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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  • seapeople - Wednesday, October 20, 2010 - link

    The entire argument that "Macs have to be more expensive because Apple has to pay for..." is a moot point, because Apple makes GOBS of money off EVERYTHING they sell, especially including Macbook Pros. Macs are more expensive than PC's marginally because they cost more to make, but substantially because Apple simply has a product/brand name combination so desirable by people that they can sell it at huge price markups.

    To summarize: yes, there is a good reason that Macs are more expensive than PC's... it's because Apple likes to make money, and who can blame them? If you buy a $1500 laptop from Dell, you get ~$1400 of premium hardware crammed into a cheap plastic case with barely adequate build quality that trades quality for cheapness in every place you can see just so Dell can squeeze a $50 margin out of the machine and stay afloat through their mass marketing ability, whereas if you buy a $1500 laptop from Apple you get ~$700 of hardware fitted with top of the line externals including a unique and beautiful aluminum-alloy chassis, premium screen, and best-in-class touchpad that allows Apple to pull down a $500 margin and remain as the only company in the world with no debt. The Dell machine appeals to value-hungry tecno-inspired nerds who can give you the exact model number of the processor in their cheap plastic-looking machine, while the Apple machine appeals to normal people who don't necessarily know why their new shiny computer doesn't have a right click option but they're too embarrassed to ask and so just ignore it.
    Reply
  • zefyr - Thursday, October 14, 2010 - link

    I would really like to see you include the HP envy 14 in your comparison. Of all the pc laptops i think its the most comparable. Reply
  • VivekGowri - Thursday, October 14, 2010 - link

    If you can get HP to send us one, we'd certainly include it. We've to date been unable to get HP to respond to our request for a review unit, so that ball is squarely in their court, not ours. Reply
  • Friendly0Fire - Sunday, October 17, 2010 - link

    I'm pretty sure this might have to do with their supply issues with the Radiance screen.

    To be honest, I find these Mac articles a little useless and yes, biased, if you don't include the direct competition to them. I'm not buying an Asus for a stylish aluminum body or a super-high quality display, I'm buying one because it offers tremendous bang for your buck, great performance and acceptable quality. If I wanted a Mac and looked at options similar to it, I'd bring up a Vaio Z and an Envy 14 and then I'd make a strict comparison between the three. Both of those laptops would most likely utterly trash the Macbook Pro 13 and even then 15.

    It's obvious that comparing a BMW to a Hyundai, the BMW will win (well, as long as price isn't a factor, which it of course isn't here). It isn't as obvious if you also get the Mercedes and the Lexus in the mix.

    I understand that you don't have the bazillions that'd be required to buy out and test every laptop around, yet I can't shake the feeling that you're putting out a grossly wrong picture that only casts Apple in a near-godly figure, which annoys the hell out of me. If other, comparable choices are available for less money, it's just doing the consumer a disservice not to clearly mention it.
    Reply
  • Thermogenic - Thursday, October 14, 2010 - link

    Why not let the Alienware use it's 335M? Reply
  • VivekGowri - Thursday, October 14, 2010 - link

    That's just a quirk in the graph's labeling, I think. I'm pretty sure Jarred didn't artificially limit the Alienware's performance when he tested it. Reply
  • JarredWalton - Friday, October 15, 2010 - link

    Sorry, my mistake on a few charts. I retested the M11x R2 using the IGP at one point to show how it compared with the AMD HD 4200 IGP. Those results were put in the application charts, which changed the scores in PCMark and 3DMark (particularly in the latter). I've updated the charts with the correct 335M scores. Thanks for the catch! Reply
  • Focher - Thursday, October 14, 2010 - link

    What I find interesting in the review - which was quite thorough and fair - is that the "value" part really came down to only the price-to-CPU comparison. In reading your section about the display, you castigate other manufacturers for cutting corners (and costs) on the display quality and compliment Apple. It seems Apple made the same call, but opted for the higher quality display and the lower quality (in terms of processing power) CPU. I only would point out that even the review mentions that the processing power of the C2D CPU is more than sufficient for typical usage patterns.

    I will admit my bias that Apple's industrial design tends to have me at hello, and for raw processing power I would never consider a notebook anyway.
    Reply
  • JarredWalton - Friday, October 15, 2010 - link

    Here's the thing: the CPU and IGP should be going for a song these days, which means that the cost of all the hardware minus the chassis and LCD is significantly less than the competition. Take the $1000 ASUS N82Jv and put the MBP13 chassis and LCD in there, and by all means it's a $1200 laptop that we'd happily recommend. (That would be $100 extra for the LCD, and $100 extra to make the chassis better.) Unfortunately, what Apple has done is to take something more like a $600 laptop, add in a good chassis and LCD, and they're charging $1200 for it.

    Based on the components, design, peripherals, etc., the MBP13 should go for more like $1000, and the standard MacBook could go for as little as $750, but of course Apple has no interest in lowering prices that far as long as people are willing to pay $1000 and $1200.
    Reply
  • solipsism - Friday, October 15, 2010 - link

    You’re only looking at a few aspects of the total product. Intel’s Price List doesn’t have the C2Ds being that much cheaper than the newer chips. Again, it seems like the lesser of two evils over using Core-i + IntelHD or sticking with C2D for a generation and having a better dGPU.

    I think too many companies focus only what can be marketed on a spec sheet and not what is useful for the average user. Anand readers are not the average user. This means compromises, just like a notebook-grade components cost more and are slower than desktop-greade components.

    But the worst conclusion is determining what a product *should* go for by simply looking at a component or a few components of another product. Did you consider the cost of milling the aluminium chassis. Did you consider the cost of using green, recyclable materials and manufacturing methods (I don’t care about this but it does affect the cost)?

    But most importantly, it doesn’t sound like you considered supply and demand? I know this a tech-based site but in business you sell a product at what the market can bare in order to maximize your profits. You don’t look at the same of a few parts of a competitor and then match their price regardless of profit. That’s asinine!

    Let’s not forget that Apple has a “boutique”-like product line while most other big vendors have excessive model numbers. They simply can’t command the price point that Apple can. That doesn’t mean they are being altruistic;, they would get more profit from customers if they could.
    Reply

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