Thursday, June 15, 2006

My MacBook is Sweet

I've been using my MacBook for a couple of weeks so far... here are my feelings on it. Note: I am pretty critical in this review because I am focusing on the negative aspects of the machine. Overall it is an exceptional notebook, and most of the problems have to do with running Windows on it. It is a sad Mac any day of the week when it has to run Windows... anyway:

1. Dual-Boot is very useful.
I was booted into WinXP for most of the IGVC competition (see below post) for all the robot vision work. The code was written in C++ using Visual Studio 2003 with support utilities written in MATLAB. The MacBook handled some harsh development conditions in stride, even in the WinXP environment. However there are some problems with dual-boot...

2. WinXP is not quite right on the MacBook...
Where should I start? First, Apple hasn't written a trackpad driver for the MacBook under WinXP yet. So, the trackpad is jerky and unresponsive. Wonderful! I'm sure this will get fixed in time, but for now, it is pretty annoying.

Also, the network connection seems to be flaky under Windows. When connecting to a network gateway via one of its wired connections, sometimes after waking from stand-by in Windows, I couldn't reconnect to any of the machines on the network until I not only rebooted, but rebooted into MacOS X and then back to Windows! Argh...

To get the keyboard and mouse working as expected, I highly recommend Input Remapper to get the brightness, eject, and other keys working, as well as a right-click option.

Otherwise, Windows seems to be pretty happy. Of course, the built-in camera doesn't work, but again, that's just a drivers issue.

3. Glossy screen is OK
I had my doubts when I first heard that the MacBook had a glossy (read: reflective) screen as opposed to the matte-type LCDs used on all other models. The screen is pretty nice, actually. There are only a few circumstances where I see distracting reflections in the screen, and those can usually be fixed by adjusting my seating position or changing the angle of the screen. I can also see the screen pretty well outside (probably better than on a matte screen) so that is cool too.

Overall I'm happy with my purchase and would recommend it to anyone who wants a lightweight, powerful, versitile and inexpensive laptop. Of course, if you are getting one, make sure you try out MacSaber. Thank me later.

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