The Best Things Come In Pairs
When Apple announced their new Macbook and Macbook Pro sceptics sniffed and aficionados waited with baited breath. We received the duo from Apple. First off, their packaging is extremely compact and you’ll think the box of the Macbook Pro actually holds a 13.3-inch notebook instead of a 15.4-inch one; the Macbook’s packaging too looks a couple of sizes smaller.
Gone is the distinctive white plastic that some hated and others adored; but granted exclusiveness all the same. The new Macbook (MB hereon) and Macbook Pro (MB Pro hereon) are no less distinct though. Apple has gone totally metal with both of them and the bodies are completely aluminium. In fact the cover is made out of a single piece of aluminium meaning it’s very rigid. The rear too is solid aluminium; top points for build quality. The finish is a silver-grey and matte finished. The lid on the both these notebooks is very lightly magnetised and doesn’t feel hard to open at all; yet it will not open during cartage; great attention to minute detail. Both these notebooks look like a million bucks and will draw attention when used in just about any company. Build quality of the outer body is superb as we expected it to be. Both Macbooks are incredibly slim and slimmer than any other notebook in the market, save for some 11.1-inch Sony Vaio’s. Both the MB and the MB Pro have the same thickness. Of course the MB Pro looks slimmer; mainly because it’s bigger. Shockingly the Macbook Pro is only 100 or so grams more than the Macbook in weight. This is absolutely amazing since it’s much larger. Apple is honest and quotes weight inclusive of batteries.
Apple uses the segregated keypads (keys separated by a narrow bezel) on both Macbooks. Both notebooks’ keypads exude superb feedback, not mushy and not too hard and the keys are very well spaced out. Usability-wise we could find no complaints; you will get used to this keypad very soon and love it.
The Macbook Pro has a screen size of 15.4-inches and offers a high resolution of 1440 x 900 pixels; which is an aspect ratio of 16:10. Frankly, Apple has got the ratio between resolution and screen size just right; the MB Pro feels just right; the desktop area is large and the icons not to small as it happens with small-sized, large resolution screens. The screen on the MB Pro is in a league of its own; it’s bright, crisp and the colours are very vivid. Level of black is very good; and this display will handle images and videos excellently. Any sort of multimedia usage is a fun experience. The Macbook also has a good display; better than nearly all notebooks in the Rs 80,000 price range. However, its miles apart from the MB Pros screen. In comparison the blackness level isn’t as good; and colours seem a touch washed out; irrespective of how much you play with the display settings. The contrast ratio is good; but not in comparison to the MB Pro. Another issue with the MB’s screen is the poor viewing angles; although better than most 13.3-inch notebooks it’s not even close to the MB Pro. For a 13.3-inch screen the resolution of 1280 x 800 pixels seems a little less; however this is standard, so we won’t complain. If only we didn’t have 15.4-inches of gorgeousness sitting next to the MB when we tested its display! Both displays are LED-lit; so they’re power savers too.
The multi-touch touchpad is something Apple is advertising aggressively and it’s simply a trackpad with integrated mouse button functionality; so both Macbooks have no mouse buttons. You simply click anywhere on the trackpad. While this may take a couple of days to get used to; it is extremely functional and actually faster than left and right clicking. Finger gestures also work, as on the iPod Touch; although this does take a little bit of getting used to as initially you won’t know exactly what to do with the feature. Once you get a little practice it’s superb. The large surface area of the trackpad also helps.
One of the biggest inclusions (and one that eases adoption) for all those Windows lovers is the OS X 10.5 Boot Camp. You can now create a separate partition for Windows and actually run Windows XP and/or Vista alongside Leopard with the multi-boot option. Obviously Mac fans shun Windows; but this is a clever move as OS X has been a hurdle for many Windows users to bite the Mac bullet; now they’ll be able to do so in total piece of mind.
Office 2008 Mac is also out; but users of Office 2007 will immediately hate it. We wonder if Microsoft deliberately created Office 2008 Mac to annoy Mac users having migrated from Office 2007. Those who are familiar with Office 2003 won’t have as much to complain about; but the software’s interface isn’t as good as either of the Windows versions.
Both the MB and the MB Pro come with the new Intel Core 2 Duo P series processors which are part of the new Centrino 2 platform. These CPUs support an FSB of 1066 MHz. The earlier T series CPUs supported an FSB of 800 MHz. DDR3 memory is supported on both Macs. The MB comes with a GeForce 9400M video solution while the MB Pro comes with a 9600 GT. That’s some serious video crunching power under these babies’ hoods and we figure this will be enough for most diehard multimedia buffs. Although we couldn’t benchmark either notebook due to OS X’s incompatibility with all our benchmarks both the MB and the MB Pro are fairly responsive. Unlike most Windows PCs which have some lag when opening photos and playing videos the OS X’s media player works flawlessly. The GUI is super smooth and never feels choppy unlike the GUI on Vista where icon animations and preview windows can gobble up resources. The integrated webcamera offers good quality; the speakers are quite crisp and loud.
Shockingly both the MB and the MB Pro do not get hot even after an hour of regular usage; we expected the aluminium body to get warm at the very least; but this wasn’t so. The bottom does get warm, but that’s to be expected. The fact that your palms stay sweat free itself is a big plus; kudos to Apple’s sterling design.
Battery life as measured on the MB Pro was two hours and forty five minutes; this is good for a 15.4-inch notebook. The MB does even better and crosses the magic three hour mark with three hours and four minutes of battery time. This will no doubt fall when using Windows; but that’s another matter.