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17 January 2007 — 17" MacBook Pro: Six-Week Review (8)

I've been using my new 17" MacBook Pro for about six weeks now. How do I like it? That's a difficult question to answer.

I purchased the 17" model because I've become increasingly reliant on screen real estate. In order for me to work efficiently, I need a w-i-d-e screen, one on which I can fit a browser window and a text editor side-by-side. My old 12" Powerbook didn't allow me to do this. Its screen resolution was 1024x768.

In this regard — and many others — my new machine is like a dream. Its resolution is 1680x1050. That extra 556 pixels in width makes a HUGE difference in the way I work. Also, the MacBook Pro is zippy. I loaded it with 3gb of RAM and, except for one notable complete melt-down (which Nick witnessed), the machine has run without a hitch (or restart) since I received it at the end of November. As a computer, it's wonderful.


But a 17" laptop is a big machine. It's bulky. It's unwieldy. It's not nearly as convenient as my old 12" laptop. To port the MacBook Pro around with me everywhere I go (which I do) requires planning and effort. Hauling the 12" Powerbook was simple.

There are some subtle — but very real — aesthetic differences, too, all of which fall in favor of the smaller computer. For the past few years, I've been impressed with the fit and finish of Apple's products. The iPods and laptops and desktops are all wonderful to work with: they're solid, polished, and beautiful. Everything is molded to fit smoothly and work fluidly. However, my new iPod and my new MacBook Pro both suffer from little defects that detract from the pleasure of use, remind me that I'm using a machine instead of just experiencing it.

The biggest nuisance on the MacBook Pro is the lid — it won't stay open. On the Powerbook, the lid is stiff — if you open it, it stays in place. You can swing the computer around in all directions, and the lid won't budget at all. But on the MacBook Pro, the lid moves at the slightest provocation. I often write in bed. This is difficult to do when the lid of your computer falls shut when elevated even a tiny bit. My MacBook Pro's touchpad is poorly fitted, too. On the left side, it sits below the case, but on the right side it rises above it. The differences are slight — fractions of a millimeter — but noticeable in daily use.

I'm torn. I want to love my MacBook Pro unconditionally, but I don't. I love it as a computer, but not as a product that I hope to live with for several years. I love my Powerbook, and yet it doesn't meet my needs.

Are other people as obsessed with their computers as I am?

On this day at foldedspace.org

2006A Dangerous Breach   In which Al Gore makes a speech with which I am in complete agreement. What would have happened if Gore were elected President? It couldn't possibly be any worse than what we got.

2005Bill   In which I reminisce about a college rommate whom I have not heard from in many years.

2003Beyond the Basics   In which Mac convinces me to take a photography class with him.

On 17 January 2007 (10:34 AM), Jennifer Gingerich said:

The lid on my 13" Mac Book Pro stays open just fine. The touchpad sits flush with case. Must be that larger size. I have been more frustrated with the apps that won't work on the Intel processor, but worked on my old powerbook. That situation does seems to be getting better with time.

On 17 January 2007 (11:09 AM), Paul J. said:

I love my Macbook but it could be better. My only real complaint is one of comfort: the leading edge where the pieces come together is sharp. I rest my hand on the corner to use the mousepad and it becomes irritating. This is a design flaw.

I don't have much basis for comparison since this is my first laptop. I am addicted.

On 17 January 2007 (11:45 AM), Paul J. said:

p.s. Have you had any problems with heat? I know there was much discussion about the Pro getting extremely hot. I just got the istatpro widget that monitors temps (geeky). My macbook gets hot but not as hot at AJs old Dell laptop.

On 17 January 2007 (07:21 PM), Ron said:

"I'm torn. I want to love my MacBook Pro unconditionally, but I don't."

Doesn't that mean you love your machine 'conditionally'?

I envy you even as I type on my Powerbook 12" :)

On 21 January 2007 (10:29 AM), Fred said:

Others have noted issues with the looseness of the screen hinge:


I'd suggest stopping by the nearest genius bar to see if they have any suggestions. Don't let them take too much apart or you'll find more than your track pad misaligned.

As for the 17 vs. 15.4, I'd only choose the former if I was going to use it on a desktop stand. I make heavy use of expose and generally have browser,word processing,bibliography,graphics, and email programs open at once. With my 15 inch G4 I just plug in a stand alone monitor when I really need more real estate.

Praising and complaining about size simultaneously indicates a little schizophrenia.

Your best bet is to get a very nice ergonomic carrying case for the computer, power supply, and neccessary peripherals. On the end of your arm it can get pretty tiring . . . but on your back 7 or 8 pounds is nothing. I just have a nice sleave that fits in my backpack. I should get an additional organizer that fits my power supply, mouse, etc. and slips into the backpack next to the sleave. Having an extra power supply is a luxury but greatly aids transport if you have two main locations where you are using the computer (or you can keep one in the backpack and one at your favorite stationary local).

On 06 September 2007 (04:31 PM), bob said:

hey everybody,
i have a macbook pro 2.4 15", it's great ...
but the only problem i have is the screen lid, it doesn't close well on the right side and the lid is hanging out around 2mm. on the front right side...
if somebody knows how to solvee those problems please e-mail me to ai_bob@hotmail.com
i really love my macbook pro and i want it to be perfect ...
thanks a lot

On 12 September 2007 (01:35 PM), Marcus said:

Both corners of the lid on my brand new 17" MBP warp up just a little over 2mm. I love the MBP but think that for the amount of money I paid for it the fit and finish should be better. I wonder if the words, Made in China have anything to do with it?

On 28 November 2007 (09:29 PM), Glenn said:

I too use a 17" MBP 2.4/2gb ram, I have also noticed the screen corners warp upward,but only sometimes, the screen seems to warp and align itself a few times during a days use, I have tried to define a patern, ie heavy use or something that may cause this change, it sounds crazy but the lid seems to have a mind of its own.