|MacBook Pro 2.16 GHz (15 Inch)|
April 13, 2006 | Eddie Park
Widescreen!It's a wonder more laptops aren't widescreen. Bearing a native resolution of 1440 x 900, the LCD attached to the MacBook is one of the nicest I've seen on my admittedly limited experience with laptop screens. I can't comment on whether or not it's really 67% brighter than the older PowerBook screens, but cranked up to max brightness, it's more than enough to burn my eyeballs out of their sockets in a darkened room. I should note that I didn't have to touch the brightness setting on UT2004 to see everything clearly – blacks and shadows were clearly rendered at default brightness settings, which is a first for me when dealing with LCDs, which typically force me to crank the brightness settings on any 3D game to max.
Like the keyboard, the display is also self-adjusting depending on the amount of ambient light available. While this is a nice feature, I found that it liked to leave the screen a little to dark for my tastes, and disabled it in favor of manual adjustment.
For those that favor monitor hookups, the MacBook sports a DVI connector and enough graphics horsepower, thanks to the ATI X1600, to power a 30" Cinema display. Dual monitor display is possible, alongside mirroring and the typical closed-lid setup. While I don't have a 30" Cinema on hand, the MacBook interfaced with my 24" Samsung with no problems in any of the display modes.
The only caveat I can mention is that the LCD only rocks back to a short distance past 90 degrees from the base. In other words, no opening the LCD flat on a table if you have a crowd – everyone will have to gather behind you during meetings or whatever to see your latest presentation the next time the projector decides to conk out, leaving them free to make rude gestures without your noticing.
For iChat junkies or those that simply love cameras, there's a tiny iSight built right into the top of the display, with an accompanying microphone hiding under the left speaker grille. It's a decent enough camera, meaning that it probably specs about the same as a regular iSight. While you won't be taking modeling shots with it, it's serviceable enough for general video chats and taking goofy pictures of yourself, your friends, or catching your co-workers making rude gestures behind you.
Widescreen?Not content to stick with a widescreen LCD, Apple also saw fit to add a widescreen trackpad as an interface device. Having been stuck on small square trackpads for years, I wholeheartedly welcome the extra real estate for pointer maneuvers. It makes sense if you think about it – a widescreen trackpad for a widescreen work surface. Of course, this also means that the mouse button is extra-wide, but it still works fine no matter where you press it.
The dual-finger scrolling feature is genius. It makes things like browsing and document writing so much easier, and has so far never failed to accurately detect whether I want to scroll or move the pointer around. Again, it's another small feature that makes perfect sense and raises questions as to why more manufacturers don't do this sort of thing.
Another interesting feature is the option to ignore accidental trackpad input. While I'm not sure of the specifics, the general idea is that the trackpad can be instructed to ignore accidental touches, like the palms hitting the trackpad when typing away on the keyboard. After much poking and prodding of the pad, I've come to the conclusion that it measures several things, including the surface area currently being hit and multiple simultaneous hits. Rubbing a large area, like a palm, seems to trigger the ignore status. However, one can place a fingertip on either side of the trackpad and still achieve the scrolling effect by sliding one of those fingers around, an effect that I've accidentally activated on occasion when typing. The feature is a good idea, however, and at least eliminates the typical accidental brushes made when typing away. This is especially evident when the feature is disabled, as the pointer slides around with impunity whenever my palms brushed the pad when typing, which was pretty much every other second.
A fiercely annoying factor is the exclusion of a second mouse button. Given the extra width of the mouse button, you'd think Apple could've split it in two, or at least made it sense which end was being clicked. Instead, we're still stuck in one-button land, where users are forced to hold down the ctrl key in order to facilitate that alternate click. Yes, I can hook up an external mouse, but I really shouldn't have to carry around a mouse for general portable computing just for the practicality of having a right click.