Back to My Mac. Thats the name of Apple’s Mobile Me component that allows you to access your Mac remotely. However, I’m using the sentence more or less in its literal form as I switched my notebook back to a Mac after spending six months with the Sony VAIO and Windows 7. Its not because [...]
Back to My Mac. Thats the name of Apple’s Mobile Me component that allows you to access your Mac remotely. However, I’m using the sentence more or less in its literal form as I switched my notebook back to a Mac after spending six months with the Sony VAIO and Windows 7. Its not because I felt my VAIO/Windows 7 combo was less powerful or buggy- I’m just more comfortable on a Mac and the new 13.3″ MacBook Pro easily lured me back.
I picked up the 2.53GHz model which retails for AED 7000 compared to the 2.26GHz model which is 1400 Dirhams cheaper. I’m generally a DIY kind of guy picking cheaper machines and beefing them up myself but the reason I picked up the higher-end model was simply because I found a buyer for my VAIO. Regardless, I wasnt interested in the hard drive capacity which is 120GB vs 250GB as I was going to replace it with my Intel X25-M SSD. DDR3-1066 RAM was going to cost an additional 400 Dirhams to bump from 2GB to 4GB so I basically paid 1,000 Dirhams for the CPU upgrade. Not so smart but I wont have to think about how much faster the extra 266MHz would feel like for the rest of my MBP’s life.
As of all Mac notebooks of recent, the 13.3″ MBP is based on the nVidia 9400GM chipset which is an integrated chipset as it utilizes 256MB of your onboard RAM. However, dont let the “integrated” part fool you which has traditionally been associated with slower Intel models. The 9400GM is an extremely capable GPU and handles everyday tasks thrown at it with elegance. About the only time you will see it hiccup is playing GPU intensive games or using Final Cut kind of apps (or so they say.) Since my computer gaming is limited to World of Warcraft and the only video-editing I do is restricted to copying and uploading videos from my Flip to You Tube, I don’t have any issue with the GPU.
Rounding the specs off, you have the iSight, Gigabit Ethernet, two USB ports, mini-display port, firewire 800, 802.11n Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 2.1 and an SD card slot which took Apple five years to figure out. Coming from the Sony Z series, these specs are somewhat expected for any notebook I’d buy. While we’re on the subject of my Z series, there are two things that I will miss. The first is the gorgeous 1600×900 matte display which makes the MBP’s 1280×800 Ultra Glossy display seem a bit underwhelming. Sure, the super glossy screen on the MBP makes the colors look richer- but only when I’m not sitting close to a light source behind me. I’ve found myself adjusting the screen angle more than once to remove lights shining on the screen.
The second thing that I miss is the weight of my Z series which is about half a kg lighter. It might not seem much on paper but when you’re dragging it around airports or events, it adds up. I dont know why Apple couldn’t have shed half a pound or so from the MBP- after all they have Engineered the Air. Speaking of weight, the Sony Z series had a funny habit of getting the whole notebook lifted when I tried to open the screen with one hand- and then it would drop the base of the unit back on the surface. The MBP doesn’t do that but is harder to open with one hand.
Looks-wise, the MBP is a killer- its a beautiful notebook that feels extremely well built thanks to the Unibody enclosure. What I did find it a bit weird is that ALL the ports are on the left side of the notebook- at least one USB port on the right would’ve been nice, however, when I unscrewed the back, I realized that there was no space. The optical drive takes the bulk of the space on the right side and battery kicks in right below it. The unit also runs much cooler than most of the MacBooks I’ve used in recent years. It would get warm at times but never uncomfortable.
One more thing I want to talk about is the Glass Trackpad with no visible buttons. What looks like a big trackpad is, in fact, just a button at the bottom. You notice this when you try to glide your finger along the bottom edge of the trackpad and realize the the mouse doesn’t respond. While I did review the unibody Macbooks when they were released late last year, I didnt get to thoroughly play around with them. So I’m not sure if its the glass trackpad or the very mediocre touchpad on the VAIO thats making me love it. The gliding is smooth like a hot knife through butter and the multiple finger swipes give a big boost to productivity although I would stop at three fingers gestures. Putting the fourth one sometimes proves to be inconvenient. The keyboard is what you’d expect out of a Mac notebook- silent, comfortable to type and backlit.
This 13.3″ MacBook Pro is FAST- especially with the Intel X25-M SSD. Apple recently updated the firmware for these new MBPs to correct the 1.5 Gigabit speed issue of SATA- it now runs natively at 3 Gigabit. Instead of talking numbers, I thought I’d just record a video of how fast this MBP is with an Intel SSD.
Excuse the “While I work at the full review” sentence at the start as this is it. As you can see, the notebook is insanely fast with an SSD. The O/S loads up in a few seconds and applications are almost instantly opened. Even spotlight is extremely snappy. This same drive on my Sony Z series didn’t feel HALF as fast.
Battery Life is impressive on the 13″ MBP which is good since Apple has taken away the option for it to be user-replaceable. On my first charge, I got about four and a half hours which is pretty decent especially considering that I took 30 minutes or so in that period to install applications leading to high CPU utilization. With subsequent charges, I was getting between five to five and a half hours. I’m sure that conditioning the battery for a week or so will result in even better battery life.
Overall, the 13″ MacBook Pro is a notebook you could easily fall in love with. Sure, a higher-res matte screen and lighter weight would make the notebook PERFECT for me but everybody has a different idea about a perfect machine and there will never ever be one. The price is a bit expensive in the UAE but that is a sad fact of life we’ve come to accept.