A year with the Macbook Pro

Discussion in 'MacBook Pro' started by geoSol, Feb 18, 2008.

  1. geoSol macrumors newbie

    Mar 28, 2006
    Perth, Western Australia
    Hi all,

    My Macbook Pro (rev A, no less) has just turned slightly over a year old, and I thought I'd share what I feel about it here for all the people thinking about buying a Macbook Pro. I have previously been an all windows person, so the MBP has been my first Mac. As I bought it when I was a final year student at University, it has been by my side almost all the time in my backpack. I'm not a particularly active person, so the most rough and tumble experience my MBP has had as been the jostling up and down in my backpack as I walk around Campus.

    The user experience so far has had its ups and downs.

    1. Excellent setup time. From unboxing to getting on my ssh server to check out code for development through wireless, the whole thing took me 10 minutes. That included setting up the connection, watching the entry video, unboxing and lovingly putting back all the plastics and discs where I found them.

    2. Excellent learn curve for common OS tasks such as installing software. Having never used a mac before, it took me a few days to get used to everything, but by then I had figured out how to install/uninstall programs, customise my user experiece, set up a shared network drive, set up network profiles (bear in mine that my MBP shipped with 10.4 Tiger).

    3. Excellent user interface. Coming from a windows environment, I was actually quite shocked to find that:
    a. I quickly got used to the trackpad as a mouse replacement. In fact, the mouse i bought for use with the MBP is still languishing in my cupboard.
    b. I didn't miss the right-click (enough said)
    c. I was faster shuffling windows around and doing things that required input and output between multiple apps.
    d. I didn't need to download bloatware (or work utilities if you like) such as Antivirus, Adobe Reader, Office, Cygwin.
    e. Rebooting was passe
    f. Sleep and wake functions actually worked, first time, every time.
    g. Search was actually fast and useful.

    4. Support is generally excellent with machine/part failures. Never had any dramas claiming any warrenty work. Heck, the way the battery recall was handled (get a new battery, send your old one back when you can) was a major plus point in my book.

    All in all, I love the mac for productivity and ease of use. I recommend it all the time. However, everything must have its drawbacks, and here are the few that I found with my particular unit.

    1. Less than 3 months into use, my power cable started fraying. The part where it frayed is actually where the wire connects to the macsafe head. And before you start thinking that its because of abuse, I use my MBP in the lab, library and at home on a desk, and have _never_ have had the cable forcibly disconnected or mistreated. Magsafe was cool and I loved it, but for something that seemed to be one of the features of the MBP, it was disappointing that I had to have my power brick replaced so soon. Granted, it was done for free, but its recently started to fray again. What annoys me is that soon the warrenty is going to be over and if it happens again (as history suggests it will), I will need to pay for a replacement.

    2. Apple RAM is expensive. The default 512 MB RAM I had was barely enough to keep Tiger happy. I had to shell out money for extra RAM. (after researching at Macrumours the best thing to do when getting extra RAM, of course) Seems to me that if the Apple user experience is paramount, they should have not allowed those machines to be shipped with inadequete RAM in the first place. Just to put things in perspective, I had my MBP running stock everything for around 3 months before I slapped in 1GB extra RAM. The user experience went from good to excellent. No more spinning beach ball or safari freezes. Zlich, Nada. Then again, it didn't seem to happen very often.

    3. The fan. Its been covered in the forums extensively. Trust me, I used to think that the people that complain of the noise was making it up, and it shocked me to the bone to know that they weren't. I theorise that its the sound of the blades scraping against the fan enclosure as it spins. Especially pronounced at high operating temperatures. And before anyone starts, its not a software issue, I had applied the patch from Apple for fan management and it still happens. Might be warping or something similar I think. Shudder in horror to know that a sharp slap on the machine where the sound is actually _might_ sometimes stop the noise. (Not that I do it often, of course)

    4. The hard disk. The hard disk started failing after 8 months. Since its not even subjected to rough usage, it really is beyond me why that happens. All of my spare sectors are currently used. Fonts get corrupted causing the spinning beach ball of death. No screenshots if you're wondering, but imagine your log in screen with all the normal pictures, but where the words are supposed to be, you get gibberish. And that's not just the login screen that's affected. Subsequent installs of software results in corruption. Lost+Found disk folder growing. SMART status puzzlingly reports the disk as ok. Trust me, its not.

    5. Paint flaking. The groove between where the spacebar is and the surface of the trackpad started flaking in 5 months. To clarify, I keep short fingernails, and I don't wear any jewellery. I don't even have sweaty palms! The exposed area is shiny and really noticable. No pictures, but I'll be happy to post some when my MBP gets back from servicing.

    6. Optical Disk Woes. My optical disk drive recently decided to become tempermental. It would take a disk and either:
    a. read and mount it fine
    b. Spin up, stop, repeat 3 times and eject
    c. Spin up and sit in the drive doing nothing. Launching Disk Utility gives me a beach ball. Impossible to mount manually or perform any disk options. Ejecting the only option.

    This happens with burnt CD-Rs, DVD+Rs, (just to be clear, LEGAL!) DVD movie disks. Certain disks seem to have a 100% not-working track record. Said disks would mount and read fine in another machine. Just on a whim (since I used to do this on my old failing Playstation when disks stopped being read properly), I turned the machine upside down on one of the DVDs that kept ejecting (Las Vegas Season 1 Disc 5 to be exact). It mounted the DVD fine. Turning it the right way up resulted the spinning beachball of doom. Said drive is not region locked. It has also not been abused and has possibly only been used around 50 times, of which maybe 10 - 15 times was burning media of either DVD or CD form.

    7. Leopard. I bought Leopard when it came out and actually did a clean install of Leopard on another HDD which I put into the machine. (taking out my old woinky Tiger one) Leopard has the same user experience as Tiger, sleek and intuitive. Puzzlingly, the following applications actually are slower on my brand new drive with Leopard than my woinky Tiger one:
    a. Parallels + Windows XP
    b. Office: Mac 2008
    c. Adobe Photoshop CS3
    Odd, isn't it. Results can be posted on request next week.

    So here I am, sitting at my desk and typing on the forum on a crappy $500 Acer laptop running Xubuntu. I just sent in my MBP to the Apple service centre yesterday (with a few days left on my warrenty) and am waiting for them to give it back. I decided to put this up to see if any of you other readers have the same experience, or similar and would like to share them - Also to let any newbies know that its better over here in the world of Apple, but don't expect all roses and sunshine.
  2. Twilight Elk macrumors regular

    Twilight Elk

    Aug 31, 2007
    It's reviews like this that scare me about Apple.

    Then again, your MBP is a year old and I wouldn't know if the current ones (or the possible arrival of upgrades) would have the same effect.
  3. toxthexnines macrumors regular


    Aug 3, 2007
    Ive had mine since August of 06 and i have yet to have a single problem with mine.

    Then again this forum is pretty much for helping people with problems with their mbp and mb. So it may seem like alot of people are having problems.
  4. Stampyhead macrumors 68020


    Sep 3, 2004
    London, UK
    Does it? My friend's Dell laptop, which is also a year old, does not work at all anymore. Does that scare you about Dell too?
  5. geoSol thread starter macrumors newbie

    Mar 28, 2006
    Perth, Western Australia
    Why does it scare you? its not a bad review or a complaint. Just to be clear, I'd buy the MBP even if I had to go through everything all over again. I'm just posting an honest-to-goodness list of trials and tribulations I've had with my baby since I got it :)
  6. Watabou macrumors 68040


    Feb 10, 2008
    United States
    you can't just assume Apple only has problems...;)
  7. Twilight Elk macrumors regular

    Twilight Elk

    Aug 31, 2007
    Ya, Sometimes I forget about that, :)

    I've always been afraid of Dell. LOL
  8. Neil321 macrumors 68040


    Nov 6, 2007
    Britain, Avatar Created By Bartelby
    I have rev A macbook pro and to this day i have no problems whatsoever with
    it.The only times ive had to open it up is when ive decided a larger HD is
    needed,plus it still looks as good as new
  9. gpeden macrumors regular

    Nov 24, 2007

    I hope you are getting the DVD drive replaced! Mine had a similar problem and it was replaced like other folks have reported here.


  10. MacDann macrumors 6502a


    Mar 27, 2007
    Can see the end of the Earth from here
    I have an early 2006 2Ghz MBP refurb, and it's worked flawlessly since I've had it. For that matter, so have all the other Macs I've bought, refurb or brand new.

  11. xjames macrumors regular

    Feb 12, 2008
    thanks for sharing your experiences.

    As a windows user about to switch to mac (waiting for the new mbp), your post addresses all the issues I have with my dell notebook (sleep/wake problems, pain in the a.. vista probs, weird search, etc). About your problems, I hope they're either fixed by now, or not the rule about mbps in general.

    Ever since the 3rd gen ipod, I've been slowly being won over by apple hardware. 5th gen ipod, then airport express and extreme, now the excellent iphone. And soon, the mac.

    I remember 15 years ago an excellent pinball game that was only available on the mac. 8 ball deluxe. Used to go to a friend's to play. I doubt the graphics look good nowadays, but along with all the serious work, i'm getting that game.. lol
  12. mchank macrumors regular

    Feb 26, 2006
    I really wish that Apple would take a few million out of the 18 billion they have sitting in the bank and invest it in some better quality control. Apple designs great products and when they're built well, they're better than anything else out there, but their quality control has been on a downward slide the past couple of years. Thank goodness Apple has great customer service or else the complaints about quality would be a lot louder.
  13. Joko macrumors 6502


    Jan 30, 2008
    Thanks for the review. One thing I've noticed in common, especially with friends of mine, most of them had to replace their hard drive after 2 years. Failing hard drives scares me, because we cant all back our stuff up ALL the time.
  14. geoSol thread starter macrumors newbie

    Mar 28, 2006
    Perth, Western Australia
    Hi. Hope that your experience is better than mine, but then again its not like I havent fallen for my MBP, niggling troubles included. One thing for sure: You'll love your new machine.
  15. geoSol thread starter macrumors newbie

    Mar 28, 2006
    Perth, Western Australia
    Yup. Scared me to death when I found out my drive was failing. Here is some tips about failing HDDs on Macs.
    1. get Diskwarrior. It fixes almost everything and is worth the money they ask for it.
    2. Instead of reinstalling your OS, you can actually overwrite the corrupted files from your install disk. In my case, copying the Font files over from my Tiger disk (temporarily) fixed the problem of garbled inputs
    3. Don't trust SMART. It lies.
    4. Its easy to backup on a mac. Always do so and you'll never regret it!
  16. geoSol thread starter macrumors newbie

    Mar 28, 2006
    Perth, Western Australia
    I hope so too. Or maybe they'll give up and give me a new MBP. One can hope. *fingers crossed*
  17. Pukey macrumors 6502


    Jan 7, 2008
    Great thread! Thanks for posting this. It's good to get a straight view on someone's experiences with a Mac. I'm hoping to get a MBP around the next update.
    The Hard Drive issue is an important one for me as I'm sure it is for many here who have valuable files they can't afford to lose. As far as a back up hard drive I've done a little research on the web and it seems the safest way to go is to get an enterprise level hard drive as they are the most reliable although usually more expensive. However when Time Capsule was announced, this seemed like a really good idea to go with. When I think about the issues people have had with their hard drive failing though, this makes me apprehensive about buying a hard drive from Apple. Also, I know this may be a silly question, but since Time Capsule is a hard drive and router combined, couldn't someone hack in to your hard drive more easily?
  18. Mastamarek macrumors regular


    Dec 31, 2007
    Warsaw, Poland
    I'm gonna go a bit offtopic here but when I still had my PB I have also bought a Sony FJ 270p laptop with Pentium M1.83Ghz for $1200, that was almost 3 years ago and I have to admit that it is the most dependable laptop I ever owned. I dont take care of it it at all. 3 out of 4 vents to cool the CPU and everything else are jammed due to the dust, I have scratches everywhere, the LCD has been cleaned maybe 3 times since I bought it but it works perfectly. I m waiting for it to die on me sometime soon so I can buy a new MBP but it just keeps on going. It has been 3 years now since I bought it and I have to admit those Sony Laptops are tought fellas. The laptop can heat up sometime to almost dangerous levels and I can smell burning plastic but I just cant kill it.
  19. ktbubster macrumors 6502a


    Jan 20, 2007
    problems 1 2 and 3 have basically been fixed with new revs of the macbook pro... as happens with rev a machines.

    Base ram is now 2 gig and prices have dropped drastically. You can get a 4gig kit for 80 bucks.

    The magsafes are a bit better now IMO, not completely fixed but more sturdy.

    The fans are much much quieter now and the machines on a whole run cooler.

    As for your flaking paint problem... CALL APPLE now as they already have your computer and ask them if they can replace the top case when they replace the optical drive (they have to remove it anyway) That flaking SHOULDN'T happen. My bfs macbook pro had the same problem. It started bubbling and flaking under the keyboard without any abuse at all.

    Now the stuff flakes off like crazy. He took it to the genius bar said he never abused it and the guy looked at it and started flaking it off by rubbing it and was like "yeah, that shouldn't happen.... i will go ahead and order you a new top case"

    Just give them a call and tell them that you beleive it's clearly a defect after some research and that you believe it should be fixed. THe area under the keyboard didn't flake at all on mine even if i use a finger nail to try... so it's something they should fix if you ask.

    Good review otherwise! :)
  20. heatmiser macrumors 68020

    Dec 6, 2007
    Hey, that's sweet. If there's one thing I love on this forum, it's reading posts from people with vintage gear. With so many disposable machines and constant talk of upgrades, it's fun to read stuff from folks who actually stuck with particular machines, and weren't let down by them. Kudos.
  21. geoSol thread starter macrumors newbie

    Mar 28, 2006
    Perth, Western Australia
    Good to know that the flaking problem is not exclusive to my machine. I disagree with the magsafe - I have had mine replaced before with the new design (its slightly smaller, isn't it?) and it has still frayed. Hopefully I was hallucinating and just got an old one so it won't happen again.

    RAM wise, my mac is now running with its max of 2GB RAM, and is a sweet machine. OSX needs oodles of memory for the best experience I think.

    I've actually called on Apple to replace the keyboard case before, but was told that its just a 'cosmetic flaw'. Hopefully that the reason I got that attitude was because that was when the MBP was still pretty new on the market and they'll do a swap this time around!
  22. jamin. macrumors regular

    Jan 27, 2008
    Thanks for your review, greatly appreciated. It does scare me a bit but I guess theres a risk like that in all major products.

    I'm sure by now Apple has taken care of all those problems and made sure they are not happening anymore. Which brings me to the scary point of...

    When the new MBP is released, will we see a flood of new problems which may not be wiped out until a few updates further down the line.
  23. pogmothoin macrumors newbie

    Nov 12, 2007
    Had my MBP 2.33 for 14 months.. LOVE IT.!!!!!!! was a little worried about things being said on here when i was thinking of the 'switch' but have had no issues what so ever, and LOVE IT.!!!!!!, can't think of a better machine for the things i do, or could do in the future..
    Rock on
  24. killerwhack macrumors regular


    Aug 5, 2004
    Los Angeles, California
    Its all the same components, whether the brand is Apple or Dell or HP

    Folks, the basic components are all very similar. What is different is this:

    Service & Integration

    I had a Dell laptop that was purchased in 2002. It was wicked fast but it was constructed with not enough ventilation. It was cooking hard drives. The fans inside were wearing out constantly from running all the time. Dell clearly packed too much stuff in a small space with not enought ventilation.

    Now we come to the service part of this monologue. What did Dell do to help me? What could they do to help me ? The answer is not much because they had 1 million other owners beating on their customer service group.

    My point is that the CPU chips, Hard Drives, RAM chips, DVD drives and batteries inside these machines are made from a select few companies and that no matter what brand you choose or hate, the components are the same. The CPUs are made by Intel. The Ram is made by micron or hynix or samsung or toshiba. The DVD drives are made by sony or matsushita or toshiba - the batteries are made by Sony. The hard drives are made by Hitachi or Seagate or Western Digital.

    The real difference with Apple is that there is likely a store near to you with humans you can talk to and get your problem/concern addressed. When was the last time you felt good about going into Best Buy to get some help with your HP laptop ?
  25. DocSmitty macrumors regular

    Jan 7, 2008
    Lincoln, NE
    Great review, hope the current service session fixes things for you.

    One suggestion, if you still have a few days left on warranty it's probably time to buy Apple Care... wouldn't want to foot the bill for the next repair ;)

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