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Why I wouldn’t buy the new MacBook… and probably you shouldn’t either

with 6 comments

Although I rely on my desktop PC for long work sessions and I stand by the fact no laptop will ever beat a fully equipped desktop (dual monitors, and in general, the works…), there is an obvious need for a laptop whenever I’m on the move.

When my old Thinkpad T needed to retire, I looked into the Vaio TX series, at the time the best 11″ ultra-portable money could buy with its mere 2.9 pounds. That was months before the MacBook Air and other similar ultra-portables arrived to the market. Unfortunately the small size didn’t cut it for me and had to look elsewhere to replace the Thinkpad until I finally decided to get a MacBook Pro. In spite of the fact that I’m a Windows user, I did it with the purpose of checking out the then new Leopard OS X release.

Today the MB Pro remains as my primary laptop. Although I have my gripes about OS X, I have remained more or less content about the hardware which has proved to be of top quality construction, all while running Windows Vista. You have probably heard the stories of how the MB Pro makes for a great Windows laptop anyway, and in my case that has hold true – in fact, I haven’t touched Leopard in months.

And now with the well publicized release of the new MacBooks, I started looking into the possibility of getting a new laptop, but instead of the Pro I was checking the upgraded MacBook which is cheaper, has got many of the Pro’s biggest selling points like the aluminum body, powerful specs, but sports a smaller 13.3-inch screen that is also LED illuminated. Sounds good so far? Until I saw this…

Those images were taken by Gizmodo in their first look at both the new MacBook and MacBook Pro. As you can see, the colors on the standard MacBook get all washed out depending on the viewing angle. Then my disappointment has been further reinforced by the fact that many, many of the outgoing reviews for the MacBook barely touch on this point, just mentioning the use of the glossy display which would be less of an issue if the laptop shipped with a quality LCD panel like its more expensive sibling.

In my experience those screen issues are characteristic of older laptops or current entry level models (any brand). Then again my Thinkpad T42, which admittedly wasn’t entry-level four years ago doesn’t suffer from that issue, and at $1300-1600 for a new MacBook, you can’t call them budget either.

With a strong pro-Apple movement going on around the web and growing Apple laptop sales, the word is that the new MacBook is like a smaller Pro without the discrete graphics. I have to dissent, and now you know why.

Update: I’m glad to see Anandtech’s review of both new Mac laptops give light on my assertions above unlike a majority of reviews I have read so far from so-called experts.

As it turns out, the new MacBook screen is an improvement over the older generation which had an even more lacking viewing angle. Really bad for a laptop at that price point IMO. But if you want a superb quality screen, the MacBook Pro will have to be your choice. As I understand it, the MacBook’s Air screen is not too bad either though I have used them on a very limited basis.

Written by Julio Franco

October 24th, 2008 at 12:16 am

6 Comments so far

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  1. Julio:

    You’ve convinved me to NOT get a MacBook.
    Not that I was in the market anyway …..

    HughChardon

    25 Oct 08 at 12:15 pm

  2. I should probably add that I have nothing against the new MacBook Pro other than the obvious lack of choice for a matte screen.

    It’s the vanilla MacBook that is receiving the thumbs down in my commentary above for a poor quality LCD screen, at least compared to the competition at that price range. Quite a shame because specs are good.

    Julio Franco

    25 Oct 08 at 9:39 pm

  3. When I was in the market for notebook computers my mind was open to all, including Apple, in the end I chose not to buy an Apple as none of them have a number pad, this was a main selling point to me as my notebook would be my primary computer. My second notebook also wasnt an apple as it was a budget one for the kids, and Apple didnt seem to fit the budget there either.

    I have to add that I am completely happy with both of my purchases and havent had any problems at all.

    I do love our iPods though, Apple have certainly cornered the market for me with MP3 and MP4 players.

    Katrina

    26 Oct 08 at 12:21 am

  4. Give me a break. Even if without Julio’s points against
    the new macbook, I cannot believe that we are still left
    without an Express Card slot. What, I should spend hundreds more on a macbook pro just to get what any bargain basement laptop has? Jobs must be getting Alzheimers by again omitting something so basic and essential. No Express card, no new version of Echo Audio’s Indigo DJ DAC card (out next month), no
    audiophile sound quality, no life. MacBook? No thanks.

    Raff

    26 Oct 08 at 4:47 pm

  5. What people don’t understand about Apple is the complete different approach to computers…C’mon, be serious, I don’t buy a Laptop if I’m a talented audiophile! Any kind…. I build up a super beast, super fast Pc, with superfast hard drives and all the stuff, including a professional sound card, external or internal… Macbook is thought for consu mer market, for people that use a pc for multipurpose…Internet, office, writing, some games…That’s it… And the new Macbooks are in the same league of netbooks, but with much hugher hardware specs! Do you know what? I just connect my pair of earphones to the analogue out of my macbook, and via iTunes I just enjoy listening …That’s all… I don’t care if it doesn’t have the xyz mega super audio card (and then, integrated soldered within the mobo?? Are you crazy…How can it be possibile) or if it doesn’t have a quality display…
    C’mon we’re talkng about a 13″ display anyway…There’s the 24″ iMac for those purposes..or a ton of pro monitors, like eizo, Nec, even Samsung… We’re talking about portability, not Profesional video editing…and again…There are lots of other solutions for that…a friend of mine is a professional photographer here in Milan, italy, where I live….And he’s been using Barco, Lacie, Eizo monitors attached to Mac Pro’s or PoweMac for years…. He woudn’t ever think of getting a macbook for his professional means…He works with RAW images, weighting 50-100 megs one…
    Macbook, now is a great value all rounder computer, ideal for many things, and light enough to be carried …
    Bye

    Azure

    3 May 09 at 4:22 pm

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