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Old Jun 17th, 2009, 03:08 PM   #1
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My review of the new 15" MacBook Pro

Because of my unfortunate experience on Monday, I was forced to buy a new notebook. That notebook is the latest 15" MacBook Pro model from Apple. It's stock with a 2.66 GHz processor, 4GB of RAM, 320GB hard drive, and a SuperDrive (DVD/CD burner). Not to mention the Nvidia 9400M/9600M GT graphics card combo (you can use the 9400M for daily stuff, but if you need more graphics power you can switch to the 9600M). It's also the one with the non-removable battery that uses Lithium Polymer battery. More on that in a second. I've only had it for a day or so, but my first thoughts about it are:

- It is slightly lighter than the Santa Rosa (mid 2007) MacBook Pro that I had, but it feels more solid.

- The keyboard has a nice feel to it.

- The glossy screen is tolerable (so far) as long as you are looking straight at it. Reflections do appear in certain lighting conditions and I would imagine that the screen would be difficult to read outdoors (I'll try that and let you know). Having said that the screen itself has much richer colors. But it honestly needs a matte screen option just like the 17" model (are you listening Apple?).

- The trackpad with the gesture based actions takes some getting used to (along with the fact that the entire pad is a button), but it's cool and it has a nice feel to it.

- It only has 2 USB ports (my last MacBook Pro had three) and they are a bit too close together. Some cables won't fit side by side.

- It uses display port for the video output. That means that I had to buy new adapters for DVI and VGA. That sucks.

- It has FireWire 800 which means that I had to buy a new cable to connect my DV camcorder. That sucks.

- The SD slot is handy for me as both my cameras take SD cards. I haven't tested that yet though.

- It came with iLife 09 which means no iMovie 06 HD. Fortunately I had a backup copy of iMovie 06 HD as I really hate the new iMovie. I just can't get used to a non-timeline based editing software. Perhaps it's just me.

- When switching graphics cards, you have to log out and log back in again. Not exactly ideal IMHO. Hopefully this gets fixed in Snow Leopard.

But the thing you care about is how fast it is. Well, it is faster than the 2.2 GHz MacBook Pro that I had and you notice it when you push the computer (like when I run Parallels Desktop for example). As for the battery, I'll let you know. I started running off battery just before 9AM EST. It is currently 1:50 PM EST and the battery still has a 12% charge with an estimated 37 minutes of runtime left. And I've been surfing the net, adding to this blog, leaving it to idle, and I rebooted four or five times after installing software. My previous MacBook Pro would have been dead by now. So far that's impressive. I'll let you know what the final runtime is.

My verdict thus far, it's a nice machine. It's a worthy notebook to wear the Apple logo. I just wish that I didn't have to get it under the circumstances that I did. But if you are looking for a power users notebook, take a serious look at the 15" MacBook Pro.
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Old Jun 18th, 2009, 07:31 AM   #2
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Awesome.

I had bought a mbp 15" from FS about 2 weeks ago, and only returned it to take advantage of the edu store pricing and promotions. I took to the trackpad/gestures quicker than I thought, and going back to my HP laptop after I found my self multi touching to scroll.

I have the new 2.8GHz on order, hasn't left china yet, but hoping to see it by Tuesday. I'll put up a couple of reviews when I get it.

I know the other MBP took 7 simultanious audio inputs into ProTools and didn't have any lag or glitching while recording the live band.

Now to find the many many accessories that are going to be needed
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Old Jun 18th, 2009, 10:30 AM   #3
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First off, thanks for sharing your real-world experience. It's really helpful. Sorry you "had" to buy a new one, but at least you got a good one!


Quote:
Originally Posted by 8127972 View Post
- The glossy screen is tolerable (so far) as long as you are looking straight at it.
If you've ever stared at one of those "3-D" repeating-pattern illustrations, you have the refocusing capability to "look past" any reflections. IME I have found that slightly tilting the screen is all it took to improve the view in sunny conditions, but I readily admit that I rarely sit with a strong light source directly behind me and that if I did (or had no control of that), a matte screen would be somewhat better.

Quote:
But it honestly needs a matte screen option just like the 17" model (are you listening Apple?).
There are aftermarket solutions for this, but it does seem like Apple's passing up a potential profit center here -- charge a lot extra for the matte option ...

Quote:
- It only has 2 USB ports (my last MacBook Pro had three) and they are a bit too close together. Some cables won't fit side by side.
This is the kind of real-world useful info I crave. Thanks for this, it's important to know in some setups.

Quote:
- It uses display port for the video output. That means that I had to buy new adapters for DVI and VGA. That sucks.
I'm surprised it didn't come with md-to-DVI, but not sure why you needed to buy both adapters?

Quote:
- It has FireWire 800 which means that I had to buy a new cable to connect my DV camcorder. That sucks.
This should have been an extremely minor expense, if you bought the adapter online. But again, good to know in advance.

Quote:
- It came with iLife 09 which means no iMovie 06 HD. Fortunately I had a backup copy of iMovie 06 HD as I really hate the new iMovie. I just can't get used to a non-timeline based editing software. Perhaps it's just me.
I wouldn't say it's "just you" but as someone who was VERY expert at iMovie 6 HD (taught classes, used professionally etc) and a big fan of it, iMovie 8 and now the much-improved 9 are just a different approach. To me it's like bifocals: sometimes you need the top view, sometimes the bottom view is better.

I'm WAAAAY faster in iMovie 9 doing standard editing than I ever was in HD 6, but OTOH the plug-ins and other niceties of 6 were better for some specific uses. These days I use 9 pretty exclusively -- the motion-smoothing feature alone has completely rocked my world.

Quote:
- When switching graphics cards, you have to log out and log back in again. Not exactly ideal IMHO. Hopefully this gets fixed in Snow Leopard.
Interesting. Did not know that.
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Old Jun 18th, 2009, 11:49 AM   #4
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Quote:
I'm surprised it didn't come with md-to-DVI, but not sure why you needed to buy both adapters?
I often have to plug my notebook into projectors and monitors to do training and presentations, so I need both DVI and VGA to cover any situation.

Quote:
I wouldn't say it's "just you" but as someone who was VERY expert at iMovie 6 HD (taught classes, used professionally etc) and a big fan of it, iMovie 8 and now the much-improved 9 are just a different approach. To me it's like bifocals: sometimes you need the top view, sometimes the bottom view is better.

I'm WAAAAY faster in iMovie 9 doing standard editing than I ever was in HD 6, but OTOH the plug-ins and other niceties of 6 were better for some specific uses. These days I use 9 pretty exclusively -- the motion-smoothing feature alone has completely rocked my world.
I haven't tried iMovie 09 yet (i've only had this for less than three days so I've been more focused on getting my apps installed and moving data over from my backup disk image), but I'll give it a shot. The thing that bothers me is that I have a ton of Slick plug ins that I happen to like and it sucks that I can't bring those over.
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Old Jun 18th, 2009, 03:08 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by 8127972 View Post
- It only has 2 USB ports (my last MacBook Pro had three) and they are a bit too close together. Some cables won't fit side by side.
This is a major PO for me. When I plug in my Telus Sierra wireless modem, it blocks the only other USB port, so if I want to download pictures from my camera while online for example, I have to use a USB expander and plug it in to one slot first, then the modem and then the camera or whatever else I might want to use.

As for that third USB slot, I really miss it not being on the right side too, like it was on my 2.2 Ghz MBP so you could have a USB device either side of the keyboard.

Pretty poor planning Apple.
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Old Jun 18th, 2009, 04:09 PM   #6
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I ordered the 3.06Ghz 15" last week, and has apparently arrived home today.

Couple thoughts:

MD to DVI or VGA adapter... possible to go with a single MD to DVI, then use an adapter from the DVI to cover VGA if required? Too bad Apple didn't include at least one adapter.

USB close together. Big design no no in my opinion, BUT, something I got many years ago now, was a Compact Flash USB reader, which came with a 3" USB extension cable. Works really well, in case you don't want to hunt around for a silly hub.

Design wise, I'd really like to see a USB port on the upper right of the body, for cases where a USB wired mouse is preferred.

Good option, if you want versatility of wireless USB on a mouse:
http://www.logitech.com/index.cfm/mi.../3271&cl=ca,en


Screen:

Just playing around with my iPod yesterday, gauging how much reflection I got out the back window in my office... yeah, not so great. We'll see how the screen plays out, but I suspect it will come down to what my wife did with her MacBook, and buy a screen protector to cut down on the glare. Her whitebook was completely unusable outside without one, now not so bad.
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Old Jun 18th, 2009, 05:04 PM   #7
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I bought that same logitech mouse and love it and the nano receiver...I can finally make use of the right hand side USB port.
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Old Jun 18th, 2009, 05:46 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jicon View Post
...something I got many years ago now, was a Compact Flash USB reader, which came with a 3" USB extension cable. Works really well, in case you don't want to hunt around for a silly hub....
On my MB 13" Alu (late '08), the same problem - USB ports are too close together (is it an Apple design problem, or should we lay the blame with the people who design too-fat USB sticks?). I also have that little 3" USB extension cable, for which I never thought I'd have a use. It's perfect for this situation - I just leave it attached to my USB stick, rather than go hunting for it when the need arises.
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Old Jun 18th, 2009, 06:33 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by 8127972 View Post

- It only has 2 USB ports (my last MacBook Pro had three) and they are a bit too close together. Some cables won't fit side by side....it is faster than the 2.2 GHz MacBook Pro that I had
S'cuse me for maybe being ignorant, but the 2.2 MBP was a 15" Model - and the 15" MBP has only ever had 2 USB Ports. They used to be one on either side, but no 15" MBP has ever shipped with more than 2 USB ports, AFAIK).

The 17" was the only one that had 3 USB Ports - and the 17" only came in 2.16, 2.33 or 2.4/2.5/2.6 models - not a 2.2Ghz.
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Old Jun 18th, 2009, 09:21 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by fyrefly View Post
S'cuse me for maybe being ignorant, but the 2.2 MBP was a 15" Model - and the 15" MBP has only ever had 2 USB Ports. They used to be one on either side, but no 15" MBP has ever shipped with more than 2 USB ports, AFAIK).

The 17" was the only one that had 3 USB Ports - and the 17" only came in 2.16, 2.33 or 2.4/2.5/2.6 models - not a 2.2Ghz.
I just checked the specs and you're right. I stand corrected.
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