Talking tech since 2003

Two weeks ago today, something new made its way into my life.  The world seems a bit brighter, and I suddenly have a new reason to get up in the morning.  No, I’m not dating anyone.  No, I didn’t find religion.  And no, it’s not daylight savings time.  I did, however, receive a new MacBook Pro – the first Macintosh computer that I have ever owned.  Now, after two weeks of working with this device, I’ve decided to go ahead and write a review of this recently released device.

Now, if you’re following my work here on BestTechie, you may know that I recently shared my opinion on Mac OS X having come from a Windows and Linux background.  While that review does go hand-in-hand with this one to a certain extent, I do feel the need to point out that this particular article is in review of the device itself and not the actual operating system.  That is, the likes and dislikes that I am going to express in this article are entirely independent of OS X itself and would be exactly the same in the event that I opted to install Windows or Linux on the MacBook Pro.  And don’t let my clever introduction fool you; I’ve definitely found a few flaws.

The first thing that I noticed about the MacBook Pro’s body was that the lid was magnetically attached to the front body of the device when closed.  While I’ve seen this in a few other notebook models, I found that it was a very nice addition to the MacBook Pro simply because it helps to keep the device from opening whilst in my backpack.  This, combined with the thin lip around the screen helps to prevent any papers or foreign objects from making their way inside of the device when closed.

While I like this feature, I must say that the magnetic latch seems a bit strong.  In fact, I required two hands the first couple of times that I opened the notebook, and even now it takes a noticeable effort to open it.  Sure, it’s a bit of a hassle, but I do like that it protects the device when closed and doesn’t require a movable piece of hardware; a definite plus.

One of the first things that I noticed when I began using the MBP was that the keyboard was further back that I imagined it would be.  This is, of course, to make room for the oversized multi-touch trackpad towards the front of the base.  If you haven’t used a MacBook or MacBook Pro, you may not fully understand why the trackpad is so large.  However, the implementation of gestures in OS X and in browsers such as Opera makes it easy for the end-user to utilize that massive trackpad.  So while I must admit that I initially thought it was wasted space, the trackpad does indeed come in handy and the size is more than justifiable.  And honestly, the whole “one button” mouse hasn’t bothered me a bit.  “Secondary clicking” is very simple, and I like the fact that I can do it from anywhere on the trackpad instead of having to move my fingers down to hit a physical button.  The same goes for scrolling, which doesn’t require the use of the side-scroll on the side of the trackpad as it had on my previous laptop.  I must applaud Apple for their work with multi-touch technology, because the trackpad has been flawless and dead accurate.

I have always been a fan of “chicklett” keyboards where the keys are spaced out and rise up from the base of the unit.  This more spread-out layout makes it easier for users with larger hands to be more relaxed when using the laptop.  Personally, I feel that my typing is a bit quicker on the MBP’s keyboard simply because of the more comfortable layout.

However, there are a few buttons that aren’t on the MBP’s keyboard that I would honestly have liked.  The “insert” and “delete” (reverse backspace), and “page up”/”page down” keys are in fact missing from the MBP, which messed with my brain for the first few days.  I’d literally go to hit the “delete” key only to hit the eject button on the keyboard instead.  Despite this confusion, I have been able to adjust myself to the layout.

Perhaps my biggest issue with the MBP is that the squared edges do get rather uncomfortable when typing on the computer for longer durations of time.  Because the edges aren’t rounded, they do feel as if they are digging into my skin and wrists sometimes.  It doesn’t bother me as much as it does this guy who decided to break out his tool set to round the edges, but I’d honestly have liked to have seen rounded edges on the MacBook Pro, especially considering the aluminum body.

In speaking of the aluminum unibody, I must say that the device feels incredibly solid.  No longer do I feel the flimsiness of moving parts (e.g. the CD/DVD drive) like I did on my old laptop.  The unibody is also attributed to making the device thinner and lighter in weight.  But while I do see the noticeable thinness of the device, it doesn’t seem as light as some people will make you believe.

Shortly after receiving my MBP, I had the opportunity to talk to a few people on Skype.  To this day a number of people have mentioned that my voice sounds clearer and crisper on the built-in microphone than they would have expected.  Likewise, the positioning and quality of the speakers – located on either side of the keyboard – make audio-calls seem almost as if I’m sitting directly in front of the person or group that I am talking with, and listening to music is pure bliss.  The FaceTime camera isn’t bad either, although I don’t use it as often as I thought I would.

The glossy display has been nice to use, and the higher resolution that it provides gives me more room to have applications open on my desktop; a welcome addition by far, and quite honestly one of my favorite features.

The 2.0GHz i7 quad-core processor is – along with the 8GB of RAM and 7200RPM hard-drive (upgraded) – insanely fast, especially for someone such as myself who doesn’t do anything resource intensive.  Thinking back on it now, though, I think I might have been better off investing in the SSD (solid-state drive) in order to achieve that much faster of a speed.  Nonetheless, this device is blazing fast as it is.

By far, the aspect that I am flat-out most impressed with is the battery life.  The other day, for example, I used the device on battery-power for two hours at work, having started out with a full charge.  After heading home that night, I used the computer for another three and a half hours before receiving a low battery warning that said that I still had about an hour and a half left.  Sure, I wasn’t doing anything that would drain the battery that quickly, but to be able to do work on the device (not gaming or anything) for that long without having to worry about the battery running out is simply phenomenal.

At the end of the day, the MacBook Pro does have a few high and low points and I must admit that the MacBook Pro still has room for improvement.  However, I still feel that the device offers an incredible computing solution all wrapped up in a simple and clean bundle, and after using it for two weeks I have not regretted my purchase once.

Apple MacBook Pro 15″ @
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