posted by Nicholas Blachford on Thu 6th May 2004 16:52 UTC
IconAfter reading the recent article by a user who has switched to a Mac I thought I'd write of my experience. I've was used a Mac from October 2002 to March 2004. It was provided to me when I started working for another PPC manufacturer but they are not really in the same market and in any case don't make laptops.

The Hardware
I got the Mac because I had asked for it. I needed an office computer and the combination of a friendly front end and a Unix base should provide a good system and I'd heard some very good things about it, I'd even gone to a Mac user meeting in Amsterdam (when I lived there) at one point to have a look around.

The machine I've been using is a 700MHz iBook with 640MB RAM running OS X 10.2.8 (Jaguar).

Physically the hardware is very nice, there is an unending attention to detail from Apple which shows right through the system, even the power supply and the polystyrene packaging looks good! There's a nice touch in that you can either plug the PSU directly into the mains socket or remove the head and plug in a longer wire.

It's not perfect though, the track-pad was faulty and had to be replaced, also at one point the Hard Disc died and had we were told, physically snapped. This is one of the iBook models known for white spots and video failures but I can't say the screen has had any problems. There is a white spot but it's hardly noticeable and never bothered me, there are also smaller spots in the bottom corners which appear to be stress points but are even less noticeable.

One gripe I had with the video system is it's complete inability to give me decent resolutions or refresh rates on an external monitor. It would allow 1024x768 at 75Hz and that's it. I can handle the 1024x768 but I usually set 85Hz as a minimum on a CRT monitor, anything lower flickers noticeably to me.

For noise this machine doesn't appear to make any beyond accessing the Hard Disc and occasionally the CD-ROM drive if you are using it. There is a fan but it took 10 months to switch on, I was not even aware there was fan so I was rather taken aback when it did! We were in the middle of a European heat wave at the time (the temperature got to 40 Celsius) so the fact the fan never switched on until then shows just how cool the machine runs in normal conditions.

Of course living in Paris this machine is French so came with a French keyboard which is so strange as to be downright evil, the Q, W, Z, A and M keys have moved and you have to press shift to get the numbers. That took a lot of getting used to but I can't blame Apple for that, you can apparently get the keyboard changed but when I was told I was getting used to it and didn't really care. I'm so used to the French keyboard in fact that I still tend to press shift before pressing numbers...

OS X itself doesn't assume anything about your location or nationality so I can tell it I'm using a French keyboard in France but I speak British English and it'll be happy to comply. This is something of a contrast to the French version of Windows which installs in French but appears to offer no way of changing to English. Internationalisation is a much more difficult issue than changing the language and character set, ex-pats like me only serve to confuse the situation even further, full points to Apple for getting this right.

The battery life is good (around 4 hours) and the sleep mode is great, switching on and off almost instantaneously.

The track-pad only has a single button but pressing "ctrl" acts as a second button. OS X fully supports the second button so if you are used to a 2 button mouse as I am you can just plug one in and it works, the apps all support it. Some people make an issue of this, why?

Table of contents
  1. "A year with a Mac, Page 1/4"
  2. "A year with a Mac, Page 2/4"
  3. "A year with a Mac, Page 3/4"
  4. "A year with a Mac, Page 4/4"
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