Goodbye MBA, Welcome MBP 17 review

Discussion in 'MacBook Pro' started by Sound Evolution, Jun 24, 2009.

  1. Sound Evolution macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Oct 30, 2007
    Location:
    Netherlands
    #1
    Dear All,

    This going to be a long post so take a cup of coffee and lean back :D

    I am a long time reader of Mac rumors and a lifetime Apple user and just turned 28.

    I use my Macs mostly for designing circuit boards (for audio and music applications) and for making music. I am an electronic audio product designer, mostly digital audio applications.

    My attempt is to write as objective as possible. Of course emotions influence us all when it is about the stuff we believe in, but I try to stay down to earth here and the same time-share some of my enthusiasm.

    To start the story (and I will make a long story short) a year ago like many of us I fell in love with the just introduced MBA. It was exact what I needed. That year I would make a Europe tour and live for a while in Paris (I am from the Netherlands).

    Short after the introduction I bought the MBA/SSD for the full retail price of $2800 (if memory serves me well).

    I can honesty say, the MBA/SSD REV A. changed my life and days literally. During my Europe trip. I didn’t had internet for two months in our apartment in Paris, so every day I went out on my own walking through Paris with my MBA to find some free WIFI spots. It was a pleasant fact that I was able to walk around all day long with a laptop without even notice it. My (now ex ☹) girlfriend had a HP 14,1” laptop which was a nightmare to bring around and after n hour of walking you just wanted to get rid of it because the weight started to annoy. Not with the MBA. You hardly feel you have it with you.
    That really changed my life. I appreciated the design every single minute of the day. I was in heaven! :D

    Unfortunately some heavenly dreams can turn out into nightmares.

    To start, it took me 4 MBA’s to get a decent one. The first had a dead pixel, the second a broken fan and serious damages on the case. The third was overheat right away already in 5 minutes. The 4th one was the one I could live with.

    Unfortunately none of the MBA’s where cosmetically perfect, in a sense, that all of them had less ore more physical damages straight out of the box. However, I could live with it. The 4th one serves me very well for over 7 a 8 months, but then the problems start to occur again. Overheating, Kernel panics, and on the last I was not even able to chat on yahoo messenger anymore without the computer to overheat and get totally unresponsive. I can say honest, there where moments I wanted to throw it out of the window! I can’t describe how frustrating it is if you do your work and the whole computer start to stuck and lag. This in a sense that every letter I typed in word took likes 3 seconds to appear on the screen. The same time my screen became slobbier and slobbier and was about to break. That was the point for me that I decide to write an email to Apple customer relations.

    I have to say, they where always be more then great for me, and I am very fortunate and lucky to have such an excellent service in the Netherlands. My MBA’s where always replaced direct, without any questions or difficulties. As customer I was always token very serious.

    Anyway, almost end of my Apple care my 4th MBA was considered a total failure with above issues. It was not usable anymore as a “normal” computer.

    I wrote a very kind letter to customer relations, in where I told them in a kind way about my disappointment in the product, but the same time I also shared my appreciation for their service they offered me in the past, and I putted clear that my complain is not towards them but towards Apple directly. Above any surprise I got called right away next day with a unique offer:

    Because they felt sad that my experience was so sour, I could choose to trade in my MBA/SSD REV. A for a brand new MBP 17” with processor boost (3,06GHz.) and 7200RPM HD. And if that was not enough yet I got as extra:

    -Mini display port to dual link DVI adapter
    -Tucano sleeve
    -MagSafe airline adapter
    -Mini display port to VGA cable
    -Mini display port to DVI cable
    -Remote

    It only took 3 days (from Monday till Wednesday) to send this CTO product from Shanghai to the Netherlands.

    I am still speechless at the moment I type this with this incredible service and offer. I think this is among the best in the industry I ever heard of or experienced.

    However, we have to remain objective and critical. The fact is (for me at least) that Apple suffers a quality control issue, or the tolerances are just high. This is not something you should expect from a premium product. From all the Apple products I’ve owned the last 3 years, none of them was without scratches, nicks or dents straight out of the box, which is really sad for such a near perfect and beautiful design.

    The 17” Macbook Pro:

    From the smallest and lightest to the biggest! :D Let’s go to my new Macbook pro 17”

    As many of is know, there is nothing better then the smell of a just opened brand new Macbook box! :D

    It is surprising how Apple manage to package this all in such a small and thin package. Very impressive.

    The Screen:

    The screen is perfect. No dead pixels, no dust underneath the glass, and my first LCD without any form of light bleed. (My MBA al though a gorgeous screen, suffered also light bleed). The 17” MBP is the sharpest screen I’ve ever seen in a notebook. Better then my already wonderful MBA screen. In comparison the 17 MBP screen is a little less warm in color and more to the bluish and fresh side but without being cold. The black levels are stunning and for the first time on an LCD screen the backlight doesn’t bother me. Something Plasma TV’s excel in.

    I have chosen the glossy variant by purpose. I am aware of the mirror reflections but they don’t bother me at all. I do like the black levels over the matte screen. Blacks and background contrast are very deep with the 17” glossy screen it is really stunning.

    The Keyboard:

    The keyboard (even though look the same) is different then the MBA. The MBA has a more tactile and direct “click” feel which I find very pleasant. The same time the MBA keyboard was noisier. The MBP 17” has a softer touch with more suspension and less noise. The later sounds and feels more refined and neat, but personal I prefer the “click” feel of the older MBA.

    The new trackpad is a little bit confusing at first, but I get used to it soon, and it is a great addition to what was already a great track pad.

    Changing from the MBA to a 17” MBP is a world difference in size and weight, and I will miss the portability of the MBA. But the fact that I am able again to do all my stuff and design work without flaws, stuttering, overheating and locking the system is worth everything. Since the MBA REV C still seems to have issues (stripes) and since I am not sure if the hinge problem is solved I didn’t dare to take the risk again with a MBA.

    Cosmetical:


    Unfortunately also this MBP 17” came with a small dent on the rear of the top case (above the screen), but I don’t want to be nitpicking here anymore. I am glad to have no dead pixels and a perfect screen, so I accept this dent with love. I just mention this fact to point out that Apple’s quality control really has to change since this is still unacceptable and needless.

    For those who are picky, the chance on a “perfect” MBA or MBP (cosmetically) is not that big, but once you know this (the fact Apple’s quality control isn’t want it was anymore) you can get over it and accept it I guess.


    Conclusion:

    The 17” MBP is a beast of a machine. It hardly get warm, the fans never kick in, even not with 1080P HD trailers. The screen is gorgeous. The weight is minimal for a 17” laptop and the enclosure is extremely thin for such a workhorse.

    Last but not least, the real bummer for me is the huge resolution of 1920x1200 is something I highly underestimated. Now I experience it with the huge overview on my desktop and work arrays it is something I can’t get without anymore. It works much more pleasant and clean, without the need to scroll al the time.

    All with all after some less nice experience with the MBA this is once again a wonderful Mac experience all over like I had with my first Powerbook G4. It is a beautiful product. It is the best Mac I ever owned and in my opinion the best laptop design ever. The glossy screen is beautiful and I am so happy they went with glass!

    I want to say from the bottom of my heart, Thank you so much Apple!!

    Sorry for the bad quality photos... it is the Iphone :D

    With kind regards,
    Bas

    PS: If someone want to know which screen is in my machine please tell me how I can look it up, I know it is pointed out many times already.. sorry I forgot! :D
     

    Attached Files:

  2. Eithanius macrumors 65816

    Joined:
    Nov 19, 2005
    #2
    Great machine you got there. Can't imagine after countless blunders with MBAs, you've got an MBP 17-er. That's a huge upgrade. :eek:

    I wonder how much did it cost you to trade in an MBA for a 17". :D
     
  3. Sound Evolution thread starter macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Oct 30, 2007
    Location:
    Netherlands
    #3
    I still can't believe it either.... But it is the truth. Kudos to Apple.

    With best regards,
    Bas
     
  4. Anuba macrumors 68040

    Anuba

    Joined:
    Feb 9, 2005
    #4
    System Preferences > Display > Color tab > Open Profile
    Scroll down to line 13 ("mmod"), click on it and look in the "Model" box. It will probably say 00009C98.

    I agree on many of your points -- just got a MBP 17" 2.8 last week, and I'm very happy with it. Glossy turned out to be a non-issue, the screen is insanely bright and has zero dead pixels. It's more silent than I ever dreamed it would be, and runs very cool. I only have a couple of minor gripes that I didn't expect... this is my first MBP.

    1. The trackpad. Multitouch works great, but clicking requires way too much pressure. And since Apple go on endlessly in their marketing about how the entire trackpad is a button, it should in fact be possible to press any part of it, but it only works in the bottom half, unless you use both hands and press until it almost breaks, or maybe try standing on the trackpad.

    2. The screen hinges don't hold the screen steadily enough. If you take any PC laptop and open the lid to an "L" position, you can tip the whole laptop forward or backward 90 degrees and the screen will remain fixed in place. But not this one -- it seems the screen is too heavy for the hinges. Tip it backwards with the lid open, and the screen will fall until it reaches the max angle that the hinges allow.

    3. The Realtek soundchip. It's simply awful. The OS keeps putting it to sleep and wakes it up whenever a sound effect is needed, and every time it wakes up you hear an ugly popping sound. Instead of going "boing" when a mail arrives, it goes "POP! boing." It makes a lot of static noise when it's awake, the aliasing is ghastly, and it BootCamp you get constant audio dropouts, especially when there's a lot of screen activity (don't blame Windows for this, I have never encountered a Windows laptop with audio glitching and dropouts when playing regular multimedia stuff... only when you use music apps with ASIO drivers and extremely low latency).
     
  5. Sound Evolution thread starter macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Oct 30, 2007
    Location:
    Netherlands
    #5
    Thanks for the Information.

    My screen is indeed a 9C98 ;)

    My hinge is the opposite of yours. Very tight, even to tight for my taste. Also the Magnetic latch is very tight. My MBA was totally loose in comparison.

    I am agree with you about the "popping" noise. All of my Mac laptops suffered from this. This is because the Mac laptops have a relative high amount of DC offset on the outputs (I measured around 300mV DC which is a lot!) Once the sound system get unmuted you get a fast discharge of the DC into the receiving citcuit.

    In my opinion the sound quality and audio outputs of the old Powerbook's where superior to any of Apple's Intel laptops.

    With kind regards,
    Bas
     
  6. Anuba macrumors 68040

    Anuba

    Joined:
    Feb 9, 2005
    #6
    Interesting. Would it be possible (in theory) to fix this with a driver or firmware update or is the pop "physically" unavoidable? It annoys me to no end. I've heard about some software that sits in the background and plays a silent sample every 20 seconds or so to keep the soundchip from going to sleep...
     
  7. Sound Evolution thread starter macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Oct 30, 2007
    Location:
    Netherlands
    #7
    The only solution software wise would be, that the system would not "mute" the outputs anymore. The DC offset is not solvable software wise unfortunately.

    With best regards,
    Bas
     
  8. bli625 macrumors 6502a

    bli625

    Joined:
    Mar 8, 2009
  9. tarasis macrumors 6502a

    tarasis

    Joined:
    Oct 26, 2007
    Location:
    Here, there and everywhere
    #9
    What I find interesting is that I don't get the audio "pop" on either my old white MacBook or my new 13" MBP but I did get it on the early 2009 17" MBP that I had briefly.

    My MB is often silent, with only new mail sounds or the having the hour announced.

    BTW Great story, great to see they could do that for you.
     
  10. Sound Evolution thread starter macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Oct 30, 2007
    Location:
    Netherlands
    #10
    Dear Tarasis,

    It is like lottery also. My new 17" doesn't have the pop also, and I measure the output and there is hardly no DC offset. My MBA popped very loud.

    With best regards,
    Bas
     
  11. Dreamail macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Jun 17, 2003
    Location:
    Beyond
    #11
    Thanks Sound Evolution! Great story.

    If you were in Paris again now having to hunt for WiFi spots again, how would you rate the 17" MBP to your ex's HP 14,1” laptop?

    Would it be just as uncomfortable to lug around all day?

    Would it even be possible, or would it just be plain ridiculous to carry it around a whole day?

    Would you be willing or even able to use it in a coffee shop or on the street, or would it be too big to just unpack and use?


    I guess the 17" MBP is more a laptop you keep at home on your desk most of the time, and only bring to a hotel room, if at all. You wouldn't carry it in a bag all day like e.g. the MBA.
     
  12. Sound Evolution thread starter macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Oct 30, 2007
    Location:
    Netherlands
    #12
    Dear,

    Believe it or not, but my MBP 17" is still lighter then my ex girlfriends 14,1" HP. That brick was really heavy, with a heavy ugly battery pack underneath the laptop asymmetrical. Sometimes I am really wondered how the heck those designers ever got accepted on any industrial designers university! :D

    But back to your point. If it is about pure weight, nothing beats the the MBA. But the MBP isn't that bad as expected. I started to safe weight on the carrying bag and end up with this very lightweight but sturdy Samsonite bag.

    http://www.looksluggage.co.uk/product_info.php/products_id/1583

    The strap is very comfortable. All with all the MBP is still very bearable to bring on long trips enz. It is amazing light for such a big beast.

    However if you ask me if I would walk around Paris all day long with the MBP, I think not, but I wouldn't even do that with the 13" MBP. It is not about being to heavy, but it just start to annoy to have weight with you all day. The MBA remains unique in it's kind that way.

    I start to appreciate my Iphone and Itouch much more now, and I would have enough with only those devices for emailing and browsing some website.

    I am now in the situation that I never want to be without this high resolution screen and speed anymore.

    Secretly I hope Apple will come with a netbook alike device or a touchbook one day and then I will buy it as my second alternative laptop.

    As long they don't change the MBA hinges, and as long I read stories about stripes I will never buy a MBA anymore. Don't get me wrong, I don't bash the MBA. I love it and I find it very innovative. But I wait for the truth next revision with a (slight) case redesign. Maybe then one day I buy it back as second laptop.

    Conclusion. The weight of the 17" is bearable and much lighter then you would expect. Everything heavier then the MBA is already to heavy for me to carry all day around. If you decide to buy a laptop heavier then the MBA I strongly advice to go right with the 17" since it is still lighter then some 14.1" PC laptops.

    With best regards,
    Bas
     
  13. midgetsanchez macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Jun 9, 2009
    #13
    The portability difference between the 17" and the 15" is NOT that significant. The video below has an EXCELLENT comparison of the 17" next to a 15" HP, take a look. As you can clearly see, it's only about an inch wider and by all means just as portable. The 17" has a much higher resolution screen than the smaller models, which is why it tends to look misleadlingly larger when compared side-by-side to a 15".

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fZZr499RGFk#&t=0m36s
     
  14. aaquib macrumors 65816

    aaquib

    Joined:
    Sep 11, 2007
    Location:
    Toronto, Canada
    #14
    Awesome story. Glad to see such great customer service! Congratz on the MBP :D
     
  15. spaceboots06 macrumors 6502a

    spaceboots06

    Joined:
    Jun 13, 2009
    Location:
    The Rotten Apple
    #15
    I don't know if that's you or not but that kid sounds SO stoned!

    When he's talking about the notebook not having a battery latch "no latch for the battery, that's how you get the, uh, 8 hour thing" lol.
     
  16. aaquib macrumors 65816

    aaquib

    Joined:
    Sep 11, 2007
    Location:
    Toronto, Canada
    #16
    :D:D:D Noticed that too.
     
  17. noodle654 macrumors 68020

    noodle654

    Joined:
    Jun 2, 2005
    Location:
    Never Ender
    #17
    Congrats, enjoy that amazing screen, battery life, and power!
     
  18. MacAndy74 macrumors 65816

    Joined:
    Mar 19, 2009
    Location:
    Australia
    #18
    Amazing read. Really honestly enjoyed reading the whole post. :cool:

    I am of course insanely jealous but I will be ordering mine is < 7 days now and I'm more excited than ever! Your pictures of the insanely attractive MBP 17-inch show just how excited you are. I'm going to take pictures of mine when it arrives too. Maybe even film the event! :eek:
     
  19. niuniu macrumors 68020

    niuniu

    Joined:
    Mar 29, 2009
    Location:
    A man of the people. The right sort of people.
    #19
    Excellent outcome, though what about portability - you didn't mention that after you received the 17incher!
     
  20. Unprocessed1 macrumors 65816

    Unprocessed1

    Joined:
    Jun 23, 2008
    #20
    It is just a little odd they randomly offered to exchange it for a 17" MBP of all products....

    EDIT: I forgot the OP is from Holland. We all know what the customer service rep was smoking that day.
     
  21. Sound Evolution thread starter macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Oct 30, 2007
    Location:
    Netherlands
    #21
    Dear All,

    Thanks for the nice responses... hwahwahw filming the whole event. I love it! :D

    To be honest, I never had the intention or even the thought about the 17" MBP when I wrote to Customer relations. After reading all the stories about the broken screens which didn't get fixed under warranty my biggest wish and concern that time was to get a screen fix and a new good working logic board. This offer I couldn't even dream of. To be honest I never considered the 17" MBP.. and now I regret that since I experience how great this machine is.

    My point I also wanted to make in this post is, that there will be always a good solution from Apple if you are just honest, straight mature and polite about your situation, and stay reasonable. To often I read reactions here from people who totally freak out, or start to write the sjobs@apple.com right away. sorry guys but that isn't the way. Try to solve it with your local Apple service. Call them and if they can't satisfy you ask for Apple customer relations. But then again also the normal procedure of calling Apple and start by the first stage, was really good with kind and easy going people.

    The feeling I always had is that Apple want YOU to be happy and excited. I know I read different horror stories especially with genius bars.

    Everybody have fun with your Macbook pro's, Have to say the new 13" MBP is gorgeous as well, and I am glad you can buy a "pro" now at a more affordable level. I think a very good move from Apple. It also makes me suspect that there will be coming something new in the non pro range starting at $600 just my feeling.. ;) :D

    With best regards,
    Bas
     
  22. Demosthenes X macrumors 68000

    Demosthenes X

    Joined:
    Oct 21, 2008
    #22
    A MacBook Air with SSD would have cost about the same as a 17" MBP when introduced, I think. So all those saying "what great customer service"... it's an exchange for the same (roughly) value of product. Good customer service, yes, but not much better than had they simply exchanged it for another Air.

    Not to knock your service - it's very good that Apple will do what it takes to make their customers happy, even when that means offering them a different product. Seems like an odd offer for an Air, but the 17" Pro is a brilliant machine, and it sounds like you're enjoying it, so that's great. :)
     
  23. Jsimon9633 macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Jun 26, 2007
  24. Sound Evolution thread starter macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Oct 30, 2007
    Location:
    Netherlands
    #25

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