Opinions on Apple MacBook Laptops

Every once in a while I think about getting a laptop. My main computer will still be my desktop that I’m typing this post on, so I don’t need a really great system. Just something that I can do some word processing, maybe watch a movie on the road, and that kind of thing. As I think about it, my choices come back to an IBM, a Dell, or an Apple. Now that Apple has gone to Intel CPUs and dual-booting into Windows XP is possible the MacBook seems like a good choice except for the lack of office software, and, yes, I’d probably go with MS Office. Of course, if I’m dual-booting I’ll also have a copy of MS Office (probably Office 95) on the XP partition. Assuming the Dell XPS M1210 is a similar machine (in terms of processor, RAM, and so on) I think it’s a wash pricewise, though it’s hard to tell because Apple doesn’t give you all the information on everything in the computer.

Am I right in thinking this would work for what I want? I’m not the biggest fan of the OSX (or any other Macintosh) interface, though that might be from years and years of use of various Microsoft OSes. So I’d probably use OSX when I was working on things I’d want to use on the research groups computers (all OSX) and WinXP for when I was doing other things.

The build quality of the MacBook is going to be much better than that of the Dell. And if this isn’t going to be your primary computer, an IBM would be overkill.

I would go for the MacBook. I think you’ll learn to love OS X, but if you don’t, you can always use it for Windows.

Is there reliable data on the quality of Macs vs. Dells? My experience with Apple (mostly iPods) is that while they look good their quality is crap.

For the last several years, Consumers Reports readers have been rating them either the top or one of the top in quality. Their service is especially well liked by customers.

I bought a Macbook the day it was released. The dual boot was the clincher for me, but honestly, I never boot Windows. OS X is just a pleasure to use. I hate to be the OpenOffice guy, but I’d try it in OS X. I have to think it would be superior to Office 95.

Keep in mind that dual booting is still in beta and has flaws. I haven’t spent any time in my XP partition, but I did notice that there didn’t appear to be a way to mimick a right click–Control doesn’t do it, and there’s only one button on the mouse pad. So, you’ll have to connect a mouse when working in XP. I’m sure that will be corrected at some point, if hasn’t been fixed already.

I bought a PowerBook G4 so that I could use it with the (now defunct) studio. The more I used it, the more I wanted to use it. My PC desktop was used less and less. For nearly two months I’ve been using the Mac exclusively. Poor PC is just holding the table down. I bought MS Office for Mac so that I can use Word and Excel, and I’ve downloaded FTP and a graphical web page editor so I can make webpages. There’s just no need to use the PC anymore. I like OS X, since it almost never crashes. I like Safari better than IE. The only issue I have is when I use a PC. I got used to closing windows by going to the upper-left corner. Yesterday I found out that the Send button in Outlook is in the same place. :smack: (Fortunately my mailbox was full and the form wasn’t sent.) And my g/f has a PC laptop. I keep finding myself trying to scroll by using two fingers on the touchpad – a very useful Mac feature that is not supported on her laptop PC.

Actually, I’m of the opinion that Office 95 was (except for a couple nice additions to Excel later) the last really usable version of MS Office before bloat started to set in. Anyway, adding on software is only a consideration later when adding up total prices.

I don’t think the Mac would supplant my PC for several reasons. One is that my PC is a gaming machine (as well as a TV, a jukebox, and several other things, mostly dating from my college dorm room days) and I’m not going to spend the kind of cash needed to play games on a laptop. Also, I have years and even decades worth of software, a lot of which I still use. Another is that I simply can’t work for long periods of time on a laptop. I’m the kind of guy who would haul around a full-size keyboard and mouse just to work on the laptop. And not to get into an argument or anything but what Johnny L.A. says about OS X isn’t really a consideration for me. I almost never get crashes with XP, I use Firefox instead of IE (and don’t like Safari because if there’s a way to do tabbed browsing in Safari I haven’t found it) and I’m not likely to use much of the built-in software, so a lot of what Apple touts (like iLife or Front Row) I ignore because I don’t use similar programs now.

Go to Preferences, Tab, click Enable Tabbed Browsing.

Nitpick: there are no IBM laptops anymore. The IBM PC division (including the Thinkpad brand) was purchased by Lenovo.

And Absolute, what did you mean when you said they’re overkill? Thinkpad prices are comparable to Apple Macbook, if not lower.

Control-Click is supposed to be a right click. Needs a bit of help, apparently, from something like Apple Mouse Utility (sorry about the popups - it’s a geocities site) and that will let you Control-click for a right-click.

Also, Shift-F10 is supposed to map to a right-click.

Speaking of mapping keys, you’ll probably want to re-map something to be a real Delete key - Apple’s Delete key reads as Backspace under Windows, making it otherwise impossible to do a three-finger salute to bring up Task Manager or log into corporate-style networks.

Get the Dell.

This isn’t your main machine, you prefer Windows, and Apple “build quality,” especially on the low end, is highly overrated.

Hell, shop around and find something even cheaper. Given what you’re going to be using it for, an 800mhz PIII would me more than adequate.

Oh, and the Thinkpads do have one thing going for them: the keyboards. Absolutely the best keyboards on any notebook, hands down. If that kind of thing is important to you, seriously consider a Thinkpad.

I configured an R60 with 1.83GHz / 512MB / 60GB / 1400x1050 / combo drive and the 9-cell battery for four bucks more than the $1299 Macbook.

Now, if it only had a serial port… sigh…

Yes, but compared to a Dell, they’re more expensive. And if you’re not using it as your primary computer, there’s no reason to pay for the improved quality of a Thinkpad.

Of course, with an Apple, you have no choice - you’re paying for OS X, and taking the hardware that comes with it. Which is not exceptional, but I think it’s reasonably solid. Less so than IBM, more so than Dell.