poo-wer book first impressions

So… after days of agonising waiting and anticipation I can finally poo again. My powerbook has arrived! As I took the glittering toy out of the lush packaging I thought to myself “ooh.. suits you, sir!” In all it’s 12inch, wireless, dvd-burning glory, this is one one damn sexy laptop.

Before I talk about the whole new powerbook experience I’d just like to cover the few key reasons why I chose the powerbook, and spcifically this model.

  • why a mac powerbook? Well I already have a work laptop, and I just had to get a replacement laptop as I travel a lot and move alot (you’ve got to keep away from those pesky baliffs somehow). These days laptops can double as lowend desktops by plugging in an external keyboard, mouse and LCD screen anyway. I decided on the powerbook over an intel laptop for several reasons Build quality, price comparision, OS. I’d be running linux on an intel machine but I decided it was time to try OSX, and on some reccomendations I decided to take the plunge and go for it.
  • why not an ibook? – well it really came down to one thing, a bit of extra spare cash. Not to be insensitive but a (very distant) relative died just about the time I was due to buy a new laptop and I was given £500 which logically went to my purchase. Originally I was going to go for an ibook to test the OSX waters, but with the extra cash I decided on the powerbook because you can get higher screen resolutions with an external screen (apparently this is fixable on the ibook), a dvd-burner, and a 64MB Graphics card. Not much really for an extra £500, although the keyboard is much firmer and has less “wiggle” on the powerbook I noticed.
  • why the 12inch model? – This was a toughie, but in the end it seemed pointless getting a much bigger laptop that is much harder to travel with that spends most of it’s time sitting at a desk plugged in to an external monitor. I’d heard that screen readability was a problem, so it seemed like the logical option for a regular traveller like myself. Watching letterbox films on the 12inch results in a lot of wasted screen space, and a very small viewing area, but if it’s up close (like in bed) it’s acceptable. I’d also read & heard first hand that the screen size is OK for readability.

First Impressions
So I boot this baby up and start getting it on the net at work, I’ve got to get office, adobe CS and all that crap installed on it so it’s going to keep me busy for a while. Now I start to slowly something about the screen – now I’ve got 20/20 vision, I’ve never needed glasses or had eye problems, and I can tell you as a profressional and experienced computer user this screen size is cramped, I’d never noticed how much so in the shops. Some fonts don’t render too well and you get reddish/blue tints despite LCD font compensation. Sometimes, there are fonts that you have no control over that are faded, washed-out, faint, and unreadable. If you’ve got bad eye sight this screen size is going to give you problems at times.

  • UPDATE: I’ve found a tool called Tinkertool that lets you change all the fonts which helped.
  • UPDATE2: Also, the default gamma means that the screen is very bright for most PC users and by adjusting the gamma to the PC default fonts become much more readable.

So, this OSX thingy is pur-reeety.. but what do I do with it? I must admit I’m a bit lost, now I know how that friend of mine whos PC recently got linux installed by me and left to fend for himself feels.

Some things I like:

I can play games again, and there seems to be a wide choice of titles too, now I wonder just what sort of games this powerbook can handle.

realtime transparency, shadows and water ripple effects – but really what do these ultimately mean? I do like the window shadows, it really helps you identify the top window in this rather bland interface when things are cluttered.

Here’s some things I have gripes with:

One thing I’ve noticed early, and I must admit as a linux user I’ve been spoilt, but there aren’t many options to configure things like themes, fonts etc… I’m really surprised, and somewhat disapointed. I really expected more from apple on this front. The default theme can be inconsistent, bland and hard to identify the top window, lucky they thought of exposé.

Another thing, what’s up with this no consistant key mapping for end of line, beggining of line, and next word select? This is a staple part of my computer usage.

I think that this alien environment is going to take some getting used, it all looks very nice but I’d really like some solid functionality rather than what often seems like crippled halfware that doesn’t really do everything it should.


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