Thursday, April 06, 2006

A big disappointment

As you may have surmised if you've been following my blog for a while, I was really excited about getting a MacBook Pro. I made post after post for weeks about it. I finally got one, and even got it for about $500 below retail. I was ecstatic.

Well, the honeymoons over, and I'm not happy.

There are many things I do like about this computer. It's very fast, has great aesthetics, and is the only laptop that will let me run both Windows and Mac OSX, although I haven't tried it yet. The backlit keyboard is nice. I also like the MagSafe power cord. However, I'm really disappointed by the many flaws that seem to be common in this model.

First, it's hot. REALLY hot. I've been told by Apple Tech Support that it's not supposed to be used on a lap, and that placing it on a carpet, blanket, or lap is not what it was intended for. How could I have been so silly? Wanting to place a laptop on top of my lap. Sheesh. I should have known better. It's hot near the power plug, hot on the bottom, hot above the keyboard, even the speakers are hot. The only part that doesn't get hot is the trackpad.

Which brings me to my second gripe. I've been having serious trackpad issues. Intermittently, it suddenly stops working, and I have to let it sit to get it moving again. It really takes away from the "usability" superiority Mac OSX has over the competition.

The intermittent problems don't end there though. My wireless connection keeps dropping randomly, and then fails to reconnect to my home network. Sometimes it even loses my WEP encryption key, and I have to re-enter it. I don't have all 13 hex digit pairs memorized, by any means. THAT is a pain. It's also truly a shame. Since Day One, Macs have been much easier to configure on a network, famously and rightfully so. Not this guy.

Something I really liked about my Powerbook (and the one before it, and the iBook before it, and so on) was that it was nearly silent. Not my MBP. It has a horrible whining noise that comes on whenever the CPU isn't using both cores. Apple told me it's normal. NO WAY it's normal. All the MBP's might do it, but that does NOT make it normal. I found a way to "fix" it, but it involves running a program in the background to utilize part of the second core of the CPU at all times. It's really a workaround at best. In any case, I shouldn't have to resort to installing third-party workarounds for a supposedly quality-tested, brand new computer. It also probably doesn't help the heat issue, or the battery life.

Yet another sticking point. I don't expect miracles in battery-life, but it's one of the most important specs on a computer to me. I've been told by reviewers it's 3.5 hours. I'm sorry, but I'm not getting it. I don't run anything too intensive, keep the brightness fairly low, etc. I have wireless on, because I need it, but not Bluetooth. It seems like it peters out very quickly, and while I haven't timed it, it's nowhere close to as long as my 12" Powerbook.

Nor is nearly as small. I can't blame Apple on this one, because they made it 15" for a reason, but I really can't get used to the larger size. It seems so much heavier, bulkier, and clumsier than my 12". Even the keyboard doesn't feel as good, and I make many more typing errors. I'm pretty sure it's the same keyboard, but having the extra space on the sides throws me off. And I can't seem to wear a watch while I use it, because the clasp scratches the top of the palm rest. Not on my 12". Plenty of clearance there.

Also, I've heard other people have a bright strip along the bottom 1 cm. of their LCD's. That's the one widespread problem I don't have. However, I seem to have the opposite problem. The bottom 1 cm. of my LCD is DARKER than the rest of the screen.

The good news is all of these problems aren't problems that we're necessarily stuck with forever. They seem to be manufacturing bugs that apparently are already being addressed in new revisions. The bad news is they have could and should have been avoided in the quality control process. It's not like these are aberrations. MANY people have complained about these same issues. Apple should definitely fix or replace the first revision models that have these problems. Early adopters shouldn't be punished with bugs. The punishment we take through our wallets is bad enough.

Apple is notorious for their first revision bugs, and I suppose with suckers like me out there who will buy the shiny new toys, they can get away with using their customers as beta testers. I'm still really mad. This is by FAR the most expensive computer I've ever owned, and it should be the best. Sadly, it's not. Far from it. Ironically, the Powerbook I replaced with this unit was the best computer I've had so far. I sold it on eBay a couple days ago to pay for this one, and will be kicking myself as I drop it off at FedEx tomorrow.

A $2000 laptop is pretty close to top of the line. If you bought a brand new Mercedes, and the wipers didn't work right, and your turn signal was out, and you had feedback coming out of the stereo, you probably wouldn't stand for it. Steve Jobs wouldn't if it were his car. I shouldn't have to stand for it in my laptop.

I really hope they come out with a 12" revision of the MBP quickly, because when they do I'll unload this one as soon as I can. After the bad taste in my mouth from this one though, I'll probably sit on it for a few weeks to see if they've worked the bugs out first.

Maybe I'm overreacting, as the comments from users at seem to be very favorably disposed toward it, but I don't think so. Many of Apple's fans put up with way too much crap from the company, and think everything they do is brilliant. I'm a big fan, but honestly, if you can look me in the eye and tell me a $100 case to protect your $150 iPod Nano is worth it, I'm looking into the eyes of a madman. I love every other Mac I've ever owned. I'm very disappointed I can't say the same thing about my MacBook Pro.

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