Macbook pro 13.3″ review (late 2011)

After using the Macbook Pro 13.3” (MBP) for over a month now, I would like to share some of my experiences with MBP and the Lion OS. Do let me know if you would like me to add some more points as well.

Macbook Pro late 2011
I have also commented on the software that I use on the MBP.

Specifications:
• Display: 13.3-inch LED-backlit glossy widescreen display;
• Graphics: Intel HD Graphics 3000 with 384MB of DDR3 SDRAM shared with main memory;
• HDD: 500GB HDD;
• Network: Wi-Fi (based on IEEE 802.11n specification); Bluetooth 2.1 + EDR; 10/100/1000BASE-T (Gigabit) Ethernet
• Optical Drive: 8x SuperDrive (DVD±R DL/DVD±RW/CD-RW);
• Ports: One Thunderbolt port, one FireWire 800 port, two USB 2.0 ports, SDXC card slot;
• Processor: 2.4GHz dual-core Intel Core i5 processor with 3MB shared L3 cache;
• Ram: 4GB 1333MHz DDR3 memory;
• Sound: Stereo speakers with subwoofer, omnidirectional microphone, combined headphone / line in;
• Video: FaceTime HD camera; Thunderbolt port with support for DVI, VGA, dual-link DVI and HDMI (requires adapters);

Usage: I mainly use my MBP for office work, emails, web-browsing, syncing my iPhone and watching movies. The MBP was never meant for hardcore gaming for me and since I have a desktop with decent configuration, I have never tried playing hardcore games on the MBP.

Pros:
1. Battery life: Battery life is around 6-7 hours while working on word documents, checking emails and doing other non processor intensive work. I use the laptop to play online games like mafia wars where the battery life comes down to say about 4 hours (my vaio couldn’t cross even 1.5 hours with online gaming);

2. Build quality: The aluminium unibody is great though it is sharp at some places. The glowing apple logo looks great though I wish I had the option to turn if off to save battery, if required.

3. CD Drive: The slot drive works perfectly well and have not faced any issues till date. It reads well from scratched DVDs which normally tends to hang my Windows 7 PC.

4. Crashes: Haven’t got my MBP to crash in about a month’s time though the apps like App store, iChat, Facetime make me restart it at times.

5. Display quality: The display is neat and great and I have no complaints about it. The screen looks good even in a bright room. The brightness control buttons are provided on the keypad. The display is good in a bright room as well.

6. iCloud: I backup my iPhone on iCloud and I had my contact details on my MBP in no time once I logged in my iCloud account;

7. Inbuilt camera: The quality is decent for skype / gtalk sessions. The quality suffers big time in dark rooms;

8. Keypad: The backlit keyboard is superb. The buttons to dim / brighten the backlight are very useful. It will take a little time to get used to the “command”, “option”, “fn” keys.

9. Looks: There may be many who don’t like the looks of MBP but I definitely love the looks of MBP. The battery indicator on the left side of the MBP indicates the battery status when in sleep mode (You need to press the round button to know the battery status) – another useful utility.

10. MS Office: The MS Office interface on the Mac is much better than the Windows version.

11. Networking: Networking is as easy as pressing Command + K key and entering the name of the computer you want to connect to. I have been connecting to my Windows 7 HP where all my data / movies / music are stored and have not faced any issue so far. I haven’t tried sharing my MBP files with my Windows PC. So once I try that, I will update the post.

12. Non apple softwares: Most of the softwares that I use have a mac version.. so its easy to migrate – Firefox, Thunderbird, Chrome, Skype, Opera, MS Office to name a few.

13. Sleep: I was shocked to know that there is nothing like hibernation mode in MBP. However, closing the lid puts your MBP to sleep mode. Keeping the MBP in sleep mode overnight will result in around 5% battery loss. Opening the lid immediately brings up the login screen and saves a lot of time compared to booting up the MBP.

14. Speakers: The output is adequate for its size and the music and movies sound good.

15. Speed: The applications start quickly and are responsive. uTorrent sometimes take a little longer than expected to shut down.

16. Spotlight: I absolutely love the way spotlight works and is a very useful tool that Lion OS provides.

17. Trackpad: It is simply superb and awesome and have made my wireless mouse redundant. The swipes, the scrolls are too good and responsive. The go forward and go back swipes works well on the browsers.

Cons:
1. Apple mail: Having used Outlook, Thunderbird and Windows Live mail extensively, nothing beats the Thunderbird. I would rate apple mail below TB and Outlook. Windows live is too buggy for me… so would rate apple mail over it.

2. App Store: Believe it or not, the Apple App Store does not function as well as it does on an iPhone or an iPad. I am just stopping short of calling it useless since most of the times (around 95%) it does not load or does not display the apps… the screen is blank. This is not a one off incident and many users have reported to have this issue. I prefer downloading directly from websites rather than using the App Store.

3. CD/DVD burning: Looks like I am too used to Nero and the inbuilt cd/dvd burning application of Lion OS is no match for Nero. If compared to Windows 7, I would rate Windows 7 higher.

4. iChat: Well Apple got it wrong here.. atleast for Gtalk. it doesn’t work the way it should and you will be logged out of your gmail unannounced and once logged out, logging in is not as easy as a click. To log back in, you need to start the activity manager and kill the “imagent” process and only then you will be able to login. Further, to let unaware members know, iChat does not support iMessage.

5. Facetime: Again don’t compare the iPhone facetime with MBP facetime. Logging in is a pain and you might have to restart to get it right. I heard it is the issue between iChat and Facetime trying to use common resources.

6. iPhoto: iPhoto is a great application though I would prefer picasa for its interface, features and usability. The only aspect which I like about iPhoto is the slideshow option.

7. Lid: The lid seems to be a delicate thing on the otherwise sturdy MBP. It feels a little loose and little nudge moves it more than expected. Again I have seen most of the MBP having loose lids.

8. USB / Pen drives: I think Lion OS wasn’t really tested with pen drives since there are times when lion OS behaves weirdly and you cannot copy – paste stuff on your pen drive. This is extremely annoying since a restart will also not guarantee that it will work. It totally depends on the Lion OS as to whether copy paste on your pen drive will work or not. This also appears to be a known issue with Lion OS. However, while using my portable USB HDD, I have not come across above problem. (no my pen drive is not infected by any virus )

Neutral:
1. Boot time: Boot time is decent compared to my Windows 7 Home Premium laptop. It takes around 15-20 secs to boot up.

2. Garage Band: My friends swear by the garage band but since I don’t really know to play musical instruments, I have never tried it.

3. Shutdown: Here I would rate my desktop with Windows 7 Home Premium over MBP since my desktop turns off faster (about 6-7 secs) than the MBP (about 12-15 secs).

4. Screen size: Well this one was a personal choice for me since I wanted to have a compact laptop though it was a pain for me to shift from my 15.5” Sony Vaio Full HD laptop to a 13.3” display.
5. Unused features: Card reader, FireWire 800 port, Thunderbolt.

Last but most important is the “pricing”. I have still not figured out whether the 83.5k spend by me (70k for MBP + 13.5k for protection plan) on MBP is justified or not or whether a “more than decent gaming laptop” with a bigger screen size would have been a better deal. I am staying away from this and let the users decide for themselves.

Recommended accessories:
1. The silicon cover for the keypad;
2. Apple protection plan;
3. Shell cover for the MBP (I haven’t bought this yet but looks like I will have to buy it soon. The price ranges from 1.5k to around 3.8k)

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