17″MacBook Pro, matte
My MacBook finally arrived. Following with the fact that Apple doesn’t seem to have any real physical presence in Taiwan, the MacBook itself came from Shanghai and some other software I bought with it came from Singapore. Update: I did get some receipts from an office on Dunhua Rd. sent registered mail. So maybe there is one person working in that office.
So, on to the computer. It comes in a box with an incorrect, ugly picture. Somebody at Apple seems to have thought copying HP’s screen design to be a good thing. Thankfully, with a Matte screen, the laptop does not actually have a thick black border. There is a piece of black rubber that goes around the entire display assembly, but it is thin and it serves an actual purpose. Rather than rely on a piece of rubber that will soon fall out, the long piece of rubber helps ensure a solid fit. Closing the laptop lid is like closing the door of a luxury car. There is a nice thunk.
I haven’t used it long, but I do have some initial impressions:
- The screen is pretty good for a laptop these days. The viewing angle is not as good as the PowerBook G4 I once had, but the colours seem more accurate when viewed directly in front of the screen.
- The screen is bright enough – in other words, brighter than the display models at the store.
- Sound is loud enough to play in class for my students.
- The screen is inset, and the keyboard is sunk, so unlike my PowerBook G4, keys should not put marks on the screen while the laptop is shut. There is enough space that the keyboard cover I purchased comes off and is in a different orientation when I reopen the laptop.
- Taiwanese keyboard.
- Long battery life.
- The extremely useful glass trackpad, so long as it does not break. It is nice to have the ability to simulate two trackpad buttons on the Mac without using an external mouse.
- QUIET!!! With the SSD, the only sounds from the laptop are from shutting the case, tapping the keys, and if one listens, the starting of the quiet fans in the back. When I left it on overnight, it did not interrupt my sleep.
- Because there is an SSD, the drive is quiet and more responsive than a traditional hard disk.
- I ordered mine with a 128GB SSD. There is less than 110GB available, so even using the inflated GB sizes used by the hard disk industry, space is missing. The drive is also slow – only 71MB/sec in tests I did.
- The sudden motion sensor came enabled. The sudden motion sensor is used to protect hard disks when the computer is subject to large acceleration forces. However, I got mine with an SSD, so there are no moving parts. No moving parts mean that high acceleration rates will not affect disk lifetime during use.
- Ports are all on the left side, rather than the back. This is at least partially due to the screen hinge design, but it is still annoying. The USB ports are also too close together on the side. Though there are three ports, because they are too close, you can really only use two of them at any one time.
- MiniDisplay Port for video output. Somebody at Apple thought it would be a good idea to require users to bring yet another conversion cable. Laptops are often used for presentations. Most projectors are VGA, not even DVI. For somebody that uses a laptop as a laptop, Mini Displayport is completely useless. The PowerBook G4 I used to have could output an image to a TV.
- The display does not open enough for my tastes. The Titanium PowerBook G4 could do 180 degrees.
I read somebody online claiming that the screen was an IPS panel. Having the superior IPS panel technology in my desktop display, I can definitely state that is not the case. Colours shift quickly when not viewed spot-on, and they wash out when viewing up. Viewing down is worse, but that is unlikely to be a problem since the display doesn’t open far enough. I am almost positive the panel is the cheapest type – a TN panel.