I’ve had the MacBook Pro for about a week now. I started with just browsing the web, but I’ve evolved into using more of my daily applications (including the likes of the Apple Remote Desktop, the Server Admin tools, the Cisco VPN Client, etc.), some Universal and some PowerPC-native (so running in Rosetta).

I have to say this first, the MacBook Pro builds on its cream-of-the-crop PowerBook heritage effectively and is a well polished machine. The functionality of the built-in iSight is a great addition to the PowerBook features such as the scrolling trackpad and backlit keyboard. Others may compare the raw specs of the MacBook Pro with other Core Duo laptops on the market to show how cost-effective they are, but some of these harder-to-compare features (also toss in the fact that the screen and the backlit keyboard respond to ambient light to adjust their brightness on the fly) make the real difference in daily usage and make in still nearly impossible to compare regardless of how similar the hardware gets over the years.

Others have seen issues with brightness consistency of the displays as well a whine from the processors, but I’ve not noticed either of these on mine. I’ve seen the brightness inconsistency on a handful of iBooks in the past, but it really stems from the design of all laptop backlights (especially those in Apple’s iBooks, PowerBooks, and now the MacBook Pro because of their ultra-thin displays) since it functions much like a prism.

The functionality I needed from the MacBook Pro were:

  • The ability to replace my Dual 2.7GHz PowerMac G5 workstation with a portable
  • A large screen, but still a highly portable size case
  • The ability to get online anywhere and (nearly) everywhere
  • The ability to run my current server and workstation administration software

As others have come to find out, the MacBook Pro can be a formidable opponent to even a Quad-Core 2.5GHz PowerMac G5, so it should match my Dual 2.7GHz PowerMac G5 fairly well. The major change here is the drop to 2GB of RAM from 4GB. Most of my tasks are more memory bound (lots of applications and tasks running at once) than they really are processor bound, but the extra processor cores come in handy when compiling, doing network backups, managing servers via Apple Remote Desktop, and more, all at the same time.

My coworker in California, Mark Engelhardt (who was featured in one of our “recent” Pawcasts), swears by the 17” PowerBook, but it’s just too awkward a physical size to lug around with me all the time, even if the extra screen real-estate would be useful. The 15” PowerBook (and hence the 15.2” MacBook Pro) is a more suitable size for me. Lots of screen real-estate, but a medium-sized package.

The MacBook Pro includes built-in Gigabit ethernet and 802.11a/b/g WiFi (i.e. AirPort) LAN connections, but it also has built-in BlueTooth. I’ve already configured the built-in BlueTooth to use my Verizon Wireless Motorola v710 for Internet access when I’m out of range of ethernet ports and WiFi hotspots. Some people are disappointed that the MacBook Pro nolonger offers a built-in 56k modem, but I find that the 14.4kbps connectivity I get with my Verizon cell phone is not much worse than I’d get here in rural Vermont anyway, and the Apple Externa USB 56k Modem is reasonable enough to use for those few who need regular dial-up Internet access (after all, one can always purchase an Apple AirPort Extreme Base Station, which includes a built-in modem, for wireless dial-up access and printer sharing at home).

And as far as the administration software that I need goes, everything works fine on my MacBook Pro. Apple Remote Desktop is one of my most often used tools and is probably only second to Terminal (which was obviously going to be Universal). After modifying Apple Remote Desktop to run on Intel Macs, I was all set to go (Apple had already updated the Server Tools software to Universal Binaries).

I’m now able to easily set up shop wherever needed, whether it’s at my desk running a 22” Apple Cinema Display, or on my couch at home.

I’ve not had any crashes yet, but I have experienced a few stuttering glitches when watching videos on Google Video. It only occurs after a few minutes of playback, lasts a few seconds, then goes away, so I haven’t figured out exactly the cause yet. However, I do have to search out the Universal betas of Flash and such, so it could be related to that (or which version of the Java VM is running, depending on whether they’re using Flash or Java).

Overall I think it’s an excellent, solid, workhorse of a laptop and would suggest it to all IT professionals. For those working in the creative fields using applications such as the Adobe Creative Suite, Apple’s Final Cut Studio, or Logic Pro, I’d make sure all your key apps are Universal Binaries before using it as your primary machine (unless you’re coming from a PowerMac G4, then you may not see a major difference).

For those not quite ready to switch to Intel machines for your creative setup, I’d highly suggest one of the “PowerBook G4s” or “PowerMac G5s” we’ve got in stock as they’re still viable machines for such work and the software is ready right now.


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