All entries for Tuesday 24 July 2007

July 24, 2007

Day 3: First impressions

Two MacBooks and two MacBook Pros arrived. Before we even switched them on, there were some things we noticed: they’re aesthetically pleasing machines, nicely proportioned and rounded (except for the oddly sharp edge on the front of the palm-rest surface which Chris noted earlier). They’re also refreshingly devoid of stickers blathering on about which operating system or processor was inside, and the build quality seems good (though not neccesarily better than Windows notebooks costing the same sort of money).

Opening them up, a few things which we wondered about:-

  • There’s apparently no delete key; how do you delete the character in front of the cursor?
  • There’s no dedicated PageUp and PageDown keys. Very small sub-notebooks sometimes dispense with these keys because there just physically isn’t the width to get them in, but the MacBook Pro has a 15” screen and the keyboard space to match, so it seems like an odd omission.
  • Double quotes aren’t on Shift-2; they’re over with the single quotes, where the @ symbol is on a Windows machine. It does seem kind of logical putting the double quote and single quote characters on the same key, but I wonder how easy it’ll be to remember. I’m vaguely surprised, though I don’t really know whether I should be, that this isn’t something which has just standardised itself across all keyboards by now.
  • Will the lack of a second button under the trackpad turn out to be a nuisance? How do you right-click without a (two button) mouse plugged in?
  • No PCMCIA or ExpressCard slots on the MacBook; a single ExpressCard slot on the Pro. As Chris has already noted, this is a bit of a pain for mobile connectivity. Perhaps you can get USB dongles that do the same job nowadays, but we don’t have any lying around, whereas we do have PCMCIA cards.

My only other observation is that my own personal preference in notebooks is for the sub-notebook form factor; I’ve used Sony Vaio TX and Toshiba Portege notebooks in the past, and my current notebook is a Dell X1 whose dimensions and weight are just about perfect. It’s silly to criticise the MacBook and Pro for not being something which they don’t claim to be, but I’d love to see Apple provide a model in their range which is comparable to a Portege or X1 or Vaio TX model – ultra-thin, 12” screen, lightweight, smaller-than-A4 footprint.

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