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Apple MacBook Review: Part 2

Final Thoughts

Two months ago, I never thought I would become a Mac fan. I had toyed with the idea, but if my Vista PC wasn’t compromised, I’m sure I’d still be a PC guy. But my time with the MacBook changed things. When it comes to my core computing applications: Internet, office productivity, and digital imaging and content creation, the MacBook works beautifully. It’s incredibly stable, extremely responsive, and a pure joy to use. Small touches like Cover Flow for the normal Finder and integrated Canon RAW support bring the extra level of polish that’s lacking from Windows Vista. With the unibody MacBooks adding a final tactile complement to software, it’s hard for me to imagine ever going back to Windows after making the switch on my primary PC.

The MacBook itself is a stunning piece of hardware. Starting with the aluminum exterior and wonderfully intuitive multitouch trackpad to digging internally to the Nvidia GeForce 9400M chipset and careful motherboard design, the MacBook is one of the best notebooks I have used at any price.  Sure, as a techie I’d love to have a higher-quality screen from the MacBook Air, and the backlit keyboard of the 2.4 GHz model, and yes, the addition of FireWire or at the very least an eSATA port would have been welcome. But, the notebook does everything else so well, so efficiently that I still get a smile every time I use my MacBook. I’m not the first PC guy to be impressed by the latest Macs. Our colleagues at Anandtech were pleasantly surprised to see the superior battery life of Mac OS X over Vista and our colleagues at Wired aren’t the only ones to comment on the speed of Mac OS X over even Windows XP. We’re just the first to look into the possibility of performance penalties in running hacked Mac operating systems.

Windows Vista is still my platform of choice for home theater PCs and gaming. Windows Media Center still offers a better living room interface than Apple Front Row, and its support for ATSC HDTV makes it must-have in a digital living room. More importantly, I can build Windows Media Center PC of my choice, combining a silent CPU and power supply with a ton of hard drives and multiple ATSC tuners. The Mac doesn’t have anything like Media Center. Plex, the Mac OS X fork of XBMC and Boxee both show a lot of promise, but without the ATSC integration that Windows Media Center offers, it’ll be a while before I even think about leaving Windows Vista behind. The Mac also can’t compete with the PC when it comes to games. While StarCraft 2 will likely be the Mac Game of the Year in 2009, the PC version of Mirror’s Edge already has me itching to rebuild a gaming PC.

But I’m waiting to rebuild. In January, Apple is expected to launch a new set of desktops. If these systems offer Core i7 quad-core CPUs, a modern GPU, and arrive at a reasonable price, I’ll be the first to get one to dual boot Vista for games and OS X for everything else. If Apple comes through with a netbook, I’m not sure if I’ll pick one up or not. The MacBook already does what I need in a notebook and the iPhone does everything else I need for extreme portability. An Apple netbook would need eight-hour battery life and full Office 2008 document support for me to make the switch.  Who knows, maybe iWork ’09 will run on ARM?

  • pereira5375
    While I was wrighting the follwing on the Part 1 of this article Part 2 was posted. After reading part 2 I think what I wrote holds true. Here it is:

    I believe this is an advertisement. Whether the author knows that or not is debatable, but certainly the big whigs at Tom's HARDWARE know it.

    Apple seems to have a very good stealth advertising campaign. To expand their market they have developed a very good stealth campaign. They advertise on Rush and Fox both, but stealthily. They have to. Their very tolerant hippie base wouldn't tolerate otherwise.

    BTW this is Tom's HARDWARE. I build my own PC. If I want to read fan boy praises of Apple there are a million other sites I can go to and read that. Why am I reading it here? When I can build my own McIntosh I'll appreciate fan boy articles like this.
    Reply
  • pereira5375
    Whoops: writing.
    Reply
  • pereira5375
    Again I feel a need to point out I am a hardware enthusiast because I build my own computer. This is Tom's HARDWARE. There are three feature articles on the homepage. Usually there is a new one about each week day. Currently there are two Apple feature articles up there. Add one more and this site will officially be useless to me.
    Reply
  • Inneandar
    more or less the same sentiment here. The first article, although also heavily debated, at least tried to focus on the hardware and was informative to some extent. But this... I dont see any need to throw up endless fanboy discussions, and other than that, I fail to see anything this article will achieve. Frankly, who is interested in why os X is better because the hacked version runs the CPU slower - common.
    I extremely liked the part on 'MAC users are smarter' though. I one fell swoop you boost your ego, try to insult me, and put the amount of trustworthy information in this article on the same level as a london tabloid.
    Reply
  • BertrumPantyshield
    Myth 2 on page 2 seems completely stupid. Yes it only takes one hole for a system to be compromised, however, there are still 960 possible holes on one and 600 on the other. This reduces the chance of a hole being found, and thus, exploited. For example: a system has 1,000,000 holes the other has 1. Both are equally secure? Its far easier to find 1 hole in million, than the only hole in the system.
    Reply
  • bachok83
    @pereira5375
    OMG, you are right. I havent realized about this fact until i read your comment. Mac OS X accounts for less than 10% of users and yet 90% of the news these days are about Apple.

    I admit Apple has created so much technical advancements over the years, but they cant even display things right:
    http://www.scavey.com/index.php/should-i-migrate-to-mac-os-knowing-renderers/

    hmm.. so, let's all read about Windows 7 then.. i read it's working :)
    Reply
  • ravenware
    About 70% of Mac users have a college education whereas only 54% of Windows users have a college education according to a 2002 Nielsen study.

    A college education is only as useful as the person who obtains it.
    I work with several college educated people who don't appear to have enough intelligence or knowledge to be considered high school educated.

    Security wise, the computers operating system is only as secure as the person who uses it.

    My home machine had been uninfected for nearly 3 years, no crashes nothing. As soon as my sister starts using my machine on myspace BAM! Reformat city. :)

    Anyway, I would like to see a video review of the Mac OSX done by THG.
    There is just not enough information in this article or the one from Tuan Nguyen about the OS.

    If not I will have to hack one on to my machine, if it is even possible with an AMD CPU. I am not going to shell out an ass load of money for something that I may not even want.

    Hey apple there is an idea! You want more users to switch to your OS? Release some sort of PC capable demo OS for users to try.
    Reply
  • bachok83
    ravenwareHey apple there is an idea! You want more users to switch to your OS? Release some sort of PC capable demo OS for users to try.
    I dont think Apple cares as much as how many people are using their OS. Otherwise they wouldnt even care creating BootCamp software to run windows on Mac machines.

    The only major concern from Apple is how many people buying their hardware. Apple has been a hardware company and always has been. Little that they know that they could be a great software company.... wait...

    Nahh, they dont care about that either since they are moving pass that to a service oriented company. Does iTunes, MobileMe, Apps Store ring any bells, anyone?
    Reply
  • ravenware
    bachok83I dont think Apple cares as much as how many people are using their OS. Otherwise they wouldnt even care creating BootCamp software to run windows on Mac machines. The only major concern from Apple is how many people buying their hardware. Apple has been a hardware company and always has been. Little that they know that they could be a great software company.... wait...Nahh, they dont care about that either since they are moving pass that to a service oriented company. Does iTunes, MobileMe, Apps Store ring any bells, anyone?
    Hence the usage of the word "demo". Why would someone buy an apple computer if they didn't like their operating system?

    Release a demo on the PC to convince users to by their machine.
    Reply
  • justjc
    @Author Alan Dang: It's all good and well that you like you new toy, the Macbook, I had a simular feel when I got my ASUS notebook. Not that it was faster than my desktop, it just felt better because it was the new one. For me that feeling lasted more than two months, so perhaps it's the same thing that makes you say you'll by Apple again.

    That aside you mention the reason for switching to the Mac is that you'll be able to run Adobe Creative Suite and Microsoft Office on it. Yet here at the software part, of your article, you fail to mention how that part of the switch went.
    It's no secret that there have been compatibility issues between PC and Mac versions of the same programs in the past, have you had any?
    How does it feel to work with the usual programs in their new enviroment?
    Do you still instinctively right click to get the right click menu, or do you use Ctrl + left key?
    A couple of benchmarks on those programs wouldn't be bad either.

    Thanks for the articles, hope to see one on the needed programs as well ;)
    Reply