Wednesday, August 22, 2012

MacBook Pro review

My trusty old MacBook Pro early 2008 model had been slowly dying on me ove rthe last year. I eked out every last bit of usage I could but finally it gave up the ghost a couple months ago. When the repair estimate came in at $1,200, I knew it was time for a new laptop.

TIM 9419

Goodbye old friend…I'll miss you.

TIM 9427

Just a few dents and cracks...


I decided to check out the new MacBook Pros, specifically the late 2011 MacBook Pro 2.2Ghz with glossy screen. I was expecting 3 1/2 years of processor updates and the new body style to blow me away and save the day as my new on-the-go and studio-display machine. I couldn't help be a little disappointed. It had the same amount of memory as my previous laptop (4GB) and while the processor was a 2.2Ghz just like my old one, it was several generations newer, the quad core i7 that I expected to blow me out of the water. Except it didn't. Photoshop and Lightroom still took quite a while to start up. When I was in the middle of several editing tasks, the system would bog down and get really unresponsive (yes, I know more RAM would help). Finally, it got hot….really HOT. The bottom of the laptop got really hot to the touch and was downright uncomfortable as a 'laptop'. I just wasn't happy.

Macbook pro11

The 'new' MacBook Pro - close but not quite


I went to the Apple store and let them tempt me with their newest creation -- the MacBook Pro with Retina Display. I was sold. The display was amazingly sharp and beautiful. I placed my order for one with 16GB of RAM, based on my previous experience. When it arrived, I was even more impressed. The marketing hype about improvements and measurements of this and that are one thing but in reality, this blew me away. Here are some things I really like that didn't sound like big deals at first:

  • This thing is really thin. It's only a few millimeters thinner than the last model, and having a smaller computer was not in my top 10 list, but it's amazing how much smaller and lighter this model is. 
  • The SSD makes so much of a difference. I have an SSD in my desktop machine as a user-installed upgrade. Frankly it's nice but not the great improvement it was billed as. Not so with the MacBook…this thing is soooo much faster. I'm sure that having an Apple configured system from the start with matched parts is a big factor. Switching Lightroom catalogs took 30+ seconds on the 2011 MacBook, about 10-15 on my desktop and closer to 5 seconds on the MacBook Pro with Retina Display.
  • Power Nap - one of Apple's new features didn't make much sense to me -- having the computer keep up to date with e-mail, etc. while it's closed…who cares? Boy was I wrong…this is a terrific feature…the computer wakes up and is ready to go so much faster and to have everything in sync from the get go is underrated.
  • It charges really fast! I read this but didn't think much of it until I saw it for myself. This thing charges up so much faster than previous laptops I've had. Plugging it in for just a few minutes made a double-digit difference in my remaining battery percentage. It's ready to go so much faster and if I'm using it lightly, the remaining battery usage timer shows upwards of 8 hours sometimes. Of course, I'm usually driving it hard with Photoshop & Lightroom so my usage is more like 3-4 hours on a charge.


Hero 2x

The new hotness.


Bottom line, if you're considering a MacBook Pro with Retina Display, go for it…the screen alone is amazing but all the improvements over the previous model and body style really add up to a terrific machine. Desktop power in a package this small blows my mind. Now I'll have no excuse to be working wherever I go, haha!


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