Recently Apple introduced new versions of the MacBook and the MacBook Pro based on the Unibody design. Although a lot of noise was made about the “introduction” of the Unibody design on these new Macs, it was actually the MacBook Air that introduced this design last year. The Unibody design appears as though the notebook [...]
Recently Apple introduced new versions of the MacBook and the MacBook Pro based on the Unibody design. Although a lot of noise was made about the “introduction” of the Unibody design on these new Macs, it was actually the MacBook Air that introduced this design last year. The Unibody design appears as though the notebook was carved out of a single piece of Aluminum. If nothing else, the Unibody certainly makes the Notebook feel a lot more sturdier than any other notebook that I’ve recently used.
Arguably, these new Macs are also the most beautiful notebooks in the market today. They are a refined version of the Air and the smooth curves and tapered bottoms make it look downright sexy. Apple has reduced the thickness on these new MacBooks however, they’re still pretty thick and heavy compared to the Air. The usual array of ports sans Firewire are present on the left side of the Macbook along with the battery charge meter while the right side houses the slot-in DVD writer. The Pro features all of the above ports along with the Firewire port.
The bottom has a switch that can be lifted to reveal the battery and hard drive sections on these new Macs which makes replacing the hard drive or the battery very easy. Some of the earlier reviews I read said this part was flimsy but I didn’t notice any such thing. Maybe Apple included the rubber strip later on to keep this part firm in its place.
Apple is certainly known to choosing style over functionality and the screens on these new notebooks are a prime example of just that. The bright 13.3″ and 15.4″ screens retains their wide-screen resolutions (1280×800 and 1440×900) and with their glossy black borders certainly look nice. However, the glossy finish tends to add a LOT of reflection- especially viewing darker images. Unfortunately a Matte screen is not an option on any Apple notebook anymore.
Viewing angle’s on the new MacBook’s screen are definitely better than the previous models, especially from the sides. Looking at it from the top does diminish the quality but I doubt you’ll be doing that frequently. Color reproduction also feels better, however, I don’t have an older MacBook lying around for a direct comparison. The MacBook Pro is much better with both viewing angles and color reproduction making it come alive. Also these new models tilt more than their previous versions although not as much as I would’ve liked.
The trackpad is something else that has gone through a considerable change and the first thing you notice is the lack of any visible buttons. However, the lower-half of the trackpad is one big button by itself and you can define the right side to act as a right click and left as your primary click. Alternatively, multi-touch gestures also work with Apple adding a four finger swipe for Expose and Task Switching as well.
One more thing is the new glassy feel of the surface of the trackpad and it certainly feels very very nice. I did have a couple of issues with mouse jumping and clicks not registering when I received the unit but a system update to 10.5.6 as well as the firmware update of the trackpad pretty much fixed everything.
The keyboard on the MacBook comes with back-lighting if you chose the higher-end model which I feel is plain wrong. All models of MacBooks should have this functionality. Apple could continue charging a price premium for a higher-speed CPU, more RAM or more disk space, but features should be made standard across the board on similar models. The MacBook Pro, obviously, has this feature as a standard.
Heat produced by these new MacBooks is certainly less than my first generation Air which is probably due to a combination of the cooler chipset and better thermal design by Apple. The new nVidia 9400 chipset certainly runs circles around the previous Intel X3100 when it comes to graphics. While I don’t have exact figures, World of Warcraft is very playable on these new integrated graphics. With OpenCL standardized for Snow Leopard, I’m sure that GPU assisted effects will also get a boost in the upcoming O/S. The Pro features an additional dedicated GPU onboard- the nVidia 9600GT however switching between the onboard and integrated GPU requires you to log out- hopefully something that will be fixed in an upcoming O/S upgrade.
Battery life on these MacBooks is on par if not better that the previous models. i managed to get four hours writing documents and surfing the web wirelessly. Watching videos with Airport turned off should easily allow you to watch one full movie- even if its Lord of the Rings.
In short, these new Macs are beautiful, fast and very functional. They’re certainly a worthy upgrade over the previous models especially with the new nVidia chipset. Would I recommend getting one? If you’re not a power-user then I certainly would. If all you want to do is write emails/documents, surf the web and watch a few videos that the current MacBook is certainly up to the challenge. Power users will probably want to wait for the next revision which should hopefully feature Intel’s Nehalam based CPU- but you’re looking at waiting until the end of the year for that.