on 12 August 2010
I'm assuming I don't need to say much to Apple aficionados. This review is aimed at people who are considering making the big leap from Windows world into Mac land.
I was in that situation 3 weeks ago and was increasingly fed up with "(Not Responding)" appearing in the title bar whenever I made a totally unreasonable request such as Open a document, reply to an email or open My Computer.
The reviews for the 13" MacBook Pro were good, Amazon had the best price so I took the plunge.
Let me get the negatives out of the way first. This is a quality piece of kit, but you have to pay for that quality and some people will doubtless consider the price too high, bearing in mind that you could buy two Windows laptops for the price of one of these - and with better specs in terms of processors, hard drive capacities and optical drives (e.g. Bluray with video-out capability). Also, the touch-pad takes some getting used to in that there are no buttons at all, so you have to learn a whole new way of pointing, scrolling, clicking and right-clicking involving various combinations of finger pressure, which aren't always recognised and can get irritating. The easy solution is to plug in a mouse. And that leads to my final minor beef - there are only two USB ports, both on the left hand side, meaning that if you do plug a mouse in, the socket is on the wrong side for right-handed people and you then only have one port left.
But enough of all that. As soon as you open the box and see the quality of finish and attention to detail, you know you've just bought something special. And then the first pleasant surprise for Windows users - you switch it on and within 10 seconds its booted up and ready to go! (Similarly, when you want it to sleep, restart, or shutdown, it just does it. Immediately. Without any Space Odyssey Hal-style "I'm sorry I can't do that" drama!)
The setup and registration process is very simple, it found my wireless router with the minimum of fuss, and then it was time to start exploring and have some fun.
I should say that I also purchased the iWorks package along with the MacBook. I'm not going to review that here other than to say that it works, it does what its told, it handles mixed text and graphics documents beautifully, and it doesn't inexplicably die on you without warning!
My intended usage for my new toy is mainly leisure: email, browsing, photography and music. All my old MS Office documents will stay on my networked desktop and laptop.
Nothing much to say about browsing. The Safari browser works like any other tabbed browser - maybe more akin to Firefox or Chrome than IE. Suffice to say it has never crashed on me once.
Email is easy to set up initially and I found the simplest way to import my Outlook/Windows Mail address book was to import it into gMail and then export it from there in Apple format. The one snag I had was setting up an extra POP3 account because I have two email addresses. Unlike in Windows Mail it wasn't easy to find out where the `Add new account' button was. I found it eventually, but couldn't tell you now how! As for using Mail - it works. Messages are displayed on a preview pane, or you can click on them to open in a new window (which happens straightaway - unlike my previous experience where often a mail would not open at all until you opened or refreshed your web browser for some bizarre reason). The other nice touch is attachments, which you can open normally or view via `Quick Look', which does exactly what it says, enabling you to see a document or spreadsheet instantaneously rather than wait for an Office application to grind into action.
Mention plug'n'play to a Windows user and you will get a wry grin. There was a steady improvement in functionality up to XP (which still wasn't exactly quick), then Vista came along with a huge leap backwards. Plugging a digital camera or mp3 player which it hadn't encountered before into my Vista laptop would cause it to go off into a nightmare routine of `Windows has found a new device', `searching for drivers', `installing new USB device', `installing new disk drive', etc., which could literally last up to 30 minutes.
I plugged my Canon Ixus camera into my MacBook. The iPhoto application, which comes bundled with the machine, fired up after a couple of seconds. Five seconds later, `Canon Ixus Digital Camera' popped up in the directory, the pictures on the camera appeared on screen, ordered by date taken, and it asked me which I wanted to import. I nearly fainted with delight!
Exactly the same thing happened when I plugged in my Sony mp3 player. The device was recognised, iTunes opened and transferring music files in and out was simplicity itself.
What else? It found my wireless network printer with no fuss and worked first time. It is the quietest desktop or laptop I have ever owned. Sound quality through the built-in speakers is surprisingly good and certainly better than the tinny noise from any previous laptop I've had. Had no problems with battery life, although obviously it drains quicker if you are using wifi or watching DVDs for example. Picture quality is great on the bright screen. Keyboard is smooth, responsive and backlit. This is a laptop which you can use on your lap without it burning a hole in your trousers. It is cool in all senses of the word - buy one!
on 5 June 2010
I'm not new to Mac's, in fact this is probably my 6th or 7th and it is by far the most exciting i've ever owned.
Being a graphic designer I was after a Mac I could use on the train or weekends away when I can't access a computer. I was wondering if I should spend another £500 to get the 15" version as 13.3" seemed a little small to actually work on. I made the right choice, this is actually perfect... the resolution and clarity of the screen make it easy to use the popular design software packages and it actually seems like I'm at my desk at work where I'm used to 24"! Plus it fits in my bag.
The second worry I had was the core 2 duo instead of something faster, but I have to say it really doesn't matter... it's really fast at pretty much everything. Fro example the most popular professional image editing software (you know which one I mean) opens in under 3 seconds!
The quality of the Macbook Pro is nothing short of outstanding, the aluminium body is a tactile joy to hold, in fact you keep finding excuses to use it.
The price does seem high in comparison to "other" laptops... but once you use a MacBook, not to mention Mac OSX, you'll soon realise there are laptops, and then there are laptops. This is the latter. Shear class, you always pay for what you get.
If you're considering a Mac over a PC, dont even blink, just do it. Some people say, "but a PC does the same thing for less"... not when you look at the parts, pound for pound you still get what you pay for. For example a Subaru does the same thing as an Aston Martin, but I know which one I'd have.MacBook Pro 13inch 2.4GHz (Intel Core 2 Duo, 4Gb RAM, 250Gb HDD, NVIDIA GeForce 320M graphics, SD card slot, up to 10 hour battery life)
on 26 June 2010
I thought it was about time to see what all the fuss was about and buy my first Apple Mac. I had narrowed it down to a 21.5" iMac and the 13" MacBook Pro. I had always liked the look of Apples laptops and decided that I would go for the portable option and bought the MacBook. After reading lots of reviews and buying advice from various websites I opted for the 2.4GHz as lots of people said it was the better option, as the more expensive model wasn't worth the extra money.
First impressions ... WOW. The screen can only be described as fantastic. Very bright and colour rich. The backlit keyboard looks great and has proven to be very useful when using it on a night. I also purchased the "mighty mouse" which was very easy to pair with the MacBook and works a treat. Battery life is also very impressive (completely the opposite of my last 17" laptop).
After using the MacBook for a couple of weeks now, two things have blown my mind. Firstly the thing doesn't make a sound. There is no noise at all coming from the machine when in operation, which again is a contrast from computers I have had in the past. Secondly the speed of the MacBook is amazing. Boot up takes about 10 seconds in total and shut down about 3 seconds.
Before purchasing this machine my only worry was that the screen would be too small to work on. After using the machine for a while now I am happy to say that the screen is more than big enough to use as a main computer. In my eyes it's the best of both worlds, light weight and portable enough to take to work and use it there and also big enough to work on without squinting at a tiny netbook screen.
I have given the MacBook 4 stars as apposed to 5 for one reason. The 15" and the 17" both have the new Intel i3/i5/i7 and the 13" is the only one still with the old core2duo technology. That being said, I don't have any complaints about the speed of the product but the comfort of knowing it had the new chip inside would have been nice.
Overall I would say the MacBook is an excellent buy and I am more than happy with it. I think I will be sticking with Apple computers from now if this one is anything to go by.
on 16 July 2010
If an old master of classic art were to live these days, they'd most probably create this product if they were requested to make something that embodies awesomeness the best.
It's the first Mac I ever use, and I was in quite a dilemma as to which one to buy, the 15" i5 version, or this with the 2.4 processor. After much debate I tossed a two penny coin and it told me to go for the 13", which I did buy almost a week ago. It has not crashed on me once, just as expected. It's so fast that sometimes I think it's cheating in some way, just as expected. It's light at around 2 Kgs (what's that in lbs? oh yeah, there is a dashboard widget just for that, 4.41 lbs). The screen may sound too small at first, but if you have the time, make sure you check them in an apple store. The 15" and the 13" put next to each other look like twins. If you look at them from the right angle you can barely tell them apart, and that's something Apple deserves a standing applaud for.
The screen resolution is 1280 by 800, which is the default screen estate for 15.4 value laptops from other manufacturers. If you don't have trouble using an older PC laptop(screen wise) it will blow your head off. Colors are vibrant, the brightness is perfectly adequate even for a sunny day, and I don't even know where to start on the keyboard.
I used to write 4 to 8 thousand words on a netbook before, and I had no trouble doing that. Now that I have this chiclet type keyboard I'd never go back to the old stuff again. Just as I'm typing this line my girlfriend goes to sleep and I don't even have to snap the desk lamp on. The backlit keyboard this computer comes with is more that superb for typing at night. It goes in and out of sleep mode in the matter of seconds, and I honestly can't think of a way to improve wireless connectivity. When I shut the computer closed, it's immediately in sleep mode (you can tell by looking at the white led on the front. If it's slowly going on and off, the comp is zozzing) When I open it, it takes about two seconds to get the last state back, and another two to connect to my wireless network again.
I can't say if the battery lasts for the claimed 10 hours, but I have no doubts as to if it's possible to match that number. You'd have to do some light text editing with few, if any, apps running in the back, but it's possible. During video playback the computer barely warms up and even during that the battery time estimation doesn't dip below 6 hours when it's full.
The superdrive is a bit loud for my taste, but if that's the biggest problem this computer has, I can live with it. The processor tends to get a bit hot when it's on some serious task. I could get it all the way to 78 degrees celsius by playing wow for three hours straight(which it runs marvelously well, just for the record). If you open your legs a little, it won't be inconvenient to play wow, but should you place the comp awkwardly up your lap, it _will_ fry your balls(given that you own a pair).
I'm a first time OSX user, and I have to say that this system is superior to anything I've ever used, and I have quite a few years behind my back as a windows user. Without trying to start a war here I'd like to say that as long as it's up to me, I won't use windows again. Ever. If you're a PC person, and the only thing holding you back is the fear of OSX, don't worry about it. Most programs either have a port, or an equivalent solution, or your windows program can be run under virtualbox/parallels/wmware or bootcamp. I have yet to load any windows software, and I've to admit that I quite like it this way.
The next purchase will be a 80GB Intel X25-M SSD, but not because the system is any slow running off the 250GB 5400 RPM drive it has at the moment. It's to minimize the amount of moving parts and to increase battery life. The speed is a very important factor, too. I could comfortably keep using it in its default setup, but I've decided to get the SSD even before placing the order.
Oh yeah, got the machine for £860, in factory sealed box through Amazon sold by iFozi. They handled my inquiry about a cockup by my bank. Placed the order at 3 am on Friday, the payment went through by 1PM that day, and I had the box in my hands by 12:30 on Saturday. I call that speedy delivery, and it was packed up like it was full of nitroglycerine.
I recommend using both Amazon as a portal through which you can comfortably order, iFozi as a seller, and the 13 inch 2010 MacBook Pro 2.4GHz, 320M, 250GB model. It's already converted me and I expect to spiral into it even more in the near future. Should I say I'm happy with it? No, you probably got that by now.
on 29 May 2010
I bought this a bit on impulse and was probably spurred on by the danger of purchasing an ipad (released in the UK this week) instead. I'm not convinced by the ipad at all, but my old Dell Latitiude X300 (a fantastic purchase five years ago) has seen better days and a Samsung Netbook was annoying me with its small screen, so I opted for my first ever Mac Book.
First impressions were that it is a fantastic looking bit of kit, feels solid as a rock and has a crystal clear screen that just dazzles you as it sets up. Like Windows, the set up takes you through a mildly annoying registration process, but soon enough I'd completed it and was ready to go.
The keyboard is quite spaced out and the keys feel responsive and satisfying to touch. It's backlit too, and looks sublime. The large touchpad is completely clickable and has several multi-finger functions that I've yet to work out but are similar to the iphone's shrink and zoom manoeuvers.
I've never used a Mac before but the basics seemed fairly straightforward in terms of what did this and what did that. No doubt as I become more used to it I'll find benefits and drawbacks versus Windows. I then installed Office for Mac, which I'd also purchased, and started typing this review. This was when I noticed that the edge of the laptop is rubbing against the metal wrist-strap of my watch as I type, which is rather annoying. Maybe I'll work out a way to avoid this going forward.
As I used it, I noticed that the Mac didn't heat up as much as other laptops I've worked on, which is good. Connecting to my home network was a breeze, just enter the password during set up and that was it. The browser is Apple's Safari, with the interface seeming smooth, fast and clear, but pretty soon I'd downloaded Google's Chrome browser for the Mac and synched all my bookmarks from there.
Having used Windows for years, the initial experience of using the Mac Book is a learning process. I suppose I have to accept there will be niggles - for instance, I was irritated to find that I just couldn't easily find the Windows computers on my home network to copy over photographs and files, but no doubt there is a way to do it. (Perhaps it just means that I just have to migrate even more stuff to Google Docs and accept that I am Google's .)
Overall, I'm pretty impressed by this product and am hoping that I'll be a bit of a convert to Macs in about six months - there must be a reason their users rave about them so much. Much as I've enjoyed Windows, I feel that the future for hardware lies in which piece of kit can access and enhance the internet experience the best, which is why I've decided to move across and try the Mac. My Dell lasted me about five years of almost daily use and I'm hoping for at least that from this machine, given the cost versus other laptops these days. Given that it's Apple, it will probably still look good at that point!
on 19 June 2010
I am one of those people that made the switch from PC to Mac, skipping the Vista to 7 upgrade and going Apple, I think there are loads of us nowadays.
Strictly technically speaking this Mac is not the hottest machine around, still carries the "old" Core2duo cpu, a slow hdd (5400rpm), the screen resolution is relatively low (1280X800), and perhaps the only really new thing about it is the Nvidia graphics which switches on and off automatically when needed thanks to a special Apple treatment NOT yet available to windows running laptops.
In reality though, the sum is much greater than the parts, and this is something that the hardcore Apple haters will never get. Everything works smoothly and (surprisingly for the "older" hardware) really fast, set up is easy, and the machine works out of the box with minimal need for user added software, things like Skype, Office, Spotify, which is no big deal to install.
Battery life is great, screen is gorgeous (albeit shiny and hence not good for outdoors), keyboard feels good (I had a few of the T series Thinkpads, famous for the keyboard functionality and feel), construction is robust and the laptop is very good looking, trackpad functionality is amazing ( I don't miss the left/right buttons).
Only minus points, no i5 or i3 processor, no native UK keyboard (@ is on the 2 button), it is a bit pricey, and it doesn't make you feel special any more, everybody seems to have one of these nowadays, and that is about it.
Overall a great machine, worth the money!
edit: I've had this machine now for almost a month, and in the meantime Steam has released some popular games for Mac (Portal, Half Life, and others) that play very well, list of games is still limited as compared to the PC counterpart, but it is growing.
on 14 June 2010
The other reviewers are pretty thorough and give you most of what you need to know, so why am I writing this?
Answer: as a writer I have particular needs when choosing a laptop. Perhaps others out there thinking about taking the plunge and dithering, as I have been doing, over whether to move from a Windows system to the Mac, will find my comments helpful.
What I wanted:
1. A machine that is light enough to carry about with me from place to place without being uncomfortably heavy. I want to be able to use it in any room in my home, and that includes sitting up in bed if I wish.
2. The laptop needs to be well made, solid even, and it needs to be reliable.
3. I want a clear, crisp image on screen, and with enough display space for the text I am working with.
4. I want a swift performance from the hardware that will do justice to any software I may wish to use in the execution of my work.
5. I want an operating system that is steady, while also being intuitive. It should be easy to access and simple to use.
6. I want it to fall within my budget.
7. A long battery life is essential.
Does the 13" MacBook Pro deliver for me? YES, absolutely.
Some other factors to consider:
1. The glossy screen has been criticised. I like it. For me it is stunningly clear. It is just a matter of using a suitable place to work. I do not find that at all difficult.
2. I love the illuminated keyboard. It is so useful when the ambient light in a room is somewhat dim. The level of brightness can, moreover, be adjusted to taste.
3. Snow Leopard is the most satisfying operating system I have used. Windows 7, mind you, is a lot better than previous versions, but the Mac OS is better, from my point of view anyway.
4. I was worried about finding a good, affordable word processor, having read that the Microsoft version of Office for the Mac is disappointing. I decided to buy iWork 09, with its Pages offering a combination of desktop publishing and word processor facilities. I am finding it very good indeed for my needs. It affords both word count and page numbering facilities, as well as the option to work with a clear screen if you want to cut down on distracting screen "furniture" , items you do not require on screen all the time. The modes can be toggled, however.
5. From a graphics point of view I find this machine to be swift and dazzlingly sharp. I could not be more pleased with it.
6. The audio quality is quite adequate.
7. Amazon's bargain price of under £900 was too good to miss. I was so glad to find it.
8. Snow Leopard working on this laptop is so very versatile, it is a pleasure to explore.
NOTE: I am not some intemperate fanboy screaming from my rooftop about my conversion to the Mac OS and machines. I still have a Windows 7 desktop, and I still have an Acer 16" 6930g (the less said about this and the the Acer Support Service the better). But for me, the MacBook Pro was a must buy product. I am glad I chose Amazon to buy from.
A LITTLE EXTRA
I have discovered SCRIVENER - a word processor for writers of fiction, plays, films, academic papers, and for journalists. It is very powerful and yet it remains flexible. You can use just those features you need. It is up to you. To help you there is an impressive range of video tutorials as well as an interactive text-based tutorial. You will have to view them again and again to get the hang of things, but it is well worth the effort. What is more, it is remarkably cheap. Scrivener is only available for the Mac (from Tiger upwards). There are people out there who have bought their Apple Macs just to be able to run Scrivener, so that should tell you something. A TRIAL VERSION is available for a 30 day period, absolutely free. Give it a try if you are serious about writing and getting work done.
THE QUESTION OF HEAT
I have read comments to the effect that the MacBook runs so hot that it can burn your lap. I have never experienced that problem. However, as a precaution, I bought (from a supermarket kitchen section) a flat, light but strong, plastic chopping board, large enough to accommodate my 13" laptop. It is perfect for the purpose of protecting me and any surface, say a polished table top, that might be damaged by prolonged exposure to heat. If you are worried, try it. I doubt that you will be disappointed.
on 9 May 2010
This is my first Mac, after years of suffering under an old Windows XP machine. I'm going to uni in September so I thought I may as well have an excellent laptop to take and I ended up choosing this MBP. As a total newbie to OS X I can safely say that switching was one of the easiest computer-based experiences I've ever had. The operating system is obscenely easy to use and it's very simple to get all the settings just right. The built in iLife software is a mixed bag really. I can't imagine myself using iWeb or GarageBand but iPhoto is very useful at organising all your photos into one place. Also iTunes, nothing short of a nightmare to use on Windows, is quick and doesn't crash every 5 minutes. But the overall experience with the operating system is fantastic, everything just...works! I'm not saying that based purely on my experiences with XP, I have used Windows Vista and 7. And OS X is not just leaps and bounds ahead, it's developing a new way to leap and bound. My advice to any switchers: make sure you set up an Admin account and standard one for everyday use. This stops you making silly mistakes which may lose you data or damage the system. And to anyone still thinking about laptops, buy this! It's the perfect size for portability and has enough power for the average user (if you're planning on working with lots of HD videos then look at the 15" Macs with the more powerful processers and graphics cards). I couldn't be happier with this laptop right now, it's exactly what I wanted and quite a lot more.
on 24 October 2010
When I started shopping for a new laptop there was no way I'd ever entertain the possibility of buying a Mac. No way on earth, I was one of those PC people that would rag on the expensive and fashion centric Mac user (in fact I thought Steve Jobs was the devil incarnate). I work in a government IT support dept with laptops/desktops/thin clients and literally live and breathe Windows, but times, they are a changing...
I'm still in shock now, that a few days later (after some extensive research I may add) I bought a Macbook Pro 13". And I am absolutely loving it! It is just an amazing bit of kit. I can't put into words how much I love this thing.
When I did my research into a new laptop, the spec I wanted was this: Approx 13" size, long battery life, ability to play hardcore games like Gears of War and Crysis, a sturdy keyboard and trackpad, high build quality, etc etc. Usual stuff that you have to pay top dollar for. All things considered there weren't too many laptops out there that fit this bill, with one of the better options being the Alienware M11x. Sadly the 11" screen was just too small and the thing is built like a brick. So then I came across this very Amazon page and started reading the reviews of the 13" Macbook Pro. Suffice to say I liked what I was reading, and the thought of being able to run Windows on it had me sold. If other windows users like it then it's worth a punt I thought.
Well, next day delivery later and I'm just blown away. The build quality of this thing is just incredible:
- The screen is nothing short of fantastic. I put it next to my old (and premium £1500) Sony Vaio and the Vaio screen looks like a yellow cloudy mess. In fact, put it next to any screen and you'll think eww. The Mac screen is that awesome! All my photos look just like they should. White is pure and brilliant white.
- I've installed XP and also Windows 7 via Bootcamp and to my utter amazement Gears Of War at full resolution and all settings at full runs like butter. I cannot believe my eyes! Mind = blown.
- OS X has taken a bit of getting used to over the last few days, I will say that, but after a while it's becoming more and more apparent that some real thought has been put into how it works. Windows is an operating system that you install programs on and use your pics, music etc with. OS X takes all your pics, music etc and integrates it within the OS in an amazing (and initially scary) way. I initially thought the integration was a bad move and tried to keep my stuff in a Windows like tree, but it soon becomes apparent you'll be missing the whole point of the OS X system by not allowing integration. Still getting used to it, but it all makes sense now.
- The Keyboard and trackpad are spectacular. And the multitouch gestures are a great idea implemented very well indeed. And the backlit keyboard is a godsend!
- It's so quiet. If you've used any other laptop you'll be familiar with annoying fan noise (My Vaio just revved up and down all the time it was on - really annoying). In normal use the Macbook Pro is silent. When under a lot of stress (encoding HD video or playing Gears) the fans do come on, but are literally smooth sounding, and not very bothersome at all. The fans must be extremely high quality. What a great job the designers did regarding heat dissipation.
- Start up and shut down are very quick. Everything is ready to go the instant it loads. Unlike Windows, which will load, then spend the next few minutes loading whatever other start up items/drivers etc.
- I bought a HDMI adapter for the Displayport. Plugged it in to my 40" Sony LCD and instantly it was ready to go, configured, auto selected the correct resolution the works. If anyone has used Windows on an external monitor you'll know you can spend ages trying to get it configured right.
Most of all, the overall build quality feels very expensive, you definitely get what you are paying for. Bottom line, and I never thought I'd say this, DO NOT HESITATE TO MAKE THE CHANGE!!! The Macbook Pro is just unbelievably good!
on 24 June 2010
Well I've had my Macbook pro 13 for about a month now, and am still getting to grips a little bit with osx, however having said that, it has been much easier to get to grips with than I had first anticipated. The build quality of this machine is phenomenal, the screen is absolutely beautiful and it really does feel solid in your hands. Next year I am moving away from home, and bought this model because of the brilliant battery life which would mean I could use it whilst I travel on the train, sometimes the indicator says I could get 11 hours out of the thing, which is just fantastic in comparison to the 2 hours I got out of my 6 year old dell workhorse.
Now I know you could sense this from the title, there is a but, in fact there are 2. Firstly, you need to make sure that some of the programmes you are going to be using will work on mac, because although they say mac will work with most, there are still quite a few that won't, for example hardware wise, I am going to have to buy a new printer, because apple doesn't have support for my dell printer. Also, before this laptop I had got really hyped up by articles and sites on the web about mac, but before you buy you have to just view your purchase sensibly, as a really expensive pro laptop, does it completely fit your needs. If I was making the choice again, I would still go for the mac, its brilliantly engineered, great for video production, and I can browse the web without worry, however I would way up my purchase costs some more!!