Apple MacBook Pro 13—Some Quirks as a PC

Yes, there are quirks, but not as many as one might suspect. For the most part, the MacBook Pro functions as any PC notebook would, though with some of Apple’s features present. To smooth out the transition between the designed-for-OS X hardware and the Windows system, Apple has included a Boot Camp utility to customize settings with the mouse, keyboard, and which operating system the notebook should boot on the next restart.

The keyboard settings are pretty sparse; you can choose between having the F-keys default to F1, F2, F3 etc., or default to the brightness and volume changing utilities, with a press of the function key to use the standard F-keys. The trackpad settings are more interesting: you have two finger right click, two finger scroll, and various options to lock the touchpad in drag mode (it’s hard to describe, but makes sense instantly when you use it). The best part is turning the bottom right-hand corner of the touchpad into a right click button. Tap anywhere else, you get a left click; tap at the bottom right (where you’d expect the right click button to be on a PC notebook) and it’ll give you a right click. It’s pretty brilliant, and rectifies one of the chief complaints with running the older MacBooks and MacBook Pros under Windows, where it was necessary to Ctrl+tap to get a right click.

Overall what struck me was how cohesive the experience was in Windows. Everything translates over pretty well—Apple has coded in the same popup animations for the hardware control shortcuts (volume, brightness, etc) for Windows, and the two finger scroll is simply the best in the business. I don’t know how or why, but two finger scroll on the MacBook Pro just works better than two finger scroll on normal Synaptics touchpads, and the entire touchpad just works. It amazes me that basically nobody else has figured out how to do a buttonless/single button touchpad yet (Dell, HP?), but Apple’s is pretty great, especially with the new right click corner. Maybe it's just the size of the touchpad—bigger is better?

The keyboard wasn’t as easy to adjust to though. I go through a lot of laptops, so I’ve gotten pretty adept at switching between various layouts, but for some reason the MBP threw me more than most. I don’t remember having trouble adjusting to any of the previous two dozen-odd notebooks I’ve had in the last few months, so it was definitely different. I’m not entirely sure why, probably just a combination of things. Apple likes to switch the control and function keys, Lenovo-style, and I think I got used to the OS X shortcuts on the Apple keyboard (which is odd because I never actually used OS X on this system beyond running the Boot Camp partition utility the first time). Unfortunately, Apple+C and Apple+V aren’t copy and paste in Windows.

But other than that and the occasional annoyance at having to use the function key to get some keys (Fn+Bkspace to get Delete, Fn+Up/Down for page up and down), the keyboard was as awesome as it always has been. As I said before, it’s the best chiclet keyboard out there, even better than the ThinkPad chiclet keyboard. It just underscores this point: everything that makes the MacBook Pro a great notebook in OS X still makes it a great notebook under Windows, with a couple of quirks along the way to give it character.

Apple MacBook Pro 13 - Introduction Apple MacBook Pro 13 - Awesome Display
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  • B3an - Friday, October 15, 2010 - link

    I agree. I dont own either laptop but have used the Sony Vaio Z and this Macbook Pro. The Sony Vaio Z is literally better in every way i can think of. And it's definitely smaller and lighter as you say.

    It kinda makes me sick that people buy Apple products when there's better alternatives that are actually worth the money they cost and have up to date hardware.
    Reply
  • GeorgeH - Friday, October 15, 2010 - link

    Carbon fiber is lighter than aluminum too. :)

    I did the math before making the first post - here are the results:

    13"MBP - 108.5 in^3
    15"MBP - 133.9 in^3
    Z - 102.9-133.8 in^3

    The Z isn't a conveniently rectangular like the MBP, so volume is much harder to measure. Best possible case it's 95% of a 13" MBP, worst case it's essentially the same size as a 15" MBP. My money is on it being much closer to the latter than the former. It certainly feels smaller, but when you're trying to cram components into a chassis what something feels like is kind of irrelevant.
    Reply
  • doobydoo - Saturday, October 16, 2010 - link

    Of course, when buying or using a laptop, what it 'feels like' is the only relevance, the actual imperceivable size being absolutely irrelevant.

    That being said, I have measured the height of the Vaio at the front and the back, and both the front and the back measurements specified by the manufacturer include 0.1 and 0.2 extra for the feet (respectively). The actual sizes are 0.9 at the front and 1.1 at the back (excluding the feet).

    Applying these dimensions gives an overall 102.92 cubic inches, significantly less than both Apples, which backs up the easy-to-tell feeling you get when you see them both next to each other.

    So Sony has managed to put together a significantly faster laptop (with i7 processor and RAID SSD's as well as dedicated GPU), in a package which is smaller, lighter, and more stylish than an Apple, and one which can run Windows 7 without overheating.
    Reply
  • mlambert890 - Saturday, October 16, 2010 - link

    This has to be one of the craziest discussions I've ever seen... Dude... Take your 13" MBP and go to a Sony store with it... Put it next to a MacBook. You're measuring volumes and water displacement on a laptop. You don't see how that's crazy?

    The Z is a POUND and a HALF lighter and is OVER half an inch shorter in depth. It is smaller in every way that matters.

    I don't own either laptop or particularly care, but it's just mind boggling the lengths a fanboy can go to not "lose" on a point.

    Maybe Apple will make a smaller, faster laptop than the Z. Right now they don't. If that troubles your soul to the gore for some reason just fall back on "well it doesn't run OSX!". At least that makes SOME kind of sense.
    Reply
  • GeorgeH - Saturday, October 16, 2010 - link

    I don't own a MBP (or any other Apple products.) Personally I'd much rather have the Z than 13" MBP, and would recommend that anyone with the cash and no desire for OSX choose the Z as well.

    This was only about the engineering aspect of the thing, more specifically being able to cram ~3-5 new chips (dGPU and associated memory) and their associated cooling and peripheral components into the MBP to support Intel's newest CPUs. The claim was made that the Z was smaller but had more inside it, and I merely disagree that the Z actually is smaller.

    In other words, the above is just a discussion about making computer hardware. That you thought otherwise is your fanboy malfunction, not mine. :)
    Reply
  • softdrinkviking - Friday, October 15, 2010 - link

    It strikes me as interesting that Apple devotes so much time and money to hardware integration. It undoubtedly adds to the development time and costs for any small change that goes into a new model. Apple kind of locks their designs in place down to the smallest detail.
    That's probably one reason why there isn't a new CPU; the development costs for all of that micro-managed integration are so astronomically high, and the process takes so long, that Apple can't get a CPU refresh to the public this year.

    Perhaps the 'integrated approach' is not such a good thing if it keeps Apple from updating its CPUs to a competetive level.

    I also don't understand why people have developed software to run windows on macs.. if the added value of a mac is the integration of the OS and the carefully choosen components, doesn't it kind of defeat the purpose of the mac experience?
    Is there some kind of practical and necessary reason for it? Do mac owners sometimes get sick of OSX and install Win 7 just for a change of pace?

    Side notes:
    1 I don't think it's helpful to compare notebooks to desktops on a price/performance basis.

    2 The value of 'little things' is too subjective to make a determination in the price of the MBP or any other laptop. Because of that, it's not really useful criteria for a PC to PC comparison. That is why, at least i think it's why, that Vivek stuck to things that can be measured and show their effects in benchmarks that show performance in tasks that people actual use.

    The fact is, everybody has different tastes in keyboards and screens and trackpads and those sorts of things, so maybe an Acer is more desirable to some people, and should therefore demand a premium.
    Basically, Apple is charging a little less than double the price of a 13" windows/linux/chrome laptop for mac OS and their choice of hardware. If you like both of those things to the tune of about double a windows machine, then you buy it.
    It should not be hard, even for a mac fanboi, to see the lack of value in a MBP for someone who doesn't have a preference for Mac OS or Apple's hardware choices. (which is what this article is supposed to be about "Can it be a Decent Windows Laptop?")
    Reply
  • Johnmcl7 - Friday, October 15, 2010 - link

    The Vaio Z11/12/13 actually goes up to an i7 and can have four SSD drives in a chassis that's smaller and lighter than the Apple machine. Anandtech prefer to ignore the Z series and Sony in general, apparently Sony wouldn't give them one but the fact that these machines existence makes an article like this nonsense probably has a large part in it. I think it's laughable reading such rubbish as the MBP having no equal etc. in the PC market when Sony comfortably exceed it, I'm using an older Z series which trashes the MBP in pretty much every area going. Its smaller and lighter using a carbon fibre chassis, I'd put the build quality of the Vaio as better, it packs in a 3Ghz C2D processor, blu-ray writer and 1600x900 screen none of which the Apple offers. With the 256GB SSD I was able to buy it brand new for the same price as an entry level Macbook as it's an older model which is still far better than the Apple version.

    John
    Reply
  • slickr - Friday, October 15, 2010 - link

    How about Apple actually focused on what IS important - the CPU, GPU, Battery, HD, etc.. instead of few gimmicky "features" if you can even call them that that people droll over. You have to be pretty stupid to think that few gimmicks are more valuable than a newer, faster, quieter and at the same time cheaper notebook.

    While the outside design is nice, there are hundreds of notebooks out there that are cheaper, faster, more powerful and better looking than the Apple macbook pro 13.
    Reply
  • xype - Friday, October 15, 2010 - link

    Cheaper, faster, more powerful yes, better looking no. Not hundreds, not dozens and, at best, a couple, _if_ you simply like a different style (ie, black case, shiny case, etc).

    As for the "stupid" comment: it has nothing to do with stupid, and everything to do with priorities. And, if we're being honest, Apple seems to hit a sweet spot with the general populace there. And they know that will sell them more laptops and pleasing the 0.5% of the market that is made of hardcore geeks.
    Reply
  • Piet Boer Mienjong - Thursday, December 30, 2010 - link

    I think Apple does focus on what is important. How cool it will look when using it at the local coffee place. Reply

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