Thursday, June 01, 2006

MacBook - surprisingly suh-weet!

I set up my first MacBook (the $1299 middle configuration) for a client yesterday, and it was much nicer than I feared it would be. Heat is warmer than an iBook, but cooler than the MacBook Pro (or maybe that's because mine is a little faster, with a higher-speed drive). The reflective screen is pretty nice - I expected a worse mirror effect - the screen is very sharp, and the chipset-based acceleration is fine for routine business and recreational use. It doesn't ship with enough RAM, though. Rosetta (as I've mentioned before) introduces roughly a 30% memory hit over a native PPC Mac per application - a small price to pay for the compatibility and (typically) performance you get from it. But with only 512MB of RAM standard and provided as a pair of pre-connected SO-DIMMs, you have to scrap all the existing RAM to get up to a usable gigabyte. Which is a shame, not to mention priced poorly.

Were I designing the MacBook, I would have tried to incorporate 512MB right on the system board, leaving the DIMM sockets open for expansion. Other than that quibble, it's a well-engineered system, the size factor is really good, and I'd say overall it makes both iBook models and the 12" PowerBook G4 its beeyotch. The only thing you give up compared to a PowerBook 12" is the metal case, ATI video (and slightly smaller size), because the 12" was always just an iBook with a shiny aluminum skin. The backlit keyboard that the MacBook Pro (and bigger PowerBooks) had isn't on the 12" or either iBook anyhow, and you also get the built-in camera, 802.11a capability, and the multi-display support the iBooks lacked.

It's basically a worthy ride, and had I not bought my wife a 12" iBook back in December as a birthday gift I'd be looking at these. My only advice to the prospective buyer - skip the black color. True, you get an 80GB drive instead of a 60GB, but other than that it's the exact same machine for an extra $200. If you really want the 80GB drive, add it as a BTO option on Apple's website - that way it only costs $50.

Also, with virtualization all the rage I'm expecting to have a review of Parallels Desktop in a few days - I'll post it on the BNUG site as well as here.

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