Review of MacBook aluminum

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Review of Aluminum Unibody MacBook
By Thunderbyrd
2/22/09

The Pros:
-unibody construction is very solid
-NVIDIA 9400 M graphics
-Intel Core 2 Duo 2.0 and 2.4 Ghz
-illuminated keyboard (2.4 ghz model only)
-large, glass touchpad
-4.5 lbs
-0.95 inches thin
-easy to upgrade hard drive and change out battery
-includes Mac OS X leopard and iLife 09

The cons:
-aluminum casing is still prone to dents if dropped or object dropped on it
-slot-load superdrive will fail prematurely
-very costly for the average user
-keyboard wears down very quickly
-no option to choose matte display
-lack of connector ports

Ports:
2 USB 2.0
1 mini-display port (for use with apple cinema displays)
1 magsafe power adapter port
1 gigabit ethernet port
1 audio line in
1 audio line out
1 kensington lock slot

Basic Features:
-bluetooth 2.1
-wireless N
-2.0 or 2.4 GHz core 2 duo
-NVIDIA 9400M
-Superdrive
-13.3” widescreen
-Mac OS X Leopard + iLife 09
-glass trackpad

After using the 2.4 Ghz aluminum MacBook for two weeks now, I have gathered enough information to write a review on it. 
The new Aluminum Unibody is truly an amazing feat of engineering.  For those that do not know what the Unibody is, the Unibody is an the exterior casing of the MacBook, cut out of a single piece of aluminum.  It is hard anodized, so it is somewhat scratch resistant.  Apple has been claiming ever since the introduction of the 17” and 12” aluminum PowerBook G4s that the casing is scratch and stain resistant.  Well, let me tell you this, it is still quite prone to scratches.  If you are willing to invest over $1,300 for a computer, you would do best to take care of it.  As with all computers, if taken care of and properly maintained they do everything.  Even with the addition of the Unibody, the casing is still prone to dents if dropped or if an object is dropped on it. 
Moving onto the screen, I have to say it is an improvement from the previous screen on the white MacBook.  This aluminum MacBook uses LEDs as a backlight.  Therefore the display is instant on and very bright.  The covering is also glass, so it is glossy and very clear.  Users who work in conditions with high light (fluorescents, perhaps) will find the glossy screen to be quite annoying.  In fact, when using the computer in my office I kept seeing myself rather than my work.  For a standard user though, the screen should do quite well.  The screen is a 13.3 inch widescreen display, and the NVIDIA 9400M powers the display at a 1280×800 resolution.  Watching movies in the dark was very good on this display.  Games look very good on the display as well.
At the heart of the base model is an Intel Core 2 Duo processor, running at 2.0 Ghz with a 1066 mhz FSB (front side bus).  The next step up is the 2.4 Ghz model, which adds a larger hard drive (250 GB, as opposed to 160 GB), and an illuminated keyboard.  Honestly, for $300 more, the upgraded model is not worth it.  Both models utilize DDR3 memory, running at 1066 Mhz..  For the average user who surfs the web, writes text, plays DVDs, plays occasional games, and uses iTunes the 2.0 Ghz will do just fine. 
Both models boast the NVIDIA GeForce 9400M, which has 256 MB of Video Memory.  This GPU will handle all the tasks of the average user with ease.  It is capable of powering a 30-inch display. 
The keyboard is very nice to type on.  The keys are IBM “chicklet” style, meaning they are separated by space in-between each other.  The keys are very responsive, but after two weeks of typing up research papers and essays, the surface of the keys began to wear off.  This is my only complaint about the keyboard.  It now feels smooth to type on, almost oily.  Cleaning the keys do not help, because the surface is just worn. 
*An important thing to remember is that the base model does not have the illuminated keyboard.  Only the $1,600 model has the illuminated keyboard.
The touchpad is also very unique.  It is a glass touchpad, so the surface will not wear off like older apple touchpads.  Also, apple has removed the single button, in favor of the touchpad itself being the button.  The user can make the click anywhere on the touchpad surface, except for the very top part of the touchpad.  It takes time to get used to the new touchpad, but it is very smooth and does incorporate new multi-touch gestures. 
Both models come with a Dual Layer Superdrive.  Superdrive does not mean anything, it is just apple’s way of saying DVD-RW and CD-RW.  I think the biggest problem with apple computers has always been the slot-loading drives.  They ALWAYS fail prematurely.  Buying the apple care extended warranty would be a good idea to cover this drive for 3 years.

The notebook is overall an O.K. computer, by my standards.  One could get a similarly spec’d PC for about $700 less, though, which is the main problem.  When compared physically to any other notebook on the market, apart from the other apples, the MacBook takes the cake.  It is beautiful, relatively durable, very thin (.95 inches), and only 4.5 pounds.  Make sure to buy the apple care!

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