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MacBook Pro: quick first impressions
Posted by: Silencio
Date: January 10, 2006 08:16PM
So I did have to fight through a teeming through to get up close and personal with a MacBook Pro today. Just a few quick hits:

The plug on the new AC adapter is pretty slick. It's rectangular and can be plugged in bidirectionally. The amount of "grab" from the magnets seems plenty enough to keep the thing from falling out of the socket casually, but a good jar should pull it cleanly off and not send the laptop flying. Nice.

The screen looks good. Blindingly bright. Didn't see any horizontal lines or anything like that. The resolution is sufficient for me.

The screen bezel looks a bit awkward, with the top part bring a little wider to accomodate the iSight. But whateva.

The machine is almost shockingly unclutterered along the sides. Where's all the ports? All video output (including analog RCA and S-video) have to run through the DVI port via an adapter. Nothing new for us 12" Powerbook users, but still... Also, only 2 USB ports, one Firewire 400 port. The little ExpressCard slot is smaller than a PC card slot. I'll bet that ExpressCards that do FW800, eSATA, and more USB2 ports will prove very popular.

So I guess this is the beginning of the end for Firewire 800. Apple butchered it pretty badly, honestly. FW400 is good enough for video cams and single-mechanism external drive enclosures, but for external storage, USB2 has the low-end all sewn up and eSATA is coming along quickly.

I asked an Apple rep about the battery life. He said they were still testing and qualifying the battery life estimates and that they'd have definitive figures in a few weeks, certainly before the MacBooks ship.

Native apps just FLY. Launching iLife apps, doing stuff in Safari. Man, oh man, it's near-instantaneous all the way around. All I could do to test Rosetta out was launch Photoshop and Word and do some minor dinking around in both. I'd say both feel about the same as they do on a 1.67GHz Powerbook G4, which is about what I expected. You'll think it's fine until you start working more in Universal Binary apps, then you'll get real spoiled real fast.

The MacBook Pro may seem like a spendy start to Apple's x86 laptop line, but compare the top-end MBP to the Dell Inspiron 9400 Enhanced, which is Dell's top-end Intel Core Duo laptop. Their are quite a few differences, though: the Dell has a larger (though lower-res) screen, obviously weights a lot more, and it costs a few hundred more than the MacBook. So I really expect Apple's offerings to be competitive pricewise.
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Re: MacBook Pro: quick first impressions
Posted by: rgG
Date: January 10, 2006 08:23PM
Thanks for the review. I don't suppose you were able to get a loaner for us to try. ;}





Roswell, GA (Atlanta suburb)
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Re: MacBook Pro: quick first impressions
Posted by: rexrzer
Date: January 10, 2006 08:35PM
Good stuff silencio! Thanks from here, too.

I've been wrapped up in meetings all afternoon and only got to glimpse the new offerings on Apple's web site at noon. I just knew any Intel based PBook, now the MacBook Pro, was going to have an iSight built in. I think I just found a reason to finally ditch my trust 15" PowerBook, though I'll wait a few months so production and breaking-in glitches, if any, get worked out.

______________



What's the difference between reality and fiction? Fiction has to make some sense.
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Re: MacBook Pro: quick first impressions
Posted by: BigGuynRusty
Date: January 10, 2006 09:33PM
Silencio Quote.:
"So I guess this is the beginning of the end for Firewire 800"

Better tell that to the folks at Intel who are designing the multi-CPU logic boards, can anybody say Quadcore, and Octocore?

FireWire.:
800
1600
3200
Fiber based FireWire.

BGnR
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Re: MacBook Pro: quick first impressions
Posted by: Gutenberg
Date: January 10, 2006 11:09PM
Thanks for the report, Silencio. Wish I were there.
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Re: MacBook Pro: quick first impressions
Posted by: tuqqer
Date: January 11, 2006 12:55AM
Thanks for this, Silencio.
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Re: MacBook Pro: quick first impressions
Posted by: BigGuynRusty
Date: January 11, 2006 09:12AM
Sorry Silencio, Thank You VERY much for the "Hands On" report!

BGnR
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Re: MacBook Pro: quick first impressions
Posted by: Silencio
Date: January 11, 2006 11:35AM
After watching the keynote last night, I was kind of amused to see that the things I did to gauge the speed of Rosetta were almost the exact same things the Leader did on-stage: launch Word, open and scroll through that Word document with all the Paris pictures in it, launch Photoshop, open multi-layered file, show/hide layers, move layers around, resize elements in layers, &c. Makes sense, as Word and Photoshop CS2 were the only third party apps loaded on the machines.

I didn't get to ask about EFI (the replacement for Open Firmware or, on future PCs, BIOS) or starting up in Firewire Target Disk Mode; I find it hard to imagine they didn't implement FWTDM due to the recent addition of the Migration Assistant. [UPDATE: Macfixit reports that FWTDM is still with us, and all the other boot key commands work the same, though I'm sure command-option-o-f doesn't!] If I get back to the show this week, I'll try to remember. I also have to ask them WTH is up with the Superdrive (only 4X DVD-R, no DL, &c.) -- maybe the mechanism has to be thinner than other slot-loading optical drives and that's the fastest they could fit in there, but that's a pretty steep downgrade.

Another thing that happened was, when someone who was looking at the same laptop as me decided they wanted to close it up and see how thin and light it was (it felt a little thinner and lighter than the last 15" PBG4, certainly), the machine locked up when they re-opened the lid again. After a hard restart, the machine sat on a blank grey screen for a few uncomfortable moments; when the grey Apple logo finally came up on-screen, I looked away for what seemed to be just a moment, but when I turned back, the machine was already booted and the other people were back at work on the thing. So the thing apparantly screams on booting, so long as the blank grey screen isn't a routine occurance.

BGnR: I read about how Intel was contracted out to design the new mobos for the Conroe-based PowerMac successors, but I don't recall seeing anything about Firewire support there. Got any attribution for that, or are you bound to secrecy? I still think Apple lost its window of opportunity with Firewire 800+, but wouldn't mind being proven wrong.



Edited 2 time(s). Last edit at 01/11/2006 01:12PM by Silencio.
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