As mentioned in my Third Day post, I’m using a MacBook now, every day, as my work computer. And, well, I’ve not died nor been struck by lightning or anything. But am I a convert? Read my my ongoing discussion of my experiences with the platform. This week: the rest of the hardware.
To those that know me or that read my dislike of the mac keyboard, it may be surprising that I don’t really have a beef with the rest of the hardware. Touchpad, screen, ports — all are pretty solid, and make for a good development machine.
We’ll start with the touchpad, since that is probably the biggest feature here. (And I do mean biggest — it is enormous!) The touchpad has no buttons like you would find on your average PC, but it does have a tactile click action.
In software, you can configure the left and right corners to be left and right click, which proves handy for a codger like me… the alternative is a two-finger click, which I just can’t get working reliably. In fact, multi-touch is all the rage on this thing, supporting up to four (!) finger swipes and things.
The downside is that you can only turn behaviors on and off, you can’t customize them. If I wanted to swap a couple of the actions, I just can’t. Another problem is that a common touchpad idiom for me is to have one hand resting on the bottom left corner and clicking (selecting checkboxes, say) and the other moving the cursor (selecting many rows of checkboxes, say). Something screws up frequently in this case (maybe hardware, maybe software) and causes the clicks to either misfire or perform an alternate event.
Now, I hate touchpads. They or overly sensitive, I touch them while I’m typing, and I have to move my fingers off the keyboard to do any mousing. Trackpoint is just better tech for developers. Still, this mac touchpad is pretty good as touchpads go — and they’re far and away the majority of pointing devices for laptops, so you don’t have much choice.
Screen is bright, high-res, and has a very nice auto-dimming feature. I actually wish it would go further automatically, but it is quite acceptable.
I’ll talk about multi-monitor along with suspend on a future I’m on a Mac segment.
Ports & Thingies
The Mac has a nice magnetic charging port, easy to remove and replace. In theory, it will pull out before the laptop pulls down, but I’ve still managed to dump the laptop because of the cord.
Two USB ports. Not enough. I’m not a fan of wireless mouses and keyboards, which is what Apple is pushing folks toward.
DisplayPort. Not bad, slightly annoying that there’s no straight VGA, but in an all-Apple shop, who cares?
SD slot. Sadly, the SD card sticks out even when put in fully. I can’t leave a big card in there to store my stuff and keep it separate.
Power monitor thingy. This is a series of green LEDs along the left side, and a unlabeled button. There was no information on what this was, I had to go online to find out. Once I did, though, it’s a nice battery gauge.
It’s hard to put a dollar amount here, but I would have to say that the things this MacBook have lend themselves to a good developer machine. I would not pick lesser specs in looking at any brand full-size laptop, though I’m still tempted by netbooks for light dev. So, based on that, those pieces are worth more than a $250 netbook. How much more? Hard to say, we’ll have have to keep digging into the Mac.