Sunday, January 11, 2009

The new MacBook

I treated myself to an Apple MacBook over Christmas. I am still feeling a bit guilty about it because, frankly I could have got something much cheaper - but I wanted to try a Mac! Having got it though I am really pleased I did.

The MacBook I bought was the cheapest available, the small white one, not the new and more expensive aluminum. I did wonder if I could get something in the sales, but it seems that Macs are not included in the current frenzy of discounting. Somehow I find that comforting.

It was apparent as soon as I had taken it out of the box, that I was dealing with a quality product. For example, the power supply box has neat little prongs which slide out for winding excess cable around, and where the cable plugs into the machine it is magnestised so it does not wobble. I was a bit worried about not being able to use the machine easily but actually it was all fairly straightforward and intuitive - for example it logged itself into our wireless network without me really having to do much at all.

The screen is wonderful! I am gradually watching all my DVDs again, just to see how great they look. On the Mac you just shove the CDs into a slot at the side, which I think is much better.

In order to get best use out of my new mac, I bought Mac OS X Leopard: The Missing Manual by David Pogue, which has been brilliant. I have worked through it over the past week and it has taught me lots I would never have known otherwise. So, after about 2 weeks use, what do I like and what do I dislike?


  • The screen! Much better quality that any other screen in the house I think!
  • The ability to scroll by using two fingers on the touch pad
  • The spotlight search facility - a great way to find things
  • The dock (which I have put on the left, where my MS Office tool bar goes on my PC) - and I like the way the icons bounce up and down as the programs open
  • The helpful menulets at the top
  • I also quite like the finder box design, used for all folders
  • The fact that I don’t have to worry about viruses as apparently macs are immune to them
  • The MacBook is much lighter to carry around than our clunky old Dell laptop (now taken over by my son)

  • For someone whose eyesight is getting gradually worse, the icons and font (on the macbook at any rate) tend to be a bit small (this is presumably something the young things at Apple who do the designing won’t have a problem with, yet ...)
  • I rather miss the links in the bar at the bottom of the screen for moving from one program to another that you get in PCs (there’s a thing called expose (fn and F9) which tiles all your programs so you can find a hidden window, but I have not really got used to it yet)
  • It is confusing that the buttons to close programs are at the top left rather than at the top right as in windows, also they are very small (although quite pretty)
  • I don’t like Pages very much - I bought iwork to get the full mac experience (plus it is cheaper) but I think that this was a mistake, I should have got Office for Mac. At the time though Office seemed the boring option
  • There are also problems in that some of the specialist software I use on my PC won’t work on the mac, this also includes the admin area of Landlord-Law which was designed for me using a PC! So I don’t think I will be replacing the office PC yet.
Generally I am finding the mac better for recreational use (such as watching DVDs and messing around on the internet) rather than work stuff, which I find it easier to do at the desktop PC. The screen is so much bigger on my PC (albeit of a lesser quality) so I can see everything better, and I prefer using Word. I suspect however that as time goes by I will get to like the mac more and more. I am gradually becoming as it were bilingual.

Overall it has been a good experience. However if you do get a mac, do get the missing manual book too.

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NL said...

As a log term Mac user, albeit of aged machines, I'm jealous.

On your macbook you can have the best of both worlds - you can install windows as well - either as a separate system, look up bootcamp in the Pogue book - or better stil have windows running inside OS X, look at Parallels (costs money) or virtualbox (free). Both of these mean you can have windows applications running alongside the OS X ones.

And welcome to way of light, calm and loveliness...

Tessa said...

Yes, I read about running windows on the mac. I may do it one day, but at present I feel like its a techie step too far.

For the moment I shall keep my macbook pure and unsullied!

kelvin newman said...

once you try mac, you very rarely go back! enjoy it they are really are the business

jane firbank said...

Try scrolling while holding down the CTRL key. On an iMac this smoothly zooms and unzooms the screen so you can read tiny fonts. I run Vista in a window on my Mac (only for property s/w, grrr, not available for a Mac). It's slow to load up and slows down Mac applications. But it works fine and at least I can zoom the screen up to read it, which isn't nearly so easy on a PC!