Friday, June 21, 2013

Devices, Gadgets and Gear, Oh My: The Macbook Pro (mid 2010)

Continuing my series on the gadgets and gear I carry with me all the time this post takes a look at my workhorse laptop the mid 2010 Macbook Pro. In my first post in this series (Chromebook) I talked about the advantages (and disadvantages) of a lower cost, simpler computer. The Macbook Pro is kind of the Anti-Chromebook in that regard.

When I went looking for a new laptop a few years ago I decided I was tired of getting bargain laptops and closeouts that were outdated before I even bought them. I had been using Apple computers on and off since the 80's, I still own a G4 Mac, and a SE30.

I was not then and I still am not a fan of the Mac Mini and while I would love a Mac Pro but simply couldn't afford the cost. At the time you could still get a Macbook or you could opt for the Macbook Pro. There was only a couple hundred dollar difference and you got a considerably more impressive laptop for the money. After looking at all the options available at the time I felt that the aluminum bodied 13 inch Macbook pro with its Core2 Duo processor and beautiful screen was the way to go. Yes, there were 15 and 17 inch Macbook Pro's available then, and they had faster processors but I couldn't see myself lugging around a 15 or 17 inch laptop everywhere I went.  I still feel that if you really need a 17 inch or larger screen you should be using a desktop and not a laptop.

As I was comparing features and costs on the laptops one of the most important features of the Macbook over Windows based laptops was the ability to run both Windows 7 and Mac OS X on the same laptop. You can install OS X on some Windows based laptops and I have using some hacking and special software which is referred to as Hackintosh. It never really worked all that well and the choice of hardware that it would run on at the time wasn't impressive.

Running Windows 7 on a Macbook Pro however is very impressive. I have tried Parallels and still use Crossover on my Mac to run windows software in OS X but while Crossover works nearly perfectly for the software it supports, its still more complicated than simply booting into the Windows partition and just using it and doesn't support everything I want to use. When booted into a Windows partition (or Boot Camp partition) you have probably the best Windows Laptop you could get. You still have a near perfect screen, a great keyboard, and that amazing touchpad, AND you get to run natively all the Windows software you could want. The first thing I did after getting this Macbook Pro was to replace the hard-drive with a 1TB drive (My iTunes library is HUGE), carve out a 100GB partition for Windows and install Boot Camp and Windows 7. I don't regret it at all and I use Windows almost as often as the OS X. Only Apple can offer you the best of both Operating Systems.

This brings us to OS X and Apple in general. I have not yet updated past Lion and I probably won't. I would not be surprised to find out that Apple will not support my Macbook on Mavericks since it is now 3 years old and history has shown that Apple does not like to support older hardware. One of the reasons I have not upgraded to Mountain Lion is Gatekeeper. I jailbreak my iPad and iPhones because I don't agree with being told where I can install software from on my device. I certainly don't like the thought that I will have to jailbreak my laptop to do the same. I know Gatekeeper can be disabled easily but that isn't the point I shouldn't have to. Mark my words, within a couple versions it will no longer be able to be disabled. I mourn the loss of save as and don't understand that decision at all. Another thing I don't care for and have never understood about OS X is the inability to merge folders. in my mind the single largest drawback to OS X is file manipulation. Why in the world can I not take folder a and folder b and combine them into one location? Yes, I know there is a way to do that in terminal, but c'mon the whole point of a GUI is to not have to go into terminal. There are a lot of great features of OS X but increasingly there are more and more things I don't like and I find myself using the Boot Camp Windows install more and more and OS X less and less. I think I should mention here that this Macbook Pro is the best Windows gaming laptop I have used and is able to run Skyrim, Black Ops, and WoW very well.

If you are looking for a new laptop and don't mind OS X's quirks then the current Macbook Pro Retina is an incredible laptop. If you would rather not pay that much then the older Macbook Pro's are very reasonably priced and continue to work very well. I see this one lasting at least a couple more years before I start looking for a replacement.

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