I was very excited opening up my Macbook, more so then when I got my last couple of other laptops. This was a completely new and unique experience for me. On opening the box and taking it out I was impressed right away by the look and also how lightweight the machine is. On starting up the machine I was blown away by the display. I opted to go for the 13 inch Retina Display and it was well worth the money just for that wow factor. Reading text is so much easier on the Macbooks screen. The touchpad is not all that fast but it’s not so slow that it’s a hindrance. The model I bought does not have a CD or DVD drive which might be a problem for others but not for me since I have a secondary machine with a CD\DVD drive, beware you can buy . It also came with 2 USB ports which is ok, not great but I can appreciate it’s in the interest of making the machine lightweight and more portable. The MAC also comes with 2 Thunderbolt ports which I may hopefully get a chance to use some day but from what I understand, currently it’s an Apple specific adopted product. If I don’t have another purpose for a Thunderbolt cable or multiple options to purchase one, I don’t think I will be buying one. The web camera is spectacular. The machine has got a HDMI port which is cool and I will make use of and it’s got an SD card reader which is pretty standard these days. The earphone jack is standard. I am very impressed with the hardware to the point that I would readily admit that some of Apples hardware does seem superior to their competitors.
In terms of the hardware aspects which I either did not like or am torn about. The power adapter, I’m torn about this. So it’s magnetized which means when I make a typical asshole Rory move and trip over the power chord, instead of bringing the laptop crashing down to the ground and smashing into a million pieces, the cable will simply pop out of the laptop and leave it in place, no harm, no foul. Which is great. But then for example, I received the laptop late and tried to play with in bed the first night I got it but every time I repositioned myself the power chord fell out of the laptop. Similar when I moved about on my couch. I can see the benefit of the magnetized power supply but it can be a pain in the ass and the fact a replacement would cost $80+ makes me think it’s something I could live without. While I’m talking about the price of peripherals. Here’s a picture I took in Best Buy yesterday. It’s pretty nuts and the choice of non-Apple accessories and peripherals is limited. I bought some blank DVD-R’s, while in line I was behind a lady who went completely ape shit at the poor guy behind the counter due to the $80+ she was paying for the replacement power adapter for her kids Macbook.
And here comes a Rory rant but one that really pissed me off. I paid extra to get a Macbook Pro, rather than an Air. I did not check this on the spec so it’s my own fault really, that I overlooked it. But for a Pro model, where in the blue hell is the ethernet port? I like a boob forgot my Wifi password and wanted to get it or reset it, so then I opened safari and was about to type in the IP for the router only for it to dawn on me…hey, there’s nowhere to put my network cable to get the password so I can’t get the password to connect to the wireless. So out came my Windows laptop..within just a matter of minutes I had to revert back to my Samsung laptop to be productive which was a bad first impression to be honest. Still though, the Macbook Pro hardware is very very impressive.
So enough of the hardware. Working on VDI projects and the whole physical vs virtual debate and this continued emphasis on platform independence etc. I always champion the fact that it’s irrelevant whether a machine is physical or virtual, the user won’t really care how they use the machine but they will care if the applications they need don’t work. Software is king. So here’s my take on my actual usage experience. So my first problem came during the setup. I owned a few iPods a few years ago and thus I already had an AppleID. You require an AppleID during the setup as this is your login for the OS. So I got into my machine, however, I noticed right away that I had two available updates, I tried to download them but it failed, throwing a message stating my location (which was set during the setup wizard) was set to Phoenix, Arizona but my AppleID was registered in Ireland. So I tried to move on, I clicked on iCloud which again asked for my AppleID, I put in my credentials it got me further but it then asked for another e-mail address to register iCloud, which I provided. Unfortunately, I only have two personal e-mail addresses and by doing this, I just had associated my two e-mail addresses to my AppleID which was registered to Ireland and so I started getting prompted constantly for my login details because the machine seemed to be confused by my location vs AppleID. Anyways…long story short I got this figured out, it turns out you can change your location by going into iTunes (for some reason) go to the store and change your details. After that I didn’t have the problem any more. It’s a little strange, on Windows 8 I got prompted about my location and it brought me to a form to change it right away.
Anyways moving upwards and onwards. Some of the pre-loaded bits and pieces are cool. I like the mail client, the Time Capsule Utility for managing back-ups is pretty cool, the automator software is cool, like a free Visio but built in. iMovie and GarageBand are pretty cool. iTunes still sucks big time but I was never a fan. I also have never liked Safari and maybe it’s just me but I tried Firefox and Chrome and they both were pretty crappy compared to the Windows versions. FaceTime is horrible, it’s simplistic which may appeals to certain users but I prefer more options and Facetime is very limited. I got Office for the MAC. Excel and Powerpoint seems pretty similar but Word just doesn’t seem right to me, it’s very narrow on the screen or something, I can’t quite put my finger on it. The other built in pieces that I have used, I could take or leave to be honest. The Calendar, reminders and notes look nice and are straight forward to use as expected but not worth mentioning really. Strangely the Macbook seemed to struggle with some of my pictures when I tried to set them as my desktop wallpaper, they didn’t fit properly, where as the same picture was scaled and fitted on my Windows 7 machine. I found that strange as I always thought of Apple as the industry leaders when it comes to multimedia.
I may be too green here and just don’t know what I’m doing but, Navigation wise it’s pretty straight forward but there’s some aspects that take getting use to. Installations dump down a temporary mount that appears as though it’s a CD\DVD. You need to eject this after the installation to remove the mount shortcut it puts down. The keyboard layout is a little different, for example there’s no print screen option and it’s not obvious how to get a screenshot. I had to Google this and it’s a combination of keys. The menu up top changes depending on what the focus is on e.g. if the focus is on Safari you have options relevant to Safari, if you are focused on the desktop you get options for the Finder. That’s pretty straight forward. Which is actually similar to the Windows 8 Ribbon only more static. There’s no right click like in Windows, instead you use the control key which is what’s probably taking me the most time to get use to. I have also noticed that some applications seem to remain running after they are closed which seems a little messy. Below you can see Safari has the focus as I just minimized my window. It’s also a screenshot example of the UI. Which most probably have already seen before
Ok this is getting too long so here’s a quick summary. I love the hardware. The operating system which is Mountain Lion is far from perfect, the desktop presentation probably is what gives the impression it’s more user friendly than Windows. Everything of importance to the user is right there at first look. In terms of OS, Right now I would pick Windows 7 over Mountain Lion. But right now I would pick Mountain Lion over Windows 8. And for what it’s worth if Linux made application installs more straight forward I would prefer Linux to both Windows 8 and Mountain Lion. I hope to make the most out of my Macbook Pro’s lightweight portability, amazing retina display and also use it for my more creative work. I feel, I will still be relying on my Windows machine as my horse work though. I’m still happy with my purchase, I’m not so sure I’d advise a friend to buy one because of the high cost compared to other laptops, So far I don’t believe it’s any less complicated than Windows. I don’t really see anything yet that I can do on my Macbook that I couldn’t do on a Windows machine but hopefully that’s simply down to lack of experience so far. I may post an update some day once I’ve got to grips some more.