One year with a MacBook Pro (Is the grass really greener…?)


It’s been a little over a year with my (then) prized purchase of a 13” MacBook Pro. You can read the initial impressions here

One year on, time to write down a follow-up on what I love, like and hate about the famed MBP.

Love

  • Looks/Design:
    • Yes the famed industrial design at work. It’s looks are much envied and it’s one of a kind. Love the profile.
    • Glossy Display. The display is a love-hate thing. But I put it in the Love category because I don’t really like the Dell IPS’ hard coat anti-glare layer. So if anti-glare does that to IPS displays I am fine with a glossy finish.
    • Backlight keyboard: Though it’s not unique to the MacBook Pro, the fact that it comes by default is a big plus.
  • In OSX: OS X is every Mac fans’ crème-de-la-crème. The so called world’s most advanced operating system impressed only in a few ways
    • Boot up time and shut down times are super awesome.
    • Power Management is fantastic.
      • The advantage of control over hardware is evident as OSX works very hard to you give you optimal battery life. Though I couldn’t get anywhere near the touted battery life, I did consistently get 3-4 hours of normal use (browsing, pictures etc.)
      • Sleep mode is also very very stable. The only restarts required were when the upgrades required them (or to boot up into Windows 7)
    • The dual monitor support is awesome. Windows 7 still can’t do two monitors right.
    • Photo Library: It’s an awesome picture management software. No comparison with anything in Windows 7 out of box.
    • Performance: Though not mind bogglingly different, but I’ve run multiple XCode instances without too much trouble.

Dislikes

  • Looks/Design:
    • The sharp edges: Good aesthetics or not, the edges hurt. It’s disgraceful. They should be blunted a wee bit so that they don’t bite into your wrists when typing.
    • The (lack of keys in) Keyboard: It’s absolutely horrendous and irritating to not have Page Up/Down, Home/End and Print Screen/Delete buttons. The keyboard reminds me of the first 8086 computer we had. World has moved on, time to stop being a snob and put those keys in there Apple. Yes in a 13” laptop too.
    • Temperature control. It’s really pathetic that the system doesn’t respond to temperature changes till the temperature hits high 80’s (in C not F). Even then it seems reluctant to crank up the fan and allows system to run hot. I have to use smcFanControl to keep temperature in control when watching Flash or Silverlight movies.
    • Apple’s blaming Flash for all ills: It’s simply hypocritical of Apple to blame Flash of being power-hungry when you don’t expose the APIs for flash to use hardware resources through the browser. (This is changing now and both Windows and Mac versions of Flash are getting h/w acc support). Apple’s iTunes is no saint itself and syncing large number of photos with an iPad or iPhone takes the mickeys out of the system with temperature shooting up and battery life getting hosed.
  • In OSX
    • The Finder:
      • It seems archaic when compared to the Explorer in Windows. I find it irritating not to be a able to navigate to a folder by typing out the path directly.
      • No left navigation tree. The concept of one column for every folder you select is, okay, but I don’t like it.
    • Functionality
      • Photo Library: I haven’t figured out how to attach pictures that are imported into my Mac using Photo Library. So if I have to send a mail from Gmail’s webmail interface I can’t. I’ve to do it the other way, select images from Photo Library and then email them using Mail. The fact that a regular user has to ‘figure out’ how to do it is pretty ‘non-user friendly’.
      • Not being able to print your own Calendars using Photo Library feels a little ‘nickel-and-dimey’.

In Conclusion

I didn’t really use the MacBook Pro much till I had my regular software installed (Office for Mac). Even then it wasn’t much used because I just couldn’t devote enough time to iPhone development which was the primary reason for buying a Mac in the first place.

After I boot-camped it and installed Windows 7 I now use it more often. That only reflects the fact that I work on MS technologies and a Windows 7 OS serves me better.

OSX is a nice OS, but has some Apple specific idiosyncrasies, which if Apple were to drop would make it even more user friendly. Overall, the grass isn’t ‘much’ greener on the other side…

Updates [June 14, 2011]

1. I figured out how to navigate to an iPhoto folder to retrieve images directly. Right click on the photo in iPhoto and click ‘Show File’ to open it in Finder. Now you can attach it to any web-mail. Still the flow to get to my own pictures sucks.

2. As Navin commented below there are some shortcuts for the missing keyboard buttons, but I still miss my Alt+Prt Screen (Invaluable when blogging or writing articles), Home and End.

3. Temperature issues have improved vastly. I have the latest updates (Currently running 10.6.7), not sure at what point it improved but now the OS automatically cranks up the fan when I am running VMWare for my development. Still temperature hovers around 70+ without any intervention from smcFanControl, which I am okay with.

4. New irritation has cropped up, the damn thing emits shocks now. I googled it up and it’s supposed to be ‘common’ if you don’t use the three pronged plug. I am using it and I still get shocks. Unlike fanbois in the forums discussing the issue I refuse to say I enjoy them because I don’t. Haven’t narrowed down the exact scenario, but to add insult to the injury of sharp edges now I get shocks from those edges.

The ability to crank two VMs + itself all in 8 Gig memory (I upgraded the memory myself) is impressive. I am using the laptop all but like a server. So yes, annoyances aside, I am fine with the performance of the laptop.

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7 thoughts on “One year with a MacBook Pro (Is the grass really greener…?)

  1. Navin Samuel says:

    1. Pg Up/Down = Fn+Up/Down
    2. Don’t use SmcFanControl! It will wreck your laptop in addition to decreasing battery life. The heat on the outside is good (to some extent).. it shows that heat is getting dissipated.
    3. Flash – Unfortunately Flash is one of the most buggiest mainstream s/w out there!
    4. Finder – One needs to get used to it. There is a tree option for the right. Why do you need one for the left?

  2. Sumit says:

    Hi Navin,

    Thanks for the Pg Up/Down trick, then again question is why not have dedicated buttons. Need to dig up shortcuts for the rest too. Creating blog articles with screenshots is a nightmare without the Print Screen button. Similarly while coding just too used to hitting home/end to go to beginning of line or end of line.

    The fan control has improved significantly in recent times (must have been a silent OS update or something). Recently tried running Windows using VMWare Fusion, that too get the MBP hot but I can hear the fan turning on without coaxing from SMCFanControl. I never used SmcFanControl for extended periods of time, but without it, Flash movies/Handbrake to convert movies would push CPU core temperatures to 100 Deg C. Core 2 Duo’s cutoff temp is 105, I would argue in favor of failed fan than failed CPU. Plus high temp + NVidia graphics cards don’t go too well either.

    We are quick to blame Flash for in-efficiency which I am sure is true to a point, but my point is it’s hypocritical to do so if Apple can’t do any better themselves. Their own software iPhoto and iTunes are themselves battery/System hogs when pushed even slightly. Flash does what it does because it’s not been given other options. Cannot compare Flash’s battery consumption to QuickTime’s because they can’t (couldn’t) use the same APIs.

    Finder, I found Cmd+G allows me to type in the ‘folder location’ directly. Need to update article with that. That kind of solves the problem of attaching images to a webmails too.

    Well I guess things will get better for me with time… 15 years of Windows usage won’t change overnight… umm well ‘over year’… ;-)…

  3. emrah atilkan says:

    i am having the same experience. Apple blames other application beside they forget their own applications are lame. People, who do design loves apple because they don’t know about programming like Steve Jobs. And people who do programming knows the real issue.

    • Sumit says:

      Emrah, whether I like apple products or not, I hold very high regards for Steve Jobs. So let’s keep the insults out.

      Could you be more specific about issues you are facing? It’s more positive discuss problems and maybe their solutions rather than ranting.

      Cheers.

  4. Brian Marquis says:

    2. Command-Shift-4 does a screen grab of a selection. Press the spacebar to select the active window.

  5. Brian Marquis says:

    Home/End => Command-Left or Command-Right

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