Macbook side view
When looking at Apple machines, its hard not to admire their design. The alluminium and glass, the smooth finishes, the breaking away from tradition... To be honest I would probably not shift away from a Mac again just because the hardware looks so damn good...

In December 2008 I made a switch to a Macbook unibody of which I made reviews in terms of the hardware and the operating system. Well, its about 4 months later and I guess its time to come down from the hype cloud and tell things like it is. There are a few things about a notebook you just dont see when you are looking at it in a shop. You have to live with it.

I initially spoke about the hardware, so here is just a few things I noticed which people should know about. Firstly – the screen is not the greatest. True it is very bright, and the instant brightness of the LED backlighting is wonderful. But its viewing angles are not great. To anyone who has a Macbook currently – open up the RSS reader screensaver, preview it, and view the screen from a few angles, you will see what I mean. As long as you view the screen head on, there is no problems. The Macbook Pro and Air has none of these issues. So if your picky about your screen look at the other higher level machines.

multitouchI also said I had problems with the buttonless mouse – I could not have been more wrong. It is an absolute joy to use, and I really wish all other manufacturers will take note. I have a wireless Logitech notebook mouse in my backpack which I have not used in 3 months. The multi-touch features are intuitive and the first thing you miss going back to another notebook. I have not had any problems with the keyboard, but I have to say I would have a hard time saying its better than a Thinkpad’s.

The casing is sturdy and stiff. It is perhaps a little on the heavy side for such a small notebook (especially after having something like a Lenovo netbook in your hands). Only problems I have with the form factor is that the rubber feet on the bottom could stand to be few millimeters thicker. True, it looks cool with its thin profile, but the average person’s fingers just don’t fit in beneath it when you pick it up. Also, even though the magnetic closing mechanism is really nice, occasionally a person would smudge the top of the webcam just by opening the notebook. Picky, yes. But this is a Mac, and Apple would have you believe its perfect, even its latch.Macbook bottom

All the ports on the left hand side does look a bit more classy, but there are too little USB ports, and they are way to close to each other. Try fitting in a flash drive and normal cable together – doesn’t work all that well. Also – and this a big downer – I really miss having a card slot. Every other machine I had in the past 5 years had a SD card slot. Welcome to 2009 Apple, get with the plan. I don’t want to bother with a cable connection everytime I want to download my photos.

The battery button is a really nice touch – and something which all other notebooks should gain. And its placed well – when my notebook is in its sleeve, its easy to just unzip, press the button, and know how much battery power you have.

But to be honest, all of these things are nitpicking (perhaps with exception to the SD card slot), and I have had a very good experience with the Mac. It is the type of notebook that a person can actually stand to use whenever, wherever. Its the right size, the battery life is great, it has brisk performance and its built well. What more do you want from a notebook?

PS: I will follow this up with a “reckoning” article with regard to Mac OS X.

Overall rating after 4 months: 4 out of 5

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I am a R&D Analyst in Stellenbosch South Africa who has a immense passion for all things tech related. I embrace technology, open source and web standards, and I participate and contribute to the social web.