MacBook Pros

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I’ve been using the late 2008 version of the MacBook Pro now for about two months (on the right). I had my previous MacBook Pro, the mid-2007 model as a point of reference. There are differences, some good, some bad, but overall the latest model wins it – and for one very good reason – the new trackpad.

Not that the 2007 model was anything bad. It originally had OSX Tiger, which I upgraded to Leopard in December 2007. It is a reliable and sturdy laptop, and never let me down. But it was only when I started using the late 2008 model that I could see what I was missing.

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The trackpad on the new model is a wonder. Using any other trackpad on any other computer feels clunky by comparison. Because it is made of glass, it is smooth to touch. It is larger and easier to use than its predecessor. When I go back to using the older MBP, the plastic trackpad feels ugly.

Of course the biggest advantage of the new trackpad is the multitouch. For someone who has not used it, it might be hard to explain just how much this changes how you use the laptop. In OSX it is a god send. My most commonly used gestures are four-fingers in an upward movement to minimise all windows, and four-fingers downward to show all windows in expose. I find myself unconsciously trying to perform the gestures on the old MBP, before I realise I can’t do them. That’s how used to it you become. You don’t even think about it.

In terms of the screen, both models are LED backlit, meaning excellent colour saturation and viewing angles. Both are glossy screens, the first by choice, the late 2008 model only comes in glossy. I never find this to be a problem, though some do. Even in direct sunlight I can clearly read the screen. The colour on the new model seems to be slightly superior, it just feels more defined.

On the downside though, the USB port on the right side of the MBP has disappeared, to make way for the side rather than front slot loading DVD drive. This means that when you attach a wired mouse, the cable plugs into the left side, while the mouse is on the right. A minor inconvenience, but I guess are expecting us all to have a wireless mouse.

The keyboard on the latest model is one of the new flat-keyed versions originally featured on the MacBook Air, and now on all models minus the 17-inch MBP and the still available white MacBook. I like the new keyboard. The older model keyboard was nice too, so I don’t feel like I’m missing out on anything. It does what it says on the tin.

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Overall, I would recommend to anyone considering a new laptop, or a move to Mac, to go Britain and pickup a base model MacBook Pro. They are deadly cheap thanks to a weak sterling. If you are Windows user and are worried about compatibility or usage issues, don’t be, Leopard is many times better and easier to use than either XP or Vista. And if you have Windows apps you want to use, then installing VMware Fusion is a breeze, and you can have both operating systems running side by side.

I was a PC user for the best part of 13 years. I will likely never go back to PC.

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