Everyone is getting a Macbook these days, and with good reason, I suppose. The Macbook and Macbook Pro series of laptops have helped Apple pick up quite a bit of marketshare in the laptop space. The Apple brand itself has gained a fair bit of popularity with the help of the ipod and iphone, and its users like to associate with the brand in a variety of different ways (read: fanboyism). As a result, any blaring flaws tend to be brushed aside and accusers are promptly burned at the proverbial stake for blasphemy (of course if you were in Ireland, you would be fined $5000 instead).
Just to be clear — I do like my Macbook Pro. It’s a good machine, my favourite part about it is the display. The font rendering is just incomparable. Even so, there are a few things which just need to be said.
Appleland is not an impenetrable fortress
Firstly I want to address the increasingly popular belief that the Mac operating system exudes awesomeness, and has thousands of magical pixie-horses constantly patrolling your system to ensure that no bad things can get inside. No. The only reason you do not get attacked from the rear on a daily basis in Mac OSX is because the attackers don’t give a shit about you. If you were a bored child with fireworks, and you had the choice of lighting them inside a mall where you could cause mass chaos, or heading over to the pottery barn where a small collection of hippies is protesting evil technologies like the wristwatch, which would you choose?
At the end of the day most trojans/viruses/exploits are written by bored hackers trying to maximize the damage caused by their efforts — hence they will attack the platform with the most users. I can’t wait till OSX becomes popular enough to garner the attention of hackers. Apple will have to hire a special support team just to respond with “They don’t exist”, when thousands of idiots simultaneously call tech support and claim that their pixie-horses are not working anymore.
My Macbook should not double as a mirror
With the latest line of Macbooks, Apple has decided to go with Gloss as the default display type (versus matte). When you walk into an electronics store and see a bunch of laptops, sometimes you run into one where all you can see on the screen is the gigantic lights reflecting from the ceiling. That is a gloss screen (more here). All previous Macbook Pro’s used to come with matte, and they’ve now change the default to be gloss. The only way you can get matte is to buy the 17inch macbook pro and pay an extra $200 odd to choose the matte option. That is just plain retarded. For someone like Apple who claims to be all about user experience, this is a pretty awful decision to make (not to mention the genius idea to ship 8-bit displays on the new 13-inch macbook pros). I am going to latch onto this Macbook Pro for as long as I can. Of course, Apple has other ideas, which brings me to my next point…
Fruitflies have longer lifespans than my Macbook battery
At our company, no less than 3 Macbook Pro’s have had their battery’s lifespan degrade to nothing in less than two years time. This is completely unacceptable. No other laptop will cease to function so freaking quickly.
My own laptop’s battery life started to dwindle quite drastically of late. It used to last for 3 hours, now i’m lucky if it goes for 45 minutes. I figured since it’s only a year and a couple months old, this is probably a defect of some kind. There’s no way this level of performance can be by design. So, I took the battery into the Apple store and told him my story. I actually expected to walk out with a new battery.
What actually happened? He proceeded to plug into my laptop what could only be described as an ipod nano with a piece of tape stuck on it. Apparently this was some kind of battery tester. He then performed a test on my battery, and a picture came up. This is pretty much what I saw on the screen, combined with his verbal explanations:
He then proceeded to relate to me how, despite the fact that my battery is only a year old, it has gone through 412 cycles. I asked him what defines a cycle. He explained that it means whenever a battery goes from full charge to empty, including partial discharges. So, if it went down to 50, back to 100, then 50 again, back to 100, that is considered a cycle. I explained to him that I plug the laptop in when I get to work, and I plug it in when I get home. I’ve had very normal usage patterns for the past year, and so I don’t understand why my battery is almost dead.
He suggested that, when it came to using my computer, I must have been doing it wrong to get it to 412 cycles, and the battery is actually only supported up to 300 cycles. 300 cycles! First of all, I’m pretty sure any normal user would hit that number in no time. What this means is, if you use your laptop under uncommon conditions like on top of your lap, that is the equivalent of your battery taking up chain-smoking. As a result, most people will kill their batteries within a year or so (which is exactly what happened to my peers).
Granted, Apple has somewhat resolved the matter with their shiny new batteries (5-hour charges and 1500 cycles supported)… but personally, I’d prefer to shell out $120 for a new battery rather than deal with those retarded gloss screens.
I think what really bothered me is how strongly that Apple employee believed in the validity of the bullshit 300-cycle clause. He didn’t even try to recognize my argument about normal usage patterns resulting in abnormally rapid deterioration. Typically, I have little to no expectations of competence when it comes to support. But it has to be noted that the support center at Apple is called a “Genius Bar”. He actually wore a t-shirt that said “Genius” on it.
Einstein is probably rolling in his grave right now, in an effort to reverse the earth’s rotation, go back in time, and patent the word genius just so that Apple can’t use it. At least then when I walk into Apple and head to the Mediocrity Stand I’ll know exactly what I’m in for.