June 7, 2007

Additional Thoughts on the Macbook Pro

I call this: computers,mac — Posted by KP @ 8:26 am

I have received some questions about battery life. What you have to remember is that I have a Powerbook with approximately seven minutes of battery life, so I’ve gotten used to searching for an open outlet before I ever take the computer out. I always feel better plugging in when the option is available, just so I know I will have battery power saved up if something comes up later when I can’t plug in. But to answer this question, I decided to run my battery down last night.

I spent about an hour at rehearsal with it unplugged, during which time I loaded about 500MB of test videos for our projections from a CD. I’m told the optical drive is one of the more battery-intensive components of a computer, for what it’s worth. Then I played the files back a few times, checked e-mail, and did a little web browsing. Wi-fi was on the whole time. I also spent some of the time using the USB to charge my cell phone (whose talk time will soon rival the battery life of my Powerbook, if Verizon doesn’t release the Treo 755p soon).

When I got home I plugged in my EyeTV, and watched about an hour of the History Channel until something came on I didn’t want to watch. Then I did some more browsing, transferring files from my old computer, and downloading software. Again, wi-fi in use the whole time. Screen brightness was around 75%, and as I mentioned, my keyboard lights like to come on when they really don’t need to — they must be reading this because they came on just as I was typing that.

Eventually I installed Parallels and got to the point where it was converting my VirtualPC drive image to Parallels format, and the battery meter was in the red and telling me I had about 12 minutes left. I had not gotten any low battery warnings yet. But because I didn’t want to interrupt the conversion process, I decided to end my experiment and plug in. All I can say is that I used the computer for at least three and a half hours, and had at least 12 minutes left. This is also the first time the battery has been allowed to drain, so it may still be calibrating itself. If it means anything, and I wouldn’t trust it myself, I just unplugged the cute little MagSafe adapter (which is much more aggressive as a magnet than I realized), and it’s estimating 4:46 remaining from a full charge. It said 5:30 or something a second ago, which is why I said I wouldn’t trust it. Now it says 4:52. Anyway, I kind of hate rechargeable batteries because they play these mind games with you, and nobody seems to agree on how you’re supposed to care for different kinds of battery.

Something else I forgot to mention earlier: I was surprised at the lack of an S-video output on these models. DVI is better, but as I have said, I do a lot of work on shows with projections, and one of the things I originally had to do when touring with my PB was to load into each theatre where they supplied the projector, and have all the adapters for any kind of video output.

I’m not sure if I never noticed, but it seems from checking out EveryMac.com (an excellent site for checking specs on various models), that maybe this is the first version to eliminate the port. I was relieved to see that Apple now makes a DVI-to-video adapter, with both S-video and composite (RCA) connectors. And since I now have to pay for it as opposed to the old S-video to RCA adapter which came free with the computer, I was pleased to see it’s “only” $20. The box still includes the DVI to VGA adapter. I will miss the port a little, but I’m just glad they eventually went back to including the Firewire 800 port — I was rather upset when the first MBP came out without it. I’m now looking into external HD enclosures, and would like to get one with FW800.