MacBook Pro and cons

by Giles Turnbull

I've been playing with a MacBook Pro for a few days now (Apple have sent me one on loan for review purposes). So far, there are some things I like about it and some things that I really dislike. I thought I'd share both lists with you now. I'll produce a more rounded review in a week or two.



Good stuff



Screen The MacBook Pro screen is lovely. Everything's very bright, sharply defined and there's no sign of any flaws. In some lighting, I think I can just make out a 1cm-high strip along the bottom that might be a little brighter than everything else, but to be honest my eyes don't detect it most of the time.



Rosetta, concept and reality I recall people being very dismissive of Rosetta when it was first announced, saying real-time translation would never work, at least not in a productive way. In reality, Rosetta does a superb job of making PowerPC software usable, and its best feature is that it is completely invisible to the user. There's no "environment" you are forced to work in, no hoops to jump through to get your software running. You just launch apps and they run, as simple as that. Sure, there are some apps that won't work at all and some that are uncomfortably slow, but Rosetta as a whole is a masterstroke on Apple's part, and is a key factor in making the architecture switch as smooth as possible.



Universal Binaries Rosetta aside, the surge of Universal Binaries being released by developers is nothing short of amazing. The speed with with which the development community has latched on to Universal Binaries, and with which developers have got them compiled and released, says it all. The majority of the apps I use day-to-day are already UB, if not they soon will be.


35 Comments

Chris Ryan
2006-03-21 08:24:43
I can't believe that you didn't list the voip/vlan packet loss issue under "Bad stuff." It makes the MacBook Pro unusable for many purchasers.
crystalattice
2006-03-21 09:06:29
What about using one of those aluminum "porta-desk" that acts like a laptop heatsink? Too heavy or just not practical?
A reader
2006-03-21 10:13:50
I can't believe that you didn't list the voip/vlan packet loss issue under "Bad stuff." It makes the MacBook Pro unusable for many purchasers.


I can't believe you didn't share any information about voip/vlan packet loss issues. I haven't heard a thing about it.

gilest
2006-03-21 10:35:13
@ Chris Ryan: Your comment is the first I've heard of such a problem. I've not noticed it. Could you elaborate a little?
The Bum
2006-03-21 11:19:25
If you look at Apple's marketing information, nowhere do they ever call it a laptop. They consistently use the term "notebook", implying that they didn't design it for lap use. I use an iLap and it works quite well.

2006-03-21 13:30:52
Apple's not the only one that's stopped calling their notebook/portable systems 'laptops'.


After a European man burned his nether-regions a few years ago (http://www.wired.com/news/business/0,1367,56552,00.html) there was a mention on The Register that Dell had switched from the term 'laptop' to 'notebook'/'portable' because of the heat ("I was a technical support supervisor for Dell for 2 years... The reports of people getting "heated" with their portable computer is not uncommon. This is why Dell started referring to them as "Portable" computers instead of "Laptop" computers." http://www.theregister.co.uk/2002/11/29/on_penis_burns_red_hot/)

Adrian
2006-03-21 18:03:52
The way they named their products PowerBook, iBook and MacBook should give some hint as to what a notebook is. Afterall they're not called PowerTop, iTop or MacTop. From my point of view Apple came close to a laptop design with the Macintosh Portable.


A laptop for me always was a portable computer with no battery but at least one slot for normal sized expansion cards and a built in power supply. So if you tape a display, a keyboard and a trackpad on top of a Xserve you had a laptop. A product that is somewhat portable but when there's no table you have to use it on your lap because holding it in your hands to read some long text off the screen is not going to be easy.

sjk
2006-03-21 20:05:23
I think Chris was referring to an 802.1q/vLAN issue that's discussed here:


http://www.macintouch.com/readerreports/macbookpro/topic4073.html

gilest
2006-03-22 02:53:14
@sjk: Aha, thanks for the link. That does indeed sound like a serious problem.
gilest
2006-03-22 02:54:47
Despite the computer industry as a whole veering away from the word "laptop", you only have to attend any O'Reilly conference or sit in any airport waiting lounge and you will see a great many people using notebook computers on their laps. Whether or not they are *designed* to be used there, people are going to use them there...
Ben Drawbaugh
2006-03-22 04:55:26
There is also a problem of the MacBook returning from sleep and having a kernel panic.


Mine does it at least once per week, as are others at the Apple disscussion forums.
http://discussions.apple.com/thread.jspa?threadID=379417&tstart=0

Mike
2006-03-22 05:12:03
I was surprised that they kept the same latch. It always seemed to me to be the weakest physical part of the design. I've seen Powerbooks that no longer close properly because the little hooks don't drop down and catch when the lid is closed.
MandeBooks
2006-03-22 06:26:33
I thought your comments were correct, i have had the same experince with the heat issue. Didn't apple say something about this processor requiring less power and running "cooler"? Also, I havn't had any problems with the screen or the CPU whine. If there is noise coming from the MacBook Pro then its quiet enough to be drowned out by normal office noise. All computers make some type of noise - usually from fans so perhaps we shouldn't be so critical. It is nice that they are fixing the screen problem though.
David
2006-03-22 09:10:50
I love my MacBook Pro. I only hear the occasionaly whining noise when on battery power in the can where there is an echo and it is not very loud while I am balancing the maching on a knee (ie. the heat is not thaaat bad).
haotong
2006-03-22 09:19:27
strange, my Macbook Pro is really really quiet, even it is working at its full capacity, I hardly notice the whining noise.
El Payo
2006-03-22 18:14:14
I'm loving my Mac Book Pro - and I loved my PowerBook G4 a lot. I may be a lucky dog, but I don't have any issues whith 'processor whine' or 'screen whine.' Occasionally I hear the fan begin to spin up when the MBP is working hard, but I'm not bothered in the least.
JL
2006-03-24 00:53:17
Two drawbacks you didn't mention are the loss of connectors and the lack of a slot for my compact flash cards. Most irritating.
Miss_Lain
2006-03-24 01:51:46
For the love of... a desktop replacement notebook can be considered a laptop, for all intents and purposes.


The latest buzz is the MagSafe connector getting so hot that it melts. It's primarily conjecture and unconfirmed reports thus far, but if someone notices their MagSafe getting noticeably hot, that might be reason for concern. At least until Apple has more time to investigate said claims and release a statement. There's sure to be some kind of design change in future revisions. Yes, I think I'll wait for an updated MacBook Pro and stay with my trusty PB G4 for now.


Close

Sam G
2006-03-24 17:30:34
I own a macbook pro. its great. as for the heat, i put my waterfield sleevecase below my laptop anywhere im working


id not burn my nuts, thank you very much.

Chase
2006-04-03 14:02:55
I wish i had waited for the later model mac book pros only because i'm greedy and want to have th best of the best. but- i still think this computer is great. everything pro and con is right where is should be according to the list above.



the heat issue also bothered me so now, if its going to be in my lap, i just place the sleeve under it and it works well.

patric
2006-04-23 21:22:56
WOW. as I read the noise comment I just realized the noise on my macbook pro stopped. I just pulled the Magsafe out and the whining started again. Try it out. Weird! Could this be grounding issues?
Daejigogi
2006-06-23 04:44:40
I just got my MBP a couple months ago and I love it (except that I should have got another gig of ram). One thing no one here is talking about is the battery life. On full charge I can get a max of about 3 hours, and I can only get close to 4 hours if I turn off all the wireless features, dim the screen to 'squinting' and do nothing but word processing. Apple reports on their site that the battery is capable of 4.5 hours. Is there something I'm missing here? Does anyone know if I can get more juice out of it?
Jesse
2006-06-25 17:50:45
I have had my macbook pro for about 2 weeks now and have never hear it whine. I've read so many stories about it so I was extremely scared. My G5 iMac is waaaay louder, I honestly cant hear the macbooks unless i turn everything off in the room and put my ear up to the back(and its still faint).


As for the heat issue...the only time I find it unbearably hot is when it's plugged in and on my lap. I don't know if theres really a way to avoid that, but when it's not plugged in it I don't think its unbearable. Yes if you're running a lot under rosetta it'll get toasty, but you shouldn't have a laptop on your lap without pants on.

Kyaw Tun
2006-10-06 23:26:17
Heat is really big problem in MacBook pro. It so hot that i cannot work on unless the laptop is put on the table. How can Steave do not put a fan?
jonathan yazzie
2006-11-07 16:06:12
i didnt know that the Mac Book had so many problems with it. i wanted to buy one, but now i am having different thoughts on buy one
shaheen
2007-03-02 23:40:33
Thanks for enlight us. so we have all the aspects to make good decision.


Regards,
Shaheen

kat
2007-03-17 08:55:02
i have a mac book pro and i dont have any of the problems apart form the heat one. but i found something called smc fan control, all you need to do is download it and you can set the fan spead and you can see the temp of your notebook in the menu bar. its brill works a teat, now you would never know it ever got hot.
Aaron Negus
2007-05-26 18:24:02
i got my macbook pro a few weeks ago, and all the "bad stuff" has been fixed now, so i'm happy. :D


Aaron
2007-05-26 18:24:21
i got my macbook pro a few weeks ago, and all the "bad stuff" has been fixed now, so i'm happy. :D


John
2007-09-17 09:25:06
On a given basis, which lap top computer would you rather have...a Dell xps (with max memory and drive, etc) or Macbook Pro?
Moise Berne
2007-10-21 04:03:37
My Macbook Pro was 14 months old when it suddenly stopped working. Yikes! It would not boot and obviously the screeen was blanker than the afterlife. I looked around a few websites and discovered other sufferers from the same condition. I now face a bill of hundreds to get a new logic board. For me the buiy has been a big let down. Never again.
Jon Bon
2008-01-15 22:17:47
What do you think about the fact that there's no optical drive?
Shaylene Bassett
2008-04-27 13:05:41
I would love to know how to get a laptop to review. Can someone please email me the link
Thank you !


~Shay~

wally
2008-04-27 19:22:19
I'm a convert from Windows to Mac OS X as of August 07. My MacBook pro has not been as loud as some of the laptops (mostly dells) that keep a hurricane going to cool down the cpu and other components.


Here is what I like about my Mac:
1. I spend more time doing things instead of doing things to the OS. I know that sounds like a commercial, but it is true for me.
2. Paralells--great product and offers a stop gap for the painful transition away from your favorite xp tools.
3. iMovie/iLife08--I've seen lots of negative views on this product but it works for me and has created some impressive videos.
4. The screen--bright, clear.
5. Performance--no crashes. A few one-off program issues but it was the external app and not the OS crashing.


What I don't like:
1. I really miss the right button. I know, the two finger trick, but it is not the same.
2. Heat--my macbook pro will give 3rd degree burns if left on a lap too long.


I need to point out before switching to a Mac I spent $250 of personal funds to upgrade a Vista ultimate certified machine (64 bit too)....when that failed and could only run the most basic version of vista (still under my $250 license) I realized I had made a big, big mistake. Within a few months I spent the $2k or so for the macbook pro and I have been using it, versus care/feeding the OS for months now. I have 20 years experience with Windwos, including the very early releases in the 80s. Mac OS X is the best I've seen in a long time.

raj joshi
2008-07-05 12:44:18
hi i just got a mbp, and i've noticed flaws of 3mm gap on both sides of the computer, and sometime---------i don't know why or how nor when-----but the laptop does hiss and make noises.
i am not really sure if i should keep it, it's a 2008 version



any recommendations/comments on this problem?