side to check how much power you have without firing up the whole system. Bluetooth and Wifi are here too obviously.
Battery - This was by far the biggest disappointment out of the whole system. Firstly, it is non-user-replaceable meaning I can't carry a spare with me and pop it in - well I could if I carried around a screwdriver and unscrewed ten screws and violated my warranty each time I wanted to replace the battery. Also, the 7 hours claimed life...not true. I have got 3.5 hours with Wifi on and no video playing and 5 hours with no video and no Wifi. To get 7 hours you'd probably need to turn down the screen brightness to the minimum level, have one application running with no background apps, no video, no CD in the drive and have the keyboard brightness turned fully down. It also claims that you will get 3 years of the battery with 1000 recharges no available. That is assuming you only recharge once a day. Having owned this Mac for about 2 months and a week, it is shocking to see that I have gone through 95 recharge cycles already. Almost 10% of my battery in 2 months!? Soon I will start losing hours of battery and I can already tell that 18 months from now I will be 80% of the way to those cycles. The only way to get a new battery is to buy one at the Apple Store unless it loses a lot of power in under a year where Apple Care will cover it during the first year in any Apple store.
Just a final note on the battery, if I leave the Mac in sleep mode it will lose about 8% of it's battery overnight, when it shut down completely it can lose as much as 20% of it's battery in 8 hours which I think is unacceptable.
However, despite the battery this laptop is by far the best ever as it is a small price to pay for what you truly get. (I haven't even gone into the amazing processing power it has and the amazing 1066Mhz DDR3!!! Ram which nearly no other manufacturer offers and especially not at this low, low price. This will be the best £900 you'll ever spend (do upgrade to 4GB and a 250GB HDD if you can afford to though)
on 11 January 2010
Having spent most of my life working on PCs, I finally decided to take a leap of faith to Macs. Now I only have one question - why did it take me so long to change? Comparing with my Windows 7 based laptop, the MacBook is so much easier to use, faster and an absolute beauty to look at. Another reviewer complained about
Battery life - battery monitor gives reliable reading of remaining time and seems to last forever (or at least 5-6 hours)
Heat - MacBook is cool (not just to look at) and does not have annoying fan noise my Windows laptop has
Ports - not enough? How many do you need when using the MacBook on your lap? Firewire is great for data transfers to external backup disk (try this one Western Digital 1TB USB 2.0 MyBook Studio External Hard Drive with FireWire 800)
Apple's products work together perfectly and I now also use my iPod Touch as remote control for the MacBook.
It is still early days for me in MacWorld, but based on my experiences so far I will not be looking anywhere else for my next computer and already looking to replace my desktop PC with an iMac.
on 26 October 2009
I dithered a long time before I made the move from PC to Mac and when I finally jumped I hedged my bets by buying Windows Parallels software.
I need not have bothered. The Apple operating system is easy to use, intuitive and is fast and quick to update. Apple products are beautifully designed and have a special 'feel - good' factor.
I only have one reservation which is service. Things rarely go wrong but when they do service is hard to come by and very expensive.
on 21 August 2009
Bought this laptop because it is lightweight and small. Ideal for travel. Has much better startup times than my previous Windows laptop and no virus problems to worry about. Although a bit pricey compared with Vista laptop it comes with a lot of useful software at no extra cost. Would not replace a desktop because of screen size.
Would recommend this item.
on 21 December 2009
Brilliant laptop, You need to be particularly critical to fault.
There are NO vents underneath! so use on soft surfaces don't impede cooling, this to me sets it apart from most other laptops.
Battery life (battery is built in, but is replaceable. Current price for this service is £99 at apple store)
Boot/shutdown speed impressive
Apple care-£195 for the protection policy is ridiculous. Since it does not cover accidental damage, you are effectively paying for what the SOGA already provides you with!! nearly £200 to cover against defects, is not indicative of a manufacturer standing by a quality product, or are apple trying to say something here?
on 18 February 2010
One thing you must not do is compare this laptop with others on the marketplace. It is a superior product to the windows alternatives, and although pushing twice the price, I would say that the longevity of this laptop is twice that of a normal windows laptop.
One point I would criticise is the battery life. It is not 7 hours. A active wifi connection and mid brightness screen should give you 4 1/2 hours or so. Although if you turn the screen lower, and turn off the airport function, i've seen it do 8 hours on a single charge.
Also ignore the net book status. It is a powerful laptop, and you should think off it as that.
All in all a very excellent laptop, with peerless build quality.