MacBook: The ReviewLuckily enough, I got my hands on the new MacBook just 2 weeks after its release, but forgot that I'd written this review 2 days after I wrote it, thus the delay. Anyways, I was successful in convincing my cousins to buy a MacBook instead of a Wintel laptop and thus the purchase. The buying experience, as with almost every Apple dealer in Delhi, wasn't a great one, but I think that's fine considering I got a discount. Like I had a choice!
The 'Experience' begins right from the time you open the box. Just like Karan said in his 20" iMac Core Duo review, other companies just don't consider this to be important. Luckily for us, this one was a Mac, and the packaging was perfect and a joy to get through. I did notice that they'd made the box quite thin, a growing trend with all new Apple boxes. Also new was the thin cover that this MacBook was inside. Not something you can use on a daily basis but it does come in handy, more so when you don't have a bag for your notebook.
The first thing that strikes your eyes is its rectangular or to be a bit more tech-literate, widescreen shape. The body is otherwise pretty much the same as that of an iBook G4. The ports have been pushed in a bit giving it a much smoother look and feel than ever before. And if you have an iBook in front of you, you'd also notice that the MacBook is significantly thinner than the iBook.
Notice the difference?
However, the two most striking features of the latest notebook from Apple are the redesigned keyboard and the 13.3" glossy widescreen display, both of which are welcomed changes, at least as far as I'm concerned. Some might prefer the old non-glossy screen, reflections being their prime concern. In the one week that I've had the MacBook with me, there have been no reflections to make me complain about the screen. The non-glossy screen however does produce 'true colour' but its a matter of personal preference. Hence I think Apple should have had an option of the type of LCD just like they do on their MacBook Pro line. As far as the redesign of the keyboard is concerned, though it might take some time for people to get used to, I think its a pretty clever redesign. The added gap between two keys reduces typos drastically. They finally added a dedicated Eject key too!
One of the best things that Apple did was to keep the Core Duo processor in the MacBook line, because knowing Apple, I had feared them to put the Core Solo processors in the MacBooks. But then they did a really really bad thing by filling up both the RAM slots with 256 MB chips instead of using a single 512 MB SODIMM chip. Now, they provide us with an integrated graphics card with 64 MB of "shared" memory, which is obviously not very snappy. So you decide to upgrade your RAM, but then you find out you'd have to buy 256 MB more than your desired RAM upgrade! Its just, sad. And trust me, 512 MB of RAM, out of which 64 MB (OS X's minimum graphics memory usage is 80 MB so actually you're only left with 432 MB) is hogged up by the integrated graphics card, is not enough.
The built-in iSight and the IR remote that are becoming standard across Apple's lineup are welcome additions. However, something that usually gets less praise than it should is the trackpad. It's wide, it doubles as a scrollpad, and triples as a secondary-mouse-click when both fingers are tapped. I doubt any other (besides the MacBook Pros obviously) has such an excellent solution. Bluetooth and Airport have now become standard features like USB ports so not much use talking about them. This leaves us with the battery and the charger. Apple's site claims a battery life of 6 hours, and considering that day-to-day use gave me a life of 4.5 to 5 hours, it isn't that bad. Apple's new charging system, the MagSafe power adapter left me pretty impressed. What makes the MagSafe different is that it uses a magnetic male port to connect to the laptop, and it does so to prevent the laptop from flying off the desk (or wherever it may be kept while the chord is connected) when someone trips/pulls the charging chord. Now you don't come to realise its brilliance until your little cousin comes running in the room and trips on the MagSafe chord and you reach out to save your precious Mac only to realise that it's safely where it was. Trust me, its a real saviour if you have pets/kids/jealous people around.
Ofcoure it runs Mac OS X which is the best part, but I don't think I need to talk about that. Thanks to Bootcamp, it also runs Microsoft Windows if you want it to.
Overall, its a good deal, and I was very surprised to see Apple offer such a configuration at the prices that it did. Now, if only they had a good graphics card inside....