As many of you already know, Apple has released a new line of computers with Intel chips inside -- namely the new iMac, and the MacBook. I took delivery of my new one the last week of February, and it was a wonderful new tool to take me into the next line of computing.
My new MacBook came in a nice styrofoam box that was thinner than the one I purchased back in March of 2000, the bronze Lombard PowerBook G3. The unit ships with 2 DVD-ROMS for system restoration.
On the outside, the laptop is nice and sleek and thin. Because of the wide-screen format, the MacBook is wider than my PB G3, and as a result, the old computer bag is not going to work for me -- the bag's foam innerds are in the wrong places to protect the MacBook. I like the new magnetic power connector -- it is great in preventing the power cord getting trapped in the computer where it could break the female plug inside the computer. I do not like the power transformer on the other end though -- I think Apple went backwards from the "hockey-puck" power adapter that was released with the Powerbook G4 series. I find the MacBook power transformer to be clunky, and the wire management more messy than the hockey-puck.
Other exterior items include the video out port, 2 USB ports, the 10/100/1000 Ethernet port, and Firewire (400). Apple deviated from the PCMCIA card standard with a new thing; I have yet to see a card that fits that slot. I also think it was a mistake for Apple to not include a modem port on the laptop -- there are still needs for people to dial up. Yes, I know there is a USB dongle connector thingy that will work as a modem, but it is another piece to forget, something else to break, and something that in my opinion, could have been on the computer. A modem is useful to me; the iSight camera is not.
The battery lasts a various amount of time... anywhere from 2 - 3 hours, all depending on what you are doing. If you have the screen all turned up nice and bright, Bluetooth turned on, accessing the AIRPORT, burning a DVD, and playing music, it is not going to last long at all. If you conserve, such as turning off the keyboard light, turning off the airport, and letting the hard drive spin down, then you are going to have much more life on the battery.
Speaking of the keyboard light, it is a cool thing! I really like how the keys light up. Can see things in the dark. very nice. BUT. There is no option to turn off the keyboard light while under battery power. For example, if I am on the power plug, and working in dim light, then please turn on the keyboard light. But if I am on battery power, I would like the option to automatically dim things down for maximum power savings. That is a software maturity thing, however, and will have to see if I can suggest it to Apple for a later system thing.
As for the insides....
My MacBook was ordered at the 1.67 GHz speed, but Apple upgraded everyone one level free of charge, so I was given a 1.83 GHz version. I went with 1 GB of RAM, and thinking back, I should have had it on one DIMM instead of 2 512 MB DIMMS, for later expansion. The display is 1440 x 900 pixels, and features millions of colors. I am still getting used to the aspect ratio change from 1024 x 768; think wide instead of tall.
A number of the applications shipping with the OS are "Universal" meaning they have the code for the Intel chips, and are not runing under any emulation. Programs that I installed, such as OpenOffice and Firefox, worked perfectly. Classic will not operate on a MacBook, as the codebase is just too far away to invest in a proper emulation. If you try to run a classic program, the computer will tell you it cannot run the software. The icons will also give you the slashed-circle look of NO, so that you cannot run the program.
I have started tracking down Universal applications to remove the emulation layer from operation. Some programs, such as OpenOffice, are already available in the Intel format, although not directly on the website. If you look, you can find it too! And yes, loading Mac OpenOffice and Intel OpenOffice, my MacBook can tell a large difference.
For other programs, I am working with Fink, the sourceforge project that will allow you to compile software that may have been prepared for linux on the Mac, and have it run without emulation. I have downloaded and installed fink, and while I find some programs are "behind the times", other programs are of reasonable levels, and they compiled just fine. I feel good about the fink option, because it allows me to have a compiled product made special for my machine. Note that not everything is perfect in the fink world, and once I get all my notes together, I have some writing to do here!
If you do use fink, be aware that there will be some significant time compiling the packages before you can use them. Think of it as an investment: you compile the code that you need, and then when it is ready to go, it is all optimized and running without emulation. I have built netcat, gaim, and some other packages. I tried to do gimp and an ogg vorbis player, but due to the newness of the MacBook / intel hardware, there are some compile errors I have come across. According to the fink website, fink is still alpha code, so I am not surprised that it is not perfect.
I also admit that having fink around is setting off all of the "cool" alarms within me -- I love compiling, and open source, and bringing the pieces together.
Making my migration, I am also seeing that Eudora has not been upgraded in some time, so I am presently using Mozilla Thunderbird for email services. Dani advised me to use Apple's mail product; I am thinking about that one too. I took Thunderbird at first because it behaves just like the software on my Linux box.
My next big project involving the MacBook involves making a DVD. The G3 didn't have enough horsepower to do it -- the MacBook should have no troubles at all.
I am very glad that we made the purchase of the MacBook. It is performing very well, doing multiple things at a time, and I am quite happy with it. In some respects I wish it had an AMD processor 64 bit Athlon inside it, I am not sure how well the battery would appreciate such a processor.