Technology, Writing

Playing with Apple’s New MacBook Pro

For the past few weeks I have been playing with my new MacBook Pro (MBP) from Apple.  Its the 2.16Ghz model, with 1GB of RAM, 100GB 7200RPM Drive, etc.  I wanted to get my hands on an Intel Mac because of my incessant need to play with new toys.  Luckily I have received a model with the Revision D system board which is supposed to fix many of the earlier problems people have been having (flickering displays, overheating, buzzing noises, etc).  I have not had any problems at all with the MBP so far though I at least perceive the machine to be running a bit warmer than my old G4 PowerBook.  Many apps are now being released as Universal Binaries – and for the few apps that are not, the PowerPC binaries I use seem to run just fine under Apple’s Rosetta technology.

 Some thoughts on the MacBook Pro:

  • This display is a bit smaller than the old G4 PowerBook.  To be more precise its 60 pixels shorter vertically.
  • The Airport Extreme support (i.e. 802.11g wireless) seems to be better than in the G4 PowerBook. I seem to get a stronger signal in the same locations.
  • This thing is FAST. Applications that are Universal binaries scream on this machine.  Even apps that run under Rosetta run OK (they’re tolerable) though I have seen Microsoft Office exhibit some quirkiness on occasion that I don’t recall ever seeing on a PPC machine.
  • It may just be my perception but the MBP seems to run a bit warmer than my G4 PowerBook did.
  • I really wish Apple had used a standard PC Card slot instead of the ExpressCard slot. As of right now I don’t have a Wireless WAN connection because my Verizon broadband card is PC Card only. The lack of PC card support may diminish over time as more ExpressCard devices are shipped but for now this is a bit of a handicap.
  • The lack of “Pro” apps is a bit of an issue but Apple has promised to release Universal binaries of the Pro applications any day now.  In particular having a higher end video application such as one of the Final Cut series applications will be important as I start to use this machine more for video.
  • FrontRow is pretty slick.  The idea of sitting back and using a remote control to access my media files is a great idea.  Its still an early product but I think it has real potential – particularly if Apple can open it up to 3rd party plug-ins such as TV tuner applications, etc.  Playing with FrontRow and the remote makes me want to go out and buy one of the new Intel Mini’s for the living room!
  • The built in iSight camera and photo booth software are cute.  I probably wont use this much. I have pretty much accepted that most people barely want to hear me let alone ever see me if they can avoid it!
  • The ability to run Windows is intriguing. I have played with it a bit and will document my findings in another posting soon.

  So the $1,000,000 question – should you buy a new Intel Mac? Well that depends on your needs.  If you’re a total tool like me and buy every Apple product because its cool – then by all means get a MBP or one of the new Intel iMac or Mini machines.  If you already have a decent G4 or G5 machine and don’t need a new laptop or machine just yet I would wait. Apple seems to be refining the Intel machines and I would expect to see lots of new systems and capabilities being shipped in the coming months.  If you’re new to the Mac but want to get one – definitely go for an Intel machine – you will be better positioned for the future of the Mac technology (though if you really need the Pro apps you should wait a while until they’re all shipping as Universal binaries).  Enjoy!

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