Apple has just released their new Macbook / Macbook Pro line – complete with beautiful new aluminum unibodys, new graphics cards, new screens, and a new buttonless trackpad. But what does this mean for your business? Do you need to upgrade to one of these new computers right away? And will upgrading mean a world of difference for your working environment? I’ll take some time to break down the units in detail so you can decide for yourself.
13 Inch Macbook – Aluminum Unibody
First, I’ll start with the positive notes. First and foremost, the units look very nice – the keyboard colour is not so nice (black just doesn’t work), but the aluminum unibody design and contoured edges are beautiful. The screen wasn’t too bad – the glare was only really noticeable if you we’re looking for it. The screens we’re extremely thin and opened and closed so easily, a big change from older units. The unit was clearly lighter then older Macbook models and would be a charm to carry around.
Now, the downsides. Like I said before, the black doesn’t really work with the unit – it could’ve easily been white or silver and it would’ve looked fine, but the black just stands out too much for a Macbook. The trackpad…. it just felt too small for this unit. I couldn’t work the different multitouch gestures built into it because of the size of the trackpad – attempting to get 3 or 4 fingers on the pad at the same time was a chore. One I wouldn’t want to bother with if I was using the unit for work. Size aside, the trackpad worked very well – it felt only slightly different from the older trackpads, and the gesture recognition was superb. The buttonless design felt very natural, and 2 finger clicking for contextual menus was extremely easy to do and to get used to. Graphics and power-wise, I couldn’t determine too well what the battery life would be like, but the machine was speedy and gave me an estimated 3:45 of battery life running Photoshop CS4, Final Cut Express and Aperture. For peripherals, I’d have to give this unit a failing mark – no Firewire whatsoever on them. This choice on Apple’s behalf became even more confusing as we walked around the rest of the Apple Store, finding an entire showcase of Firewire 400/800 external hard drives. Why?
Overall: I think that the unit looks good and feels good. The downside here is that the trackpad just wasn’t implemented properly – it needs to be bigger for it to work properly with the multitouch gesture capability. Sadly, the lack of Firewire on these units, with the technology of today heavily relying on it, makes this unit not worth buying in my opinion. Without Firewire, I can’t use my digital video camera or external hard drive, a whopping $900 of useless technology. Why should I pay another $1400 to get a new laptop if I’ll need to spend another $1000 to replace my 2 year old “outdated” equipment? Sorry Apple, but that was a bad decision.
15 Inch Macbook Pro Aluminum Unibody
Once again, I’ll start with the good. This unit was, like the Macbook, beautiful to look at and use. On this unit, the trackpad also sees a significant increase in usable size, making the trackpad implementation and the ability to use multitouch gestures easy and simple. It has 1 Firewire 800 port, which is OK (at least its there), and the additional graphics card is nice to have (although requires a restart to activate).
Now for the downsides. The unit has somehow managed to become heavier then previous 15 inch models, as well as wider! This renders my current laptop bag almost useless for storing it, and puts another half a pound of weight on my shoulder every single day. The lack of Firewire 400 is a big hit for this unit too, and it has the same god awful keyboard. But despite those things, my biggest gripe here is “Whats the point?” -compared to the new Macbooks, this unit has 2 inches of difference. The 2nd graphics card makes very little impact on performance, and the Firewire 800 should be on the Macbook anyways. Other then those 3 very little things, they are identical in everyway. Now you don’t even need to buy the professional grade unit to do professional work – this units $2200 pricetag isn’t worth it if you can save $1000 and get a slightly smaller (and lighter!) unit.
Overall: Its beautiful, and its labelled Pro, but the $1000 difference is now completely unnecessary. I’d buy one again if forced to buy a new laptop, but other then that I’d just get the Macbook – its almost identical.
In my opinion, whether or not you need to upgrade to one of the new Macbooks / Macbook Pros really comes down to whether or not you use Firewire 400 and 800 in your business environment – both units have an identical design and almost identical inner workings, but you’ll only find Firewire 800 on the new Macbook Pros, which means if you need Firewire 400, you might want to stick with your older Mac in the meantime!