Apple MacBook Review: Part 1

Dongles And HDCP

Given that there is only one monitor on the market supporting Mini DisplayPort, we are disappointed that Apple chose not to include any dongles with the $1,299 MacBook or $1,999 MacBook Pro. Even when playing Devil’s Advocate to understand Apple’s strategy by saying that the lack of a dongle will do more to promote Mini DisplayPort as a real standard, the lack of a VGA dongle is inexcusable given that it’s still the primary manner in which notebooks are connected to front projectors. 

The Mini DisplayPort to single-link DVI adapter is required for attaching a MacBook to a standard LCD monitor or, when used with a DVI-to-HDMI adapter, for attaching a MacBook to a HDTV. The dual-link DVI adapter requires USB power and it seems that the dual link DVI adapter is including additional circuitry to allow 2560x1600 resolutions to be delivered. We haven’t seen one of these adapters in our labs yet, but we suspect that the adapter is an active device that converts Dual Link DVI data encapsulated in the DisplayPort stream into a standard Dual-Link DVI output rather than a simple pin converter.

The lack of a Mini DisplayPort to conventional DisplayPort adapter is also frustrating for most. We suspect Apple elected not to release a DisplayPort adapter to increase adoption of their Mini DisplayPort standard. If Apple shipped every MacBook with a Mini DisplayPort to DisplayPort adapter, then monitor manufacturers would have no incentive to consider developing Mini DisplayPort only devices or cables when it would only mean more work and effort to license the Apple standard.


HDCP is a feature of the new MacBook and MacBook Pro, and this is a feature that I actually welcome. HDCP is a content protection system that can be applied to DVI, HDMI, and DisplayPort. While I would be the first to say that a DRM-free world is the best option, the reality is that HDCP was the best compromise that Hollywood and the technology industry could come to. 

HDCP is an artificial requirement. There’s no reason why Blu-ray or iTunes or other Content-on-Demand requires content protection. But Hollywood issued a simple ultimatum to the consumer electronics world: you can continue to offer DVD quality movies under the current technology, but if you want us to release high-definition versions of our movies to the home, with quality rivaling that of the original digital studio master, we will demand HDCP.

As a consumer, you have three choices. You can stick with DVD and ignore the HDCP requirement, you can go for high-definition content and agree to participate in the HDCP scheme, or you can take a stand and become your own movie studio and make your own high-def movies and release them without HDCP. By including HDCP, the MacBook joins the club of ensuring continued support from Hollywood while opening the door for Blu-ray in the future. While Hollywood studios continue to produce the majority of films that people enjoy, they will continue to dictate the terms with which their films can be used.

  • mrubermonkey
    My spider sense is telling me that Tom's is desperate to bring in more readers with the release of this article, which is bound to conger up the same epic comment wars regarding Mac vs. PC of Mac articles past.
  • mrubermonkey
  • curnel_D
    Yawn. Basically, you were just explaining a normal notebook that costs more than it should. It's slightly thinner by the standards in it's class but is 0.38" really a big deal? (No.) The famed apple screens can be outperformed and sometimes for cheaper if you shop around, upgradability is shaky at it's very best, and it is generally more expensive than everything in it's class.
    Then of course, you list the Mac OS X as an improvement over the PC's. That's where almost every single person will find error in your article. It is nothing more than a watered down version of more powerful unix/linux OS's. Anyone who has work to do, wont use this. Yawn.
  • ravenware
    I had three options, all of which would require considerable amounts of time. One was to reformat the HDD and start with a fresh install of Windows Vista. It’d be tried and true, but it was still going to take a lot of time to redo the whole thing. I could switch entirely to Linux. I had already switched from IRIX to Linux several years ago, so I was already comfortable managing and troubleshooting Linux systems. Unfortunately, I still needed a system capable of running the Adobe Creative Suite and Microsoft Office. Open source alternatives to Adobe Creative Suite didn’t have the same quality or capabilities that I needed, while OpenOffice lacked the same multi-core computation capabilities that Excel offers for some of my more complex spreadsheets. The third option was to try switching to a Mac.

    When Core i7 desktop processors were available in greater quantities, I’d rebuild my Windows PC then.

    I was too careful, too savvy, and too poor to switch to a Mac.

    This seems rather illogical. Reformatting the drive wouldn't cost anything but time and if your too poor then why spend 1300+ on a new computer? You would also still spend time and possibly more money on installing your apps.
    You also spent time and money on upgrade options.

    Who is "We"? We is used often in the article, I thought this article was one mans account/review on switching over to a mac.

    I would like to know more about what you actually do for a living and what you really use your computers for too.

    I and the majority of the Toms hardware readers are diehard windows users too and I can not afford to pick up a $1300 laptop to see if I like it or not. So I am very interested to see how this unfolds.
  • ravenware
    Oh yeah, why would the need to reformat your computer lead to building a new core i7 machine?
  • one-shot
    ..The scent of Mac-ness and the sense of power that comes with it. Maybe spending twice as much isn't such a bad idea after all.............
  • marraco

    I found lots of spam "comming" from my computer. Even when I had run Linux -Live CD only- for a month.

    Headers are easy to fake, so, are a common spam trick, to hide real spam origin.

    By the way, there are some easy fix you could had used:

    1- Use virtual machines to access Internet.
    2- Use utilities as Norton Ghost for fast "formatting". In minutes your computer restore a partition image ready to use with all your software installed.

    I don't want to hurt your feelings, but it looks like you spent an enormous effort to justify pay for an overpriced Mac OS (overpriced because the obsolete hardware you had buy does not wort a penny, so you are paying for the OS only).
  • Pei-chen
    Reads like crap only Anand himself would have written. You went Mac because someone better (a hacker, virus writer, whoever) defeated you? That's like saying you went gay because someone get the girl you're after.

    BTW, where are the reviews of web based Java game we were promised? You got a Mac so you're not reviewing SC2 that's for sure.
  • chaosgs
    Why would anyone "switch" to a mac, when pc will do everything you need for half the price. Everything you mentioned in this article, all pc's (vista pc's) in the world can do at half the price.

    As for security, i don't need security on my computer, i NEVER get any viruses, and if i did Norton or avg would take care of all that.

    Mac aint got shit on pc.
  • arkadi
    It more like an opinion (commercial stile) not a review. It a good article with all the specs and the pictures, but it far from being objective. And the suggestions that was made here...If you writing a review, you can't emphasize the superiority of your product on expanse of other (Microsoft in this case).