New MacBook: “Hidalgo”

Cat and MacBook MacBook

Yup, I got a new MacBook.

First off, a semi-postmortem on my faithful old G3/700 iBook, “Vizzini,” which dropped from a loosely zipped backpack onto a hardwood floor on 29 Dec 2007 while we were at Tali Beach. It has actually continued to work since then, but with an irretrievably broken CD drive, a screen that intermittently goes blank, and heavy black scratches on screen and casing. The iBook is almost six years old at this point, and due for replacing; I had hoped to hold out for new Montevina or Nehalem notebooks from Apple, but first there was the Montevina delay, then a MacMall limited sale event which included deep discounts on mid-range MacBooks with 4GB RAM preinstalled, so I jumped for one. It arrived last week.

The MacBook, which I have named “Hidalgo,” (after the Filipino painter) is a white Penryn Core 2 Duo 2.4 GHz Rev E with 160GB HDD, 4GB RAM, GMA X3100 integrated video (144MB RAM shared), OS X 10.5 Leopard, and glossy screen. It’s a lovely machine; streamlined and solidly assembled, runs fast and smooth without any lag — click on an app in the dock, and the icon barely has time to bounce once before the app is open. The extra RAM is definitely a big help, and ensures that the computer is future-proofed for years to come. Plus, not only did MacMall preinstall the 4GB RAM, but the original 2x1GB sticks were included separately in the box, so we swapped out the RAM on Amy’s older MacBook (a lower-end 512MB Rev B) and upgraded that one, much to her joy.

The old iBook ran OS X 10.3.9, and I skipped over 10.4, so 10.5 is my first experience with many features introduced since then. I’m not sure I like “Stacks”, but it hasn’t been much trouble. I’ve kept Spaces off so far — don’t need more than one desktop — and I’m holding off on Time Machine till I can get a Time Capsule later on. I also have yet to try the new iPhoto, iMovie, and GarageBand. And Dashboard is new to me, though I don’t foresee it replacing functions for which I already have well-established web habits.

I adapted much faster to the wider keyboard than I expected, but the new function key bindings confused me, and I still get thrown off between what a key does by itself and with “Fn” pressed. Double-finger trackpad scrolling, however, is awesome and I have taken to it like second nature.

In the week I’ve had this MacBook I’ve carried it around in a backpack and already gotten it more scuffed than Amy’s MacBook, which she’s had for over a year, so I think I had better get a soft case, so as to keep this in better condition than the old iBook ended up in. I’m pretty happy with the MacBook (much happier than I was with the iBook on purchase), and I want this one to last a while.

(As for the old iBook, I stuck it under the bed with a USB webcam peeking out from the nightstand, and it now serves as a second cat-cam for the webcam page. VNC ensures I can still access it without pulling it out from under the bed.)

Coming soon: must-download software and first Photobooth pics.