New Aluminum Macbooks Are Incredibly Sexy

Apple released the new Aluminum Macbook and Macbook Pro last Tuesday. Yesterday, I walked to the Apple store nearby to check out them out. As I had imagined, they are incredible. Some quick notes I took down in my mind include:

  • Glass Trackpad: The glass trackpad is so smooth and feels amazing. Combined with the multi-touch gestures, they make quite a compelling package. I probably spent over half an hour fondling the trackpad with many gestures. The updated Macbook Air does not have this trackpad, which may be the deciding factor for me not to get the Air even if the previous heat and slowness problems were solved.
  • Heat: The Alu Macbook does not get hot like the Macbook Air (first gen) does. It stays relatively cool, which my current notebook definitely does not when plugged in. The Macbook Pro was also cooler than the Air but not by much. Overall, the winner here is the Macbook, but the new Air is not yet available (until November) so we’ll have to wait and see if those heating issues have been solved.
  • Weight: The Macbook feels sturdy with its unibody construction and is not too heavy. Even though it is 1.2 lbs more than my current notebook, the smaller size and tight body of the Macbook helped. The Macbook Pro was a bit heavy to hold though. Of course, the air is tiny and light, but this is not enough to offset the first gen issues.
  • Display: The only area where the Macbook loses is the display. Unlike the Air’s similar-sized screen, the Macbook’s screen has worse viewing angles. It is easy to see colors get washed out with just a little movement away from the center. This was the reason why I was considering the Air, since that uses a higher quality display similar to the Pro in viewing angles. However, the lack of a glass trackpad, potential heating/slowness issues, and the higher cost may not justify the Air over the Macbook. I should note that the Macbook’s display has similar viewing angles to the old Macbook so it was not downgraded, but rather received an upgrade in the form of LED backlighting.

All considered, I stayed at the Apple store for about an hour playing with the new Macbooks and left without purchasing. There is a similar reason for both: it is raining intermittently today, so I hid in the store to wait out the rain and I didn’t want to buy something and carry it with the possibility of getting it wet. Also, the free printer promotion ended yesterday and so I might wait until the new one starts.

The new Macbooks are superb and really have to be experienced firsthand. The question now is whether I should buy and which model to buy ($1299 or $1599; $1249 or $1499 with education discount). The more expensive one has 3 main differences: 2.4GHz instead of 2.0 GHz CPU, a 250GB instead of 160GB HD, and a backlit keyboard. I wanted to know whether the faster CPU contributes to more heat and less battery life, but I haven’t found an answer yet. They didn’t have any 2.4GHz display models for some reason, or I wasn’t able to find them. The hard drive is irrelevant, especially since I plan to replace it with an SSD later when the prices go down. The backlit keyboard is a nice feature to have, but probably isn’t worth $250 by itself. Ahh, so tough to decide…

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