2008 MacBook Review
After some months of waiting for the new revision, I have finally been able to obtain one with my Dad’s financial help (he paid for it). After spending a good week with it, I feel compelled to write an initial impression of my experience.
Of course Apple is very well known for the quality of their packaging and the new MacBook are up to the same standard. Opening a box for the first time is probably the most exciting of buying anything new. This is probably the most expensive thing I have ever unboxed. Apple even pads the inside of the box. Everything is in its own compartment and it’s very minimalist.
First Impressions on the Look and Feel:
The new aluminum casing is amazing. The metal is smooth and the edges of the laptop are very clean and defined. I found myself constantly running my hands around the top of the laptop and the edges of the keyboard because its seriously the best texture ever. The fact that the body is cut from a single piece of aluminum still astounds me; there are no seams or real “edges” so to speak. The only time the body really breaks form is on the bottom where the battery and HDD compartment is.
The size of the laptop is perfect. The screen is just big enough to display everything- but not so small that everything feels cramped. It feels bigger than the previous generation MacBook, but after a quick size comparison- its the exact same size, but thinner. Awesome.
Although the screen keeps the same form factor from the original MacBook (13.3 inches) the quality over the previous generation has vastly improved. The fact that the screen now has LED backlit display is a HUGE change! When I’m in a dark room and I turn up the brightness, it actually hurts to look at the display. Its ridiculous! The colors pop better, the “warm-up” time of the screen is non existent, and the lighting is even. I did a side-by side comparison of my Mom’s old MacBook and you can see the difference. One is both of the screens at lowest brightness, and then the other is both at the highest setting.
Apple also changed the screens from having a glossy finish, to having a single piece of glass that covers the screen. This improves the clarity of the screen but it makes it really reflective. As I type this review in my living room, I can see pretty much everything behind me, so I guess this would be a good way to spot an serial killer or something. It can be pretty distracting, so I either have to actually angle the screen to the point where it doesn’t reflect, or just move into a darker room. The glare problem sucks, but you learn to block it out. The quality of the screen makes up for the bad reflection problems.
Also another thing that will bug people is the fact that since the glass on the screen goes to the edge of the laptop, I found that every time I opened my laptop, my thumb would leave a print on the glass. This can get annoying, and I find it to be bad design because the iSight camera is right where you would put your thumb to open up the laptop. At least they give you a cloth to clean the screen.
This is probably one of my favorite new features on the new MacBook. The trackpad is now one big square on the surface. No visible buttons. It took about a day to get used to, but I found myself actually using the gestures (tap to click, double tap and hold to drag etc). The trackpad itself is actually button. You press it and it makes an audible click sound (a little too audible for me). The pad can be assigned to right click depending on where you click on the pad, which is pretty useful. For those who still like the idea of having a button to left-click, you can have the bottom of the trackpad assigned to do that.
Apple now put a layer of glass over the trackpad so that it reduced friction. Its not the kind of glass you would find on a window- its more like a cloudy matte glass that’s used for privacy. The feel of it is very nice and smooth without being too slippery to the point where it feels like ice. Just the right amount of friction.
But where the trackpad really shines is the multi-touch! This means the pad can recognize more than two points at a time- just like the iPhone- so you can do all those fancy zoom in and out commands with the pinch gestures. This is a Godsend for the people who love all things GTD (Getting Things Done) and people who just like making things more efficient. Thanks to my brother Jimmy, I am now using this application called MultiClutch. What it does is essentially assign key commands to difference multi-touch gestures. Example- to minimize a program, instead of moving your cursor up to the top left corner to click on the icon, you can just take three fingers and swipe them in a downward motion on the trackpad to minimize the active window.
Here is a video to clear up some confusion you might have:
I love using this application. I use it all the time and it makes me feel like I’m from the future. It’s something that Apple should really implement into the OS. No one should be without this. Period.
I’ve always been a fan of the MacBook keyboard. I liked it more than the MacBookPro’s and the white keyboards that came with the older mac desktops. I like the fact they made them black because it fits the design better, and it just looks cooler. The throw of each key is nicely spaced and it takes little time to adjust to the keyboard. I haven’t had a problem typing. The spring of the keys is soft and resilient so you feel compelled to type more on it just because it feels nice.
My model didn’t include the backlit keys, which is a shame because its a really nice feature. I would’ve had to pay about 300 dollars more to get that, 400 Mhz, and about 90 more Gigs of hard drive space. Not worth it in my opinion.
Other than that, its pretty much the same keyboard that we’ve seen for the last few years.
So this actually surprised me. The fact that Apple actually decided to put in a dedicated graphics card to the less expensive models like the MacBook. I thought they would stay with Intel’s crap integrated graphics forever!
So this is a very pleasant surprise and a very nice change for me. What was the first thing I did? Install WoW of course! Threw in the first 5 install disks- it took about 30 minutes or less. About average. The thing that sucks about installing WoW is that it takes forever. Not because the install takes long- its the numerous amount of patches that one has to keep downloading before you can play! Even after you install all the patches for the first game- you then have to install the 2nd expansion and THEN you have to patch that. Luckily, Blizzard managed to streamline the installation process somewhat. Instead of having to install both games, all you have to do now is just install the first game and patch it- without having to install Burning Crusade. Although the latest patch 3.0.2 makes it so you don’t have to install BC, you still have to download the patch- which is a 2.6 Gigabyte file. That took a few hours.
Anyhow, its faster to install now and that’s a nice change.
Enough about the install time- more on how it runs! Good news guys, it runs WoW pretty well! I was actually impressed. I was worried that the new graphics card they put in wasn’t going to cut it- but now my fears are alleviated, as I now can run games like WoW at an average FPS of 50-60 depending on the area. Although gaming on a laptop brings up another issue.
The battery life is good, if not great. As long as I don’t have the screen at full brightness, or use any programs that are processor/graphics heavy, I get about 4+ hours. Now keep in mind I haven’t timed anything- these are just estimates. I can post more accurate times later. Although when playing WoW- the battery life was cut down to about half.
Same ol’ iSight camera. As far as I know its the same VGA (640×480) resolution. It looks more clear, but that could just be because the screen is brighter. Also just to mention the microphone quality is very good. I recorded some video and both the sound and video was very clear.
I love this laptop. This is the first mac I have ever owned and there is a big difference from just using a mac to actually owning one. I’ve used alot of macs for different classes in school and my impression of them was just “meh”. It could be just because the computers I used at school were abused.
As a kid, I vowed to never use any Apple computers just because of how sluggish and awful they were back in the day. Today, things are much, MUCH different. This laptop is really snappy and responsive. Leopard is a very stable and pretty looking OS. There is not much else I can say because I’m pretty sure most of the readers already know most of the stuff I mentioned in this review, its nothing new really.
One thing I can say though, if you’re thinking about buying a MacBook- you will have no regrets should you decide to purchase one.