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Technology Review: Mac Book Pro Initial Impression March 22, 2011

Posted by shwaldman in Technology.
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I started this blog a while back just to put ideas out there and, over time, it has evolved into a review site. I often find myself doing research online and try to get answers to simple questions (and hard ones too). So, when I started noticing I was not finding certain things and decided I would focus on all the reviewable things in my life. Lately, that has mostly been movies and some books. Today, I am excited to start reviewing my new Mac Book Pro.

Last week, I picked up a new Mac Book Pro – the 13-inch model with a Core i5 processor, 4 GB, a 320 GB hard drive. It is my first time touching a Mac OS since some college classes, nearly fifteen years ago. I have had less than a week and I feel like not much as changed. When I left college, Windows was in release 3.1. Mac OS was in a release called System 7 and having just moved to support a PowerPC processor, similar chip architecture to the ones used by Windows-based computers. In other words, fifteen years ago Apple opened the door to Windows running on their computers. To this date, they are not reciprocating and allowing their operating system on any hardware other than their own.

Granted when I used the System 7 OS, it was strictly as a basic application user. I did not experience any application installs or system administration of any kind. This was also the mid-90s when the Internet as we know it was non-existent. The number of applications and tools was very limited. Today, computers are integrated/networked and much, much more powerful.

But enough of the basic history lesson. Let’s get to the first impressions. I will say that this machine is fast and for geeks like me, the term beautiful comes to mind. The Core i5 processor super fast and I am very impressed at how quickly this computer does basic functions. The boot time and restarting from sleep is amazingly fact compared to my Windows 7 machine. The build of the computer is very clean. I love the uni-body form of the case. I did debate getting the thinner and lighter Mac Book Air but decided the reduction in weight and thickness was not worth the loss in processor power and small hard drive, among other things. The Mac Book Air is an impressive feat of technology miniaturization, but for the same price, you can get “more” computer. And I can still fit my 15″ Windows 7 work laptop AND the Mac Book Pro in the same protective sleeve of my backpack case.

The backlit keys (not available on the Air) surround a nicely spaced keyboard, although I am having a tough time getting used to the fact that there are no dedicated home, delete, end, page up or page down keys. What is up with that? I am also still getting used to the glossy screen – it gives off a whole lot of glare and I do not need to see my reflection. The magnetic closing hinge is cool and of course the lit-apple on the back is neat, although I am still getting used to being “one of those” people!

The operating system is clean and efficient and easy to work with and learn. I had no problems defining users for different member of my family with different levels of authorization. I have had to spend a little time trying to find certain settings and different functions. But I have had the same type of adjustments at work moving from Windows XP to 7. I am also getting used to the way the OS “hides” the filesystem much like iOS and relies on the applications to access the files. It makes perfect sense to remove those concerns over where files are, but coming from the old school of DOS and file managers, this is a big adjustments. I have also started installing some additional software and that has gone relatively smoothly. I am still amazed with the nearly 8 hour battery life. With the power of the processor and impressive screen, I did expect only 5 hours or less.

I plan to use this machine to learn the OS, but also get into iOS development. The SDK is currently free for Xcode 3.2.6 (I can upgrade to Xcode 4 when I join the developer community for $99/yr). I will start building basic test apps and designing and creating special applications of my own in the coming weeks. Look for future reviews on that and more.

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