The best MacBook yet with some sacrifices to reach its goals. (October 20th, 2008)
Product Manufacturer: Apple
Price: $1,599 (2.4GHz, 2GB RAM, GeForce 9400M)
- Excellent, durable industrial design.
- Much faster GeForce 9400M video; good for some modern games.
- Trackpad is intuitive and a real selling point.
- Lighter, thinner.
- Backlit keyboard a useful addition.
- Eco-friendly packaging.
- No FireWire port.
- Same lower-quality LCD panel as before, just LED-backlit.
- Performance updates are minor beyond graphics.
The most revolutionary new feature is the trackpad that adapts the finger gestures as a new way to interact with the computer. Gone is the single mouse button, which creates a cleaner look. To press the mouse button, you simply press anywhere on the trackpad surface with one finger. This may feel odd initially, but after a few moments of use, you’ll get addicted to this simplicity that returning to any traditional trackpad and mouse button combination will seem antiquated and clumsy.
Right-clicking is now far simpler. Rather than the clumsy Ctrl-click or three-finger click method in previous laptops, you can now right-click merely by pressing two fingers at once. Much like clicking the entire trackpad to mimic an ordinary left-click, two-finger right-clicking soon becomes addictive that you’ll find it hard to return to any other laptop again.
To modify the trackpad, the System Preferences window now displays a special trackpad icon. Clicking this trackpad icon reveals a greater variety of options for customizing the trackpad’s behavior. More importantly, selecting an option also displays a video tutorial showing how to use these new features.
Trackpad customization options.
For example, you can turn on a Tap to Click option, which lets you tap the trackpad to mimic a left-click, a common feature available on most Windows laptops. There’s also a Drag to Lock feature that lets you drag an item just by selecting it and sliding one finger across the trackpad.
Two additional finger gestures on the trackpad allow three and four-finger commands. Sliding three fingers left or right scrolls horizontally, such as displaying the next or previous picture in iPhoto or viewing the next or previous month in iCal. Sliding four fingers up or down runs Exposé to display thumbnail images of all open windows. Sliding four fingers left or right displays icons of all open applications so you can switch between programs.
Using three and four-finger swipe commands on the trackpad may seem awkward, but once again, a few seconds of use makes you realize how useful and simple these commands can be. Once more, trying to return to an older MacBook or any laptop will suddenly feel like a step back in time.