My Turn

Apple's MacBook Hits a Home Run

- 2008.04.09

My Turn is Low End Mac's column for reader-submitted articles. It's your turn to share your thoughts on all things Mac (or iPhone, iPod, etc.) and write for the Mac web. Email your submission to Dan Knight .

Okay, I'll admit one thing: I'm completely smitten with this thing. Since I received my 2 GHz MacBook a few days ago, it's completely engulfed me. Sure, I have a nicer 17" iMac with 3 GB of RAM sitting on my desk, but I don't think it can match the sheer joy of this MacBook. The cool lit Apple logo on the back, the awesome keyboard, the great looking screen, the iSight, even the MagSafe power adapter is just amazing to me.

white MacBook

You have to understand, this thing is replacing a six month old Compaq laptop that was perfectly fine, if a bit ugly and heavy. It ran Vista Basic, which has to be one of the most unintuitive and ugly operating systems ever put out by Microsoft. The next Windows Me? Not so much, but XP is a much better.

Okay, enough Windows talk. Let's take a look at Apple's gem of a laptop.


If you think the MacBook is a Paris Hilton one note - sexy, but really can't perform its way out a paper bag - think again. It's a lot more like Cameron Diaz: sexy, yet with the brains and power to back it up.

The MacBook I'm using is a refurbished October 2007 model, which sells for $849 on the Apple Store's refurbished page. My MacBook uses Intel's Core 2 Duo processor, running at a cool 2 GHz with an 800 MHz frontside bus and 4 MB of L2 cache. Along with that is a paltry 1 GB of DDR2 RAM, a SATA II 80 GB hard drive spinning at 5400 RPM, a 13.3" WXGA widescreen display with a resolution of 1280 x 800, a DVD/CD-RW Combo drive, and Intel GMA X3100 video with 144 MB of shared graphics memory. All of this makes for a very decent laptop, capable of keeping up with the higher end MacBook models - and in some respects with the MacBook Pro as well.


The first thing is obvious - it's beautiful! Having owned an iBook G4 about a year ago, I was expecting a similar feel and design. To my surprise, the design of the MacBook is even cooler and more exciting. It's a more thought out design, especially with the iSight and new keyboard.

The smooth white exterior can also be ordered in a black model, which I find less sleek and a little more PC-like. Sure, some people prefer it and wouldn't have any other color, but the white seems more Apple-esque and has an happier undertone. The black is almost somber in a way, but also much more businesslike compared to the almost girlie white. Yup, I said it, girlie! Proud of it too!


One of the first things you'll notice when opening up the lid is the keyboard. It's not your usual iBook G4 or MacBook Pro keyboard, where all the keys are combined together and almost rectangular in shape. Instead, you get keys raised up slightly off the surface of the base with a square design. The result is an excellent laptop keyboard with great tactile feedback and a great sound while you're typing away. Comparing the MacBook keyboard to my iMac's Apple Keyboard, it's a different experience. I, for one, love the old white Apple Keyboard. People have criticized it for being overly mushy, but I've always liked that. After using the MacBook keyboard, it isn't easy switching between the two. I'll get over it.

Another noteworthy feature about the keyboard is the new media keys located along the top row. These allow you to adjust brightness, view the Dashboard, skip tracks, pause/play your music, mute, adjust volume, and of course there is the eject button. These really can come in handy if you're constantly listening to music.


What else is their to talk about? I've already mentioned the beautiful design and excellent keyboard. What about the display?

Let's just say I've used better displays in my life. The MacBook utilizes a 13.3" widescreen glossy display. There have been quite a few complaints over the glossy finish, but I prefer it. It's a huge improvement over the iBook's small and dim display. However, the viewing angle isn't that great, and at the maximum brightness it's a little too bright.

Another thing worth mentioning is that you might want to calibrate the display. I find the standard profile way too yellow, and that can easily be remedied using the Displays tool in System Preferences.


I was a little anxious to see how this MacBook would perform. After all, laptops are known to be slower than their desktop counterparts. With a Core 2 Duo processor underneath, I was expecting a speedy little laptop. I'm happy to report this laptop is extremely quick for everyday web browsing, organizing pictures in iPhoto, and even the occasional movie edit with iMovie.

However, I do recommend upgrading RAM to at least 2 GB. Leopard, like all other versions of OS X, really purrs with the extra RAM. My iMac with 3 GB is absolutely perfect and flies through everything I throw at it. The MacBook does it with similar gusto, but it bogs down with lots of applications running in the background.


The MacBook comes with almost all the features of it's bigger brother, including iSight, a slot-loading Combo drive or SuperDrive, a MagSafe power adapter,a large trackpad, and a slim profile.

How about what is missing? It misses out on the awesome multitouch trackpad introduced in the MacBook Air. Another feature that is noticeably absent is a latch. That's a good thing, though, as the MacBook uses magnets located at the top of display. Simply close the lid, and it strongly latches down the lid. To open it, just pull up where the indentation is. What a great feature, very similar to the earliest multicolored iBooks.

Also missing is a discrete graphics section. The MacBook uses Intel's GMA X3100 graphics processor. This solution steals up to 144 MB of your RAM. Hence, this is not a gaming laptop. If you want gaming, go for the MacBook Pro.


Aren't you sick of how much I like this thing? I sure am, so I'm going to present you with some downsides.

For one, the edges of the MacBook are not rounded. That means that if you are typing with your hands on the palm rests, your wrists feel like they are getting cut into. Kind of an oversight on Apple's part, especially since the iBook had nicely rounded edges.

Another issue I've noticed is the build quality seems to be more lackluster than any Apple product I've owned. With the lid closed, I can wiggle the display a bit. One of the edges looks to be buckling, and the edges on the display are a little ragged. Sure I'm nitpicky, but I expect nothing less than perfection from Apple. However, the quality of the plastic is much nicer than the earlier MacBooks, and the casing feels sturdier than that of my old iBook.

Apple has hit a home run: They've won the championship, and there was really no competition. The MacBook is an amazing laptop with every feature the average consumer could thing of. It has a timeless design, loads of features, lots of power, and is extremely portable. It's the best laptop on the market for under US$1,500.

It's also the most beautiful. I'm not sure how Apple could make this thing look any better, but, I'm sure they'll figure something out.

Specs: 2 GHz Intel Core 2 Duo, 1 GB RAM, 80 GB SATA hard drive, Combo drive, 13.3" glossy widescreen display, Intel GMA X3100 integrated graphics


  • Gorgeous design
  • Features galore
  • Tons of grunt
  • Great price


  • Sharp edges hinder typing
  • Built quality not up to Apple standards
  • Integrated graphics

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