Do I really want to do this?

An initial foray into blogging.

Friday, June 16, 2006

Just what everyone needed, another MacBook review

I've read so many MacBook reviews while I've been waiting to get mine that I feel the need to contribute my own thoughts. So, here's my one-week review.

Two-fingered trackpad scroll is the best thing EVER. If I never move the cursor to another tiny arrow button it'll be too soon. It's making me fumble when I try to use my computer at work. It's linux and has one of those linux-style three-button (no scrollwheel) mice. I keep trying to hold down the first two mouse buttons and scroll with it that way. Eek.

Anyone want to write linux mouse software to do that? O:)

And, success! I managed to upgrade the RAM to 2GB myself. For a while I thought the operation was doomed to failure, because the left-most screw was nearly impossible to unscrew. One of the RAM chips popped out much more easily than the other one, but neither of them was as much trouble as that stupid screw. Anyway, I feel relieved and a bit accomplished that I managed it. But even if you have a tiny screwdriver, I say don't bother trying with those screws unless you've got a bona-fide #00 Phillips head one.

Even with just MacJournal (in which I'm writing this) and my login items (Quicksilver, PandoCalendar under Rosetta, and the Activity Monitor dock icon showing CPU history), I'm using 483 MB of RAM. After a few days of watching MenuMeters, I noticed I was at 1.96 GB once, but generally I use about 1.25 GB. This means that I think it might be better to get one 1 GB ram chip to replace one of the initial 256 MB chips than to replace both chips with 512 MB chips, even if there is loss of performance due to unpaired RAM. At any rate, having 2 GB of RAM makes me happy.

I love the brightness and crispness of the glossy screen. There's a huge window right behind my chair at work, which I was afraid would cause tons of glare. There is some, but it turns out that the benefits of this screen far outweigh the annoyances. It's not at all unusable, even when the sun is streaming directly over my shoulder. Honestly the glare off the white border is more noticeable. I also love the keyboard, but since I got to try them out in the Apple Store the very day the MacBooks were released, I knew from the beginning that I wouldn't have a problem with that.

As for screen real estate -- that has been an adjustment. I'm going from 15.1" 1172x768 to a 13.3" 1280x800. So all the fonts are miniscule, and small system fonts are rough on my eyes. I'm adjusting, but I have a ways to go. It would've been nice if they could have squeezed a 14" screen in here by reducing the LCD frame width. Everything looks so big (and blurry and dim) on my Titanium now.

Any other complaints from me? Well, the up/down arrow keys, especially "up", occasionally seem to refuse to register keypresses, and/or require a large amount of force. Left/right work fine. The trackpad button click is soggier than my Titanium. Luckily I mostly use trackpad tapping, though I do habitually command-click with my ring finger on command and my thumb pressing the physical button. I'm trying to learn to command-tap, instead.

But geez, that's seriously all I can think of to complain about. That boggles the mind. I had a lot more initial complaints going from my Lombard to my Titanium PowerBook. My reception of the MacBook in general has been a lot closer to the euphoria I felt upon acquiring my Lombard PowerBook, which was my very first portable computer.

My MacBook gets hot, but not abnormally so, is so far not showing the discoloring, and I don't think it has any noisemaking problems. I suppose it moos on rare occasions, but it's tons quieter than my Titanium. The MacBook does seem to vibrate a tiny bit (due to the hard drive or maybe an extremely quiet fan?), which is new sensation for me but not a problem. I plan to upgrade to a 120 GB hard drive someday, so we'll see if that has any impact on the vibration. The MacBook itself is so sturdy and solid, a world apart from my creaky Titanium.

One more difference I noticed between my two laptops: with the Titanium, if you pressed the CD eject key on the keyboard and there was no disk in the drive, it would do nothing. On the MacBook, it makes noise indicating it's trying to eject even when there's no disk. Maybe this is a troubleshooting feature?


At 7/19/2006 9:48 AM, Anonymous Cris Pearson said...

Instead of ctrl click, you might like to try using 2 finger tapping instead. There is an option for it in System Preferences / Keyboard & Mouse. I just had a Macbook on loan for a week. Nice machine!


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