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Jewish World Review
July 21, 2006
/ 25 Tamuz, 5766
Macbook's one hot portable
Ephesus, Turkey It may not be the most economic way of field testing equipment, but lugging a laptop computer to a place such as Ephesus, which is on the shores of the Aegean Sea about 40 kilometers, or 25 miles, from the city of Izmir. But it certainly is one effective way to give Apple Computer's MacBook a workout, more than my initial 84 hours allowed before a June 20 review here.
To recap, this test unit, which retails for $1,599, comes with a 2 GHz Intel Core Duo processor, 1 Gbyte of RAM (512 Mbytes is the standard) and an 80 Gbyte hard disk drive. As mentioned before, I'd upgrade the RAM to 2 Gbytes, and bump up the hard disk capacity to Apple's maximum 120 Gbytes, both extra-cost options that are, in my view, well worth the cost for the resulting speed and storage gains.
The MacBook's 13-inch (diagonal) glossy screen is a switch for Mac users Apple has previously favored "matte" displays. But in this case change is good; a fellow MacBook user at the Lufthansa business lounge in Munich, Germany, a couple of Fridays ago, was happily watching an old Spencer Tracy flick and it looked great. Text and photos display just fine, too, and while there's some glare in direct sunlight, sitting with my back to the Aegean hasn't made for difficult working conditions.
When the MacBook was first announced, and when my only experience of it was hunched over a display unit in an Apple Store in Montgomery County, Maryland, I had some worries about the keyboard. Unlike previous Mac portables, this keyboard is a bit more of the "Chiclets" style, as noted earlier. Well, having had almost a month of daily typing, and more than ten days disconnected from any external keyboard, I believe it's safe to say that the MacBook's typing surface is way more than adequate. I find myself making few mistakes, and even the touchpad doesn't send the cursor flying around the screen anywhere nearly as often as other computer's touchpads have done. I believe I could live quite happily with the keyboard on the road, at meetings and even around the house, though having external options, wired or wireless, is quite nice.
No one will likely mistake the MacBook's built-in speakers for a high-end audio system, but in a hotel room with little else available, the music playback is quite nice. Multimedia features abound in the MacBook, from the built-in iSight video camera and built-in microphone to supplied software for podcasts and, of course, Apple's iTunes and movie-editing programs. For the home user who wants to add a little zip to their holiday snaps, this is a good way to go.
On this trip, I'm grateful for the built-in Wi-Fi antenna; it's worked well at the various hotels where I've had service. The optional modem Apple sent for testing has stayed in its case, since even in Pamukkale, Wi-Fi has arrived.
The only qualm I've had with this notebook is heat; this puppy gives of a fair amount of therms, and at one point it felt as if you could fry up a burger or two without effort. Apple's official response: "Like all our notebooks, the MacBook meets the industry standard for case temperature." That may be, but be careful using this machine when wearing shorts that's all I'll say.
Heat can be overcome: use a laptop desk, or a real one, and it should be noted that even "hot," the MacBook kept on ticking. That's the bottom line for me: this computer took a fair amount of punishment, even a two foot drop, and kept on working. Final verdict: if you want a stylish, great, capable portable, but this one. You won't be disappointed.
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JWR contributor Mark Kellner has reported on technology for industry newspapers and magazines since 1983, and has been the computer columnist for The Washington Times since 1991.Comment by clicking here.
© 2006, News World Communications, Inc. Reprinted with permission of The Washington Times. Visit the paper at http://www.washingtontimes.com