Apple MacBook Pro 13—Some Quirks as a PC

Yes, there are quirks, but not as many as one might suspect. For the most part, the MacBook Pro functions as any PC notebook would, though with some of Apple’s features present. To smooth out the transition between the designed-for-OS X hardware and the Windows system, Apple has included a Boot Camp utility to customize settings with the mouse, keyboard, and which operating system the notebook should boot on the next restart.

The keyboard settings are pretty sparse; you can choose between having the F-keys default to F1, F2, F3 etc., or default to the brightness and volume changing utilities, with a press of the function key to use the standard F-keys. The trackpad settings are more interesting: you have two finger right click, two finger scroll, and various options to lock the touchpad in drag mode (it’s hard to describe, but makes sense instantly when you use it). The best part is turning the bottom right-hand corner of the touchpad into a right click button. Tap anywhere else, you get a left click; tap at the bottom right (where you’d expect the right click button to be on a PC notebook) and it’ll give you a right click. It’s pretty brilliant, and rectifies one of the chief complaints with running the older MacBooks and MacBook Pros under Windows, where it was necessary to Ctrl+tap to get a right click.

Overall what struck me was how cohesive the experience was in Windows. Everything translates over pretty well—Apple has coded in the same popup animations for the hardware control shortcuts (volume, brightness, etc) for Windows, and the two finger scroll is simply the best in the business. I don’t know how or why, but two finger scroll on the MacBook Pro just works better than two finger scroll on normal Synaptics touchpads, and the entire touchpad just works. It amazes me that basically nobody else has figured out how to do a buttonless/single button touchpad yet (Dell, HP?), but Apple’s is pretty great, especially with the new right click corner. Maybe it's just the size of the touchpad—bigger is better?

The keyboard wasn’t as easy to adjust to though. I go through a lot of laptops, so I’ve gotten pretty adept at switching between various layouts, but for some reason the MBP threw me more than most. I don’t remember having trouble adjusting to any of the previous two dozen-odd notebooks I’ve had in the last few months, so it was definitely different. I’m not entirely sure why, probably just a combination of things. Apple likes to switch the control and function keys, Lenovo-style, and I think I got used to the OS X shortcuts on the Apple keyboard (which is odd because I never actually used OS X on this system beyond running the Boot Camp partition utility the first time). Unfortunately, Apple+C and Apple+V aren’t copy and paste in Windows.

But other than that and the occasional annoyance at having to use the function key to get some keys (Fn+Bkspace to get Delete, Fn+Up/Down for page up and down), the keyboard was as awesome as it always has been. As I said before, it’s the best chiclet keyboard out there, even better than the ThinkPad chiclet keyboard. It just underscores this point: everything that makes the MacBook Pro a great notebook in OS X still makes it a great notebook under Windows, with a couple of quirks along the way to give it character.

Apple MacBook Pro 13 - Introduction Apple MacBook Pro 13 - Awesome Display
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  • JarredWalton - Monday, October 18, 2010 - link

    We use the same settings on all of the laptops we test under Windows. Specifically, we start with the Power Saver plan (or if there is a manufacturer provided plan that's "better" we'll use that -- i.e. ASUS has Power4Gear Maximum Battery, Lenovo and Dell often have something similar). We also calibrate the laptops to run the LCD at around 100nits (95-105 nits depending on the laptop and how granular the brightness adjustment is). Then we set all of the other items to the same values: never power off the LCD, don't go to sleep, don't dim the LCD, minimum CPU 0%, maximum CPU 50% (this actually improves battery life, even though the "hurry up and go to sleep" concept suggests otherwise), HDD power down after 1 minute, WiFi at maximum power saving, etc.

    For idle battery life, we mute the speakers and disable WiFi -- a truly best-case scenario in every sense of the term. Internet we run muted but with WiFi on, and x264 we run with audio on (using headphones) and WiFi off. I did an article looking at battery life on a couple of laptops under Windows XP/Vista/7 and even Ubuntu a while back, and found that in most instances the Power Saver plan beat out the Balanced plan by over 5%, so for the last year that's what we've used.

    I don't necessarily think all of our settings are "best" for actual use (i.e. you might prefer a bit more performance and a bit less battery life that the Balanced plan provides), but the tests are as equal as we can make them on each laptop. Note that we also uninstall and/or disable all of the extra utilities, firewall, anti-virus stuff, etc. on the laptops. Some Internet Security suites can absolutely kill battery life (McAfee and Norton in particular), so we run clean. If you buy a laptop we review, take it home, boot it up, and run a battery life test, you'd almost certainly get less than our idealized setups.

    Hope that answers your questions.
  • Setsunayaki - Sunday, October 17, 2010 - link

    Ever since the Software Development Suit for Multimedia creation and Animation was released on Linux and programmed by Development Fanatics in those areas who turned computer programs....The apple equivalents have fallen shorter and shorter with each generation.

    I remember how I felt when I moved from a MAC development platform to a Windows Development Platform and found myself wondering why out of many programs out there, each was incomplete in one way that forced me to run 2 - 5 programs for each thing...

    When the Linux Development Suite was released, for the first time I got a software suite installed which not only was actually free, but for the first time performed better than both Windows and MAC in what I was doing. What was great about it all was that I didn't need a Quad Core for using 2 - 4 programs and processor scheduling really helped in those programs...

    Linux has always been a development platform and server platform and for a while was really dominated by Windows and Apple when dealing with Graphic Design, but the latest programs out there are organized into a large suite of programs for the designer that while it requires more hardware to use...The software is actually complete in the sense I was able to develop with it without having to get 2 - 5 different programs for each task...

    So what I really have to say to any MAC laptop for development is

    "Those days are long since past...the expense of those programs and the lack of optimization destroys the purpose of owning a mac. Most Macs today don't even have those basic packages installed and high end programs, they are on the side people have to shell out tons you do get a pretty basic computer on a MAC these basic that comparing it to any Linux build out will get more on Linux."

    No amount of money is worth it for the hardware found in this laptop....first thing I do on many laptops is change the OS to Linux and put in a good minimalist DE and the binaries for the others...and start downloading what I need from repositories and It gives me peace of mind.

    Sure I have to spend 4 - 10 hours configuring things and adding scripts, but when I am just blows away mac and windows performance.
  • Henk Poley - Tuesday, October 26, 2010 - link

    * "Software Development Suit for Multimedia creation and Animation"
    * "Linux Development Suite"

    What are you talking about? Do you mean TimeStorm: ? Or the Ark Linux Development Suite from 2005?

    I suspect what you mean to say is that there are distros now for multimedia creation, using applications with sound and image manipulation plugins. But why talk about it in such vague terms? Is steganography in there or something?
  • Theguynextdoor - Sunday, October 17, 2010 - link

    So I can't believe nobody will send you an Envy. So I will volunteer mine, if you're intrested just take care of the shipping and I will ship you my Envy 14 for review. It's about 3 months old. I have the i5 - 450 (sorry I was looking for battery life so no i7).

    I have the 4GB (single stick) and the optional slice, there's already significant wear on the battery (8%) (with the slice it lasts the entire school day for me (approx 6-8 hours) with max brightness on balanced with the intel GPU.

    If you have questions or intrested just drop feel free to ask.
  • VivekGowri - Thursday, October 21, 2010 - link

    Can you email me at please?
  • mutatio - Monday, October 18, 2010 - link

    The issue Apple faced was whether to use an effective and successful chipset and integrated GPU (nVidia) over the intel HD offerings. As you see in the GPU analysis intel's offerings offer doodoo in the GPU arena. I think Jobs was even overt about it basically saying they didn't want to see the system take a hit by going with a straight intel solution where CPU performance would be marginally better than the C2D while the graphics and usability take a significant hit due to a sluggish integrated intel solution. Your comparison of the benchmarks for CPU and GPU illustrate that very point. In overall usability I really don't care if my laptop CPU can do 15fps better rendering in Divx conversion. I do, however, care if I can watch 720p or 1080p movies or TV shows while doing other run of the mill office work. Yes, you can argue about the use of older hardware, but it seems your review also missed another aspect of Apple's decision to go this route, which was intel's unwillingness to license the Core i3/5/7 chipset tech to nVidia. Has intel still not learned about being non-competitive in its practices?

    At this point, yes, the 13" model is getting long in the tooth from a hardware standpoint. On my end, being a Windows and Mac user with my home built tower for Windows 7 and my 13" 9400M C2D MacBook Pro, I do most of my computing on the latter with it plugged in via my KVM switch and used in a largely desktop mode driving a 1920x1200 26" monitor. Should Apple find a more current solution for it's entry level MBP? Yes. But your article (and yes I know this is cliche territory) didn't really get into market differences between Macs and PCs. While you can argue that Apple, in charging a premium for their systems, should by default have the most bleeding edge tech in their computers, you seem to be forgetting Apple's seemingly perpetual focus on usability as a huge focus in their development of systems. On the other side of the coin, you have, well, everyone else, who plays in the razor-thin-profit-margin-land whose slim pickings require the unending tech spec rat race in order to try and keep the slim sales margins coming in. Apple had the luxury of being able to make a decision, as your benchmarks indicate, of using an older CPU with newer GPU tech to balance out the equation of how usable/functional the system is for consumers (and again, this was in light of intel cutting competition off from nvidia for the Core i chips). Some may not like the decision Apple, made, and certainly the profits are in the picture, but them's my 2 cents. ;-)
  • atscntsc - Wednesday, October 20, 2010 - link


    "Unfortunately, the N82JQ-A1 is short on gas and stalls on the road with very poor battery life (2 hours and 2 minutes), unacceptable for a 14-inch notebook. We also recommend gaming with this solely on a desk at all times, as our system spiked to a scorching 130 degrees 20 minutes into a gaming session.

    In the end, the $1200 N82JQ-A1 is hard to recommend when it comes to overall value, and the battery life is a total bummer. Read the full review here"

    Read more:
  • mojtabaalemi - Thursday, October 21, 2010 - link

    the reduction of battery life in windows is probabely because of geforce card that is always on!
    is there any way to use optimus drivers in mac books ??
  • davidcmc - Friday, October 22, 2010 - link

    What NVIDIA graphics driver did you use for the GeForce 320M?
    The one that comes with Mac OS X Install Disc is just too old (19x.xx, I think). Also, I've noticed that there's no driver for 320M listed in NVIDIA site.
  • SaberOne - Friday, October 22, 2010 - link

    I'm using my decade old 22-inch Apple Cinema Display as I type. It’s Apple’s very first flat panel LCD and it still easier to view better than my son’s MB. I absolutely hate the glossy panels that are more suited for applying make-up or popping zits!

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