As you could tell by my initial post, I am now the owner of a MacBook Pro. Yes, the post was a bit moody, but it was to convey the exact feeling I get when a self-indulgent weenie Mac owner approaches me with their sales pitch on how I should go Mac. People who have read the post that work in my field, have already conveyed that I “hit the nail” on the proverbial “head”, as they too have felt the sting of Mac owners.
The pain has yet to subside in my wallet and I’m sure an ass chewing is soon to ensue as I don’t discuss what I do with others in my house anymore. In any case, it’s certainly cheaper than going to school, but I can only prove my knowledge with real world answers as I won’t be a Certified Mac Genius because of the path I chose to give me said knowledge. It’s worked well for me in the past getting a job at Gateway, but we know how that turned out. Perhaps I can get some respect from my current employer in the form of a boost in pay or if need be, perhaps I’ll find such respect elsewhere. That matter has yet to come to pass in any case.
This is the most important point in my opinion, especially since our economy is so close to the tank right now. It’s the number one reason my life at home is so uncomfortable. So buying this Mac is only going to cause me headaches of the “you bought what!?!!?” kind. The Sony VIAO I just sold last week, was listing around $599. I could’ve bought 3 of those total and still spent less on them than I did on the Mac. Again, it’s for education, so it’s still less than paying for classes that for all I know, may not even exist or only be taught in Cupertino, CA as I don’t recall OS X as part of the A+ certification and certainly not part of the MCSE certification. Though it would be super cool to be called a Certified Mac Genius.
Ease of Use
This one I’m going to flounder with describing. I always try to look at things like a customer does. Sadly the majority of the customers I deal with I would need to hit myself in the head with a sledgehammer to think like they do. Though in all seriousness I do try to think like I know nothing and try to take an outside look to figure whether or not someone could figure out what I can. Using common sense and logic (yes, I know…. don’t say it).
However, I was extremely surprised how quickly I was able to figure out 80% of what I wanted this thing to do right off the bat. Had it hooked to the wireless first thing and was off to the races poking about and finding where my documents, pictures and other files should go and how to open and use the applications installed. How to remove, move and add things to the dock bar. Super simple.
I’m not sure an everyday PC user would get used to “mounting”. Anything you plug in or CD/DVD you insert gets mounted to the OS and then you get an icon on the desktop. You must eject it before disconnecting. Though I have also I seen a lot of PC users just yank out their USB flash drives with out using the “safely remove” icon in the system tray. I imagine Mac users do the same thing essentially.
I can however, see every day folks working on Macs. Big pretty icons galore. Oh wait… Windows Vista/7 has those too. Setting up email wasn’t too terribly hard. Though Mac Mail 4.5 does not do the best job of handling Gmail apparently. I find that I have to delete things in the Inbox and All Mail separately which is annoying. Though I recall the early versions of Thunderbird and Windows Live Mail being guilty of the same thing. Perhaps the new OS X Lion with Mac Mail 5, (due in Summer) will also address a fix for that.
I’m not talking about just the desktop and how pretty the big icons are. This thing is visually stunning at every turn! The aluminum body is sleek and sexy, the screen is shiny as far as the glass goes. The display is awesome! The colors are so rich and deep. Even loading up World of Warcraft, this thing blew me away and made me mourn the fact that I just upgraded my Video card on my desktop. It may have the speed, but it doesn’t have the depth this laptop does. The laptops 3D graphics are nearly as fast but I can’t turn things up all the way. Still it looks phenomenal. Not too mention everything moves so fluidly. In game and normal applications. That floored me.
Keyboard and Touchpad
The keyboard is a learning curve for me. It has control keys but you use the Command key as you would use the control key on a PC. That’s just confusing. So what is the control key for? The “F” (function) Keys are not on by default. Instead you use them for system functions like brightness and volume or media playing primarily. Again, confusing. Home, Insert and End are missing completely and as a website designer I use those constantly. So programming is going to suck eggs. The Delete key is the backspace key and there is no backspace and since delete works like the backspaced you delete in reverse and the sideways motion of the …… what the fuck? In short I hate the layout of the keyboard and missing keys. That’s going to take a lot to get used too. I will say this, the auto back lighting for the keyboard when it gets in a dim environment is super cool!
The touchpad is cool and unlike my previous laptops, it doesn’t interfere with my typing. The multi-touch is amazing, you can twist, zoom and do all sorts of gestures to get it to do what you want. It’s not a huge feature I will ever take advantage of, but it certainly works well.
The MacBook Pro is just as fast as my desktop gaming PC. It screams as opening up applications and games and is really a pleasure to work with as far as not having to wait long for anything at all. It boots up just as fast which I like to keep my boot times around a minute or less. This certainly does the same thing.
I was terribly disappointed that Mac not only chooses to omit any antivirus software, but the firewall was off by default. I get that they are less vulnerable to viruses. Still I don’t see why they don’t at least recommend something for it. But to have the firewall off? A novice user, would hook up to a cable modem and off to the races to the internet, where anyone with knowledge of an exploit would have open access to the users brand new system. To me, the firewall being off is completely unacceptable. Needless to say I turned the firewall on.
The software bundled with the machine isn’t what I would think they everyday user needs. Sure Garage Band, iMovie, Photo Booth sound like a lot of fun, but outside of internet and email, the Mac isn’t what I would call productive and useful. Maybe the majority of Mac users enjoy adding another $200 – $300 dollars for Microsoft Office for Macs to their enormous cost of buying the laptop in the first place. Not me. Thankfully a good chunk of my freeware is Mac capable. And what I couldn’t find on my list I was able to find in the AppStore that is included on the Mac. So far, I haven’t had to spend a penny on software. Though not all of my tools are on here yet. I’m still searching.
Installing software is easier than I had expected. There seems to be 3 different install types, but they all are easy and things have so far, just worked. That’s a hell of a bonus for something that up until now was completely foreign to me. Will a normal user be able to do it? For the most part I think they could actually. I didn’t have to do any research really, just follow the pretty pictures or instructions.
I know that games are a somewhat lacking feature of the Mac. WoW works out of the box, which is cool. But I didn’t expect the bonuses I found. Turns out that most games, if you want to record what you do in them, you have to use a third party app to “capture” what is in game. Such as Fraps or WeGame. As I was tweaking the settings to my liking, I found that WoW for Mac has a built in application to use Quicktime to record what you do in game and do so in H.264 format. Nice! Then I saw that they also had in-game controls for using iTunes while playing. Something I wish I had for WinAmp in Warcraft on my PC! I have yet to play with either of these features though.
Of course as I said before, WoW looked stunning on the Mac. So much deeper and rich than it is on my PC. The boss thinks it’s the display that does it. I’m wondering if it’s the AMD video they use on the Mac. As I have strictly used Nvidia for my PC. Hmmm… Some research will have to be done to find out.
Other Things of Note
The power cord is super cool. It’s modular so you can change the plug out for something that would work in European countries. It’s also magnetized at the connection to the MacBook so it just clicks itself into place without nearly any effort and can break away easily if the user inadvertently gets up and walks off with it plugged in!
It is heavier than most laptops. But it’s because of the aluminum body and the battery cells being much larger.
There is no vent holes for the CPU/GPU to breathe from. I’m only guessing they use the body as a giant heatsink. It gets warm but not nearly as hot as my Sony did.
Well I’m far from concluded on Macs. End story is I own one now. I’ll keep you up to date as to my experiences with it. So far, it’s not as bad as I thought it would be and certainly easier than I expected. There’s a lot of little things I have yet to get into. I will say that the image you see in the corner of this post I edited on the Mac. Wow, word count for this post is 1836.
And for you Mac Weenies, I dedicate this song to you.