One Week With Apple's MacBook Pro
April 2, 2006 6:22 AM
MacBook Pro is an excellent notebook but it does have its problems
I don't really consider myself an early adopter of technology, primarily because my career puts me in the way of unreleased products very frequently. It's more like I don't have a choice. When Apple announced that its Core Duo based products would be available soon however, something started ticking inside my mind.
I owned and used the original titanium PowerBook that came out some time ago. It was a 550MHz model and at the time, it couldn't do many things very well. For example, play back of DivX videos would be painfully slow. I ended up selling that Ti PowerBook sometime later and purchased a regular PC laptop instead -- which was much more useful for me. This was a few years ago.
Earlier this year, I purchased a 12-inch PowerBook G4 running at 1.5GHz. At first I was skeptical about going back to a Mac, but after using the 12-inch PowerBook for just a day, I was convinced that I was going to love my Mac experience -- and I did. Everything about the unit pleased me. Apple's OS X was definitely a welcomed change and I loved the way I was able to get things done or just navigate around the OS. I fell in love with Macs again. If anyone's wondering, I own 8 PCs.
I'm now writing this blog entry on a 2GHz MacBook Pro that I just picked up several days ago. Although I love everything good about it, the MacBook Pro is leaving me wanting to ocassionally return to my PowerBook. It has some issues. Now, this is probably the only time where I've made a major purchase such as this as an early adopter, so it's probably my own fault that I'm playing guinea pig for Apple. For the sake improvement however, I'll list all the issues I've come across:
AirPort does not automatically rejoin a preferred network after waking up from sleep mode. This does not happen with my PowerBook. Settings are the same.
AirPort would drop down to nearly 1 block randomly once in a while. This also does not happen with my PowerBook.
At the lowest screen brightness setting (one block), the LCD's backlight flickers noticeably. This is pretty annoying.
Heat is a big issue. The MacBook Pro gets so hot that I cannot place it on my lap if I'm wearing shorts. And even if I am wearing pants, it's still very uncomfortable. Using the AC power, the palm rest area becomes very warm, and the area above the F keys is very hot. I do not notice this with the PowerBook.
Apple says that the MacBook Pro runs cooler than the PowerBook G4, but as far as I can tell, this is not the case. I am also unable to monitor system temperature in the same way I do with my PowerBook. Apparently, OS X does not currently have the ability to hook to the MacBook Pro's built in thermal diodes. It is unknown whether this will be addressed in a future update, but as of now, it is not possible to tell the temperature of such devices like the CPU, GPU, battery and mainboard.
Other than the problems listed above, I have been having a really pleasant experience with the MacBook Pro. I purchased the flagship model that Apple sells along with an extra 1GB DDR2 SO-DIMM from Crucial and so far the machine is operating quite nicely. Playback of H.265 content was very smooth and I was able to hook up my second Dell 3007WFP to the MacBook Pro's dual-link DVI port without problems. During playback of one H.264 clip, the OS locked up and told me I had to manually power off the laptop. I tried looping a video for 12 hours straight after that but didn't experience any problems. Hopefully it was just a random software crash I experienced.
The MacBook Pro is very fast, and does things many times faster than my PowerBook G4. While not everything will be as fast as Apple claims, many things are very close to being 4X faster.
I'll have to give myself a few more weeks to really flush out any other problems, but so far the only issues that have cropped up are the ones I've already mentioned. Despite these issues, if the MacBook Pro is an indication of where Apple hardware and software is headed, I am eagerly waiting for more.
If anyone has had the same issues that I am having but have found solutions,
I would love to hear from you
"If you can find a PS3 anywhere in North America that's been on shelves for more than five minutes, I'll give you 1,200 bucks for it." -- SCEA President Jack Tretton
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