Saturday, 7 January 2012

Apple Macbook Pro 15 and 17

By the time this article is posted, it would have been a brand new year which is 2012. Reflecting from the past one year, it has been a tremendous support for the Apple company. Not only they have released the Iphone 4S which is not really what consumers have expected (Consumers have thought that Apple will be releasing the upgraded Iphone with a larger screen); the Ipad 2 which runs on the same A5 cpu just like the Iphone 4S and not forgetting the Macbook Pro.

I have always against Apple's Macbook Pro until most of the normal 15" or 17" laptops gave me RSI. I could not understand why I was having RSI. Well, a quick trip to the doctor have suggested that it could be my long usage of my laptop throughout the years that have resulted in me having RSI. After careful analysing the situation, I found out the main problem and resolved the issue.

If you noticed, most of the 15"- 17" laptops have a height of around 1.5 inch when it is open. When you place both of your hands on the keyboard, it would have put greated pressure on your wrist to accomodate the height of the laptop. One of the solutions would be to get an external keyboard and an external mouse. By the way, this is the best solution for the moment. If you do so, you might come across another problem - space.

The problem starts with the external keyboard and mouse. Both of them would take up quite a lot of space on your desk unless you have a significant large desk to use, you might find yourself to be short of space. Moreover, it would also mean that the monitor on the laptop would be futher away from you and it will be quite difficult to see those fonts properly. The problem could be resolved if you increase the font size on the screen. However, in doing so, it would mean that you would not be able to see certain websites clearly on a single page. You would have to move the page constantly which is quite inconvenient.

Perhaps it would be best to get an external monitor for it as it will solve the problem of the font size being too big. In doing so, more money would have to be spent to buy a monitor. These days one would have to spend around £150 for a brand new 20" monitor at least. With that in mind, it would also mean that there will be less room space for the person to work on as the monitor would take up some extra space in addition to the external keyboard and mouse.

If we are not doing spend that amount of money, what can we do? Well, it is simple - Try to get a laptop which does not have a height of more than 1 inch for a typical 15" laptop. Where could you get one from then? Will it be from Dell, Asus, Sony, HP or Apple?

I have tried Dell and their XPS 14z is a good competitor but the potential to upgade the laptop internally is not very good at all. This is because one could upgrade the memory to 16GB unless the cpu is replaced by a quadcore Core i7 and the maximum hard drive capacity on the 14z would be 1TB (utilising 9.5mm hard drive in height). In order to change the cpu, it will cost money and same goes to changing the hard drive. From my previous experience with Dell, one could swap their laptop's cpu for a better cpu for a fee. The Dell 14z chasis is a good competitor, same goes to its bigger sibling, the XPS 15z. However, with the Dell 14z or 15z, a user will have to change the cpu in addition to adding more memory and changing the hard drive from 750GB to 1TB.

With Asus, you could actually choose the ZenBook UX31 but since it is an ultrabook, it does not come with good firepower. It runs on a dualcore Core i7, similar to the Dell XPS 14z and 15z and it runs on the integrated gpu, unlike the Dell laptops which I have mentioned above which uses a dedicated gpu from Nvidia (GT540M). The problem with the ZenBook UX31 is that it is difficult for users to upgrade the laptop unless the user follow the same route as mentioned above as in the given situation of the Dell laptops. This proves to be more expensive than the Dell as mentioned above. I like the ZenBook UX31 as it is silent when it is idle but quite noisy but bearable when the machine is being pushed to its limit. However, one has to bear in mind that the ZenBook UX31 only comes in one flavour - 13.3". The screen is crisp but lacked the firepower of the Dell XPS 14z and 15z under the same category.

One would ask: What about Sony? They have good S and E Series for consumers. Unfortunately, while the laptop height of the S series is more than 1 inch, the performance is on par with the Dell 14z and 15z but they cost more as compared to the Dell machines. One could argue that the Z series is a good competitor but the Z series cost lots more than the S series in nature and it has a 13.1" screen size.

With regards to HP machines, most of them have a height of more than an inch when you are referring to laptops of 15" and above. Well, HP laptops are of good build and they last for a long time. Most of the laptops which I have mentioned apart from Apple and Ultrabooks/Zenbooks will allow you to change the cpu in addition to the memory and hard drive. The problem is that HP laptops are also quite heavy.

I then come to the final part. I would like to spend some time writing about the Apple Macbook Pro 15 and 17 (MBP 15 and MBP 17 respectively) - starting from early 2011 onwards. While I am not bias towards the Macbook Pro 13 (MBP 13), I would like to stress on the MBP 15 and 17 because they are using quadcores and not dualcore as found in the MBP 13.

It is common knowledge that the MBP 15 and 17 are very expensive. Besides that, they are overpriced!!! If you were to take a closer look at the reasons as to why it is so expensive, you will come to a conclusion that pehaps the high price is justified.

Let's begin with the chasis itself. It is made up of a single piece of aluminium which is strong. This would make the keyboard keys firmly placed on the chasis. The problem with that a user will have to use more energy to type on the keyboard. The keys are not spongy and no heptic feedback at all. I have always maintain that if you are a keen Apple macbook pro user, you are doing some exercise on your fingers.

While the keyboard is backlit, just like many other laptops e.g. Dell 14z and 15z, the trackpad is rather too flat. it does not provide a user with the option to disable trackpad usage, unlike on certain laptops in the market. You do not have the option to ask Apple to install a Blu-ray player on the MBP 15 and 17, neither do you have a dedicated eject button on the Superdrive itself. You need to rely on the keyboard to do so.

Another problem with the MBP 15 and 17 is that it has limited usb ports. On the MBP 15 you only have 2 usb ports while you have an additional usb port on the MBP 17. This is not acceptable! Well, Apple argued that they have provided a thunderbolt port and a firwire 800 port to suppliment the lack of usb ports. Whilst it is a bold idea to include a thunderbolt port, Apple should have released more accessories to accomodate the use of such a port! As far as this article goes, you can connect a thunderbolt enabled Apple 27" display on the port, Lacie's Big Small External hard drive on it or Pegasus NAS storage with it.

When you think about the accessories which I have mentioned, each of them is expensive!!! The Apple 27" display would set you back for £899, Lacie's 1TB thunderbolt enabled hard drive will set you back for £399 while the 2TB version will cost you one hundred pounds more. Pegasus NAS storage is the ultimate which cost around £2500. You need to ask yourself - Do you actually need them?

Personally, I feel that Apple and other companies should produce a more competitive priced products for the people to use them. Not many people can afford to buy the accesories which I have mentioned above! If that is the case, the company would not be able to make lots of profit so why wouldn't they release some cheaper products to utilise the thunderbolt port then? I am also quite disappointed with Apple as their firewire 800 is not running properly on my 2TB external hard drive even though I have made some enquiries about it. Apple could not help me, Microsoft could not help me. The manufacturer of the external hard drive mentioned that it is something which they are dealing about it and point the finger at Microsoft. Oh no...

Apart from that, the screen quality on the Apple MBP is commendable! Unfortunately it cost quite a lot to choose an anti-glare screen. I like the aluminium body with the ventilation holes in the middle. This will allow users to buy a protective cover for the MBP, unlike many laptops in the market. Above that, the machine is quite quiet unless a user play games at medium settings and above. Generally, both fans will not produce a lot of noise if you surf the internet or use Microsoft Office Suite. It is the quietest 15" and 17" laptop which I have ever seen.

Newer MBP is easier to upgrade the hardware. You need to bear in mind that the cpu is not upgradable as it is soldered onto the motherboard. You can, however, upgrade the memory from 8GB to 16GB with 2x8GB. In doing so, you need to update your MBP before doing so. Please be informed that you can only upgrade your MBP to 16GB if you are using a quadcore Core i7 cpu. This will mean that the MBP 13 will not be able to support more than 8GB of memory, unlike its bigger siblings.

I have also noticed that if you start charging the MBP, the left corner will be quite hot. I am hoping that Apple will release a 15.6" MBP instead but I don't think they will ever do so. The battery on the MBP is adequate for a good 6 hours on a single charge if you are running it on the Mac OS as it will use the integrated gpu on the Core i7 cpu instead of the dedicated AMD gpu when it is not running on a programme which is graphic intensive. In doing so, it will save energy. If you run Windows on the MBP, you will see that a single charge will last you around 3 hours as the integrated gpu will be disabled. Until now, I still can't find a solution to enable the integrated gpu on the Core i7 cpu.

Above all, since the height of the MBP is quite short at 0.95 inch, it will be helpful for any RSI patients out there although it comes at a price. The upcoming Ivy Bridge cpu will be released around April 2012 which is three more months to go and so I believe that it will be good to just wait for a few more months if you are thinking of buying a MBP. Best of all, you could actually think of getting one on Black Friday which is towards the end of the year.

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