A fair analysis of the Macbook Pro from a recent switcher to all future switchers

Discussion in 'MacBook Pro' started by jbg232, Jan 31, 2008.

  1. jbg232 macrumors 65816


    Oct 15, 2007
    I recently switched over to mac and I wanted to give an unbiased (or at least as unbiased as I can) look at what I found to be mac's plusses and minusses to other people looking to make the switch soon. Of course, this is just my OPINION based on my own experiences, so don't read too much into the tea leaves at the bottom of the cup. Here goes.

    A little history
    -I am a graduate student who was looking to buy a new computer to replace my 8 year old Dell laptop as a graduation present. Unfortunately, my laptop was stolen in December and has pushed up my need to get a new computer, thus my current situation.
    -I purchased two imacs for my mother and brother in October and set them up easily. They love them. One of them is showing all our photos continuously (my father scanned in 6000 negatives on top of all his digital pictures) and they say nothing but great things about the mac. I however am a little more critical (I was a philosophy major).

    Two weeks ago I bought the 17" macbook pro 2.6 Ghz top of the line machine from my local apple store. I came back home, fired it up and it had a dead pixel. Anyone who says these are not bothersome doesn't have one. All I could do is stare right at it all that day. I drove back to the apple store and they exchanged it no problem. Second macbook pro had a thin black translucent line across the bottom 1" of the screen. It also had two keyboard defects. I figured those problems weren't very bothersome so I disregarded them, kept the computer, installed 4GB crucial ram, and called it mine.

    I should note that I read these forums religiously and they said that 98% of people have no problems, and only the people with problems posted - I believed them. I must be incredibly unlucky then, because I had two defective computers in a row but I was going to write this post to state my experiences before I even bought the computers, so take that for what it's worth.

    Graphics: The high-res display was amazing on the laptop (I went matte) and better than any pc laptop display I've ever seen. The 8600GT is a great card and although you can get better from Dell I don't need anything more.
    Design: No-brainer.
    Hard Drive: Where else can you find a 200GB 7200 RPM drive (which you will need once you have bootcamp and leopard installed) - answer: nowhere.
    Keyboard: I love the backlight illumination. Enough said.

    Speed: See below under software for my comparison of XP and Leopard, but in terms of SPEED ALONE, I found XP to be much snappier than Leopard, but this is more of a software thing.
    DVD Drive: My parents got a small cd stuck in it (yes, I know it was not smart of them to put it in, but they're just regular computer users and it was a pain to fix)
    Price: I have to say it because a similarly configured Dell is much cheaper, but everyone knows that so disregard this because as everyone knows you're paying to use a holier-than-thou mac. But I still said it.
    Network Card: My network card had some serious issues connecting to my wireless router 10 feet away that my old dell never had a problem finding. Also, it would cut out or "forget" my password-secured network. These problems persisted with three different routers including one airport extreme.

    Things I really like about the mac compared to pc:
    Quicklook: Great feature that I thought was useless until I found it to be incredibly fast and helpful.
    Mail: Much superior to outlook or outlook express. The IMAP handling is superb and the search query is uncomparable. Also the integration with the rest of the OS (address book and ical) is light years beyond windows.
    Address Book: Great, love the integration with the rest of the applications.
    iCal: Same as address book, love it
    Dashboard: I did not think I would use this program but I put some sticky notes on it and quickly became much better organized and really found this feature to be handy. Web clips were ok but sometimes took a very long time to load. Overall a good program if you don't use too many widgets. Windows programs that do this are very slow and memory intensive to the point of being unusable in my opinion.
    Quicktime: I like it much better than media player.
    Preview: Surprisingly very helpful and and after using it I don't see why windows doesn't have something this basic and easy.
    iTunes: Unsurprisingly this apple-based program works faster and better than on windows. On windows I was lucky if the program found my ipod but I never had any issues with mac.
    Mark/Space Palm OS Sync: I bought this program to sync my treo 650 with the mac (apple doesn't support these anymore unfortunately) and found it to be a very good program. It syncs directly with ical and address book and with my ipod touch perfectly. Much better than the windows version of these palm syncing software programs that rely on their own address book which makes integrating with email a pain.
    Support: Applecare was really great. They solved some of my problems and it was a pleasure to call them (as opposed to the dreaded technical support staff of other companies). They also helped out my parents a lot with their computers and overall deserve good marks.

    Things that didn't live up to my expectations:
    Safari: I really wanted to use this program. I tried to love it, and get really into the whole mac experience but I found it to be an inferior web browser than firefox. It has two fatal flaws in my opinion. One, it only shows pages after a long delay of loading a webpage almost to completion. This means that if I want to quickly check the New York Times top headline, I have to wait for almost the entire page to load just to see the top line. In firefox it is much better at showing the page AS IT IS LOADING, but on mac this was still slower than in windows. Plus, it should have data detectors like mail, but maybe that's just me.
    Time Machine: I bought a 7200 RPM external HD and I found the computer to be noticeably slower when running with time machine running. Good for periodic backups but I was quick to turn this guy off.
    iPhoto: I'm on the fence about it. I really dislike that it duplicates your library and is very hard to do anything useful with the pictures aside from viewing them. But if you use quicklook to browse your folders and then have the iphoto copy (duplicate copies of data) then it is nice.
    Unix: I'm pretty computer-savvy and I thought having access to the unix core would be helpful but aside from chaning my dock I really found very little use out of it and realized how little I know about mac os x unix.
    Genius Bar Supprt: I bought procare and used it many times to help me with ichat and bootcamp. They didn't want to touch bootcamp support with a 10 foot pole (so don't rely on them for it) and were unable to get ichat working. Their attitude seemed to be, oh well, it doesn't work, it's ichat. This made me really upset as one of the main reasons I bought the mac was to talk to my parents with it and decrease my phone bill costs.
    Stacks: I really am looking forward to 10.5.2 with hierarchical browing because stacks are really unhelpful for the most part the way they are now given that you can't see whole filenames or navigate folders.

    Things that the pc is much better at than the mac:
    OS Speed: I hate to say it but I found Boot Camp running Win XP Pro to be much snappier than Leopard. I'll hold my comments at that so as not to incur the wrath of the mac community, but in terms of SPEED ALONE, Windows XP Professional was much faster than Leopard. In terms of application integration and enjoyment with the OS in terms of look, features, and navigation I think that Leopard wins. More on this in the conclusion.
    Microsoft Office: Office 2004 for mac is one of the worst programs I have ever used, especially powerpoint. I have yet to try Office 2008 (I will when I get my new computer), but Office 2007 for the PC is a great program that is uncomparable. I bought iWork and liked it but really cannot rely on it because no one else uses it and there were conversion errors in the sample powerpoint lectures that I made thus eliminating any chance of my using it. For professional office work that needs to be shared (which in my profession it does) this is one thing that the mac has way better than the pc. Also, you never know if you have to give a presentation on a windows pc so conversion to office perfectly was a must for me and it failed. What I wound up doing is installing boot camp with macdrive 7 and then office 2007 into that which worked well. Then I installed parallels to run the boot camp partition and it completely corrupted the bootcamp partition and I had to redo it all over again (this whole endeavor took up all of last weekend and ended in me being really annoyed having to reinstall XP 4 different times).
    Firefox: I was a firefox user and found that my web experience on my 8-year-old laptop was faster than my brand new top of the line mac. When I installed firefox in mac it was still slower than firefox on the bootcamp partition. Also, I really really really hate that I can't rename downloaded files before they start downloading in either Firefox or Safari.
    Printing: I found mac printing to be inferior (at least for microsoft office documents). I could never adjust the formatting as much as I could on windows and that costs the mac some points given my need to do intense office work.

    Things that don't work well on mac at all:
    Parallels/Bootcamp: see above remarks but this is a pain to get working correctly and I would never trust my parallels or bootcamp with any important data. I will use it strictly to RUN Office 2007 but will save all my files on the mac partition.
    iChat: I spent over 10 hours on the phone with technical support in total, bought 2 new routers (including an airport extreme), rewired my entire network, and was unable to get ichat to work. One of the main reasons I bought a mac was to save on phone costs to my parents long distance and this was a real bummer especially since all of this fiddling around took up another whole weekend.

    I really enjoyed my mac but I could not get things to work the way I wanted to and that really soured my experience. iChat never worked, Bootcamp was a pain to use, Parallels corrupted everything twice, Office and Safari were inferior to the point of unusability, but most of all, Leopard was just not snappy compared to windows boot camp.

    However, in the end, the positives outweighed the negatives and I decided to stick with mac. Raw speed was not as important to me as features and in this regard I really fell in love with Leopard's look, features, and integration of the whole computer experience.

    I returned the mac because of the physical defects and am now waiting for the next macbook pro. I cannot lie, I still look at the Dell website for a possible computer, but will stick with mac.

    I hope my experience will help other future switchers make their decision.
  2. skye12 macrumors 65816


    Nov 11, 2006
    Austin, Tx
    A lot of your problems will disappear once you learn HOW to use a mac.

    I've noticed a lot of my friends just don't understand how to use a Mac.
    Simple is actually difficult for them.

    Keep practicing. I know you will, but I said it anyway.
  3. blurb23 macrumors 6502a

    Feb 25, 2007
    I'm in quite the same situation as you, only I'm waiting for the MBPs to be updated before I decide whether I truly want to switch or not.

    I'm curious though, since iChat didn't work, did you try an alternative such as Adium?
  4. aaron.lee2006 macrumors 65816


    Feb 23, 2006
    Ontario, Canada
    Not really, I notice most of the same things as this person and I've been using Macs for a while. Especially the Safari thing about loading pages, it pissed me right off.
  5. jesusplay macrumors 6502a

    Sep 6, 2007
    so i need a 200GB 7200 rpm HDD if i want to run bootcamp with vista on a mbp?

    i was going to get the standard 160.....why would the 200 be better? why would the 160 be worse?
  6. xStep macrumors 68000

    Jan 28, 2003
    Less lost in L.A.
    Because he wanted a lot of free space. You could run OS X and a Bootcamp partition on a 40GB drive, if you could find one. But keep in mind how much space you need for things like you iTunes and iPhoto libraries. Oh, and Final Cut Studio now takes something like 50GB by it self!
  7. jesusplay macrumors 6502a

    Sep 6, 2007
    all i wanna do is put my music on it and but some pc game on vista.:eek:

    shoukd i jsut go for the 250gb??? why would i need a 7200 rpm 200 if the 250 is cheaper
  8. xStep macrumors 68000

    Jan 28, 2003
    Less lost in L.A.
    Your iChat situation seems unacceptable to me. If you have a reliable network connection iChat should work nicely. I would have connected via a wire and stared with basic text chatting to test and move up from there.

    In case it wasn't clear to some people. Some of things you mentioned do not seem to be the fault of OS X; Parrellels/Bootcamp issues, Mac Office differences from the PC version, maybe the printing issue.

    I don't understand why I keep seeing this complaint the iPhoto keeps duplicates of the photos. I hook my camera up, import the pictures and get one copy. I let iPhoto manage my photos rather than trying to do it with my own folder structure. For things I drag in, I've told iPhoto to copy those. Once in iPhoto, I can delete the original file.
  9. xStep macrumors 68000

    Jan 28, 2003
    Less lost in L.A.
    You need to calculate your needs. So for each operating system partition, how much space are you going to need for the OS, games, music, pictures, applications and a 10% free space for the OS to use while it is running. Only you can answer that.

    Once you know how much space you need for each, you can partition the drive appropriately.

    As for the speed. Sure 7200rpm will give you some benefit, but at a price premium. Will the usual 5400rpm do you fine? Probably.
  10. Hawkeye411 macrumors 68000


    Jun 6, 2007
    Canada EH!!!
  11. jbg232 thread starter macrumors 65816


    Oct 15, 2007
    What specifically are you referring to that I don't know how to do? I was able to use the mac, it just didn't work well. I hate this argument but I have to make it in light of that comment: "Aren't macs supposed to be easier?"

    My parents being completely computer illiterate would not be able to install adium and I can't screen share with them to help them (one of the reasons I bought a mac) without ichat.

    Not if you don't have a lot of media, but most people do nowadays and the 7200 RPM drive is a must in my opinion in terms of speed.

    I tried all those things - like I said, I spent a whole weekend on it with numerous support calls to apple and others. Nothing worked, cable, wireless, router, no router, NOTHING.

    I was not critiquing OS X, I was critiquing the mac experience and for many users running windows is a must (I have proprietary programs that only are available in windows so I needed to use it) and thus I critiqued it as fairly as I could. The same thing goes with Mac Office and Printing - its not OS X that bothers me, it's my experience using these programs on a mac.

    First of all, if you make any changes iPhoto makes a duplicate. Second, if you import from a file, iPhoto makes a duplicate. In the end I'm undecided on iPhoto.

    Some things I realized I forgot to mention:
    Expose: I LOVE this program and it is so much better than alt-tab in windows.
    Safari: The second thing was that its handling of RSS feeds is way inferior to firefox live bookmarks in my opinion in that you don't have to open a page to view the RSS content.

    Hope it helped!
  12. nikhsub1 macrumors 68020


    Jun 19, 2007
    mmmm... jessica.'s beer...
    It is so true that XP and even Vista are MUCH snappier on the same machine than OS X. This has always been my numero uno complaint. I wonder if it has to do with needing to support PowerPC and now Intel? Windows flies and OS X feels 'sticky' in comparison. I also think that the OS X video drivers are HORRIBLE.
  13. constant L macrumors member

    Jun 4, 2007
    i really don't think it is "fair" comparing a 04 program to an 07 program....

    anyway some valid points..some i cant agree with....but valid points
  14. aiterum macrumors 6502


    Nov 17, 2007
    United States
    You are just experiencing the realities against the ideals that many mac users claim of OSX. Sure windows has problems, but so does OSX, so don't keep telling us its a perfect operating system
  15. jayeskreezy macrumors 65816

    Mar 3, 2005

    you should've never done bootcamp or parallels....most people know that VMWare Fusion is the way to go
  16. aiterum macrumors 6502


    Nov 17, 2007
    United States
    considering that bootcamp is running windows natively, I'm not really sure how, for someone who wants to get good windows performance from their computer, bootcamp would be a bad option.
  17. jayeskreezy macrumors 65816

    Mar 3, 2005
    well, if you're not playing video games and want the convenience of having both open at the same time then you should go with VMWare fusion...personally I never understood why you'd want to totally run windows on a mac without the easy option to go back and forth with a click of a button anyway, but Im not a gamer....

    honestly if you want windows get a pc...I use fusion b/c there's a particular program that we use for my job that doesnt have a mac version and never will...for things like that I understand....other than that...well???
  18. aiterum macrumors 6502


    Nov 17, 2007
    United States

    Congrats on answering your own question

    anyways, who are you to judge how people decide to use other operating systems on their computer?
  19. jjasonwrght macrumors member


    Jan 12, 2008
  20. jayeskreezy macrumors 65816

    Mar 3, 2005
    your reading must be off, but seriously dude...did you wake up on the wrong side of the bed or do u need some sleep because you have nothing but nasty replies for everything I post....I think you should get your life together

    ....in my previous post I never said anything about how one chooses to use their computer...I was responding the answer in the post above that I quoted...I could care less what someone uses windows for or not, BUT I was saying if they're trying to use windows then Fusion is the best way to go...then I get a response about bootcamp being the best option for windows and I THEN said it's only the best option if you're a gamer....if you don't game I dont see why one would want the inconvenience of not being able to simply click from one OS to the other with ease...

    so you can continue to use bootcamp if you like and I'll continue to use Fusion...either way you can stop threadcrapping and let the OP get more feedback to his post....
  21. DaLurker macrumors 6502

    Mar 30, 2006
    I think a big part to the illusion that OS X is slow is the mouse acceleration. I find when using Windows XP it "feels" faster because the mouse pointer is more precise.

    I agree that Office for Mac is crap. Running Office 2008 right now and I've noticed quite a few bugs already. Really sad...

    On the other hand, Windows XP is a very very old operating system. To put things into perspective, I originally installed Windows XP on a Pentium III 750MHz with 256mb of SD-Ram back in 2002. That was the kind of computer Windows XP was designed for so it has to be on today's computers.
  22. DaLurker macrumors 6502

    Mar 30, 2006
    Just a tip, in iPhoto go to
    iPhoto -> Preferences -> Advanced. Uncheck that box that says Copy items to the iPhoto library and it will import into your iPhoto in place (ie not copy it).

    iTunes has the same option so you don't get duplicated music.

    Hope that helps. In terms of duplicating when making changes to your pictures, I'm not 100% sure if you can disable that or whether that is normal behaviour.
  23. eba macrumors regular

    Mar 14, 2007
    Most people don't know any such thing. Geez.

    I've used Bootcamp literally since the day it came out, used it on seven different computers, without a single problem. Bootcamp is as rock solid as anything I've ever run on a computer. The vast majority of problems reported with Bootcamp, here and elsewhere, are from people who are too inexperienced with installing and using Windows to understand what's going on when they report a "problem" with Bootcamp.

    Like the people who bork their OS X installation by forgetting that the Windows partition will be the second partition on their drive and thus erase their OS X partition. I still see that user error frequently reported on the Apple board as a "problem" with Bootcamp.
  24. BrokenE macrumors regular

    Jan 15, 2008
    I think that the fact that that your parents were able to use it (the mac) with out complaint.....as a matter of fact with much success speaks to the user freindliness of the MAC.

    I think the mistake you (and other) are making is that you expect to use windows programs on a MAC and esxpect them to fly in comparison to a PC. Well some do and some don't. The systems are different and some programs will run swifter on one platform or the other. It's not like MAC is so supirorior that it will run even wondows aps better than windows...no. The MAC is designed to run MAC aps as a primary, windows as secondary. So dont set your exopexations too high.
  25. CalBoy macrumors 604


    May 21, 2007
    This wouldn't be opinion, it would be fact n'est-ce pas? ;)

    In either case, I'll just say this: control for size, weight, and thickness. I promise that the mbp will come out the better deal. :)
    To be honest, I've found Leopard a tad slower than Tiger, so I think this is a Leopard thing, not an overall "OS X" thing. I'm sure that if you had experienced Tiger vs XP (which I did) you would have found Tiger much faster.

    Leopard will improve after 10.5.2, and each update will gradually refine the OS until we see it as the "new Tiger." :)

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