Sunday, September 20, 2009

New MacBook Pro

After several years of using my personally owned Mac laptops for work, I decided recently to let my employer pay for wear and tear.  (An influencing factor is my increasing need to connect my machine to the company network, instead of just the lab network.)  My old company laptop is a 2004 vintage Dell Latitude D600, which was a good machine five years ago but after our IT folks implemented full-disk encryption, began running like crap.  Even with the RAM maxxed out at 2 GB, it is painfully slow to use.

Thankfully, getting approval for Mac laptops has gotten much easier in the past couple of years.  Most users in my company could use a Mac since the primary applications used are Word and Excel.  Our email system is MS Exchange with WebDAVS enabled, so Entourage works as an Exchange client.  The main office apps which don't run on OS X are Project and Visio.  I rarely need to view Project documents and when I do, ask for a copy in PDF or JPEG format.  When I need to work with Viso files I either use OmniGraffle Pro or run Visio on XP inside of a virtual machine.

My justification for a Mac instead of a Dell was twofold: (a) is required to run Apple's OS X Server Admin utilities, and (b) has a native implementation of X11.

It doesn't hurt that the Dell Latitudes we buy cost about as much as a MacBook Pro, so cost really isn't a factor.

Anyway, my new machine came in last week and I picked it up Thursday afternoon.  I finished moving my stuff over to it yesterday.  It's a mid-level unibody MacBook Pro with these specs:

* 15.4" glossy screen
* 2.66 GHz Core 2 Duo CPU
* 4 GB of RAM
* 320 GB hard disk
* SuperDrive
* 802.11n AirPort Extreme wifi card
* Gigabit Ethernet
* 2x USB 2.0 ports
* 1x FireWire 800 (IEEE-1394b) port, backward compatible with FW-400
* 1X card reader
* Mini-display port

Along with the laptop I got an Apple keyboard and a Mini-display to DVI adapter.  I need to get a Mini-display to VGA adapter.  I'm using a $15 Logitech mouse, since I don't like Apple mice.

The software load was OS 10.5.8 (the recovery discs have 10.5.7), MS Office 2008, Parallels Desktop v4 with an XP Pro virtual machine already setup and loaded with Office 2007, and Cisco VPN client.  IT is integrating our Macs with our Windows domain using the Directory Utility, and have also installed MacFuse, which I assume is to assist with accessing our Windows file servers.

Yesterday I upgraded the machine to Snow Leopard.  After using it on Rohan, there are a few features which I found I really liked and didn't want to be without.  For example, Expose works better in 10.6 than previous versions of OS X and overall, the system is a bit faster.  If the machine needs IT's attention they'll reimage it with Leopard, but I do not foresee this happening.

The hardware is beautiful and I've gotten used to the keyboard, though I think I still like Rohan's keyboard better. I LOVE the new clickable trackpad, and have configured it so that pressing the lower right hand corner is the same as a right-click.  Finally and Apple laptop with a right mouse button!

The screen is absolutely gorgeous.  Text is crisp and colors are really vibrant.  So far I haven't had any problems with glare under the flourescent lighting in our office or incandescents at home.

The new machine seems to run cooler than Rohan, judging both by the temperatures reported by iStat Menus and how it feels to the touch.

Battery life seems good, but I am still not thrilled with the idea of a laptop battery that is not easily user replaceable.  However, if it comes to the point where the battery needs replacement, I get to pawn the job off on someone else.

1 comment:

Dr Data said...

If you need to view Microsoft Project files, another alternative is to use OpenProj. It reads the files so you do not need to make a pdf.

http://openproj.org/