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Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Initial Impressions of the MacBook Pro

Being a PC wanderer, I have jumped the fence to the other side, where everything white is cool, premium and the "in thing".

I'm personally not a fan of the features to cost ratio of Apple products but somewhere down the line, Windows based products were really letting me down in terms of features and execution. Windows Vista was nearly a killer but it was killing the systems it was running on and not the competition. Windows 7 and Windows Mobile have come and saved the MS world for now.

To mention that I own a product from every major platform including RIM (yes, I still love my Blackberrys) is a feeling where I get to evaluate each of the platforms' strengths and weaknesses.

Since this post is about the MBP (MacBook Pro) I will concentrate on it for now. The version of MBP I have is from the refresh cycle of Spring 2011 where they came out with Core iX series of processors from Intel and featured the new Thunderbolt technology. Honeslty, I do not care much for it for now unless it matures and you start seeing a plethora of devices which use this technology.

Build :
The build of the unibody aluminium is impeccable. I have not seen HP Envy but would assume it to be of similar quality if not better. Dell Adamo was another one, but it never caught my attention. Plus, the aesthetic value of an Apple product cannot be underestimated.

The otherwise minimalist appearance is something worth showing off. The build is definitely a 4 out 5 rating.

Hardware :

Intel inside with the GMA video option is something which will be bypassed in today's Windows 7 world with sigh. 1 GB and 2 GB dedicated video cards are the norm.

But the Apple world places a premium on everything. The Core i5 build in the 13.3 inch MBP does not allow any video card customization and still costs equivalent to a Wintel laptop which would include 8 GB of RAM, Core i7 and any of the above mentioned video graphics with a Bluray burner.

But as they, fastest is always not the best. The utilization of the resources in a optimum manner is what is desired today.

I would from a Hardware perspective, give a 2 out of 5 to Apple even though considering they are among the premium laptops irrespective of the OS world.

OS X Lion :
Coming to the OS, I have upgraded to the recently released OS X codenamed "Lion" which has brought in excellent features of the iOS platform and combined some neat multitouch features which nearly eliminate any kind of lengthy scrolling or navigation key strokes.

A swipe to the right with 2 fingers takes you forward in a browser, 2 finger swipe to the left takes you back. Changing screens between Dashboard and active window is a matter of 3 finger swipe to the left or right.

The scrolling is something you have to get used to. There are no scrollbars and flicking to scroll is the  opposite to what you do in iPhone or iPad.

The OS is a major change with introduction of built in App store and also introduction of iOS like architecture where now applications can be full screen without need of a menu bar or status bar.

It is a very promising move and Apple leads the way here, I would assume some novely from Windows 8 when it is released.

Software :

This has been my biggest disappointment. I also assume this would be resolved to a great extent since now the App store is integrated. I hope there are many developers attracted to make good and cheaper Apps for the Mac store so that more tools and utilities can be created for people to use.

A good example is blogging software. On a Windows, I would use Wordpad or Windows Live Writer to get some blogging done, however on the Mac, unless you use iWeb which comes installed with the OS. All other options run from $20 to $50 for a decent blogging utility. In today's world when every mobile platform has blogging tools available for free, it is really appalling looking at the Apple repository for such costly alternatives.

Software has been always premium on Apple platform due to small market share and targeted audience. I guess it will improve with the App Store arrival.

For a long time Wintel loyalist, I take comfort in the fact that whenever I would need to go to Windows 7. It would be a bootcamp click away on the MBP. This is one of the strong reasons for me to combine the hardware superiority of a Mac with software usablity of OSX and Windows on the same machine.

It would be really incredible, if Apple would release its OS like Windows to be installed on any machine without providing support for the hardware issues. That would help people like me to build and enjoy low cost Hackintosh and Win7 platforms on awesome hardware specs.

The Software unless bought and used for which Apple is famous for, gets a 3 out 5 rating in terms of cost and variety of choices.

I will possibly post an update to the software later this week.

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