I’m talking about my computer, which is a MacBook, not a MacBook Pro, and a lovely flat black colour. It’s by a long shot the best Mac I’ve ever had. I gather the Pro line is due for a refresh soon; it better be good, because at this point anyone who buys a silver Mac is making a big mistake.

Battery! · Whenever I was working with my silver macs, I was either plugged into AC, or I was worriedly watching the battery meter. No longer. Unless I’m going to be working for a major block of time, I just don’t bother plugging it in. It goes hours and hours, haven’t really measured how much, but enough that with one spare battery, I really don’t care whether the airplane has laptop power.

It’s a big deal. The weather’s nice and I’m typing this on my back porch; we’re having lasagna for dinner and it’s too hot for the oven, so the lasagna’s on the barbecue and I’m on the back porch keeping an eye on it in case it gets too hot.

Eventually, I’m going to sit down at my desk or on the comfy work chair at home and sock in for a few hours; then I plug in, and it doesn’t take that long to charge up.

WiFi! · Did I say I was on the back porch? With the old silver Macs, that worked if I was careful to sit right outside the open door. With the Black Beauty, I can go downstairs off the porch and sit on the grass in the shade of the pear tree. And see eleven other neighborhood WiFi networks too.

Tiny! · It’s smaller. I can actually get work done on airplanes, even when I can’t upgrade. This is a big deal.

Tough! · So far, the black plastic body is holding up better than my one Titanium and two Aluminium PowerBooks. It’s easier to clean, too, I get good results with plain old Windex.

It’s Not Perfect · The screen is only 800 pixels high, and that hurts on the photo-editing front. But hey, it drives the 24" widescreen just fine, so that’s usually not a problem.

It lacks a video card and a FireWire800 and the video jack is nonstandard so I have to carry one more dongle. I’m stuck at 2 gig of RAM, can’t go to 3. Except for, none of these things bother me.

And, um, it looks cool.


Comment feed for ongoing:Comments feed

From: roberthahn (Aug 02 2007, at 18:56)

BBQ Lasagna! That's SUCH a cool idea! We do BBQ pizza ourselves with homemade spelt crust. Tastes just like the pros. What are you baking the lasagna in? Not a glass pan surely?

Oh. Right. Macbooks. Got a white one. And yeah, what you said. They're very sweet. :)


From: Frederic Jean (Aug 02 2007, at 21:29)

Hi Tim,

Apple refreshed the MacBook Pro line in June. I am using one right now, and it is an amazing machine. It's bigger than the MacBook, but I maxed out the memory on mine so I could run multiple virtual machines (Solaris for ongoing web development here at Sun and Windows for occasional compatibility testing with IE 6 and 7) with acceptable performance. To me, it was well worth the extra money.


From: Clayton Wheeler (Aug 02 2007, at 22:04)

I've sort of upgraded to one of these myself, from a last-generation Powerbook, and for me it's an improvement in most respects. In particular, although it's not radically smaller or lighter, it is by enough to be a noticeable improvement. I completely agree with everything you mentioned.

There is just one little tiny drawback. The keyboard doesn't have the same quality of tactile feedback as the Powerbook's, not by a long shot. Now that I'm writing more code, I've been noticing more and more that the keys seem a little squashy, and I make way more mistakes than usual. I've actually started to think about going back to the Powerbook. Have you been able to type OK on yours? Maybe I just need to adjust, or slow down, or something.


From: Koen (Aug 03 2007, at 00:46)

I'm curious how you will feel in like three months from now. I recently switched back to a silver one, but I was as happy with it as you in the beginning. The fan noise, easy scratching surface and lack of video card frustrated me after a while.


From: CrackedButter (Aug 03 2007, at 00:58)

@Fredrick Jean.

I considered the MacBook Pro line but I went for a plain MacBook in the end I think it was the better choice personally especially at half the price! For what the MBP's can do, they are pricey compared.

Unless there is something truley earth shattering, I think I will stay with the consumer line for the foreseeable future.


From: Thijs van der Vossen (Aug 03 2007, at 01:41)

I just switched from the current generation MacBook to the new 15" LED backlit MacBook Pro and I'm happy to report that the battery life on the new 15" MacBook Pro is even better than on the MacBook.

And the screen is gorgeous! ;)


From: Scott (Aug 03 2007, at 01:49)

Saying that anyone who buys a Macbook Pro is making a huge mistake is wrong or those doing 3d intensive applications. The Macbook bogs down on those compared to the Macbook Pro.

That's but one advantage the MBP has over the MB.


From: Joradn (Aug 03 2007, at 03:07)

The MacBook will take 3GB of ram easily. Due to the intel chipsets, all but the latest MBP revisions can take a maximum of 3GB (2GB and 1GB), with the latest MBP going to 4GB.

It's better to leave matched pairs as the Mac works more efficiently and the onboard video likes it too. 3GB won't make it run any worse, but the performance increase may not be as much as you think.


From: Joerg Weisner (Aug 03 2007, at 03:41)

After 25 years on Windows, I bought a MacBook (black) 8 weeks ago. I really love this small beauty.

After the switchung process I will never !!! go back.

And I like the black MB more than the alu- MBP. The size does not matter to me.

So enjoy you bb (black beauty)


From: Richard Baker (Aug 03 2007, at 04:01)

We're using white MacBooks with 3GB of RAM (a 2GB module and a 1GB module) and it works just fine.


From: nex (Aug 03 2007, at 04:27)

These points can make a surprisingly large difference considering your upgrade path, but they were already true for the iBooks. Those have an even longer battery life, the WLAN range is quite good, the 12" ones are much smaller, the outer shell is nigh-unscratchable and, although the video quality is lacking when you drive a big external monitor (video output is only analog), at least the iBooks had a proper graphics card. As I have an iBook, it set standards for me with which the MacBook can barely keep up, over two years later. To me, the MacBook is a piss poor performer. Especially the black ones. You can get a white one with exactly the same specs, at which point you discover that this is 100$ cheaper than a black one. I know that there are many people who will gladly pay 100$ extra to get a notebook that loudly screams "I'm Apple's bitch!", but I'm not one of them.


From: Will Macdonald (Aug 03 2007, at 04:50)

You can have more than 2GB in a MacBook !


There will be a slight degradation in video performance however.


From: jkottke (Aug 03 2007, at 05:14)

I've got one of the newest MacBook Pros and regarding the wifi, it's much better than the old ones. It picks up all sorts of networks my old one didn't and has a larger range.


From: Howard (Aug 03 2007, at 05:16)

I agree w/ the keyboard sentiment.

Having a Lombard Bronze and Titanium G4 at home, I find the MBP C2D keyboard really not as confident. I

don't like the flatness of the keys on the MBP vs. the others and I make many more mistakes on it.

Oh well, the MBP is such a revelation vs. the G4 Ti, I guess it's worth it ;)


From: John (Aug 03 2007, at 05:20)

Please don't use Windex on the plastic. Use something without ammonia-like compounds in it.


From: MikeP (Aug 03 2007, at 05:26)

Clayton, it's not just you. Everybody I know who's used both the MacBook/iBook and the Powerbook/MacBook Pro vastly prefers the keyboards from the latter (if they have a preference, some don't). If I'm using my wife's iBook, I make way more mistakes than I do on my Powerbook. It's no Model M, but it's a damn sight better.

For me, the keyboard's almost a killer app, and why my next laptop is likely to be the Pro, despite its other failings that Tim mentions. (I think the MBPs are better than the Powerbooks in those respects though.)


From: Mario Estrada (Aug 03 2007, at 06:04)

Although it's not officially supported, you can go up to 3 GB of RAM on your Macbook. Mileage may vary...



From: jkottke (Aug 03 2007, at 06:11)

I've got one of the latest MacBook Pros and I can attest that much has improved on the battery and wifi fronts. I never bother to plug mine in anymore either...it just goes and goes. And the wifi range is much better than it used to be on the Powerbooks and I pick up all sorts of networks I never could with the PB. It doesn't seem to be a Faraday cage anymore. It's slightly thinner and lighter too.


From: TomJ (Aug 03 2007, at 06:25)

Just fyi, it's not supported by apple, but you can do 3GB ram in the macbook with a mismatched pair.



From: Jack Turner (Aug 03 2007, at 06:35)

Actually you can go to three gigs! I've done it myself and it makes Parallels far more pleasant with multiple virtual machines running. You can put in 4 gigs but it will only recognize 3 of those gigs, but there is an incredibly small speed benefit from having matched RAM.

It's having to choose between having unmatched RAM or having a missing gig (in the case of installing 4) that prompted Apple to choose to avoid mentioning the 3 gig capacity of the machine.

Proof and numbas:



From: JM (Aug 03 2007, at 06:39)

I totally agree. I have a MBP but my wife owns the black Macbook and sometimes I "borrow" her's for the exact same reasons (battery, size, wifi) ... but I do love aluminum-ium-ium-ium. If they had an aluminum case option, I would switch in a heartbeat!


From: Israel Alvarez (Aug 03 2007, at 06:44)

I seriously considered a MacBook, mostly because the silver MacBooks/PowerBooks I've had in the past haven't been tough enough for the abuse I ditch out. The deal-killer for me has always been the screen size: I'm now "of a certain age" and I kinda need the bigger screen.

The last MacBook Pro was on it's last legs, so I upgraded to the current line, and I have to say - this is a totally different experience. I've grown used to plugging in and only working untethered occasionally, but the battery life on these new machines blows me away. And the WiFi reception is vastly improved on these new machines - I no longer have any dead spots in my house, and can now work pretty far down my back yard if I choose. You should check out the new Pros - you might be able to enjoy the best of both worlds.

My one concession is the continued fragility of these machines compared to the MacBooks, but $39 to Speck products (http://www.speckproducts.com/15mac-seethru.html) took care of that, and let me choose a distinctive color wrapper as well (mine's orange).


From: Martin (Aug 03 2007, at 06:56)

"Spelt crust" - sounds yummy. Do you have a recipe?

I agree about the keyboard. The response of the MacBook keyboard is not on par with the Pros.



From: Phillip Winn (Aug 03 2007, at 07:03)

I've got a relatively new MacBook Pro, the silver type, and the battery lasts quite a bit longer than my wife's MacBook (white). The Wi-Fi is strong, too. It appears that the June refresh resolved some of your complaints about earlier models.

It's 17", though, so it definitely takes up some space. I took it to the park last night and watched my kids run around while I wrote an article.


From: Samuel (Aug 03 2007, at 07:08)

Just picked up a white MacBook myself. What a wonderful machine, indeed! My only concern - one you won't need to worry about - is yellowing of the case around the trackpad, where my hands always rest. I'll just have to keep washing my hands every 15 minutes or so. Did you use Windex for the screen, the case, or both?


From: John Moltz (Aug 03 2007, at 07:10)

What about fingerprints? I'm leaning toward moving from my last gen PowerBook to a black MacBook but a friend who works at Apple said to get the white one because the black one shows fingerprints a lot more.


From: David Warde-Farley (Aug 03 2007, at 08:10)

I too have to commend Apple on the recent MBP refresh, when I used my one-time Apple Student Developer discount to buy one. They now use LED backlights (at least the 15 inch models) and I've been mighty impressed with the battery life; it rivals my old 12 inch iBook. However it seems to wake up at strange times (that might be the fault of my keyboard cover, however). It is a little big but I'm getting used to it.

It's not black, though. I'll give you that.


From: Antoine (Aug 03 2007, at 08:40)

I did the same switch from a G4 PowerBook to a MacBook. I agree about the battery, the wifi and the size, but the case and the keyboard are really bad. I broke some keys, and the plastic is cracked. I miss the aluminium case on these points.


From: Peter Hosey (Aug 03 2007, at 08:55)

The new MacBooks Pro introduced just before WWDC 2007 get about five hours of battery life (hooray LED backlight!), so that isn't a problem anymore.


From: Juan Pablo Pincheira (Aug 03 2007, at 09:33)

Hi. I own a blackbook and I think those 800 px aren't the best for the 13 inch screen. On a 10 inch screen thouse 800px would be reasonable. I think macbooks pro are kinda huge, but a 12 or less aluminium apple laptop would be so great.

Greets from Chile.



From: Paul Hoehne (Aug 03 2007, at 09:57)

Saw you at RailsConf - great presentation. Couldn't agree with you more on the MacBook vs Pro value proposition. So far the best laptop I've ever had is my white MacBook. At work I have a 1600x1200 monitor I plug into. It's small and light so I don't walk around like a hunchback, carrying it home on the metro. (Previously I had a 9.5 lb Compaq) It's a really well balanced machine.


From: Dave Fayram (Aug 03 2007, at 10:01)

I'm not sure if people are aware, but the 17" MBPs get _significantly_ better battery life than the more popular 15" competitors. I'm not sure exactly why, since I thought driving the bigger screen would cost more, but the battery is much bigger and more powerful.

My girlfriend has a black macbook, and I routinely outpower her.


From: Mel (Aug 03 2007, at 10:58)

Yeah, I completely agree! I got a white one instead of the black one, but the same thing applies. I was running it attached to Apple's 23" monitor, and it ran just fine. It's lightweight, so I don't mind carrying it around. Everything else you said is true.

MacBooks rock!


From: Derek K. Miller (Aug 03 2007, at 15:09)

I have what must be one of the first black MacBooks in Vancouver (I ordered it the week they were announced in May 2006), and I paid the price in version 1.0 quality control:


Everything is fixed now, and the despite the problems, this has been a great machine that has helped me get a lot done. I agree about the spectacular battery life (now that I have a new battery!), and it's really nice looking to boot. It has also run very well for me with a mismatched set of DIMMs giving it 1.25 GB of RAM.

My wife is still using a 12" iBook, and she (among many others) would like a slightly smaller ultralight MacBook at some point. While the smaller screen would bother me, I agree that even this 13" model isn't quite as convenient to tote around as its 12" ancestors. A wonderful computer though.


From: Glenn (Aug 03 2007, at 15:48)

I sprung for a 17" hi-res MBP after the last refresh, to replace a TiBook 800, and I'm thrilled. I can get so much more (code) on the screen now that the old machine just feels like a toy.

My one complaint is with the trackpad. It's wider, so my hands sometimes graze the top corners of the pad, causing some errant and unwanted actions. Also, my hands are very dry, and the pad's responsiveness appears degraded from the TiBook. (Two-finger scrolling is iffy.)

Otherwise, I'm thrilled.


From: Chris Long (Aug 03 2007, at 17:54)

i too have a blacbook. the first one in minnesota, i believe.

something to consider for you perfectionists out there: the beautiful powder black finish does not last long. my spacebar and trackpad are now a glossy black, due to wear, and this took only a few weeks.

doesn't bother me much, but if it might bother you, think twice.

my only real gripe is with the heat generated. these babies get warm!

otherwise: a fantastic little laptop.


From: Reg (Aug 03 2007, at 18:28)

I have a BlackBook too (original Core Duo model) and agree with all points. Even after a year, battery, wifi, ergonomics and durability are all first rate.

However, I'd still rate my previous PowerBook G4 12" higher on the "lovability" scale. It's proportions were close to perfect and metal just feels more refined to me (well I guess Al has to be refined from ore but you know what I mean).

I dearly wish Apple would make a 12" MacBook Pro...


From: Dig T (Aug 03 2007, at 18:40)

I'm glad that it's great for you but I think they are horrible. While my 17" Macbook Pro might be too big for small airplane seats, my 15" is just fine for me and it's got a great new screen and the battery lasts through 3.5-4 hours of heavy work in Photoshop.

My only gripe is that the laptop gets noisy, but they are all like that.


From: Clark (Aug 03 2007, at 18:47)

We bought a MacBook recently and it certainly is the best computer we have ever purchased. It excels in every area that we need except for one - colour. Either it is a flaw with the unit we purchased or it's a feature of the MacBook in general but it is incapable of displaying the range of colours that I can on my Powerbook.


From: Owen Densmore (Aug 03 2007, at 20:39)

Isn't it odd, however, that there is no truly mobile mac laptop? 5.1 pounds is NOT mobile.


From: NitRam Den Gale (Aug 04 2007, at 04:58)

Well, if the old "silver" Apple laptop you had was a PowerBook then I understand the WiFi statement in which you mentioned that the reception was poor. With the new MacBook Pros however the WiFi reception is far greater than any other silver Mac laptop it superseded.


From: drew robinson (Aug 08 2007, at 01:51)

Regarding the MacBook keyboards:

There is a utility called KeyClick (very nicely summed up at http://db.tidbits.com/article/9102 ) that adds audible "clicks" to the keystrokes of the little flat MacBook keyboard, which the above-mentioned writer claims has vastly improved his "feel" of typing on the Macbook.



author · Dad · software · colophon · rights
picture of the day
August 02, 2007
· Technology (87 fragments)
· · Gadgets (38 more)
· · Mac OS X (118 more)

By .

The opinions expressed here
are my own, and no other party
necessarily agrees with them.

A full disclosure of my
professional interests is
on the author page.