Switching to a New Mac: Some Finishing Touches

By Graham K. Rogers



I have been running a new 15" MacBook Pro 2.66GHz for the last couple of weeks. I took great care to transfer the data and install applications, mostly by downloading from new, but it was not totally seamless. The software I use to write the XML file for my podcast let me down and I ended up recreating the files, but that was my fault: transfers of software and data always throw up anomalies.

Other difficulties I have faced concern passwords for third party applications. In most cases, a simple email to the developers produced the details I needed in their replies: an advantage when buying shareware as opposed to software from mega-corporations.

The i7 Macbook Pro is now up to speed and it is an impressive machine: fast, crisp and rarely slowing down, it is meeting all my expectations although has a couple of idiosyncracies that are probably more user-specific than design faults.

One thing that was infuriating me, because I kept activating unnecessary menus, concerns the one-piece trackpad design. The older MacBook Pro had a separate bar to click on and I thought this was the problem. However, I found that what I was actually doing was touching the pad area with two fingers while I pressed it. On my old MacBook Pro this would not matter, but it did with the new one, which has several more gestures built in. I have now adjusted my hand position slightly.

Another adjustment will need to be made with the trackpad material which is glass. It has considerably less friction than the one I have been using the last three years, so my physical input here will need to be reduced. However, those extra gestures, particularly the two four-finger ones, give a nice (if small) boost to user efficiency.

MacBookPro and TV The keyboard, with its black keys is more positive than the older machine. The keys also have more contrast than the aluminium ones. Either side of the keyboard are the speakers which although a compromise (as many things on a portable computer are) give a respectable tone and volume.

I do not find the standard, glossy screen to produce any serious impediment to viewing the display, either writing or viewing images. A recent lightning strike put paid to my old CRT television, so I grabbed a 32" LCD TV on offer and of course tried the new Mac with that, although I do need a longer VGA cable. I have yet to try the HDMI connection.

With the different resolutions possible, I experimented with settings and settled on 1280 x 768 at 60GHz for the TV and 1280 x 800 for the Mac, down from its usual 1440 x 900.

It resets automatically when the cable is disconnected. I also noticed that when the TV is used as second monitor, the NVidia graphics card is used so the power connector, which has also been redesigned is best used.

video preferences pane
Display Resolutions: MacBook Pro LCD and VGA (for TV)

According to Apple's footnotes, battery life of up to 8 - 9 hours may be had by wirelessly browsing various websites and editing text in a word processing document with display brightness set to 50%. There is a link to more information about this.

I intended to test the Mac without using wifi, but the long Ethernet cable that I use for downstairs had been gnawed by squirrels. In normal working conditions, and limiting the use of the NVidia card by turning off any applications that use this as soon as I can, the battery would last for almost 6 hours. That did include a lot of web work, including video, with the brightness at about 80%, so there is more to come.

MagSafe Connector As an example, with 54% power, I ran a news video for an hour, put the computer to sleep overnight, then worked for 2 hours. With the battery at zero, the computer went into a deep sleep. Once power is attached, a single press on the power key will reactivate the computer.

More applications than I am comfortable with -- Apple-developed and third party -- use the NVidia card which increases power consumption. Those like Aperture and iPhoto are understandable, but several others have been identified by users. A forum thread details these. When I checked with the developer of a basic FTP program, Fetch, as to why the NVidia card was used, I was told, the "progress indicator - the blue donut - is drawn using CoreGraphics/OpenGL". Better graphics takes power.

Temperatures are far lower than on my previous machine and I have only noticed the fans working hard a couple of times so far. On one occasion, it was a runaway Flash plugin. Whatever one may think about Apple's differences with Adobe, running Flash on a Mac is sometimes not a pleasant experience.

The main benefit of this MacBook Pro is in the ability to handle data, such as adjustments to large images, although Aperture still lags particularly when loading images and applying brush effects.

See Also:
Out of the Box
Transferring the iPhone



Made on Mac

For further information, e-mail to

information Tag information Tag

Back to eXtensions

To eXtensions: 2006-07
To eXtensions: 2004-05
To eXtensions: Year Two
To eXtensions: Year One
To eXtensions: Book Reviews
Back to homepage