updated 12:45 pm EST, Mon March 3, 2008
MacBook Early 2008 Unbox
Electronista has received its example of Apple's new Penryn-based MacBook and is putting the system through its early paces. In the meantime, we've collected a series of initial impressions as well well as a gallery of photos. Unpacking the system is, if anything, even more of an exercise in minimalism than with the model just released in the fall. The most conspicuous change is what's absent: without the once-standard Apple Remote, the box feels almost empty, with a conspicuous gap where the controller would have been. Space was clearly not a concern with the decision to abandon the now $19 option.
Those who leapt on the November release will at least recognize the keyboard. Like that from Apple's desktop keyboard (and now the MacBook Pro), the MacBook's function keys now have several function keys for Dashboard, Expose, and play/skip controls. Whether this is beneficial or not is up for debate: some users appreciate not having to hold Fn key for window switching, while others (particularly those who boot into Windows) may be annoyed by having to use that same key where they wouldn't have otherwise.
One welcome carryover from the recent update is Mac OS X Leopard's support for migrating data from a Time Machine backup hard drive rather than a FireWire or network connection: the option keeps a desktop or older notebook free for other tasks and can be particularly quick. In our case, roughly 130GB of data was initially set to transfer in 2.5 hours and quickly accelerated as the file copy wore on: in practice, an entire duplicate of the system was ready in 1.5 hours, which is extremely quick given the limits of USB 2 and the MacBook's slower, 5400RPM hard drive.
One potential change may be the screen. While impressions are subjective, the 13.3-inch LCD appears to have slightly wider horizontal viewing angles than some earlier models, which were more likely to show washed out colors. Vertical viewing is still sub-par, however; those looking for a quality image from a Mac portable are still better off with the MacBook Air or the Pro, both of which appear to use better panels as well as more accurate LED backlights.