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July 16, 2007

MacBook Pro

So I'm thinking of getting a new MacbookPro, as my old iBook 14" is showing some age. Here's the question: Should I spring for the new models with the "Santa Rosa" intel chips? Or try and find some of the discontinued ones on clearance?

Also, given that this site is free, and that the computer will largely be used to keep providing you with more free, awesome, wonky content, I'm attaching a PayPal link below (obviously, if you want to contribute through some non-PayPal method, you can contact me directly). All money will go straight to the computer rather than, say, my bar tab. Obviously, no one should feel obligated to donate, and I'm not going to try a hard sell, or pester a bunch more times, but if my work is useful to you, and you want to contribute to it in some tangible way, I'd appreciate the help.

July 16, 2007 | Permalink


Ezra, without question, go with one of the newer Santa Rosa powered books. My suggestion; go with the 15". It's not only smaller (because the thing is supposed to be portable, right?) but it's backlit via LED (the 17" is not). Add that and the SR chips and you have something more power efficient and faster. Well worth a few extra bucks from an enterprising young pundit such as yourself.

Posted by: ice weasel | Jul 16, 2007 6:03:53 PM

Depends, I think, on when you plan on buying your next computer after this one. If you're going to ditch the computer you buy now after twelve to eighteen months, you'll probably make out all right with a previous-gen MBP. If you want a computer to last for two years plus, buy new.

The online Apple Store has a refurbs section.

Posted by: kb | Jul 16, 2007 6:04:17 PM

It's also worth asking yourself if you need a Macbook Pro. The plain Macbooks are amazing, and a little more portable to boot -- when I replace my two-and-a-half-year-old Powerbook, it's probably going to be with a black Macbook. Unless you do a lot of very graphics-intensive stuff, or desperately want the backlit keyboard (which is fantastic, don't get me wrong), a Macbook will probably cover you.

Posted by: kb | Jul 16, 2007 6:06:31 PM

Ezra, why a MacBook Pro? Why not just a MacBook? For what I suspect you'll use it for (writing, web surfing, email, etc) they're excellent machines, and much better value IMO.

Posted by: Ben | Jul 16, 2007 6:08:11 PM

20 bucks. Keep up the good work.

Posted by: sangfroid826 | Jul 16, 2007 6:21:02 PM

My thinking on the pro is that the screen is so much larger, and 13" really feels a bit small to me. But I should probably spend some time at an Apple store testing that impression out...

Posted by: Ezra | Jul 16, 2007 6:22:33 PM

FWIW, my wife has an iBook and, even though I use a 19" monitor for my work (architect), I rarely feel squeezed when I borrow hers (for non-drawing stuff).

Do you do side-by-side work much? If not, then you may never miss the 2".

Posted by: JRoth | Jul 16, 2007 6:27:55 PM

"Also, given that this site is free, and that the computer will largely be used to keep providing you with more free, awesome, wonky content..."

fuck a macbook. get an acer or a dell and load it up with ubuntu. you're obviously smart enough to handle it. hell, even my GRANDMOTHER can run ubuntu. its also open and free.

unless youre just trying to be cool. like when you supported the iraq war.

Posted by: rageahol | Jul 16, 2007 6:30:10 PM

I was quite surprised to find that salesperson in my Apple store steering towards the MacBook rather than the Pro, but she said for blogging purposes, this would cover me. It certainly has, and then some (I have the black one). Get the Pro if you really want some bells and whistles, but for speed and memory for most blogging (outside of design and fim editing and the like), I think this will do you quite well...

Posted by: weboy | Jul 16, 2007 6:32:27 PM

Got a friend currently in grad school? You can leverage their student discount to shave $100-$200 off the price.

Posted by: fiat lux | Jul 16, 2007 6:33:07 PM

The better resolution plus the widescreen format on the MacBook means that you shouldn't feel squeezed if you're used to the 14in iBook. (It's perceptibly a bit roomier than the 12in iBook.)

Frankly, the MBP is an extra $1000 for stuff you don't really need, unless you're moonlighting with graphics and video work. Get a top-end MacBook. Less heft, good bang for the buck.

Posted by: pseudonymous in nc | Jul 16, 2007 6:39:06 PM

Ezra, I'll throw in twenty bucks too. But I have to ask since I've only been reading your site for over a year: You supported the Iraq War initially? seriously? Like Yglesias?

Posted by: Kate | Jul 16, 2007 6:46:56 PM

Up until that bar tab comment I was somewhat inclined to contribute. But can a guy that will not tip a few back to make such a decision and purchase really be trusted...

Posted by: George | Jul 16, 2007 6:48:07 PM

"fuck a macbook. get an acer or a dell and load it up with ubuntu. you're obviously smart enough to handle it. hell, even my GRANDMOTHER can run ubuntu. its also open and free."

FWIW, Dell will now load ubuntu for you: www.dell.com/open

Posted by: Steve T | Jul 16, 2007 6:53:37 PM

2 cents from a soon-to-be-former-MBP user...

They're nice machines, but they can get hot easily, and they're not exactly rugged. Battery life is marginally okay, but it can be a nuisance.

Sadly, I found the standard MacBook an even worse option: funky keyboard, heavy for the size (the MBP has a much bigger screen, yet weighs only .3 pounds more), and annoyingly glossy screen.

If you do get an MBP, look into Apple's refurbs seriously. Especially if you don't mind waiting 1-2 months, you'll be able to get new Santa Rosa-based ones for ~20% off (which is about double the academic discount). Also, consider getting a hard case, like the Speck SeeThru. It'll make the machine slightly warmer, but it'll protect it from casual dings and scratches.

Me, I've moved to a Thinkpad X-series. For 3.5lbs and 6 hours of battery life, I can get by on a smaller screen and inferior software...

Posted by: faux facsimile | Jul 16, 2007 7:06:31 PM

What, a young knave and begging? -- Henry IV, Part 2, Act I, scene 2

Posted by: Yan Kamecki | Jul 16, 2007 7:18:25 PM

Amazon sells a nicely configured white MacBook for $1225 after rebate - no sales tax or shipping.

If you pay $2000 for a MacBook Pro, you'll get a larger screen, more RAM, and a dedicated graphics card. This is not worth the money unless you'll be playing games.

Posted by: MarkT | Jul 16, 2007 7:36:56 PM

Also, whatever choice you make, you might want to wait until October, when Apple will be shipping machines with Leopard.

Posted by: paperwight | Jul 16, 2007 8:26:50 PM

[tongue deeply implanted in cheek]

The Intel option, silly. Apple could sell their PC biz to Dell tomorrow so they can focus on pods and phones. You never know when some awesome application will come along (for your iPhone) that requires Windows.

Posted by: JimPortlandOR | Jul 16, 2007 8:29:14 PM

I have an Acer with an Intel dual core with 2 gigs of ram and I have MacBook Pro 17" with a dual core with 2 gigs. I make my living writing .NET software so I use Parallels (emulation software for mac) to let me run Windows 2003 Server, .NET 2005. Using Parallels I can run windows apps pretty close to my Acer speed. So my Acer gathers dust. But really the question is who would want a windows os (XP, Vista?). Really? For me, to paraphrase, Windows sucks but I need the bucks. My advice is get the most ram, biggest harddisk mac "laptop" your money can buy. Unless you're flying in first class, airtravel with any size lap top is extremely difficult these days. Especially if the person in front puts their seat back.

Did you really support the Iraq War - Bush 43 version? A momentary lapse at the Kool Aid stand?

I didn't know that.


Posted by: mickster | Jul 16, 2007 8:38:10 PM

The site is free? Christ, I helped test Typepad and I still have to pay for it. Free or someone else pays for it?

Posted by: Randy Paul | Jul 16, 2007 9:08:59 PM

"Ezra, I'll throw in twenty bucks too. But I have to ask since I've only been reading your site for over a year: You supported the Iraq War initially? seriously? Like Yglesias?"

Yeah ... Check out these golden oldies including a suggestion that we shouldn't write Dick Gephardt off ...

Posted by: Nicholas Beaudrot | Jul 16, 2007 9:19:05 PM

for what it's worth- I have the macbook pro- and its and incredible computer- especially if you plan on doing any vloging in the near future.

Posted by: akaison | Jul 16, 2007 9:46:31 PM

I suggest NOT reading the link that Mr. Beaudrot points us to. Not pretty.

Posted by: Jason G. | Jul 16, 2007 10:12:24 PM

I just bought the new MBP 15" that I use for graphic and some Web design and it's plenty powerful enough (also have a separate monitor). A MacBook is probably good enough for blogging purposes but I'd say get the 15" MBP if you want the larger screen and you have the extra money. It's plenty fast, the battery life is actually quite good, the backlit keyboard is worth the extra cost alone, the new backlit LED screen runs a bit cooler than the previous models and it's not that much heavier than the MacBook. Also, the new backlit LED's don't contain mercury if that has any effect on your decision.

Posted by: Tom | Jul 16, 2007 10:21:33 PM

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