Mac buying advice -- which model?

I’m looking into getting a Mac laptop. I’m trying to decide which is
best. It would be cool to have one that’s small and light and has good
battery life, so therefore I’m looking at the smallest ones – the
MacBooks. On the other hand, I need more than just a tiny screen for day
to day work, so I would hook it up to a 24" monitor most of the time.

According to the specs on Apple’s website:

"Extended desktop and video mirroring:

Simultaneously supports full native resolution on the built-in display
and up to 1920 by 1200 pixels on an external display, both at millions
of colors"

OK, sure, that’s what it says. But we all know how that goes. Has anyone
actually tried it? Does it work smoothly enough for everyday use, or is
it secretly a pain in the ass, like it “works” but the video is hazy or
the monitor explodes sometimes?

Perhaps the low-end MacBook is not really suitable to be used every day,
day in and day out. Maybe I need to get into a MacBook Pro? (I had a
1440 by 900 XP laptop a while ago and it was sort of OK but even with
that I would want to hook it up to a larger monitor most of the time.)

I guess I’m looking for advice from anyone who has been down this road
before. Any insight or advice on this would be greatly appreciated.

Thanks!

Eeby

I am using a new MacBook Pro now. I too wanted something light and
small, but decided on the 15" Pro mainly because the memory maxes out at
4G instead of 2G and in my experience, nothing extends the usable life
of a machine more than memory upgrades. All said, both are nice, but the
features on the Pro sold me, not to mention it is still very light and
easily portable, I carry it every day. Battery life ranges between 4.5
and 5.5 hours depending on running apps, wireless, etc.

On 2 Oct 2007, at 01:26, Jarrod M. wrote:

Perhaps the low-end MacBook is not really suitable to be used every
day,
day in and day out. Maybe I need to get into a MacBook Pro? (I had a
1440 by 900 XP laptop a while ago and it was sort of OK but even with
that I would want to hook it up to a larger monitor most of the time.)
I’ve got the low end (and the low end from over a year ago) macbook
and it works just fine. DVI gets you a rock solid picture on the
external screen.

Fred

On Mon, 01 Oct 2007 17:32:22 -0700, William P. wrote:

I am using a new MacBook Pro now. I too wanted something light and
small, but decided on the 15" Pro mainly because the memory maxes out at
4G instead of 2G and in my experience, nothing extends the usable life
of a machine more than memory upgrades

Amen. A lot depends on what your toolset looks like, of course -
TextMate
uses a lot less memory than Eclipse. But I’m developing on last year’s
2GB
MacBook Pro, and once I start running Parallels to test something in
IE6,
forget it - I’m forever in VM swap hell.


Jay L. |
Boston, MA | My character doesn’t like it when they
Faster: jay at jay dot fm | cry or shout or hit.
http://www.jay.fm | - Kristoffer

Currently I only have 2G’s in my MB Pro and I run Vmware’s Fusion for
Mac w/ a win xp and a linux vm. I only give each 256M ram since they are
simply for testing and I don’t have any issues. My statement about ram
was meant more to suggest that the usable life of the machine is greatly
extended if at a later date, and most certainly a later more hungry os,
you can upgrade rather than buying an entire new machine. I also like
the keyboard on the MB Pro better. It’s larger and for me, easier to
type on. Plus, the back-lit keys with the ambient light sensor is
fantastic to low light conditions. The MB Pro’s construction seems to be
much more solid and designed for the rigors of daily professional use.

Anyway, hope this helps out a bit.

-Bill

On Oct 1, 5:26 pm, Jarrod M. [email protected]
wrote:

Simultaneously supports full native resolution on the built-in display
1440 by 900 XP laptop a while ago and it was sort of OK but even with
that I would want to hook it up to a larger monitor most of the time.)

I guess I’m looking for advice from anyone who has been down this road
before. Any insight or advice on this would be greatly appreciated.

Thanks!

Eeby

Posted viahttp://www.ruby-forum.com/.

I’ve been waiting to replace my G4 powerBook for a while. I’m
thinking I’d see how people’s experiences with Leopard is, and if they
fix the App Switcher problem with external monitors. I’ve never had
App switcher freeze, but I don’t use it much.

Jay L. wrote:

uses a lot less memory than Eclipse. But I’m developing on last year’s 2GB
MacBook Pro, and once I start running Parallels to test something in IE6,
forget it - I’m forever in VM swap hell.

Amen. A lot depends on what your toolset looks like, of course - TextMate
Wow. I would have thought 2GB would be fine to run a Vm as well as base
OS. I have never used OSX but does it use up that much ram? Can you
tweak how it uses swap?

I have 2GB of ram and can happily run NetBeans IDE and 2x Windows VM’s
with Virtual Box (one with IE6,the other IE7) and have no swapping? I
run Ubuntu with default configuration. How much ram are you allocating
to your VM? XP just running IE for testing should be happy with 256MB or
less. Perhaps try something other than parallels? Virtual Box is
available for OSX and it’s free.

Writing and testing Ruby on Rails apps doesn’t take a powerhouse of a
machine. 2GB should be plenty. I would have thought OSX would have been
more like linux rather than Vista for memory consumption.

Cheers,

Anthony R.

I’m looking into getting a Mac laptop. I’m trying to decide which is
best. It would be cool to have one that’s small and light and has good
battery life, so therefore I’m looking at the smallest ones – the
MacBooks. On the other hand, I need more than just a tiny screen for day
to day work, so I would hook it up to a 24" monitor most of the time.

I am probably about to start a religious war, but I would highly advise
you go look at the current line of macbooks and decide if you like the
glossy screen. They don’t come in a matte version anymore.

Even taking into consideration the extra glare you get in the apple
store
I don’t think I could use one of them (or the new imacs) for more than a
couple of minutes.

The pictures I’ve seen online (google for them) seem to me to be pretty
accurate in terms of how much glare there is.

That alone would push me into at least the macbook pro unless I knew I
was
going to use the external monitor 99% of the time.

I sure hope Apple reverses the decision to drop the matte screens on the
macbook/imac.

-philip

Hi Phillip, I would like to make a correction to your previous post.
First,
the Mac Book Pro can be purchased with a matte or glossy screen. Also,
the
Mac Books come in either matte or glossy as well.
Good luck,

-Conrad

ps: I purchased the glossy and I love it.

I completely agree. I bought the matte version as well. The glossy has
way too much glare for me.

The pro’s definitely do, but the new Macbooks are only available in the
glossy screen.

Hi William, you’re correct because I just called my friend that works at
the
Apple Store and the Mac Books are glossy only whereas the Mac Book Pros
are
glossy and matte.

-Peace,

-Conrad

On Tue, 02 Oct 2007 11:29:55 +0930, Anthony R. wrote:

Wow. I would have thought 2GB would be fine to run a Vm as well as base
OS. I have never used OSX but does it use up that much ram? Can you
tweak how it uses swap?

I’m not sure how tweakable it is, or if I’m doing something weird - I’ve
spent most of my life on PCs. Another developer I work with has the
same
config and no memory issues, but he also uses TextMate (I use Eclipse)
and
he rarely uses Parallels. So I assumed it was either the JVM or
Parallels
that was doing it.

I probably have way too much memory allocated to XP, though - at one
point
I was using Adobe CS2 there and I probably did leave the memory set way
too
high. I’m on my PC at the moment but I’ll have to dig into it; I’d just
figured that was The Way It Was.

I do remember that one time I looked, the JVM had over 1GB of virtual
memory reserved, so did Parallels, and Firefox had some 750MB as well…
it
wasn’t pretty.

I have 2GB of ram and can happily run NetBeans IDE and 2x Windows VM’s
with Virtual Box (one with IE6,the other IE7) and have no swapping? I
run Ubuntu with default configuration. How much ram are you allocating
to your VM? XP just running IE for testing should be happy with 256MB or
less. Perhaps try something other than parallels? Virtual Box is
available for OSX and it’s free.

Free’s nice, but Coherence is nicer! I have been meaning to demo
Fusion,
though.

Writing and testing Ruby on Rails apps doesn’t take a powerhouse of a
machine. 2GB should be plenty.

Oops. So what should I do with the new 4GB model I bought to replace
it?
:slight_smile:


Jay L. |
Boston, MA | My character doesn’t like it when they
Faster: jay at jay dot fm | cry or shout or hit.
http://www.jay.fm | - Kristoffer

Hey everyone thanks for the responses. That’s really helpful.

Eeby

On Mon, 1 Oct 2007 20:38:12 -0700, Conrad T. wrote:

Hi William, you’re correct because I just called my friend that works at the
Apple Store and the Mac Books are glossy only whereas the Mac Book Pros are
glossy and matte.

And in fact the stores don’t even carry the hi-res MBP in glossy; that’s
an
online-only order.

I actually spent about 15 minutes trying to compare the two screens, but
my
Apple store has them on separate tables - that’s helpful. In the end, I
decided I liked the glossy more, glare be damned; text was so much more
readable on it, and there is at least some type of anti-glare coating on
it. If I end up hating it, I guess I’ll switch back next time around.


Jay L. |
Boston, MA | My character doesn’t like it when they
Faster: jay at jay dot fm | cry or shout or hit.
http://www.jay.fm | - Kristoffer

On Oct 1, 2007, at 9:53 PM, Jay L. wrote:

Another developer I work with has the same
config and no memory issues, but he also uses TextMate (I use
Eclipse) and
he rarely uses Parallels. So I assumed it was either the JVM or
Parallels
that was doing it.

I have an older MacBook Pro with 2GB, and I have no trouble at all
falling into VM swap hell even without running parallels. I tend to
leave everything open, including many Safari windows and tabs, as
well as Firefox, Mail, Textmate, Locomotive, MAMP, and the
Interactive Brokers java-based client.

It’s like falling into quicksand. Everything will be running along
just fine until I reach some magic point, and then I suddenly barely
have use of the computer. Closing windows and shutting things down
can sometimes take several minutes of patient clicking. Closing each
window in Safari generates an amazing amount of disk activity. And
then when I’ve done enough it magically returns to full speed.

I use a MacBook (13 inch screen) with 2GB RAM and glossy screen. It
works just fine for me. I use it outside, I use it inside. I use it on
the desk, I use it on couch! The glossy screen is fine, despite those
who grouch.

I used to have a PowerBook G4 with 2GB RAM and matte screen. I
couldn’t use it outdoors, because sunlight would illuminate the non-
glare coating and obstruct my vision. The glossy screen on the MacBook
means that I only get glare from one direction - behind me.

Non-glare coatings made sense back in the days of curved-surface CRTs.
In the modern age of ultra-flat screens, the coating gets in my way
more than it helps.

That’s my own experience.

I don’t use an external monitor - at my desk I plug the MacBook into
power and use Teleport to control it using the iMac. Files “live” on
the MacBook, the Rails web server runs on the MacBook, I just use the
iMac for editing (it has the larger screen). I got lucky and picked up
an old-model iMac Core 2 Duo and MacBook Core 2 Duo for less than the
price of a new MacBook Pro.

YMMV
HTH
Alex

Alex S. wrote:

I use a MacBook (13 inch screen) with 2GB RAM and glossy screen. It
works just fine for me. I use it outside, I use it inside. I use it on
the desk, I use it on couch! The glossy screen is fine, despite those
who grouch.

I used to have a PowerBook G4 with 2GB RAM and matte screen. I
couldn’t use it outdoors, because sunlight would illuminate the non-
glare coating and obstruct my vision. The glossy screen on the MacBook
means that I only get glare from one direction - behind me.

Thanks. Very interesting. I kind of like the glossy screen. I had a
laptop with one a while back and it was OK.

E

Jay L. wrote:

I do remember that one time I looked, the JVM had over 1GB of virtual
memory reserved, so did Parallels, and Firefox had some 750MB as well… it
wasn’t pretty.

Wow. I have certainly experience Firefox being a hog before as well.
Currently I have firefox, thunderbird, NetBeans, VirtualBox (Running
Windows XP and IE7) open. Running “ps aux” command shows the following
processes usin gover 4% over my machine memory.

%MEM VSZ RSS COMMAND
13.8 309096 251540 /usr/lib/virtualbox/VirtualBox -comme
9.7 575896 176552 /usr/lib/jvm/jdk1.6.0_02/jre/bin/java
5.0 258312 91856 /usr/lib/firefox/firefox-bin
4.7 159812 85776 beagled /usr/lib/beagle/BeagleDaemon.
3.2 173880 59348 /home/anthony/thunderbird/thunderbird

RSS resident set size, the non-swapped physical memory that a task
has used
(in kiloBytes). (alias rssize, rsz).

VSZ virtual memory size of the process in KiB (1024-byte units).
Device mappings
are currently excluded; this is subject to change. (alias vsize

So Virtual box running Windows XP is only using 251MB of ram, followed
by Java using 176MB.

You mean when your Windows applications share the native OS desktop and
can be used amongst your other apps? Virtual Box does that under Ubuntu
no problems, not sure if the OSX version supports that feature or not.
Really handy to be able to run CSS editor on left side of screen and
have IE6/7 open on the other half and tab between them. Although have a
start menu available is slightly unnerving. :slight_smile:

Writing and testing Ruby on Rails apps doesn’t take a powerhouse of a
machine. 2GB should be plenty.

Oops. So what should I do with the new 4GB model I bought to replace it?
:slight_smile:

Hey if you have the ram enjoy it. I was just concerned about the memory
consumption you were reporting, seems unusually high.

Cheers,

Anthony R.

On Oct 1, 8:26 pm, Jarrod M. [email protected]
wrote:

I’m looking into getting a Mac laptop. I’m trying to decide which is
best.

I bought one of the new Macbook Pro 15 inch with a matte screen
(online order so I got the new LCD screen). I’m running Parallels and
its actually a much better Windows PC than either of my two newish
Dells. I run Textmate, Dreamweaver, MS Office (Mac OS and Windows)
and I also run Pro Tools Le (digital recording). Everything works
great, it’s the best computer I’ve ever had (since 1985, my SE30 was
pretty cool).

Con: The lighting sensor and auto brightness adjust is not optimal.
In very low lighting, the computer adjusts the screen to a dimness
that makes me strain my eyes. It’s easy to turn it up, of course, but
annoying. I’ve heard other’s complain about the screen appearing
brown from the side and it’s true but who cares? It’s a laptop.

The Mac Book is $1000 less. If it weren’t for my music needs I would
have gone with that.

Bob