Mac "switcher" -- my opinions of a few days with the MacBook Pro

Discussion in 'MacBook Pro' started by SilentCrs, Nov 11, 2006.

  1. SilentCrs macrumors regular

    Nov 2, 2006
    Well, technically I'm not totally a "switcher". I owned an iBook G4 a few years back and I've gradually been getting family members to buy Macs (sick and tired of cleaning spyware off their machines). We have a good number of Macs at work but I've never used one as a primary machine. The Intels came out and my ears perked up a little. I waited for a while and my laptop recently died -- so I purchased a MacBook C2D 15", second configuration (the one with 2 GB of RAM and 256 MB of VRAM.

    So anyway, here's some thoughts from a long-time PC user. By the way, I work in IT.

    First the pros:

    * Performance-wise, excellent machine. I was able to quickly copy a ton of files from my PC (gotta love SMB) while importing music into iTunes, installing apps like Firefox, etc. It kept up.

    * Gaming-wise, suprisingly good machine. I wasn't expecting a boutique-level gaming laptop, but this has more than held up. I think the second configuration is the perfect combination for gaming (you go up to the 17" and the X1600 is going to have a rougher time keeping up with the video resolution). My biggest surprise was that Wow was surprisingly playable on Mac OS side. I may not have to go into BootCamp at all on that one.

    * Screen looks nice. I have the glossy and don't see any issues with lighting.

    * Many things did indeed "just work". No issues connecting to my WPA-enabled Wi-Fi gaming router. Found my Bonjour-enabled wireless printer instantly. App installs have been relatively smooth (not all, though -- more on that in a second). There's definitely a learning curve, but I'm getting used to it.

    * Oh yeah, Parallels works surprisingly good as well. I have experience with VMware and I think the 2 GB definitely helps.

    Now the negatives. Some of these are nitpicks, but they add up.

    * I wiped the machine a day after I bought it (I think the term is "Erase and Install" in Mac parlance). The first reason: Office seemed to balk somewhat on the install. After I updated it to the October patch, clicking an Office icon would make it bounce a couple of times and disappear. The Console log was litered with Kern Protection Failures. Then I got a spinning beachball when trying to access a server and not even force quit would opn. Not pretty.

    * The other problem I had (this was more of an annoyance, but it was a little uncalled for on Apple's part): when I bought the machine, I dug into the System Preferences. One of the panels I played with was display, mainly adjusting the brightness. I found out later that the ambient light sensor uses that bar as a "base". Figuring Apple knew best about what should be the base value (and being a bit blinded by the brightness of the screen) I looked for a "Reset to Default" button. Nothing. So I create a new account as a test and look at the Display panel there. It clearly has a different base value set. Knowing a little about Macs, I search for the plist for Display preferences so I can copy it from the test account to my own. Nothing. I call up Apple, and the guy says "I don't know where that default setting is stored. We're not given that privileged information." Huh? Buddy, it's clearly stored in whatever's used to create new accounts (a default template or something). Eventually I just got fed up and wiped the machine, figuring I'd only used it for one day and I wouldn't be losing much. I then locked the Display panel. Why Apple doesn't put "Reset to Default" buttons is inexcusable.

    * Heat-wise, it's definitely a warm laptop. Not much warmer than my old one, but still it's not extremely cool. I think part of the reason is thin casing -- the processor, RAM, etc. sit a lot closer to your fingers and your legs (if it's on your lap). It's usable now (kind of comfy going into the winter, actually), but I wonder about the summer.

    * There's definitely something up with the wireless. I'm frequently taking very long to make DNS queries and get pages loaded up. My other machines on the network can access the internet fine. Hopefully this gets fixed in a driver update.

    All in all, I don't want to give the impression that I dislike the machine. It's just a few minor quibbles become magnified when you spend $2500. ;) Other than these, it's a very nice machine.
  2. gekko513 macrumors 603


    Oct 16, 2003
    Just set the brightness to what you want it to be. If you change it with the brightness keys, that same slider will move, too.
  3. SilentCrs thread starter macrumors regular

    Nov 2, 2006
    The problem is "what I want it to be" is how it came with the laptop. There's no way to reset to a default setting. There's not even an obvious plist I could look at and determine what the default setting is. Apple's helpdesk doesn't even know where the Display settings are stored. This bothers me. If I called up Microsoft and asked "What's the default value for this registry key?" I'd probably get a response. (It may not be a great response because the registry sucks, but whatever).

    I understand Apple's view is to abstract away as much as possible from the user, but when someone experienced with *nix (like myself) looks at Mac OS X and sees the visible underpinnings, then asks Apple "Where's the default for these underpinnings -- I see plists here but I can't find the Display defaults. Can you help me?" and gets no response, it kind of leaves a negative mark.

    At the very least there should be default settings buttons on the majority of the System Preference panes.
  4. gekko513 macrumors 603


    Oct 16, 2003
    You'll soon discover that the brightness control won't stay where you put it anyway, so just get used to having to adjust it. :eek: (Well, at least my brightness control will sometimes for inexplicable reasons jump down from max to next to max, and I'm not talking about the half brightness setting... it could have something to do with the ambient adjustment, though).

    For most preferences, deleting the .plist will restore the default. I don't know if that works for the brightness setting.
  5. iW00t macrumors 68040


    Nov 7, 2006
    Defenders of Apple Guild
    You can also disable ambience light adjustment by unchecking the tick in System Preferences > Display
  6. goofyfoot macrumors newbie

    Dec 7, 2005
    Waldport, Oregon
    2.16 vs. 2.33--heat generation

    I'm wondering if the 2.16 C2D would run cooler than the 2.33? And if the 120 hd would run cooler than the 160, although which 120 you get seems to be the luck of the draw.

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