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Apple MacBook Pro MB471LL/A 15.4 in. Notebook
Traditionally notebooks are made from multiple parts. Every MacBook starts its life as a single block of aluminum, which is precisely... Read More
Traditionally notebooks are made from multiple parts. Every MacBook starts its life as a single block of aluminum, which is precisely machined into the basic unibody design. Another pass and the unibody takes shape. Another, and the integrated keyboard emerges. When you pick up a MacBook you immediately notice the entire enclosure is thinner and lighter. And it feels strong and durable--perfect for life inside (and outside) your briefcase or backpack. Minimize
5 Reviews from Epinions.com
Jul 18, 2010
Takes a Licking...
Pros: Metal case, metal and glass screen protection, full-size keyboard, button trackpad
Cons: Some software related - not hardware related
The Bottom Line:
Paid for itself in less than a year. Decreased workflow time and increased mobility. Durable.
Having reacquainted myself with the Mac OS environment over the course of a couple of years since purchasing the Mini, Apple came up with a laptop I thought was worth the hardware cost common to laptops ($1,000 to $3,000). Moore's Law has caused technology to outweigh the bare minimums of most software applications to the point that advances in hardware have essentially plateaued. Software on the other hand has not dropped in price, and staying current on the software front was becoming insanely hefty on the pocketbook (but that's a different article).
My list for a laptop was developed over the course of three years selling technology at an office supply retailer. (1) metal case; having witnessed enough plastic breaks to choke a horse. (2) something to protect the LCD display from cracking easily; again having heard and seen enough complaints to warrant the concern. (3) as close to a full-sized keyboard as possible; I really disliked using laptops that caused my WPM to drop from 70 with few errors to 40 because of the errors. (4) lightweight. (5) slim design; I used to put up displays of laptops that were so thick they wouldn't fit in the security holders. (6) battery life of at least 4 hours. And a few other minor/universal features seen in the laptop category. (Not the complete list - but most pertinent.)
I had been looking at the MacBook Pro for a while, but the minimum cost still didn't warrant the purchase given the technology - at least for me. However, shortly after releasing the MacBook Air, Apple redesigned the MacBook Pro in such a way that I was willing to ask a client for a retainer equal to the purchase price.
The MacBook Pro line of laptops sport an aluminum chassis. Further, the unibody construction is supposed to make the chassis more durable. When I went into the Apple store to test this concept I performed a trademark "Laptop Twist" by grabbing the device on both sides and attempting to twist it into a spiral. It didn't budge - unlike others where the cracking and creaking sounds of the case reminded me of Transformers.
There is a weak-spot that gives me little to no concern but still should be noted. Many laptops use a top hinge; whereby the manufacturer takes a slimmed desktop computer and slaps a monitor on top with a hinge. The MacBook Pro uses an inset hinge - creating a thinner product. The metal of the chassis is thinnest along this hinge and has severe give when gripped there; however, there doesn't appear to be any components of concern near this area, making this almost a non-issue.
The LCD monitor is covered on the back by aluminum and glass on the front. While the metal has a little play the amount of pressure needed to bend it is such that the owner probably has more important things to worry about. The glass on the front is also thin and, with enough pressure, one can still cause the familiar LCD ripple effect. However, still enough added protection to lessen my concerns regarding screen breakage.
Some time ago Apple stopped manufacturing their keyboards with dice-like buttons in favor of a sleeker more elegant solution. From a business perspective it makes much more sense, because now instead of two molds (or manufacturers) to create keys for desktops and laptops they only need one. Further, with the release of the MacBook Air (if memory serves) the full-size keyboard was brought to their laptops. Now even the contact circuitry is the same - making even more fiscal sense. Last but not least - removing the 10-key and other keys from their desktop keyboards - the two keyboards (desktop and laptop) are identical except for the shell (right down to function keys and shortcuts). This single change/consolidation means I can go from the keyboard for the Mini to the MacBook without any mental or physical acrobatics. A major plus in my book.
Slim and Lightweight
The MacBook Pro is about as thick as a three subject notebook and weighs as much as one of my university textbooks. Therefore, it fits nicely into the satchel bag I purchased for my time at university (I also purchased an inexpensive padded carrying case that stays inside the bag all the time to put the MacBook Pro into).
In the old days, the life of a laptop battery was basically enough to cover the average user's time between outlet exchanges. A bus trip. Taxi ride. Etc etc. The MacBook Pro boasts an 8 to 10 hour battery life. Because the battery is lithium and not nickel-metal hydride (NiMH) a full charge is really a full charge. Further, the addition of sensors allows each battery pack to be charged separately and only if not fully charged. Last but not least, making the batteries essentially sheets of lithium allows for a slimmer overall design.
This little progression of technology allowed me to go to the park in the morning and exercise (parkour) - then, after a session, sit for anywhere from 5 to 8 hours and work on projects for clients while I cooled down and enjoyed the outside (not normally seen in a developer's lifetime).
Some other nice benefits which were not required but I have come to enjoy.
Full-button trackpad: the trackpad for the MacBook Pro is pretty large when compared to that of other laptops (even the older MacBooks with the separate button). And it sure beats the old IBM eraser joystick.
Glass trackpad cover: I remember seeing laptops that had been used rather ruthlessly where the plastic grip-tape substance had been worn away except at the edges and found some trackpads lost their responsiveness. With the glass I am not too concerned about that; however, wet fingers are bad.
Trackpad as button: for the most part I don't push the button (which is the whole trackpad) - I use the soft-tap features. However, when that feature doesn't garner the results I want it is nice to know I have a physical backup (like the paper-clip hole in CD drives to force eject a disc).
Screen size: when I went to the store and compared the 13, 15, and 17 inch models I really thought the 13 was just too small for my needs - but the 17 was way to big. So, the 15 became the logical choice. When I received it in the mail I had to do a double-take and look at the box to make sure they hadn't sent the 17 by mistake. The thing looked massive. Of course, stand next to a basketball player and almost anyone looks short. After getting over the initial shock and confusion I have come to realize that the 15 was just right.
Mag-lock connector: admittedly I thought this was somewhat of a gimmick. I mean who strings their charger cable across a traffic path? Then, while at a local bookstore a small child whipped around a table and ripped the chord from its seat. The laptop didn't move. The child was embarrassed and apologetic. But I was able to honestly say it was okay.
Sudden Motion Sensor (SMS): yes, I have dropped the MacBook - twice. I have also accidentally banged it into things. The first drop it hit my wall and landed on the carpeted floor. I snatched it up - brought it out of sleep mode to verify it still worked as normal (it did) - then I noticed the hole in the wall. The second time I fell asleep with it open in bed - I moved - it fell, still works. The SMS is primarily to freeze the moving components for accidents while actively in use - so it shouldn't have come in to use in the aforementioned cases - but it's nice to know it's there.
Could I have gotten more computing power for less than $1,800 with another laptop? I suppose. However, I rarely do quantum mechanics or particle physics on my laptop. Further, I generally have at least 8 programs running (including Adobe Photoshop, Illustrator, Dreamweaver, and every so often Blender) and it performs very well despite. (While I don't want this article to be about software - I have saved a lot of money on software while still staying current since switching to the Mac.)
The MacBook Pro paid for itself in less than one year - and I plan to get a few more years out of it (despite being a minor klutz with portable devices).
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