As a long time Windows and Linux user, I have always heard other’s thoughts on switching to a Mac. A phrase like ‘once you go Mac, you never go back’ was common occurrence when talking to others about computer manufactures and operating systems. And although I had never regarded such phrases as worthless Apple propaganda, I had suspicions about whether or not a Mac could be really be that much better.
During a recent errand at the USC Bookstore, I discovered an extraordinary deal: a black Macbook for only $899. The bookstore was selling old Apple products at reduced prices to make room for the current line of products. The Macbook that caught my eye was originally $1399 – $500 in savings and a rare find for a Mac! I couldn’t pass it up, and after about a day of deliberation, purchased the new Macbook.
Black Macbook MB063LL/A
2.16 GHz Intel Core 2 Duo processor with 4 MB shared L2 Cache
1 GB (two SO-DIMM) 667 MHz DDR2 SDRAM (PC2-5300); 160 GB 5400 rpm Serial ATA hard drive; 8x Super Drive
One FireWire 400, two USB 2.0 ports, Mini-DVI port with support for DVI, VGA, S-video, and composite video output (requires adapters, sold separately)
Built-in 10/100/1000BASE-T (Gigabit); built-in 54 Mbps AirPort Extreme (based on 802.11n draft specifications); built-in Bluetooth 2.0+EDR
13.3-inch (diagonal) glossy TFT widescreen display, 1280 x 800 resolution
The specs of the Macbook are best in class and Apple has included everything you can ask for by default. I was very happy to find out that my $899 laptop had Bluetooth, 802.11n, and a 160gb hard drive already in it. The result is a computer that is great for everything except for high memory load applications and games. Speaking of which, though only 1gb did not seem to cause any slow down of the computer, I did purchase 2gb of memory from Crucial.com the night I got the Macbook. I actually just received and installed the new memory right before writing this post! It was a piece of cake, I might add.
The hardware of the Macbook is nearly perfect. The Macbook is very thin and has a very clean look. There are no labels or ugly 1″ by 1″ stickers to speak of. The screen is great looking and the lid opens up quickly with only a finger. I do have two complaints though. The first complaint is that the laptop seems a little heavy, weighing in at 5.0 pounds. The second the keyboard. As one who prefers the keyboard over the mouse, I got very use to using the keyboard on my Sony Vaio laptop. The Vaio has a separate row for the Home/End keys on the right side, and I very much liked having the CTRL key in the very bottom left. So a few things about the Macbook keyboard: why can’t i have a separate backspace and delete key?, why are CRTL and ALT keys absent on the right side of the keyboard, with a full-time second enter key in their place?, why does the volume function have to be on the F5 key – i use then both frequently!, and small arrow keys are somewhat annoying. But other than that, the Macbook is a solid laptop and is among the highest quality that I’ve seen.
All of the physical connections to the Macbook are on the left side. From back to front, the Macbook has the following ports: mag-safe power connection, gigabit Ethernet, mini-DVI, 6-pin Firewire, 2 USBs, audio in, audio out (headphones), and a security slot. The magnetic power connector is one of my favorite features, and it has already saved my Macbook once when I accidentally yanked on the power cord. Besides that, I wouldn’t have minded seeing an S-Video port directly on the unit, but a $20 adapter takes care of that issue. The right side of the Macbook has only a slot for inserting a DVD – much better than the pop-out drives the nearly all PC laptops have.
Wireless connectivity on the Macbook is great too! I’ve had no problems using Wifi in the dorms at USC, and around the rest of the campus. What’s great is the amazing battery life I get while using Wifi. My Vaio would only get about 1 hour and 30 minutes of life with the Power Saving setting on Vista, the Macbook clocks in at nearly 4 hours of life. The Macbook comes standard with Bluetooth 2.0 as well. This allows me to connect my Bluetooth mouse with ease. And did I mention that I used Bluetooth to quickly transfer all of the pictures for this Blog post from my phone?
OS / Software
Before purchasing my Macbook, I had barely used the Mac OS. The few times that I had used it, I had the impression that the OS was over-simplified and thus, confusing. But now adapting to the Mac OS has proved very easy, and I have the extra comfort of the Unix backend. That way, if I can’t figure out the GUI way of doing something, I can do it quickly and efficiently through the terminal application. One of the best things about Mac OS is all of the visual enhancements such as Expose and Widgets. Unlike Windows Vista, both of this tools are very polished, and never slow down the rest of the system. My biggest grudge against the Vista sidebar was that is slowed down the rest of the computer. Oh, and the sidebar was accessible unlike the corners-enabled Mac OS widget layer. I love the convenience of Mac OSX and how everything just works.
At first I was unsure about how I would feel about switching to a Mac. But after only one week, I’m convinced that the Macbook with Mac OSX is the best complete package. The OS is fast, easy, and fun to use, and the hardware is solid and reliable. So buy a Mac, and be enlightened.
So what do you think about my first blog post? Let me know in a comment! Check back soon for new blog posts on my favorite widgets, software I’ve installed, and other Mac tips and tricks as I discover them!