Charles Moore's Mailbag

Love My Refurb MacBook Pro, Eudora Forever, and the Lightest AA Batteries

Charles Moore - 2008.11.18 - Tip Jar

Love My Refurbished MacBook Pro

From Brian:

Well, I went down and picked up my new [refurbished] MacBook Pro from FedEx Saturday morning. Here is an update on my first impressions of my new MBP:

I was hoping for, and pleasantly surprised to see, that this was a matte screen version of the MBP (Apple didn't provide details on this at purchase). I got it home, opened up the less than spectacular brown cardboard box (what happened to the sexy, sleek package non-refurbs shipped in?), and got to work porting over data from the iBook, which sure was easy with FireWire (wink, wink, nudge, nudge).

I'm surprised at how fast this thing boots. I've always been happy with my iBook's boot times, which are far, far, far faster than the time it takes me to go from power on to working with my XP-based computer at work. Seems like when I restarted the MBP I had barely turned around to get a sip of Sunkist and it was waiting at the logon screen!

The big LCD backlit screen is wonderful, and I can tell that spreadsheet and database work on this thing will be a step up for me. Wow, is this screen bright! The camera is fun, but I have this paranoia that someone could hack in at any time and post on YouTube me picking my nose or inadvertently performing some other similarly uncouth activity in what felt like until now the privacy of my own home. The last thing I need is pictures of the contorted faces I make when reading the news all over the Web.

Multitouch is awesome and seems to work every bit as well as it does on the new models at the Apple Store, but I have to admit - I really like the keyboard on this machine much better than the new chiclet style keyboards. I preferred the older function key layout for brightness, volume, and Exposé, but I'll deal. One thing I didn't realize until now with Leopard is that you can now do a right click by putting two fingers together on the trackpad and clicking. I tried it on my iBook, and it works there too.

For such a "large" laptop, it doesn't feel large at all sitting in front of me or on my lap. I know from experience that in an airport tray the MBP will be cramped, but I don't fly that often, and I'm sure I can make due on the rare occasions that I do. The MBP is half-a-pound lighter than my iBook, whose weight never bothered me, so I don't expect that to be a problem (I took my iBook virtually everywhere with me).

All in all, I have yet to find a single issue with the MBP that I would consider a "real" negative, it performs well, and is extremely responsive. My girlfriend is very impressed by how professional it looks, as am I, though it lacks a bit of the "friendly" feel that the iBook has. Po-tay-toe, po-tah-toe I guess.

Ultimately, since I paid around the price of a new MB for this MBP, I tend to think of it more in terms as a "consumer" level laptop rather than a "pro" one. That may not be technically a correct way of thinking, but regardless, I expect this machine will likely keep me happy for at least as long as AppleCare lasts, hopefully longer.

I don't know if you're still on the fence for a new laptop, but I'm thoroughly impressed by this MacBook Pro, though I know it's nowhere near a true road warrior machine because of the size. I would highly recommend a buy like this one.

As for your daughter, I hope she takes your advice, since I'm sure you wouldn't have recommended it unless it would be a good fit for her. My limited chances to use the new MacBooks, as well as checking up on the specs leaves me very impressed by them. But the size and lack of FireWire mean it just isn't the right product for me right now.

Sorry for the long email, I'm off to see if I can find a suitable sticker to cover up the name "MacBook Pro."

Brian

Hi Brian,

Congrats. on your new acquisition and thanks for the detailed report. Sounds like the old school MBP is the right machine for you (and probably me, although I still haven't ordered one yet due to other matters in play).

The brown box is standard for Apple Certified Refurbished units. My ACR PowerBook G4 came in one as well.

Best,
Charles

What About the MacBook Pro Nvidia 8600 Problem?

From Philip:

"Personally, I've been using Apple laptops since 1996, have never bought AppleCare, and so far never missed it."

You know, now that I think of it, I think I've broken even, at best.

I have one more question. There was one thing your article about the just-replaced MBP didn't address: the Nvidia problem. Do you feel that the bad components have been weeded out such that new or refurbished MBPs are free from that particular disaster?

Then there is this, which I just found via LEM, actually. What they mean by saying that all the chips are bad, though, I can't imagine, since there seem to be plenty of happy longtime MBP users. On the other hand, I was just troubleshooting a friend's Dell, and guess what part failed....

Now I am wondering if I should deliberately try to get a MBP that was manufactured at a time that puts it within the repair extension program!

-Philip

Hi Philip,

That's a very good question. I would like to think that all the MacBook Pros with the GeForce 8600 GT graphics processors that are in the Apple Certified Refurbished channels would have been screened for defects, but I can't say I'm brimming with confidence.

The official Apple policy on this matter is that if the Nvidia graphics processor in your MacBook Pro has failed - or fails within two years of the original date of purchase - a repair will be done free of charge, even if your MacBook Pro is out of warranty, which is reasonably fair, but I'm suspecting that it's still a bit of a roll of the dice with these machines in that context.

Charles

Eudora Forever!

From Jay Cottrill:

Glad to see that there are other die hard Eudora fans out there. This email is being sent using Eudora on a Blue and White Power Mac G3 with a G4 processor upgrade and running Mac OS X" Tiger". Currently this is my main computer - I also have a grape iMac and a G4 AGP - but soon I will be getting a new Intel Mac, so I decided that I will keep this old B&W running just as my email machine. I will never leave Eudora - the Mozilla attempt makes me sick; while the Odysseus program looks better than Mozilla's, it still can't touch the Classic Eudora.

Just my 2 cents.

Thanks for a great article.

Jay

Hi Jay,

Glad you enjoyed it.

As long as you run your present hardware, it may not be necessary to migrate to another client for a long time to come.

However, as I noted in the article, I'm skeptical about whether Eudora, which is already somewhat compromised running in Leopard, will remain usable under Snow Leopard.

Charles

Importing Mailboxes in Eudora Replacements

From Kalani:

One thing I would have liked to see in your review: The ability of the successors to import large Eudora mailboxes, perfectly.

Can either do it?

What about importing the files from a PC-based installation?

Hi Kalani,

I haven't tried using the import function in either application yet. My guess is that Eudora 8's import wizard, which according to its dialog blurb imports archives and contact data from all other email clients present plus address books, works similarly to Thunderbird's.

The release notes do say "This version fixes some problems with the importers for both Windows and Mac Eudora. Most if not all of these changes will be migrated into Thunderbird at some point," so presumably the Windows version is supported.

Odysseus just imports from Eudora, and I don't know if it works across platform or not.

Charles

Lithium Batteries Lighter than Alkaline, NiCad, and NiMH

From Marion:

If you find the weight of AA batteries to be problem, I suggest that you give AA lithiums a try. The weight might be a tad more than AAAs, but lithium batteries will be noticeably lighter than standard batteries. It is not necessarily a budget solution, but the batteries will probably last a long time.

Marion

Hi Marion,

That's a good suggestion. Now that you mention it, I recall vaguely noting that lithium batteries are indeed lighter than NiCads.

As you say, they're a bit on the expensive side.

I'm currently using a Logitech V-550 wireless mouse for production work, and it has a claimed battery life of 18 months with standard NiCads, so lithiums' longer life would not be a major advantage with it, but the lightweight factor would potentially be.

Actually, the V-550 is so well engineered and balanced that I'm not finding the extra weight too onerous, although it would be even nicer if it was lighter.

Charles

Editor's note: AAA alkaline batteries (data from Eveready) weigh 11.5 grams, NiCads 11 grams, NiMH 12 grams, and lithium 7.6 grams - approximately 1/3 lighter. AA alkaline batteries weigh 23 grams, NiCads 24 grams, NiMH 27 grams, and lithium 14.5 grams - 37% to 46% lighter. Lithium AA batteries do weigh a little bit more than traditional AAA batteries. dk

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Charles Moore has been a freelance journalist since 1987 and began writing for Mac websites in May 1998. His The Road Warrior column was a regular feature on MacOpinion, he is news editor at Applelinks.com and a columnist at MacPrices.net. If you find his articles helpful, please consider making a donation to his tip jar.

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