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back to article Apple MacBook mid-2010

There’s no persuading a committed PC nerd of the unnerdy appeal of Apple’s consumer products, so I won’t bother. Whatever I write about Apple’s latest MacBook, they’ll hate it. They can buy computers for far less money that achieve better benchmark results, and serious computers are supposed to look hideous, so case closed. Move …

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Gates Horns

RE: Don't forget

"The software you have to buy for the Sony to give you same user experience that the macbook will give straight out of the box."

Ha! You can't possibly mean Windows?

If operating systems were cars, Windows would be a toy hobby-horse with a splinter than sticks into your nuts.

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Silver badge

If it was an HP

With these specs and price, I bet it wouldn't have made the 40% bar. Maybe 45% for the design. But Apple lives in a different world, folks. Get used to it. Whatever the score is, don't calculate it, double the estimate, devide by the maket share of apple relative to Microsoft, multiply by the I Want To Have Steve Jobs Babies factor, multiply again by the Apple News Tidewave Factor, add 20 just for the fun. Here you are, 80% or such. And everyone who doesn't agree just prefer chunky old IBM Thinkpads. and thus should be dismissed.

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Worst review ever?

I mean, not only is it not objective, but it doesn't really say anything, mostly just fluff about how much the reviewer is a fanboi...I don't like Apple, but I know they make quality laptops, but this review basically boils down to:

1) I like Macs because they're made by Apple

2) If you care at all about your computer, you should skip this review

3) If you have no idea about anything to do with computers, you should read this review

(though if you know that little, maybe you should find a friend to help you out instead of a fanboi)

4) I like the keyboard

5) It needs more ports

6) Battery life is OK

Why did this review take 3 pages of the reviewer gushing like a 17 yr old girl over the latest fashion accessory trend?

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Hidden benefits

We just got burgled and, incredibly, they missed the macbook sitting on the table and the ipad. We can only assume numpty thieves did not recognise macbook as a laptop because it was ..er..white and looks nice, and the ipad is perfectly disguised amongst a few books in a book shelf.

Am astonished Steve Jobs has not pressed this as a USP, and why have reviewers not picked up on this?

( And yes, I know I am opening myself up to replies saying thieves have got taste etc etc hardihurhur but face it, if they can flog it they'll nick it).

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Silver badge

errr

"( And yes, I know I am opening myself up to replies saying thieves have got taste etc etc hardihurhur but face it, if they can flog it they'll nick it)."

So you're just saying that they reckonned they couldn't possibly flog the dead horsebook nor the dead horsepad. I bet they took the old stereo though. Some things never lose value.

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Anonymous Coward

Wifi Reception

This new MacBook is going to have a new wifi antenna designed to give a longer ranger. However, If you put it on your lap, then the reception will drop out and you'll lose your connection

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That's because you're holding it wrong!

The antennas are in the lid and around the display. (iFixit.com)

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Pfft

My N95 has been able to do all of this for years, and I got it free in a box of cereal from Tesco's.

Oh wait, this isn't an iPhone article? Bugger.

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Have Apple lost the plot?

When I bought my first MacBook nearly 4 years ago it was a good buy. It was priced in with similarly speced PC laptops. Now it's not worth the money when I can get so much more for a lot less. I love OS X but not that much that I'd pay £850 for this thing when Windows 7 isn't actually that bad.

Let's say I was interested though. The first thing I'd want to do is upgrade the RAM to 4GB. I only usually use 1GB - 1.5GB with both OS X and Windows 7 but there are times when I need the extra memory. My old MacBook, now maxed out at 2GB, just won't cut it any more. An upgrade to 4GB for this MacBook is £80 - £85 (Apple and Crucial prices) so I'd rather pay the extra £150 for the 13" MacBook Pro and get FireWire, a SD card reader, aluminium case and backlit keyboard.

It won't surprise me when, in a few years time maybe, Apple decouple the iPad from iTunes and sell iPads as their casual/home user portable device and drop the MacBook altogether. They're having much more luck in that space than they are in the laptop space after all.

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Not in my experience

In the last 6 months I've had three times as many MacBook/macBook Pro installations as I have had imacs. I've 1 Mac Mini and no Mac Pros.

If you stand in the Apple store in Regent street (or at westfield) you'll see a steady stream of macbook purchasers.

Mind You, I haven't been in the the new phone came out, But I did speak to a blueshirt at Westfield the week after the iPad came out. She said they were selling one (iPad) every two minutes.

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Jobs Horns

Unnerdy...

Unnerdy of course means you are far more conscious of what your computer looks like than what it costs. Willing to spend well over the odds for what is essentially yesterday's technology. Willing to squeal over irrelevant details like magsafe in order to justify to yourself that the price was worth it.

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FAIL

Oh Mr Woo, what can we do?

Magsafe is irrelevant until you accidentally try to yank your expensive new laptop off the desk. Then it's very relevant indeed.

And btw Mr Woo, the MacBook may indeed be 'yesterday's technology' (although I disagree with that), but it functions beautifully. Perhaps you'd like it more if it had bangin' LEDs all over the case, a 6 button trackpad, 30 minute battery life, sounded sounded like a 747 at take-off and weighed 3kg more?

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Thumb Up

And let's not forget...

...a totally sick paint job-n-stickers.

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Thumb Up

747 territory

"sounded sounded like a 747 at take-off and weighed 3kg more?"

Erm, given that its performances (appart from its weight and size, obviously) place it firmly into netbook territory (and not even to-of-the line netbook, mind you), I think you'll find that 747 analogy more accurate than you intended it to be.

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WTF?

There’s no persuading a committed PC nerd...

Er, no. At £849 this is an entry-level notebook at a gnat's whisker off 3 x the price of a PC one.

At a recent Uni open day we were handed a voucher for 15% "academic discount" off an apple. Try 67%.

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Anonymous Coward

Windows PCs are cheaper and higher spec

They don't, however, come with ilife.

Users don't care about the OS. The question is how good is the photo and mp3 management software. Is it easy to write a letter to my bank manager?

From Apple's sales figures, many people are willing to swap performance for ease of use.

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FAIL

Wannabe

"Real" fanboys will look down on you,

Everyone else will look down on you.

Why /wouldn't/ you want to buy one?

For £850.

Snigger.

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bex

Fine but slight issues

SAying the magsafe plug is indestructible is just incorrect I am on my third the socket though is a work of genius. 2 GB is just not enough if you want to do anything more than one tab browsing

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Alien

Actually...

2GB is rather plenty for opening a whole bunch of tabs. The Core 2 Duo however... No. That's the weakest link right there.

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2GB is just not enough?

Really? As I've ran an older model Macbook for about 18 months with 2GB, and that's been with a code environment, Terminal, two Safari windows loaded with multiple tabs, Mail.app, iTunes, Launchbar, TextEdit, TextWrangler and so on, and so on. Never got slow down, everything was snappy.

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Anonymous Coward

RE: Fine but slight issues

" 2 GB is just not enough if you want to do anything more than one tab browsing"

It's fine on my creaky old MacBook, so why wouldn't it be on a newer one?

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Some people...

... buy Landrovers. They are more expensive than many other vehicles and on the usual car mag specs (0-60, top speed, etc) do not appear to be good value. They are however very usable and those that own them appreciate that.

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Again, mark up

Yes, but Landrover aren't sticking their customers with a 43% mark up. They'd go bust if they did.

There's also a helluva difference between the price of a car and the price of a laptop. If you can afford a Landrover (assuming you don't mean a 1978 rust bucket) then you aren't exactly strapped for cash. However, a Joe Public purchaser of a laptop might stretch themselves a couple of hundred quid. So the analogy doesn't really stack up.

What is it with Apple users and dodgy car analogies? You see at least one every time.

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Stop

lol car analogy

Your analogy fails because the land rover can do something that many other cars can't (off road, and it's one of the best cars for doing so), which is why you pay the extra. On the other hand a mac is basically a Intel laptop built using the same components as any other machine with a pretty OS (that also isn't particularly amazing at anything, apart from looking nice... admittedly it is user friendly).

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Not just a pretty OS

My MacBook Pro (aluminium) is now two years old.

It still looks new, it still boots up in under two minutes, the OS responds as quickly now as it did when it was first installed, even though I have a large number of third party applications installed on it.

I have never had to rebuild it.

I had a fault with the power supply when it was under warranty, I took the faulty bit into my local Apple store and walked out ~15 minutes later with a replacement, which was much easier than when I had a similar fault on a Sony laptop and had to ship everything back to them "to check out", meaning I had no laptop for about four weeks.

As a result of all of that I have no immediate plans to replace it, unlike the series of Wintel machines I owned before it, which needed to be rebuilt at least once a year and usually replaced every 18 months to two years because they started to fall apart.

Net result? I appeared to pay much more up front for this machine, but I'll pay at lot less in the long run, both in the case of physical hardware and time spent maintaining my machine or getting support from the manufacturer.

Sure, I could have bought something with the same spec for less money, but I bet no-one here it driving a Tata Nano instead of (say) a BMW 3 Series. They're essentially the same thing, right?

It's never *just* about money.

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Pint

Benchmark tests

I'm confused about many of the above comments about benchmark tests. Having recently done some research to find a good thin and light with all day battery life, it seems (in this category anyway) the mac is pretty much equivalent to a windows one, in terms of performance.

Laptop mag, for example ( http://www.laptopmag.com/review/laptops/apple-macbook-2010.aspx ) if you do a comparison with similarly priced (and yes i know this is a US site, and UK prices don't usually compare directly) Asus / Lenovo / HP, the benchmarks almost all reflect the price bracket. The Macbook slightly outperforms the Asus U30Jc, and is slightly more expensive. The 320m graphics outperforms many discrete graphics cards, and you don't have to worry about switching technology. Several reviews say the U30Jc's keyboard and trackpad are not as good as others.

The PCMark Vantage test shows the mac's hardware disadvantage, but only because that test has to run Windows 7 in bootcamp. The conclusion being that OSX can perform as well or better than Windows 7 on inferior hardware. So if you feel you are being ripped off by older processors and less RAM, then get a PC. But if you want a portable laptop with good performance and long battery life then it's just a case of which OS and/ or brand you prefer, and how much do you want to spend (bearing in mind no thin & lights are cheap).

I went for the macbook in the end (having been a desktop PC user until now), and am not regretting it so far (2 months later). Keyboard and trackpad are worth the price of admission alone - BIG considerations for a laptop, having tried a few others with wretched trackpads. You get about 7/8 hours of normal use from the battery, without having to resort to a ULV processor.

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Thanks but no thanks...

I recently got a new Samsung R530 and it spanks this thing silly in every department, except for 1080p playback. Is that worth 50% more? Put very simply, no it's not.

My lappy came with the following:

> Bezel mounted webcam

> 500Gb SATA HD

> 4Gb RAM

> VGA out AND HDMI out

> 3 X USB 2.0 ports

> Built-in N-Series wireless networking

> Dual-core 2.2Ghz processor

> Cracking little SATA DVD Writer built in

> Sub-15 second boot time on Win7

Tell me again why I should get a Mac?

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@Will 22

"Tell me again why I should get a Mac?"

1080p playback?

The fact that your machine only outshines in the RAM (OSX performs better at lower RAM than Windows), and hard disk. Really don't see the point of large hard disks in laptops as they are either semi-performant and waste the battery or just plain slow.

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Anonymous Coward

Why you should get a Mac

OK, I'll bite.

Does your Samsung have an LED-backlit display? What's the battery life like? Size and weight?

What's the graphics hardware? Better than a GeForce 320M I hope. Does it have a multi-touch, swipe compatible trackpad? Can you boot OS X on it? Magsafe connector?

I'm guessing the answer is 'no' to several of those questions.

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Happy

why?

It comes complete without Windows. And that is reason enough.

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Ok, one question.

Why didn't the lot of you stopped reading after the warning?

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Curves - Real laptops have them!

I own one of these older MacBooks. I believe it predates the new chiseled pro models. It is much squarer than the new ones. These new models have much rounder sides and softer, rounder bottoms. No little nubs needed to keep them from slipping about. My unit is old enough to still have firewire which makes a file transfer much faster although I've used Cat-5 cable.

I agree with most PC nerds that it is overpriced, but not as much as some say. I paid $900 for mine and $700 would be better . . . much better.

When you gauge the look and feel of the machine, the clear screen and haptic touch pad, this machine oozes femininity. Let's not forget that at the rate women are entering the professional ranks and dominating college attendance rolls, that computers will have to cater to the tastes of the much fairer sex, and this little white number certainly does. Afterall, when was the last time you saw the same young woman, curling her eyelashes, or getting a manicure, that quibbled over hardware benchmarks?

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This post has been deleted by its author

FAIL

Nerdless unintuitiveness

First, it is a nice white laptop.

Second, you cannot lump a Mac into a non-nerdy container. Take my little lady, she is the most non-nerdy person you'll ever meet. She doesn't like computers, but can use them as needed. But don't put her in front of a Mac, she hates it, the OS that is, she can't find anything, doesn't know how to launch programs, can't stand Safari, etc...

She's a teachers aid at a school that has nothing but Macs, and she refuses to assist the students during their ICT classes because of the Mac OS.

At least now you can install Windows on a Mac.

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Silver badge

@Nerdless unintuitiveness

"she can't find anything, doesn't know how to launch programs" really? How did she cope with the big changes from XP to Vista/7 etc?

I don't use Macs (cost really) but my own experience of average user + Windows is they get shafted regularly. You pay your AV "protection money" and find it just does not work against Joe (or Jane) average who sooner or later tries to install something off t'Internet.

So wile I am a LINUX lover, I would say to anyone who has the money and wants a hassle-free computing life to consider a Mac.

Oh, and as for the reviewed machine only having 2GB of RAM, I run 2GB on my LINUX box without swap space and develop software, run VMs, etc and have not run out so far. Big deal?

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Anonymous Coward

So you are going to tell us

that your wife sat in front of a windows computer for the firts time and was able to use it without any help.

For unintuitiveness nothing beats windows - not even linux.

As piece of research, can you please ask her to explain why she can't stand safari? As a non-nerdy person, ask her to expain what is the difference between safari and any other browser?

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WTF?

Let me get this straight...

"She's a teachers aid at a school that has nothing but Macs, and she refuses to assist the students during their ICT classes because of the Mac OS."

Are you saying she *refuses* to do her *job* because she needs maybe 30 minutes training to familiarise her with the different OS?

Wow, that's a great stance to take in the current economic climate.

Tell me, does she refuse to drive different cars because some of the controls are different?

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Silver badge
Go

Intuitiveness is a red herring

Nothing is intrinsequely intuitive, it's down to education. Something will FEEL intuitive if it obeys the same laws as something you already know. I always fire up my desktop calculator in reverse polish notation mode because I've learnt to thing effectively in stack-like mode. Your garden-variety user will feel that very counter-intuitive because they learnt basic math as <operand1> <operator> <operand2>. No method is more intuitive per se, it's just the way you're used to thinking at it that makes one or the other more intuitive.

When it comes to PCs (including Macs, as it should), there's another layer that comes into play: the line between "so intuitive that it does what you want without you having to learn COBOL" and "so intuitive that there is absolutely no way to tell what will be the output for a given input". I call the latter "luser-intuitive", and sadly that's how most "intuitive" UIs work nowadays. Then there is the "windows-intuitive" way, which sounds a bit like "so intuitive that you can crap your system completely without ever knowing how you got there". Sadly, that last level gains ground even on "serious" systems, as the Linux consumer-oriented commercial outfits see it as a way get into Wintards' pants.

So the really important thing is not "intuitiveness", it's giving the right tools to the right people.

If you are going to be your own sysadmin and you need to squeeze every drop of performance juice from your system (which means that you're on a tight budget, as otherwise you'd get a better system, obviously) then both Windows systems and anything from Apple are out of the question. Get an ugly thing from wherever and install a *NIX system on it (avoid the like of Ubuntu, PCBSD etc like the plague. Build your own tailored system with only the tools and services you need. When you choose your desktop environment don't even dare thinking about Gnome or KDE). For desktop-like use I would advise a Gentoo, or a Slackware. A Debian if you are prepared to fend off all the bells and whistles that will be thrown your way, but it can be difficult for a geek. The idea is that you will have to learn how your system works (how it really works, not how you can sometimes trick it into doing some stuff). so that you will be both able to use it efficiently AND to maintain it whithout doing too many stupid things.

If you have a sysadmin (Note for the retards: that means NOT you and NOT that guy next door who spends half his days on /. but is really supposed to type numbers in spreadsheets), then use whatever they tell you to and shut your trap. They DO know better. Actually, they're PAID to know better. And even if they did NOT know better, they WILL be the ones fixing your stupid mistakes so you REALLY want to be using a system that they know well. Even if it's a piece of shit.

If you never got around to learn how computers work, and you won't have anyone holding your hand through the configuration process, and you know that the only three pieces of software you could ever possibly need are available for Mac, and you've got more money than need for real computing power, then get a Mac. What could possibly go wrong? It's premium quality, lovingly assembled by asian workers from generic parts, and it's not like they ever got cracks or DOA problems or anything. At least the OS won't let you do anything blatantly stupid if you don't specifically ask it to. Actually some say that the OS won't let you do anything AT ALL, EVEN if you specifically ask it to, but these are lies. Or slight exagerations, at least.

If you're a cowboy at heart and would sooner die than read a manual, forget everything and install Windows. Preferably the alpha-test version (The one which is often cheekily labelled "Beta"). You can do it. Yes you're THAT good, don't listen to them. Knock'em dead tiger!

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Anonymous Coward

Let me get this straightER

"Are you saying she *refuses* to do her *job* because she needs maybe 30 minutes training to familiarise her with the different OS?"

Does her contract specify that she has to abide to the school's OS religion? Because otherwise, as a teacher's aid, I would guess that she only has to answer general cursus-related questions... and if the job description included "being familiar with the intricacies of whatever OS we like best" instead of just "being able to help the students on general matters", the school would probably have to shell out much more. Hell, she'd probably be an ICT prof, not a teacher aid.

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Re: Gadget Show

> So you didn't see the episode of the Gadget Show where a high end Sony Vaio refused to play

> HD smoothly but the low end Macbook did it no problem?

Would that be the HD video encoded using an Apple codec? Would that also be the same Gadget Show that gets wet everytime the word Apple is mentioned? Nah, they couldn't be biased, surely?

Would this be the all singing media computer that *still* doesn't have Blu-ray support in 2010? Obsolete media computer ahoy!

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FAIL

Blah

What a biased article!

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Silver badge

Cosmo?

This cannot be an El Reg Hardware review, I must've landed on cosmopolitan.com by mistake.

Don't read this wrong, I have nothing against people shelling out large sums of cash for devices that I would not touch with a barge pole, but surely "It's pretty and the touchpad works well" cannot be considered an exhaustive review by a techie rag?

And no, "Oh look I can open it" and "It even has a DVD writer" don't count as noteworthy enough to warrant a pic. Not for the past 10 years, at least.

The repeated assertions of it being a "consumer" only hold as long as you "consume" almost exclusively web-based content as the display resolution, the HDD size and the available ports won't let you do much more (not in a satisfactory manner anyway). This is clearly an internet-and-family-pics device. Which is fine by my book; it might have been mentioned in the article though.

Oh and I hate to spoil it for you but Sony and others make very stylish laptops with the same kind of specs or better, for about the same price, for those who prefer their devices with more style than grunt. So you can probably stop feeling like a pretty pretty princess.

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Jobs Horns

In 15+ years of computing...

I have never once tripped over a laptop chord because you know, us nerds are careful. That alone makes magsafe worthless. LED backscreens too are mostly useless for the average user since all they will be doing is surfing the web and typing up a few emails.

Another typical Mac fanatic tactic is to exaggerate the sound difference and the number of LEDs. I haven't had a laptop yet that was noisier than my Macbook. My Macbook unfortunately has Intel graphics and playing a Flash movie turns it into a helicopter. And until a recent Flash update that was true for nvidia Macs as well. No sorry, don't go lumping the blame on Adobe. If fanbois can blame Microsoft for Blue Screens of Death instead of poorly written third party drivers, I am going to go ahead and apply the same rules to Apple. Oh and a typical laptop has 3 LEDs, and they are all perform some sort of function. Only the most effeminate of computer users would resent an LED that tells them that their computer is doing something. Macs have their own share of LEDs anyway, on the battery and on the Magsafe.

Then there's the heat of Macs. Groin scaldingly hot. Or how about when I was trying to watch the World Cup and all the peer to peer TV software was Windows only? Or the way Apple were happy to shit on their old PPC customers by making Snow Leopard Intel only? Too bad those G5 64bit workstations can't take advantage of the first proper 64bit OSX.

Never try to reason with a Mac user because they simply don't use reason. They are ruled entirely by their foppish ideas of style and design. It is almost offensive to them to suggest that their Mac is a computer. It is blasphemy to suggest that perhaps Steve Jobs may not have their best interests at heart when he denies them Blu-Ray or Flash on their phones.

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Thumb Up

The best thing about MacBooks and OS/X is...

... they wake from sleep almost instantly and the battery lasts for ages when it is sleeping.

That's worth the price of entry in my book, as my MacBook sits on a table in my lounge, and when I want to quickly get on the net I pick it up and open it up. Seconds later, it is ready and connected to my WiFi. Not one of my Windows machines wakes from sleep anywhere near as quickly and not one lasts anywhere near as long on battery when sleeping.

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Forget the brand

As always the war between the Mactards, Wintards and Tuxtards is raging. Thanks Reg for inciting. So lets forget the OS, because at the end of the day, this is a hardware review.... correct?

CPU, RAM, HDD, chipset etc. Nothing to report, it is stock standard stuff.

Connectivity = too limited. Need HDMI, need 4 USB. Can do without e-sata only because it is USB3

Case = cheap plastic, too fragile

Styling = Not one of Apple's best, but not too bad

Price = too high

Battery life = good

Display = Sharp and crisp, nice format, not too wide

I believe there is much better hardware available for the price.

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Anonymous Coward

RE:In 15+ years of computing...

>>My Macbook unfortunately has Intel graphics and playing a Flash movie turns it into a helicopter

but the vibrations while watching flash porn are worth the extra price for the kit!

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Unhappy

poor build quality

first off

I have one of these through work and 2 things i have noticed are rather annoying.

the plastic scratches so easily, i had it in a padded case and after 1 week small marks and scratches appeared.

Second, no firewire means that A, i cant use target mode, and B, my camcorder isn't compatible.

Apple should completely move away from plastic, i would rather have steel and deal with the extra weight.

Another gripe i have is the optical drive is actually noisier than my macbook pro.

All in all i give this machine 6/10.

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Welcome

How about an impartial review?

Emporer's new clothes still pleasing the fanbois and annoying the haters then. Thanks for clearing that up.

Come on Reg, I come to you for impartial reviews. "Ignore the fact that it's not very good and is massively over priced.. if you are cool you'll like this"... is not really what I'm after. Surely someone at Chez Reg can give this another go and do a better job.

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Flame wars!

Was the reviewer stuck in the first half of the decade?? His stereotyping of both PCs and Macs are a bit out of date...

Firstly, for looks, because "PCs" (using your definition of them being Wintel boxen) these days happen to sometimes look a hell of a lot like Macs, plus with a lot more variety too. My first thought at that pic was it looked like the Samsung netbook with the rounded edges (NC310 I think?), but also, since the reviewer has an opinion of looks, which are subjective, then why is he berating other folk for liking the different looks of other machines? An Alienware might not be everyone's idea of beauty but I personally quite fancy the look of it as it stands out from the crowd!

Secondly, price, because Macs are not sold as "entry level" (even though this is the cheapest one) they should not be compared with the cheap rubbish that PC manufacturers crank out for the unwashed masses. When you start looking at the better offerings the prices soon ramp up to overtake the Mac costs, but then again, that is the strength of PC, where people can get what they want and what suits them. My next personal machine will probably be a Z series Vaio which will be about the same spec and cost as a Macbook Pro, but about a third the size and 1.6kg (not sure where you get the "about 3kg more" @AC "Oh Mr Woo, what can we do?"!). The difference is that I can use it for 9 hours on a flight and it is small enough to actually use in relative comfort in those cramped conditions (though I doubt I'll reach its max runtime playing Crysis 2).

Finally, tech. Yeah, this is C2D and is last year's tech, but when you look at what PC has, they are still releasing models like this, but aimed at the sub-£500 budget market, whereas the i3 cost about £600, i5 about £800 and i7 £1000+ (all inclusive of the f***ing WIndows tax). I don't get you folk who always seem to be reinstalling windows and playing with drivers. I've never done that in a decade and umpteen machines, except when trying to install games or databases on machines that are lower spec than the so-called minimum. The absolute beauty of Mac is the time to turn them on though - that is impressive, and I do like the maglock as I've drunken tripped over a couple of my machines' power leads.

Also, like the comments usually read in other machine reviews - what about running various flavours of Linux out of the box? How does this hardware handle that or does Holy St Jobs declare Thou Shalt Not Use Any Other OS Over Me?

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