New MacBook Pro - Two Week Report

It’s hard to believe that I have owned my new MacBook Pro 17” for over two weeks now. I had planned to write this update last week, but I had too much going on and I got involved in writing the post about File Sharing.

So what do I think? Was it a wise purchase? Did I choose the right options?
It’s hard to believe that I have owned my new MacBook Pro 17” for over two weeks now. I had planned to write this update last week, but I had too much going on and I got involved in writing the post about File Sharing.

So what do I think? Was it a wise purchase? Did I choose the right options?

This is my second 17” laptop computer, and my fifth laptop. While I had enjoyed several smaller laptops, I was no longer on the road doing Macintosh training and consulting and I wanted a bigger screen since I tend to work all around my home instead of just at my desk in my office.

I am thrilled with the high-resolution 1920x1200 pixel LED-backlit display. The screen is very readable, even at the highest resolution. It is much crisper than the display on my MacBook Pro Core 2 Duo model. Just in case I ever want things to appear a bit larger, switching to the 1600x1200 resolution also keeps the screen crisp and sharp, as long as I do not switch to the stretched mode.

The LCD backlight is really powerful. I find that I run the screen at about 50% brightness. When it is at 100%, it is blindingly bright. If I am working in a darkened room, even the lowest brightness is sufficient to work comfortably. When I go outside, the 100% brightness makes it easy to work in bright sunshine as long as the sun is not reflecting directly on the screen.

The glossy screen has not been a problem at all! I was hesitant to try it, but I am so happy I listened to Bob and ordered the glossy version.

I have done a bit of experimenting with photo printing. I opened the same photo on both of my MacBook Pros. I set both monitors at the default color settings in System Preferences > Display > Color . I adjusted the backlight to 50% on both computers, then I adjusted both photos so that I was ready to print. I did this on several photos. I used the same printer to print from both computers. In every case, I was happier with the photo printed from my new glossy computer. The glossy screen did not hinder me in adjusting and printing photos. That had been a major concern.

I ordered the upgrade to the 2.93GHz Intel Core 2 Duo processor. While $300 is a bit of extra money, I knew that between my using this computer for about two years and then passing it down to my husband, we would appreciate every bit of extra power in the later years of using this computer.

This computer has two graphics cards. In order to use the faster one, you go to System Preference > Energy:




Changing to the higher performance setting does require logging out. Changing to that setting definitely increases the graphic performance of the computer. It also decreases battery life. I find myself using that mode much of the time since I am usually near a power outlet.

All in all, this is definitely a faster computer that my other MacBook Pro. I do enjoy the speed when I am working on photos and video (and an occasional game).

This computer came with 4 GB of RAM. Apple wanted an additional $1000.00 to upgrade it to 8GB. I found that I could buy after-market RAM for about $330.00 less, but it is not in my budget right now. I suspect the price of the RAM will drop considerably in the next year, so I will plan on adding more RAM later.

I paid to have the hard drive upgraded on my previous MacBook Pro, and I also did it on this one. While I would have liked the speed of the solid state drive, sheer size is most important to me. I chose the 7200 rpm, 320 GB drive. After working with clients and friends with the slower 5400 rpm drives, I can definitely see a difference. I suspect I will eventually replace the internal hard drive because I only have 166 GB left now.

I like the size and weight of this new computer. Although it is only slightly thinner and lighter than my older computer, I am impressed with the case itself. It certainly feels stronger and more rigid than my earlier computer. I really like the milled case. The whole computer looks and feels more “finished.” I like the smaller holes in the speaker grills and I like the smaller, less conspicuous power button.

The trackpad was a non-issue for me. Although it is larger and it is missing the button area, it works just as I would expect. I don’t miss the separate button. The lower end of the trackpad clicks just like a mouse button in the same area would have worked.

I am still practicing my gestures. In fact, I am slowly concentrating on them, one at a time to learn to use them. Without that practice, it would be easy to overlook the new functionality. I heartily recommend the videos in the Trackpad System Preference.

While I was accustomed to the similar-style keyboard on my iMac, I had a bit of trouble getting used to this keyboard. I found that I was not releasing the Command and Option keys completely. I was getting some unusual results! After two weeks of practice, those problems have disappeared.

So, it appears that I like everything about this new MacBook Pro--not quite! First, I really liked having the optical drive slot on the front of the computer. Somehow, I am forever having something in the way when I want to insert and eject disks. It is a minor inconvenience though. I am not nearly as satisfied with the port configurations on the sides of this computer.

I grabbed this photo from the Apple Web site:




Notice how the ports are close together? This is proving to be a real source of problems. Most of my USB cables seem to have a lot more extraneous plastic than those produced by Apple. In fact, many of mine cannot be used together. If I use the FireWire port, I can only use one USB port. If I need two USB ports, I had better not plan on using the video out port. I am searching for a small USB hub, but I should not need one! Things are just a bit closely spaced for anything but Apple USB cables--and I have a whole drawer full! I never really appreciated the split ports on the old MacBook Pro--but I do now! I am also missing the second FireWire port.

In my opinion, the greatest weakness in this new design is the port configuration. Is it enough to make me wish I didn’t have this computer? No, definitely not, but it is a bit annoying! The greatest strength is the speed of this computer, followed closely by the outstanding display.

I would highly recommend any of the new MacBook and MacBook Pro models. They are superb Macs!

Now I have to get back to work!

--Pat


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