Terribly curious about the new laptops, I stopped by the Apple Store this morning to check them out. My everyday computing environment consists of a desktop machine and a Thinkpad, both running Debian. Acquaintances on IRC and elsewhere have endured my incessant griping about the faults, both real and imagined, of OS X. Why, then, would I consider abandoning Linux for OS X? Well, I wouldn't. I'd like to replace my aging and seldom booted Windows box, which occasionally runs Cubase and various software, cabled to my spiffy MOTU firewire audio interface. Either I replace it with a new laptop running Vista (a prospect which could sully even the nicest hardware), or a buy a Macbook Pro with Logic.
So, the Macbook Pro. When I went to check them out today, what really blew me away is how large they are. Same depth, a few hairs thinner, but a full two inches wider than my Thinkpad (with its 1400x1050 14" display). That sounds a little bigger than I'd prefer to carry that around. Hell, it'd barely fit in my current bag. And lets face it, isn't the ability to whip it out in public and flaunt your unrivaled taste and disposable income half the appeal of buying a Mac in the first place? That extra width is just wasted space on either side of the keyboard, too, and I never thought that looked good (although at least it doesn't look like the speaker grille of a cheap plastic radio anymore, like the previous design). The really bizarre thing is that the previous generation Macbook lost points with me for looking like a plastic toy, decidedly inferior to its "Pro" cousin. The new MacBook actually looks better to my eye than the MBP, on account of its keyboard being better proportioned to the width of the body (and no funky stripes!).
I do think the aluminum unibody is a fabulous concept.
Initially skeptical of the new "buttonless" trackpad, it won me over fairly quickly. I'm not sure the two fingered scrolling gesture is a win over the traditional scrolling stripe on the right edge of the pad, but it felt refreshingly novel. I was skeptical about living without a primary button, but I think now that I could manage it. I reached for a button a couple times while playing with the machine, providing some insight into my trackpad habits - it turns out I tap the pad for most buttons and links, and I use the button for more precision pointing, such as clicking the close button on a window, where I'm afraid that I'd move the cursor in the process of the tap gesture, and also in situations like dragging and resizing where I have to hold the button for a longer period. Still, I think I could adapt.
What really sold me on the new trackpad is that in a sense, they've traded the left button for a right button! Has an Apple laptop ever had a right button before? On these machines, there is literally a button underneath one corner of the pad. Just like a mouse button, it makes a satisfying click. This came as a surprise to me.
Then there's the display. At 1440x900, those extra two inches in width buy me 40 more pixels? And incredibly it's the same depth as my Thinkpad, but somehow the display has 150 pixels less vertical resolution. That's.. fucking retarded. I need vertical resolution, not horizontal resolution. I've seen shitty Dells with 1600x1200 displays, for god's sake! For the cost of the MBP, I expect better. Widescreen displays are just brain-damaged. I don't buy computers (laptops especially!) to watch video, and we've already witnessed the pointless video idiocy ravage the design sensibilities of the iPod line. The only way a wide screen makes any sense is if I can stand the damn machine up on its side and have the display rotate (wouldn't that be quite a sight?).
Oh well, at least I can admire my reflection in the glossy screen.
If I had a point in writing this, which I'm not sure I do, it's just that I'm a little underwhelmed, and an ostensibly "Pro" line of computers ought to offer a matte display with higher resolution and a 4:3 aspect ratio, which countless nerds across the intarweb have no doubt already stated thousands of times. But I'm special, dammit, so I'll repeat it here, because I know Steve Jobs himself will read this and personally set about rearranging his product line to meet my requirements. Thanks, Steve.