Apple 2.26 GHz Dual Core Macbook (May 29, 2010)

Posted: May 29, 2010 by Mike Hubbartt in Hardware Reviews, Reviews
Tags: , , ,

By Mike Hubbartt, © Copyright 2010, All Rights Reserved.

I’ve owned a number of Macs over the years – a Mac Classic, Apple IIe, PowerPC 7200/90, Mac Mini (G4 processor running Tiger), and a 20″ iMac (G5 processor running Leopard). Six months ago I decided it was time to buy a Mac with an Intel processor. I like laptops and so I decided to buy a new Apple 2.26 GHz Macbook.

Why write a review about a laptop that is no longer the current model sold by Apple? Because I have used it extensively the past 6 months to do development, productivity, and design and it is the best laptop I’ve ever owned. It doesn’t have the hardware in the MacBook Pro line, and the white case is the same used in older Mac laptops, but I don’t care. It is everything I hoped it would be, so let’s take a look at the equipment.

Hardware Specifications

  • CPU – 2.26 dual core Intel processor
  • OS – OSX 10.6.3/XP
  • Memory – 2 GB
  • Hard drive – 250 GB with 2 partitions
  • Screen – 13.3″ LED with backlight
  • Video – NVIDIA GeForce 9400 graphics (shares some of main memory)
  • Networking – 1 GB (wireless/lan)
  • Built-in speakers and microphone and camera
  • Full size keyboard and multi-touch trackpad
  • Two USB 2.0 ports

Using the Laptop

I write a lot of reviews, so I installed a lot (see Software Latest and this blog for my reviews) of software:

  • Design products -Adobe CS4 and CS5 Master Collection.
  • Productivity products I- MS Office, Final Draft, Movie Outline 3, Ulysses.
  • Development products – Eclipse Ganymede/Galileo, IntelliJ IDEA 9.x Community Edition, STS, MAMP,  MySQL, Tomcat, Mathematica 7, FileMaker Pro 10, FileMqker Pro 11 Advanced, and Bento 3.

Most of these programs take up a lot of space, yet they run fine and I have not had any issues with performance unless too many are opened at the same time. A memory upgrade could help, but is not in my plans for the near future.

I take advantage of Spaces to arrange different types of applications to different windows and have no problems switching between the programs as needed. I have my browser and Word open in Space 1, develop websites (using DreamWeaver) and graphics software (Photoshop, Fireworks) in Space 2,  work on Java and C code in Eclipse and IDEA in Space 3, and use Space 4 to work on scripts and stories with Final Draft and Ulysses. Very efficient way to organize the desktop – not as good as dual monitors, but still a lot of help.

The new multi-touch trackpad took time to get used to, but now it bugs me when I have to use a laptop without the same touchpad functionality. And the quick release MagSage power adapter is nice, although my cat has been able to remove it when he thinks I’ve spent too much time working and now it is time for him to get some attention or food.

The laptop stays cool enough that I don’t need to buy a cooler even though I have used it for 8 – 10 hrs on a few projects. And it is lightweight, which is nice when compared to my heavy (and old) HP XP laptop. And I like the long battery life – I’ve gone 6+ hrs between recharges 10+ times and think that is a huge upside when using a laptop in school as many classrooms may lack enough outlets for all students to be able to plug in during class. The backlit screen is easy to read in dark or light rooms.

Overall Impressions

  • CPU – 2+ GB dual core processor is fine. No issues with speed.
  • Screen – backlit (which is nice, and adequate at 13.3″.
  • Touchpad – very cool.
  • Keyboard – I like it enough that I ordered a new one for my Mac Mini.
  • Hard drive space – I still have a lot of free space on OS X and XP partitions. I allocated 32 GB for XP and the rest of the 250 GB for OS X 10.6.
  • Weight – it is light and I don’t need to use a cooling fan.
  • Bootcamp setup – setting up a Bootcamp partition was relatively painless and usability was fine after I added the necessary Apple drives.
  • Speakers – liked the built-in speakers and jack for external headphones. Very nice way to listen to songs or music in iTunes.
  • OS X 10.6 – I like it, but wish Apple made it work with G5 Macs as well as Intel processor Macs.
  • Networking – I mostly use wireless access for web browsing, and I never see the same connectivity that affect my Mac Mini.

For my next Apple Laptop

  • Dedicated video memory – I would rather have main memory used for my applications than for video.
  • A larger display – I have to scroll too much on many websites, so  I think 17″ will be better in the future.
  • More USB ports – I need more than 2 USB ports and while I acknowledge I can use a hub, I’d like more built-in ports.
  • A larger and faster HD – I have a lot on this computer, but applications are growing at an alarming rate, so I’d like at least a 1 TB HD in my next laptop.
  • A different Bootcamp partition – I installed XP but next time want to install a 100 GB Windows 7 partition.

Recommendation

Get one. My next Apple laptop will be a 17″ MacBook Pro. I’d encourage anyone in school to buy a Macbook or a MacBook Pro, and I like using it for development as well as productivity and design work.

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