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Apple Macbook Laptop Computers

Updated on December 12, 2014

Apple MacBook: Excellent computer or just a style statement?

Apple make some wonderful stylish consumer devices, which also function very well, but do they make good computers and software? Apple macbooks look stylish and very well made, but are quite expensive compared to most of the competition. The operating system is different to the majority of personal computers and not all software is available or may arrive on the market later. Is it worth the money or are you paying for style over functionality?

Macs, by default, use a different operating system, Mac OSX, instead of the usual Microsoft Windows, found on most personal computers, which should not be a problem from a usability point of view for most people, but does mean that some software is available later than for PCs, but the OS runs on a Unix platform (Called Darwin) and various Open Source (i.e. free) software can be used on Apple Macs or Windows can be installed as well as or instead of the Mac OSX (discussed in more detail below)

Viruses and other such malware programs are far less common for Macs, so infection is less likely, but do still exist, so anti-virus software is still recommended.

Apple are famous for being innovative and providing the world with some wonderful well thought-out gadgets, such as the iPhone, iPod, iTouch and iPads. Much of the innovation was attributed to the leadership of the late Steve Jobs, the former CEO (recently deceased). The much hyped iPad tablet computers have until recently dominated the new tablet computer market although rivals from Samsung, Amazon (Kindle) and Google (Nexus 7 and 10) are taking a lot of the cheaper end of this market now.

Here is a review of the Macbook, Mac OSX operating system and other software and alternative laptops to consider. Please also see my review of a suitable backup or additional disk drive for your Apple Mac: LaCie Hard Disk Design by Neil Poulton Hard drive 1 TB

The Basic 13" Macbook (Pro)

Macbooks all look great and quite different and better made than many other machines with similar specifications. The original white one (pictured) is no longer available and has been replaced by the 13" metal-bodied macbook Pro (although the cheapest model is currently the 11" Macbook "Air") which looks very different from your average laptop (all macbooks including the Air have beautiful light weight metal bodies now). If you prefer Mac OSX rather than a Windows operating system I would certainly recommend it. I am a fan of unix, which is the underlying operating system for all Macs (i.e. the layer of software below Mac OSX) which is very accessible through a Terminal window, but this is probably irrelevant for most users. If however you prefer Windows (e.g. Windows 8) it is also possible to run Windows via a program called Bootcamp although of course this would add extra expense unless a copy of Windows is already available, because Apple only supply the one operating system, and this does impact a little on the available disk-space. Personally I think this is an extravagant way of getting a Windows PC , unless you really want that Apple style.

Free Opensource software for Apple Mac

Some free open-source software is also available, such as GIMP, the Linux photo-editing program (similar to Photoshop), because Linux and Unix are in fact virtually identical, but any software specifically for Apple from any source will generally be as expensive as the PC equivalent and probably available some time later, because there are far fewer users of Apples (unless you run Windows on your macbook)

See the related article below:

MacBook Performance

In terms of performance Macbooks are all quite fast machine, with Intel dual-core or quad-core processors, which can be made ever faster by doubling the RAM (4 GB is standard) although buying extra memory from Apple is expensive so upgrading using non-Apple memory at a later stage used to be more cost-effective than buying a higher specification initially. This is no longer possible, as the RAM is soldered to the board and cannot be replaced. Battery-life is very good at up to 7 hours or more and the clever magnetic power-cable that detaches if someone trips over it rather than pulling the macbook onto the floor has probably saved me a few quid in repair bills already.

Value For Money / Summary

It is however perhaps more expensive than some of its rivals and the screen is quite small for jobs such as photo-editing and I use it mainly with an extra, large monitor, as well, but so far I have had no regrets in paying the extra for this wonderful little machine.

I have replaced my original white macbook with a macbook Air with the latest operating system (OS X "Mountain Lion" 10.8), but after daily use for five years, I have had no problems at all, I am still impressed with the styling and the functionality, but if cost were an issue I would buy a linux machine and use just free software. This is only really an option for people who are quite computer-literate. Alternatively a netbook with Linux or an older version of Window is also a very cost-effective alternative if you mostly use a laptop for web-surfing.

Advantages: small, compact, fast, good battery life, stylish, well-made, Mac OSX/Unix

Disadvantages: Mac OSX/Unix?

I have included a review of one of my other computers below - a suitable alternative if you prefer Windows Vista machine instead of Mac OSX

Good Disk Drives To Use With Apple Macs

LaCie Hard Drive Design by Neil Poulton (1TB)

I have several Lacie external hard-disks attached to my Apple Mac computers and have mostly found them to be reliable, quiet and fast, until a few weeks ago when one of them (a 500GB Porsche designed one which I purchased about 18 months ago) failed. I needed a replacement and after quite a lot of research decided to risk buying a Lacie again.

I did a lot of research and chose a Lacie Disk Drive by Neil Poulton1

Alternatives (If you really must buy a PC instead of a macbook)

Fujitsu Siemens Amilo Pi 2515

The Fujitsu Siemens Amilo Pi 2515 is a very good-value laptop. It is relatively inexpensive, at about £550, but comes with a good feature set, reasonably fast dual-core Intel processor (1.8 GHz), but the 2GB of RAM means it will actually run surprising fast with some more memory intensive software (e.g. photo-editing software). It also comes with a large disk drive (minimum 120 GB but larger ones are also available) It seems robust and well-made although I have mostly used it at home and have treated it carefully, so I haven't really tested this assumption. The screen opens and closes fairly smoothly and doesn't feel fragile like some cheaper models, although I still treat it carefully because I have had laptops in the past that in later life have started to flex near the hinges.

The Fujisu Siemens Amilo Pi 2515 has Microsoft Vista home premium installed, which has been surprisingly robust, rarely crashing. Vista Home Premium provides a good feature set to cover most of my non-business needs, without needing to pay the extra for the more advance versions of the software. I use Apple Macs as my work computers. Vista is not my preferred operating system as I have been using unix for almost 20 years, so I would prefer either Linux or Apple Mac OS X which are both based on unix instead of Microsoft DOS, but most people however will be very familiar with Vista.

The finish and feel of the casing are good when compared to the cheapest of it's competition, with dual colour, silver and black, casing that makes it seem slimmer, although not as stylish as some more expensive models such as my Apple MacBook nor as indestructible as my old IBM T42. The keyboard also has a reasonable "weight" to the keys, which don't feel flimsy, as can be the case with cheap laptops. I find the touch-pad annoying. It is too sensitive for me and the tap to select function gets triggered all the time when I don't want it to. This can actually be adjusted or turned off, but I haven't found the right settings yet, for me, and I share this computer with someone else who finds these setting almost perfect. Plugging in a mouse, of course, resolves the problem completely.

The screen is very clear, sharp and bright and a good size, 15.4", which makes it big enough to use for photo-editing etc. but without being too big to carry. Battery life is not great, often lasting less than 2 hours, but acceptable, and a spare battery would be a good idea if using it away from a power socket.

Overall the Fujisu Siemens Amilo Pi 2515 laptop it is a very good package that looks and feels a cut above many similarly priced laptops.

Summary: Good inexpensive laptop

Apple Macbook Air
Apple Macbook Air

Apple Macbook Pro vs Macbook Air?

Current 2013 Apple Macbook Model line-up

O.K. So, if you have decided to buy an Apple Mac, which model is best for you. They are all expensive versus most standard laptop, for the specification, but are exquisitely made, machined out of single pieces of metal, but there are two styles to choose between and two sizes of each: Macbook Pro is available in 13" and 15" screens and the thinner Macbook Air in 11" and 13". The Macbook Pro now also comes with either a standard screen or a "Retina" display, which has twice the linear resolution horizontally and vertically (i.e. four times as many pixels)

The Air is slim and very light and each screen size corresponds in resolution to the next size up in the Pro range (i.e. a 13" Air has the same resolution as the 15" Pro) and is only available with solid state drives (SSD) and no optical drive, instead of an old fashioned hard-disk and DVD drives as seen, as standard on the basic Macbook Pros (Retina Display laptops also now have SSD only and no DVD drive). This means that they are fast, even despite their comparatively low cpu power, but also have rather less storage space. Retina models cost a lot more but are also very slim too.

Verdict:

For me the best has to be the Air. It is small, light, fast and extremely portable, with a screen that's as good as the larger models: Perfect for all but the most cpu intensive tasks. If you need more disk storage space, an old style Pro might be better (or a very expensive Retina display model with a lot of SSD storage if money is no object) If you need more cpu power and graphics capability go for any of the quad-core 15" models.

Please Leave Some Feedback

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    • profile image

      fenellashorty 4 years ago

      Nope. Too expensive. I like my Samsung laptop: It's not as thin, nor as pretty as your Macbook Air, but it's more powerful with far more disk-space.

    • profile image

      yangahearter 5 years ago

      fujitsu adapter

      Clevo Adapters

      Lenovo Adapters

      apple batteries

      dell batteries

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    • MarcoG profile image

      Marc 5 years ago from Edinburgh

      Now you're talking! Apples are the way forward :)

    • TEAhug profile image

      TEAhug 6 years ago

      Great lens, I've been on the fence for awhile about switching over to Mac

    • wizardgold lm profile image

      wizardgold lm 6 years ago

      You might want to check out Fotolia for selling photos. I have been bringing in a small income from Fotolia fo a while now. Every little helps.

      I have a MacBook and an iMac too.

    • tropicalmonsoon1 profile image

      tropicalmonsoon1 6 years ago

      Nice lens - I've owned Macs all my life :D

    • ggalea profile image

      Gilberto Galea 6 years ago from Willemstad

      The new mac pro is awesome!, really amazing,

      Thanks by share,

    • MargoPArrowsmith profile image

      MargoPArrowsmith 7 years ago

      Why would anyone have anything else?

      After having horrible experiences with PC's especially Dell and its awful tech support and service I went Apple and will never go back!

    • Bluesssman profile image

      Bluesssman 7 years ago

      Great lens, Macs rock!

    • profile image

      anonymous 7 years ago

      Awesome lens! I have an iMAC and I would never go back to a PC!

    • profile image

      csjun89 7 years ago

      I have a mac and it's great! Have you seen the 2010 ones?

    • mrsir2009 lm profile image

      mrsir2009 lm 8 years ago

      I have owned Macs since 1995 LOL and I have never owned a PC since... At the moment I have an iMac thats been good to me for almost 4 years =) I also have an old iMac in my garage roof LOL =o

    • profile image

      anonymous 8 years ago

      [in reply to JaguarJulie] I agree that Andy is tops as the photo guy. I've never used an Apple or a Mac....but I would love to give them a try. Might not have experienced some of the problems I have with either. - Another great lens, you sure do have a lot of them!!!! Wow!

    • Andy-Po profile image
      Author

      Andy 8 years ago from London, England

      Hi Julie, thanks very much for the comments. Yes I do have some Apples: just two at the moment, including my old iMac (maybe I should add a review of that too - they are still very popular on the second-hand market) and the macbook. I have also had various PCs, mostly for work - the silicon-chip design industry doesn't generally use Macs for design work, but I prefer them for my photographic work. I added my review of my Fujitsu Siemens laptop just to give a bit of contrast to the Apple. I have actually worked on the design of computer CPUs, but never had any input on the ergonomics or design of the case etc. I shall add some more detail of my experiences with Macs, especially for photography work. [in reply to JaguarJulie]

    • profile image

      julieannbrady 8 years ago

      So Andy -- you have an Apple? It might be neat to showcase more about personal experiences with your Apple provided you do have one and talk about PCs if you've used them. I still think of you though as THE photo guy! You are the tops in that department.

    • Andy-Po profile image
      Author

      Andy 8 years ago from London, England

      [in reply to Shelly]

      Hi Shelly,

      Thanks very much. I think the break-away cord has save my macbook a few times.

    • profile image

      anonymous 8 years ago

      I got a MacBook in August--my first computer! I was frustrated at first as I had never used a Mac before, I think it's worth getting through the frustration, I do love it. One day Tipi will get a Mac too--it's on her wish list. As ever, another work of excellence you have here. I also have appreciate the break away cord several times!

    • Andy-Po profile image
      Author

      Andy 8 years ago from London, England

      [in reply to PosterChildSmile]

      Thanks very much

    • profile image

      PosterChildSmile 8 years ago

      Wonderful lens, like the way you put it all together. Would like to have an Apple Mac Book.

    • profile image

      julieannbrady 8 years ago

      Andy -- lots of great info -- oh how I'd love to have an Apple MacBook!

    • Andy-Po profile image
      Author

      Andy 9 years ago from London, England

      [in reply to The_Daz]

      Yes. My laptop review was published on dooyootoo.

    • profile image

      The_Daz 9 years ago

      MMm Mactastic,. Def want one - so much better than Evil PC Windows nastiness.....

      I recognise that Fujitsu Laptop review!!

    • profile image

      anonymous 9 years ago

      Hey, Andy! Looks like a nice fresh new lens. I'd love to try a Mac lap top someday. I understand they are pretty highly rated and that people who have a Mac just love them. Hope things are going well in the UK with you and yours...........*****

      Susie