Thursday, January 1, 2009

THE biggest news that emerged from Apple’s September announcement wasn’t Steve Job’s health, but rather the company’s brand new line of redesigned Macbook notebook computers. Mac fans everywhere have been waiting for an update of the popular Apple notebook for years and at long last, their wait is over.

Big changes

ALL METAL: The new Macbook looks just as good on the outside with a metal aluminum casing

The biggest change you will find in the new Macbook is that the version has an aluminum chassis, similar to that of the higher-end Macbook Pro.

The Macbook is a solid block of aluminium carved from inside out to form the shape of the notebook with the components neatly tucked inside — an aesthetically pleasing design indeed.

The new Macbook is a solidly built ­notebook that not only looks great but it feels thinner and lighter than its predecessor.

While it is slightly slimmer, I can’t say that it was easy to carry around as it did feel heavy in my backpack as I lugged it around from place to place.

Other improvements include a large ­multi-touch trackpad that removes the single button and integrates the click button below the trackpad. Essentially this means you can click anywhere on the trackpad to engage the button.

Aside from it being big, another more subtle change in the trackpad is its new touch-based gestures that we first saw on the Macbook Air in January.

What this essentially allows users to do is navigate with their finger gestures. While the two-finger sliding motion for scrolling down pages is commonplace, there are other more cool gestures that nicely integrate with the Mac OSX.

For instance, placing four fingers on the trackpad and sliding it up and down will give you the ability to engage Exposé or hide all running applications. You can also switch between running applications using the App Switcher by flicking four fingers to left or right.

The new trackpad is fairly accurate in detecting where you point your finger and it is a joy to use with such a large surface area to move around.

In fact, I found the trackpad so usable that rarely I found a need to use a mouse save for performing delicate tasks like correcting an image on Photoshop.

Simply striking

A strikingly attractive glossy 13in LCD screen (1,280 x 800pixel resolution) covered by a single sheet of glass, dominates the Macbook’s interior.

Both pictures and text look brilliantly clear, colourful and sharp on the screen and it was a plesure to read webpages. Even in the dark, the screen is very visible thanks to its LED backlighting to keep it bright while ­consuming less power.

While I had no trouble using the Macbook indoors, using it outdoors proved to be quite difficult with all sorts of things reflecting back on the screen, making it difficult to view what I was reading or typing. Suffice to say, it is advisable to do your work indoors with the Macbook.

Another notable change to the interior portion of the Macbook are the keys, which now bear more resemblance to the Macbook Air with jet black keys that light up in the dark. While typing this review I found the keys were well-spaced and comfortable to type on.

The inclusion of shortcut keys on the top row of keys make it easy to access various features such as widgets, Expose and media playback functions.

All the Macbook’s connectivity ports — two USB ports, Ethernet port as well as a headphone and microphone jack occupy the left side of the Macbook.

Some of the things you may notice missing from the usual line of ports is a Firewire port and VGA-out port.

Firewire users may need to stick to their older Macbooks if they are still keen on using their cables.

Another new addition is the use of a Mini Display port to link your Macbook to project images on a bigger monitor. The drawback to this is that the various extension cables for VGA and DVI-out are sold separately.

The Macbook has an above-average battery performance. I were able to get three hours of power, which is pretty decent for a notebook this size.

One cool feature we liked is how the Macbook has its own built-in battery indicator located on the left side of the notebook. There’s a small button with some tiny LED lights, indicating how much battery power is left in the notebook.

Although it’s a bit small, it’s still a useful tool to have.


Looking at the hardware side of things, the new Macbook runs on the standard Intel Core 2 Duo processor, with two stock variations one with a 2GHz chip and another with a 2.4GHz chip. Both variations come standard with 2GB of DDR3 RAM that’s expandable up to 4GB.

The processor holds up pretty well while multitasking with different applications running in the background.

We put the Macbook through the paces, using it for some web surfing, watching YouTube videos and playing a DVD movie on the notebook’s optical drive while typing this review.

In the end, I have to say I was pretty impressed that the Macbook was able to do all this without even slowing down.

Storage doesn’t prove to be an issue on the Macbook either, as you get a minimum of 160GB and a maximum of 250GB (found in the 2.4Ghz model).

The Macbook can alternatively be fitted with a smaller and faster, 128GB solid-state drive — however the trade-off is the significantly higher cost.

If you are looking to do more than just web surfing on the Macbook, you are in luck. Apple has done away with the old Intel integrated graphics chip and have instead equipped all new Macbooks with an nVidia GeForce 9400M chip, which gives the Macbook the added power to perform tasks typically reserved for the desktop such as playing games as well as performing some video/photo-editing.


After spending a few days using the Macbook, I have to say that I came away impressed.

On the surface, the new Macbook is a stunner that is sure to catch the eye of any gadget enthusiast.

I also like the inclusion of the bigger trackpad with touch gestures, which makes things like browsing webpages to simple tasks of navigating around the notebook a breeze.

In terms of performance, it’s hard not to like the Macbook. It’s a solid performer and packs enough punch to handle basic games and video/photo-editing applications.

However, there are a few issues that prevent the Macbook from earning a ­maximum score. For one, the screen is overly glossy to the point that it is just too difficult to use outdoors no thanks to the reflections.

Also, the lack of any VGA or DVI-out port forces users to purchase them separately.

Nevertheless, the new Macbook is worth considering as it manages to strike the right balance between power, looks and portability.

Pros: Excellent new design; multitasking is not a problem; decent battery life; big ­trackpad with touch-gesture support.

Cons: Lacks VGA and DVI-out port; screen is too glossy for outdoor use.

MACBOOK (Apple) - Portable notebook

Processor: Intel Core 2 Duo (2.4GHz)

Memory: 2GB DDR3 RAM

Graphics: nVidia GeForce 9400M with 256MB of DDR3 SDRAM

Display: 13.3in

Storage: 250GB

Connectivity: WiFi 802.11n, 10/100 Ethernet port,

Optical Drive: 8x slot-loading SuperDrive (DVD-R DL/DVD-RW/CD-RW)

I/O ports: Two USB ports, Mini Display port (extension for VGA and DVI sold ­separately), headphone/microphone combo jack
Other features: Built-in iSight webcam

Operating system: Mac OSX Leopard

Dimensions (w x d x h): 32.5 x 22.7 x 2.41cm

Weight: 2.04kg


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