A Few Days with the New MBP

I just bought a new MacBook Pro. I like it. I was stunned at how bright the LED screen is. Then I realized it was only at half brightness. I don’t mind the lack of a button under the trackpad. I pretend there’s still a button under the trackpad. I rest my thumb where the button used to be. I’m OK with that, and it works for me.

I’m impressed with the precision of the casing. I picture dudes in white lab coats with metal instruments in their hands when I look at the tiny micro speaker holes. I don’t remember picturing dudes in white lab coats before (OK maybe with the 1st gen iPhone). I’m surprised that it’s not all that much thinner or lighter than the previous model though.

I like that, when lifting up the lid, the entire machine doesn’t lift off the desk or try and skate away. I like that there’s no latch, but miss an audible click that confirms it’s fully closed. I like that all the inputs are on one side now. I don’t like that it’s the opposite side that I’ve configured my desk for.

I love the glass screen. I’ll still need to plug into a non-glossy screen for any real color work. I’ve been OK with that. I think the speakers are louder than the previous model. I doubt my hearing has improved over the last few days, but if it has, then the speaker volume remains the same as the previous model. I’d be OK with that.

I was shocked how small the box it comes in is. I’m happy that Apple is considering packaging waste now. This reduced packaging lowers the “unboxing excitement” by approximately 4%. I’m OK with that.

I like this new MacBook Pro.

47 Comments

  1. Mr K says:

    Congratulations on the new MBP, I’m OK that you have one BUT I’m not ok that I don’t (yet).
    Enjoy

  2. Nate Klaiber says:

    “I pretend there’s still a button under the trackpad. I rest my thumb where the button used to be.”
    I did that for just a few minutes, then found it clashed with how I used 2 finger + button on my old macbook to bring up the ‘right click’ options. So, by resting my thumb where the button used to be, I found it would get in the way of me trying to move around, and I had to turn off the 2 finger + button gesture, as it kept opening by mistake. This isn’t a bad thing, just a little quirk I have to get used to. I had the same quirk with the multi-touch mighty mouse (R/L click).
    Other than that, I would agree with everything else you have said. Now I need to pick up an adapter to my cinema display until they release the new screens.

  3. It’s “not all that much lighter” because it’s actually half a pound *heavier* than the prior version. It’s also wider and deeper. The only dimension where it’s smaller is the height, at .95 inches.

  4. Shaun Inman says:

    Unless I’m mistaken the new MacBook Pro is a tenth of a pound heavier. I guess that’s the price you pay for all that glass. In the parlance of your post, I’m not so sure I’m okay with that. Yet.

  5. Doug says:

    I’m jealous of your new MBP. I’d like to hear more about the glass screen after you’ve used it for a few weeks.
    I like this new writing style of yours. It’s about 50% unexpected, but I’m OK with that.

  6. must.buy
    thanks for the cleanest straight forward review I could have asked for. Here’s to hoping you post more later in regards to it’s performance ;)

  7. As someone considering a new MBP, I was a little disappointed by lack of availability of a matte screen. How bad, in your opinion, is the glossy screen for color work. Some say a matte isn’t accurate anyway. Having had both, what’s your opinion?

  8. Ethan says:

    I like the new MacBook Pro, although I’m not sold on the keyboard and trackpad button yet. I’ve heard guns that fire more softly than those things click.
    I think that metaphor made 40% less sense than anything appearing above it.

  9. Jen Germann says:

    I want. A lot.

  10. Michel says:

    One small note, though:
    Doesn’t this new glass screen bother you when you use the MacBook Pro in an environment, where there is light and (inevitably) some reflections around? In a room, during daytime? Outside (in the sun)?
    I am accustomed to non-glossy screens and I think they improve tremendously the readability and accessibility, as the eyes are not distracted by light reflections… I wonder why so many laptop manufacturers nowadays start to ‘ban’ non-glossy screens, now even Apple (the MacBooks) and Lenovo (ThinkPads).
    Unless you work in a dark room, there always will be reflections and distraction, on a glass screen, and this is a bad thing…
    A glass screen (which improves contrast, on the other hand) is worth only in one situation: watching a movie in a dark room. In any other situation – mostly work – the glass is not OK. And laptops (macbooks) are made for work, am I not right?
    My $0.02:)

  11. The way I look at it, the glass screen (like on my iMac) allows you to straighten your hair without using Photo Booth. I’m okay with that.

  12. Niki Brown says:

    “I like this new MacBook Pro.”
    I like your review of the new macbook pro! :)
    Still not sure about the glass screen…

  13. Chris Coleman says:

    I got mine the day after it came out. I love it. But it’s been having a few issues. I got a kernel panic last night when I went from running on battery to plugging it in and plugging in my USB hub. Not cool.
    On Saturday, I ran into a really, really weird issue, when I unplugged my TV (connected via HDMI with a DVI-HDMI and the DVI-DisplayPort connector) and then plugged back in to my regular external monitor.
    When I plugged it in, my displays were essentially cloned in a weird way. The Dock and menubar appeared on both, and the same windows appeared on both, but I could only manipulate what appeared on the external display. No amount of disconnecting could fix it. I couldn’t even bring up the Display prefs window for the built-in display because nothing would change on that display (and the Gather Windows button didn’t show up).
    After that, it took like 10 or so attempts at restarting to get it working again. I would only get a blue screen at startup, and never the login screen.
    This morning I tried putting in a blank DVD, but it wouldn’t pull it in. Again, I had to restart.
    I’m really starting to wonder if there’s going to be some recalls. I love this new computer, but it’s got issues.

  14. Alan Bristow says:

    I like your short review, thanks.
    I wonder, if the MBP glassy-ness makes it unusable for colour work, perhaps a MacBook plus external screen is as viable as a MBP plus external screen?
    Ruminating about laptops I don’t own. I like that.

  15. “I love the glass screen. I’ll still need to plug into a non-glossy screen for any real color work.”
    Can you elaborate on this, Dan? I’ve been following the arguments back and forth on this issue, and frankly I don’t see it. Especially for design on the web where you never know what kind of crazy display people will view your work on. What do you consider “real color work”?
    “I pretend there’s still a button under the trackpad. I rest my thumb where the button used to be.”
    I’m prefer to turn on the single-tap on the trackpad. Once you get used to that, the physical button feels like a brick.

  16. Justin says:

    congrats!
    I purchased a new MacBook, and ended up returning it because of the display.
    It wasn’t the glossy, as I’m used to that with my iMac, but rather the razor-thin viewing angle.
    There’s really only one position that looks good with the MacBook–where the viewing angle is perpendicular to the display surface. Any slight deviation from that (move your head, etc) and the contrast ratios change and begin to wash out. I do a lot of pro photo retouching, and this was a dealbreaker for me.
    Ironically even though the Air and Pro share the same glossy LED display, neither of them suffer from this problem. I’m waiting to see if the new Airs have enough performance to handle Lightroom and CS4 comfortably.

  17. Ryan Irelan says:

    Unless I’m mistaken the new MacBook Pro is a tenth of a pound heavier. I guess that’s the price you pay for all that glass. In the parlance of your post, I’m not so sure I’m okay with that. Yet.
    Shaun, it definitely feels heavier to me. It’s the first thing I noticed when I unboxed it.
    The improve lid closing and opening action is a nice touch. The last model was always kind of clunky with the lid, even after they added the second latch.

  18. I’m so going to buy one soon (Not pro though). Thanks for the mini-review :)

  19. Mike Rundle says:

    I had to hop in here since I’m seeing all these familiar names. Feels like 2004 up in this mofo!
    New MBP is fantastic and unbelievably solid. I’d love to pick one up but I certainly don’t need it. Not that it’s stopped me before :)

  20. Inferis says:

    My only concern with the new MBP is the screen. Not the fact that it’s unglossy or not, but the resolution. 1440×900, I’m not sure if I’ll be okay with that.

  21. Tom Watson says:

    Ryan and Shaun, oddly it felt lighter to me, maybe I just wanted it to, maybe it’s just the solid construction. Either way, I’m OK with that.

  22. M.A. Turner says:

    I purchased a MPB 15 last month not realizing the new ones were on the way. Then I got a new job and they hooked me up with a MPB 17. So I’m stuck with two MPB’s that aren’t anywhere as sleek and shiny and new. I’m fairly sick about it.

  23. Keith says:

    Got one yesterday and really like it so far… I do think the keys and the track pad (on click) are a bit louder and feel a bit off, but I imagine I’ll get used to that. LOVE the screen myself.

  24. WebDesigner says:

    I want one but decided to hold off and picked up a NEW MacBook Pro (last gen) for $1399.00 with a non-glossy screen.. I couldn’t resist the price and its a Pro so I figure I can wait 6 months to upgrade to the Unibody version.

  25. Congrats on the new device!
    I have a 2-years-old MacBook Pro 17″ and would like to upgrade to something lighter and smaller for Uni soon, I’m not sure whether a MacBook could do it for me though. I don’t need too much power since there’s a Mac Pro standing on my desk ;-)

  26. I surprised myself in that I _like_ the screen. It is reflective, yes, but I wouldn’t describe it as glossy, like I would with a photo. I have a glass screen iMac as well as the unibody MBP and in my living room with some windows and an overhead light, reflections have never been a distraction on screen.
    I’m unqualified to speak as to color correctness of matte vs. glass, but from my understanding, the point is moot unless you’re working in a 18-percent gray room. And I wonder how much of the glass/matte hubbub is that it’s _supposed_ to be something you care about vs. something to _actually_ be concerned with. I won’t presume to tell anyone else their preference. In short, it’s not an issue for me.
    What I _do_ like is the new glass screen cleans up much nicer. None of the key top impacts of every earlier MBP and PowerBook I’ve had, going back to the TiBook.

  27. Ryan Irelan says:

    @Tom Watson: Beefcake 3000?

  28. Andy Clarke says:

    I was ‘going’ to buy one the day after I saw you in Chicago. I phoned my wife, told her my plan.
    She said “I’m not OK with that” so I left empty handed. I’m not so OK with that.

  29. Brian Warren says:

    Shaun, it definitely feels heavier to me. It’s the first thing I noticed when I unboxed it.
    I imagine it feels noticeably heavier due to the fact that it’s a little smaller, so you notice that it’s more dense.
    Great review Dan. Can’t wait to pick up mine once I get a way to plug it into my 30″ monitor, or just get rid of the monitor and pick up Apple’s new one.

  30. My new 2.5 MBP just arrived today. My 6 month old 2.4 MBP with the LED screen is not as bright as this new one. It’s very bright.
    I transferred 190GB in about 1 hour and 30 minutes using the transfer tool from old to new over Firewire 800. That’s quick.
    Everything also just feels faster. Xcode install, MySQL install, ruby, gem installs, VMs, photoshop, opening applications, etc.
    There are two issues I have so far. The first is that brightness. It’s so much more my Viewsonic VX2255wmb can’t keep up. I have to dim the MBP screen, but then reflections are more noticeable. The 24″ monitor might be forthcoming.
    The second issue is that I can’t get my Apple wireless keyboard to work. It finds it, but can’t pair. Replacing batteries, rebooting, etc. hasn’t helped. I’m using an old school white Apple USB keyboard. It’s terrible — Horrid really.
    Aside from that, I really like it so far. The build quality makes the old MBP feel like one of those Catholic wafers you get at communion — flimsy and tasteless.

  31. @Nathan Rutman
    I work on a previous gen matte MBP + a 26″ IPS panel-type monitor
    Colors on my MBP are definitely off. An IPS-type panel is the only viable LCD for color-critical work, and unfortunately my MBP doesn’t have one.

    @Justin
    My guess is that the MB uses a cheaper TN-type panel rather than the panel-type that the MBP/Air use. TNs have horrible viewing angles. So no, they’re not the same displays :)
    If you guys are worrying about your displays/colors, head over to hardforum.com. There is much to be learned!

  32. Doug says:

    I like this post.

  33. Adrian says:

    “I love the glass screen. I’ll still need to plug into a non-glossy screen for any real color work.”
    Unfortunately, the new Apple displays seem to be following the glass trend. I think now might be a good time to invest in one of the current matte offerings.

  34. I like this review, I really need it and I hope i could get one soon!

  35. Benek says:

    “Unfortunately, the new Apple displays seem to be following the glass trend. I think now might be a good time to invest in one of the current matte offerings.”
    This is what worries me the most. I think it’s terrible that the MBP screen only comes in glossy, but once they’ve finished upgrading all of their cinema displays to glass there will be no option for matte even with external monitor (if you want apple). Makes those Dells and other screens even more appealing, since they already win on price and specs. Now they win on screen glare too.
    I’m a long-time PC users considering switching to MBP for my next machine, but these glossy screens have put me off big-time. Shame Steve Jobs, sounds like other than that it’s a killer machine.

  36. Kevin says:

    I’ve had min for a day now and love it so far. There is definitely something tactile about it that I find utterly amazing. It doesn’t feel “cold” like the last version. I find it doesn’t get as hot either and that the battery life is a bit longer.
    My only gripe is with the track pad: it’s not as intuitive as I would have though and it’s remarkably loud.

  37. Kurt Cruse says:

    This post, and it’s comments, made my ‘the damn DEV server is down’ morning ok. And, (forgive me for following suit) I’m ok with that.

  38. I ordered mine a few days ago!
    I have to wait over two weeks. But I’m OK with that.

  39. @Benek
    Yes, it’s very unfortunate indeed. Right now, the cinema displays are pretty much the only option for a good, IPS panel, standard-gamut monitor. There are other IPS panels out there, but some are wide gamut (Planar, Doublesight) which is downright terrible. The only other 1920×1200 IPS with standard gamut is the NEC 2490 – costing $1200. It has additional electronics that ensure better colors, but introduce input lag.
    DON’T go to a TN/MVA/PVA panel type after using apple cinema displays — you’ll hate your life. This includes most dell displays.
    The 24″ IPS panel market is looking pretty grim for us professionals :(

  40. I am kind of waiting for the unofficial reviews to start pouring in, not that anything is going to deter me from getting Apple’s newest and “brightest”. I have to admit though I am super jealous at this moment, as I am still on my old beat up and archaic MBP.

  41. Ordered one on the weekend. 15″/2.4/4/320@7200

  42. david loop says:

    if you’re ok, then i’m ok. new macbook owner for 2 weeks now. it’s very, very ok. ok?

  43. I may have spoken too soon about the glass display. I assumed it was like the previous glossy model, where light colors (#eee for example) would seem much much darker than on matte displays (or most other monitors). It was impossible to do real color work with the previous glossy screen.
    It looks like things have been corrected in the new glass screens. Light colors no longer appear darker or super-satruated and closer to my (matte) cinema display. Huzzah!
    I’m guessing the new glass cinema displays are similar, which would be a relief.

  44. Jake says:

    Glossy screen and uber bright LCD = broken eyes.

  45. Dustin says:

    I was happy for about a day.
    Then I noticed that the right speaker cracks when listing to voice.
    A few days later I started noticing that the hard drive clicks a lot when using it “as a laptop” instead of having it on my desk.
    Hopefully apple will fix these issues. Other than that it’s solid.

  46. I just did a great deal on the previous model Powerbook which had a nice price cut. When I walked in to the store I had the intention of buying a new model but the dealer had the previous line lined up with the new line and the glare factor did me in! I know the mattes going out the door but I will enjoy my unit till the day they are no longer available. Love the solid block of the new ones though!

  47. Mine arrived today, and it’s more than I could have asked for… the backlit keyboard is such a step up from the two iMacs I’ve been working on, and I’m loving the glossy screen – it’s not that bad, and in fact, I’ve managed to pretty accurately match the colour profiles between the iMacs and the new MBP. I opted for the 2.4 GHz model, but upgraded to 4 GB of RAM and a 320 GB hard drive running at 7200 RPM. Has anyone tried the mStand from RainDesign? I’ve been looking at them but can’t see how they’re worth $100… Also a little bulky, but the best looking stand out there. Hoping Apple will redesign their standard keyboards with black keys, so I can pick up a matching wireless keyboard – backlit would be nice…