Migrate Windows Boot Camp Partition to a New Mac

Although I love getting the latest and greatest Mac notebook, one of the things I always dread is having to setup my Windows Boot Camp partition all over again from scratch. Apple makes it really easy to migrate your Mac to a New Mac. You just run the Migration Assistant and it will handle transferring all of you data, apps, settings to the new Mac. That’s it, you’re done! However, Apple does NOTHING to help you move your Windows Boot Camp installation over. As much as I have tried in the past, I’ve never been able to simply backup/ghost the Windows partition over to a new drive or new Mac. Yes, I’ve heard stories of people using Disk Utility to do it, but I’ve yet to meet anyone that has done it :) – urban legend… LOL

I have had my New MacBook Pro for a couple of weeks now and decided this past weekend that it was time to tackle getting my Windows XP volume setup. This time I didn’t have to start from scratch!

 

Winclone to the rescue

I had heard about Winclone months ago. It’s a Donationware/FREE Mac app that allows you to clone/backup AND restore your Windows Boot Camp Partition. I kept this utility in the back of my mind knowing that I would eventually be getting a new MacBook Pro and it would be worth a shot to try to use it to move over my existing Windows XP setup. I figured the worst that would happen is that it wouldn’t work or the restored Windows environment would be buggy/unstable and I’d just start from scratch anyway. So I had nothing to lose and everything to gain by giving it a shot.

When I knew that my New MacBook Pro was on the way, I fired up Winclone on my old Mac and cloned my Windows XP Boot Camp partition to an external Firewire drive. I used the Compressed option, which took my 60GB partition down to about 23GB (keeping in mind that there was only about 30-35GB’s used on the Windows partition). It creates a single Image file of your Windows drive. You can even mount the image as long as you don’t use the Compressed option.

According to the Winclone webpage one of the bullet items said: “Create a Bootcamp partition from within Winclone.” So I took that to mean that all I would have to do is fire up Winclone on my new Mac and it would not only do the restore, but also create the new Boot Camp partition. Sadly this was not the case. I looked everywhere in the app for the option to create a Boot Camp partition and it’s just not there. Since I was in no hurry to do this, I decided to send the guy an email asking about this and his response (very timely I might add) was that it was easiest to just use the Boot Camp Assistant (that comes with the Mac) to create the Windows partition and then quit the Boot Camp Assistant app and run the Winclone restore. It seemed simple enough and it worked perfectly. I fired up the Boot Camp Assistant and followed the prompts to create a new Boot Camp Partition. After about 5-10 minutes it was done and I just quit the app. So now I had an empty Windows partition ready to go.

Next I plugged in my external Firewire drive containing my Winclone backup image and then I fired up Winclone on my new Mac. I ran the restore of the Windows XP image and figured it would take a while so I went out and ran an errand. When I returned the restore was complete (I was gone for less than an hour, but I didn’t time the restore from start to finish). Fingers crossed, I rebooted my MacBook Pro, holding down the Option Key and there it was. I got the option to boot into Windows. Windows had to do some drive checking/repairing and I just let it do its thing. Once that was done, I saw my familiar Windows XP desktop. I was also being prompted to reactivate Windows (more on that in a minute). The next thing I knew I had to do was to update/install the drivers for all the things on the MacBook Pro such as the trackpad, iSight camera, graphics card drivers, Airport wireless, etc. Now instead of making you burn a CD, Apple includes these drivers on your Mac Installation DVD. This DVD is a dual format DVD, so when I inserted it, it did an Autorun and fired up the main menu allowing me to “Remote install Mac OS X on a MacBook Air”, “Install the CD/DVD Sharing app” for a MacBook Air, or install the Boot Camp Drivers. I picked the third option and it installed everything necessary to allow Windows to take advantage of the hardware built-in to the MacBook Pro.

 

What worked, what didn’t? Any gotchas?

For the most part everything worked PERFECTLY! During the first boot above I had to go grab an external keyboard. I have Windows XP set to require a login/password. In order to enter this password you have to press Control-Alt-Del. Unfortunately “Delete” on the MacBook Pro keyboard is NOT “Del” on the Windows keyboard. Apple takes care of this with their keyboard driver by mapping “Del” to the Delete key when you press the Function button. However, since I hadn’t gotten the drivers installed yet, the only way I was going to be able to login to Windows was to use an external keyboard that actually had a “Del” key.

I was stunned by how little I had to do afterwards. But there was one casualty. Although my Trackpad works, it doesn’t have all of the functionality. For example, I should be able to put two fingers on the trackpad and click for a right click. For some reason that’s not working now. I tried uninstalling and reinstalling the drivers and it’s just not working. However, two finger scrolling works, go figure. I went into the Boot Camp control panel and verified the settings were correct, it’s just not working. This is no biggie and may have something to do with the OLD Boot Camp drivers that were already present. This is one of the potential gotchas of NOT starting from scratch. It’s one I can live with for now. Usually when I’m in Windows via Boot Camp I’m doing a demo and I’d be using a mouse or tablet anyway. I also have a free little utility for Windows called Apple Mouse that lets you do a right click by holding down the Control button and tapping the trackpad button. So I’m good for now.

The other thing I had to do (which I fully expected), was to reactivate Windows XP. Windows looks for hardware changes like a different Ethernet card address and different processors, hard drives, etc. I was able to reactive Windows via the web with no problem. Everything else I’ve tried (so far) works fine. I can get online. My apps are working. No weird errors, no crashes. Winclone saved me HOURS of having to install everything from scratch.

 

Ongoing use of Winclone

Once I get my Windows environment updated the way I want (for example, uninstalling Adobe CS3 and installing Adobe CS4), I will use Winclone on a regular bases to create a backup of my Boot Camp Partition. This way if my Windows installation gets hosed, I can just restore it.

 

What about Parallels or VMware?

It’s true, with virtualization apps like Parallels, you don’t need to partition your drive. You would just have a Windows “image” that’s a file on your drive. It could even be on an external drive. With Parallels or VMware there’s also no need to reboot! Windows (or whatever OS you’re running) just runs in a Window right along side your Mac OS. So why Boot Camp? Parallels actually offers several modes of running Windows right along side your Mac OS including the ability to have it seamlessly integrate right into your Mac environment so that when you run Windows apps they show up in your Mac dock. It’s like running Windows apps in the Mac OS without seeing the Windows “window”. Although I love the sheer convenience of Parallels, I love the horse power of Boot Camp. When you run Windows under Parallels or VMware, you’re sharing resources with the Mac OS that’s ALWAYS running in the background. So you won’t have as much RAM available to either environment and you may not be able to take full advantage of your graphics card/3D graphics acceleration, Open GL, etc. Parallels is GREAT for the casual user or the user that isn’t running demanding apps. I actually use Parallels too. I use it for those times when I need to pop into Windows to do a task and don’t feel like rebooting my Mac. Both Parallels and VMware can use your Boot Camp Windows installation as their source for Windows, so you get the best of both worlds! If I need full power in Windows, I reboot and use Boot Camp. If I just need to do something quick or less demanding in Windows, then I run Windows in Parallels. The best part is that no matter which way I run Windows, it’s the SAME Windows installation with the same apps, files and settings. 

 

Windows XP starting up in Parallels 4 while the Mac OS runs in the background

 

Parallels 4.0

I also took this opportunity to upgrade from Parallels 3 to Parallels 4. While this isn’t a full review, it works great too. Because of the way Parallels installs stuff in your Windows environment, it changes just enough that Windows will probably need to be reactivated again. Had I known this up front I would have waited until Parallels 4 was installed before reactivating Windows. Since I had just recently reactivated it after the Boot Camp install, having to reactivate it again in such a short time probably appeared to Microsoft that I was trying to install it on two different computers. I was not allowed to reactivate it over the internet. I had to call in this time. It was still done automatically via a computer, but I had to answer the “how many computers are you installing this copy of Windows on?” question twice. It gave the necessary key code and I was all set. Parallels 4 is definitely faster than version 3. Also my Trackpad works perfectly under Parallels with the right-click functionally and scrolling.

I’ll have to review version 4.0 when time permits. However, booting up into Parallels now is dramatically faster. However, keep in mind that no matter how much they speed up Parallels, it will never be as fast as running in Boot Camp because you’ll always be sharing resources.

My Windows XP Boot Camp installation running in Parallels 4 as a Window on top of Mac OS X

 

The Bottom Line

The Mac is more popular than ever because of these capabilities. If you use Windows XP/Vista under Boot Camp on your intel Mac and you need to backup (duh, you need to backup), then Winclone is an indispensable Mac utility. If you need to migrate your Boot Camp Windows installation to another Mac, other than starting from scratch, there is no better way than using Winclone. You can download Winclone from here (yes it works with Vista too). Although there is no charge for this app, he is asking for donations. I had no problem donating because this is an app that I would have gladly paid for anyway. Apple should either buy this and include it with the OS or build-in this functionality into their existing Migration Assistant. People will be more willing to go to a new Mac if there is less hassle in doing so.


It’s Cyber Monday! huh?

I must admit that I had never heard of Cyber Monday until this past weekend. I guess I’m just not that into waiting to shop on certain days. Apparently Cyber Monday has been around since 2005. What is it? It’s another way for retailers (or etailers) to compete for your holiday shopping dollars online now that you’re back to work. Is it a sham? Maybe, depending on how you look at it. Both Black Friday and Cyber Monday are designed to get you to spend your money on certain days. However, if you’re in the market for stuff that you were going to buy anyway, why not take advantage of the deals if there are deals to be had? It certainly can’t hurt the economy.

Here’s a site that seems to have cornered the market on listing Cyber Monday Deals. There’s also Dealighted and Dealnews. Let us also not forget one of the biggest etailers of them all, Amazon.com. Amazon is always competing for your dollars and today will be no different.


iPhone App of the Week – Google Mobile App

You might be wondering, “why do I need a Google app on my iPhone? Isn’t Google built-in?” I wondered the same thing. The first time I downloaded the Google Mobile App a couple of months back, it was because the built-in Contacts app was soooooo slow at searching Contacts that I used the Google Mobile App instead. Once Apple brought acceptable speed back to the Contacts app via software updates, I deleted the Google Mobile App. Recently I put the app back on. I was intrigued by the New Voice Search. Although I love voice recognition technology, it usually doesn’t work very well for me. It usually takes 3-6 tries to get the device/app to recognize what I’m trying to say. I have voice recognition in my car and almost never use it for this reason. So I decided to give this App a try just for fun. Although it’s not perfect with my voice, it does work more times than not. Of course you don’t have to use the voice feature at all. You can just key in your search words as you would expect.

 

Why do I need the Google Mobile App? Isn’t Google built-in to the iPhone?

Beyond the new voice recognition capabilities, you’re probably still wondering why you need the Google Mobile App? It’s simple. The built-in Google search in Safari and Google maps are good! I use them all the time. However, they only search the internet. The Google Mobile App searches your iPhone data (Contacts) and the internet at the same time. Beyond that it offers suggestions and word completion for what it thinks you’re searching for. Although Apple did speed up Contact searching, the Google Mobile App is still faster. The Google Mobile App also keeps a history of your searches to make it easy to do the same searches again. Another thing that sets the Google Mobile App apart from the built-in Google search in Safari is that it’s Location Aware. This means that you can do searches for things around you. Yes the Google Maps can do this for businesses, etc., but it’s not as comprehensive as all that would be available to you searching the full Google Search Engine.

Searching for Showtimes in the Google Maps App that’s built-in to the iPhone just brought up a nearby theater.

If you’re a user of other Google services such as GMAIL, Notebook, Calendar, etc. You’ll have quick access to those services too.

Don’t get too excited. These apps are Google’s web based apps and open in Safari. They are not native iPhone apps.

 

How does the voice feature work?

Google recorded this cool demonstration. See it for yourself:

 

The Bottom Line

I like this app a lot. I really like the voice feature although it’s not perfect at recognizing my voice. It’s really cool just to speak your search and have it done. I like that it searches my Contacts at the same time it searches the web, but I wish it also searched my calendars too. It would be MUCH faster than having to scroll through looking for an appointment. As a matter of fact the Calendar app should have its own search feature like the Contacts app. It would be great if the Google Mobile App could search both at the same time. That being said, this app is FREE so it’s hard for me to complain about it. It does what it was built to do and does it well.

The Google Mobile App is FREE and available for both the iPhone and iPod touch. Download it from the App Store here: Google Mobile App


Happy Thanksgiving & Black Friday ’08

With all that’s going on in the world, I’m very happy with my life. I want to take this opportunity to wish you and your family a very Happy Thanksgiving!

 

Black Friday 2008

Well it’s here again! The day that retailers compete for your business. I do my best to avoid this madness at all costs. Last year was the first year that I went out shopping on Black Friday in YEARS! I just could resist the deals on GPS units at Staples. However, this year there is nothing tempting me. Nothing at all. So I plan to sleep in. I do know that many of you like deals and like gadgets (after all, that’s probably why you’re reading this right?). Before we get to the deals you might want some recommendations on cool stuff to bet. So check out my Holiday Gadget Gift Guide and my recent appearance on The MacJury. Now let’s get to the deals. Here are a few random Black Friday deals/sites you should check out:

First of all here’s a site that does a pretty good job of accumulating many of the Black Friday deals in one spot. It’s called Black Friday Gotta Deal.

The next one is Amazon.com. Since I HATE standing in lines, nothing pleases me more than to get good deals from the comfort of my chair. Check out Amazon’s Black Friday Deals.

Of course Apple products are always hot items on anyone’s list. So check out Apple’s Black Friday deals too.

Here are some deals at one of my favorite local computers/electronics stores – Micro Center.

I’m a Nikon shooter so I received a mailer with Nikon’s Black Friday Deals.

If you’re a video enthusiast then you probably want to check out The Video Guys.

 

Lastly, be sure to check out the Consumer Reports Electronics & Computers Gift Guide.

 

Enjoy!


Schedule TiVo recordings from your mobile phone

As an iPhone user, one of things I have had on my wishlist since the iPhone 2.0 software update was a “native” TiVo scheduler. While there still isn’t a native iPhone app for scheduling recordings remotely, TiVo has created a mobile friendly version of their website (finally).

That’s right, you can go to http://m.tivo.com from any mobile browser (or any browser period) and get a very streamlined mobile friendly version of their site. This mobile version is geared specifically for scheduling recordings on your TiVo Series 2 or TiVo Series 3/HD. 

 

Good start, but needs a little work

Let’s start with the fact that I think the main TiVo site needs some work. So I’m not surprised that the mobile version is less than perfect. On the main TiVo site you have the ability to log in and actually see a full blown “Guide” of all the channels you receive and what’s coming on several days in advance. From the guide you can either schedule one-time recordings or setup a Season Pass to always record your favorite shows.

Of course if you know the name of the show you want to record, you can just do a search for it. The Guide is a good thing to have, but it’s very cumbersome to navigate, and even worse on a mobile device. The biggest problem that I have with it is that you don’t get to narrow the selection down to just your favorite channels (although this is allowed on the actual TiVo hardware). So I end up have to scroll hundreds of channels that I will never watch/use. 

The mobile version doesn’t have a Guide at all. So the only way to schedule a recording is to do a search, pick from the Daily Picks or the Most Popular. This works well, but it brings up another issue (actually the same issue). Let’s say I do a search for “The Unit”.

It comes right up (very fast performance so far), however, since I can’t limit my search/account to just my favorite stations, it comes up with “The Unit” on channel 14. Channel 14 in my area is the old analog/basic standard def cable channel for CBS.

The channel I would rather record this show on would be channel 233, which is CBS HD in my area. I can choose to “view upcoming episodes” and it will then list the one I want on 233. This isn’t bad as an extra step.

However, I ran into a problem trying to do a Season Pass this way. I did my search and then chose to create a Season Pass. I saw that it was using the standard def station, so I then chose to View Upcoming Episodes, selected the same show on the HD channel and then completed my Season Pass. However, when I checked my TiVo HD, it had in fact created the Season Pass using the standard def channel. So for now I will not be using the mobile version of this site to do Season Passes. I also expect this problem to go away one way or the other by February 2009 when all stations are required to broadcast in digital. I expect those old basic cable channels to go away and this this won’t be an issue. The ultimate though would be for TiVo.com to just allow me to limit searches to my favorite channels. 

On a good note, I’m very happy that this mobile version seems to do a good job of keeping logged in. It’s a pain having always key in a user name and password. The desktop version of the site can’t even keep me logged in, so I’m pleasantly surprised that the mobile version can. I’m also happy that the mobile version allows me to choose which one of my TiVo HD’s to record to.

 

m.tivo.com added to the Home Screen

 

The Bottom Line

In all fairness, this mobile version of TiVo.com is listed as a “Beta”, so perhaps they will take my feedback and make improvements. If you have a TiVo Series 2 or Series 3/HD and a mobile phone (doesn’t require an iPhone), then you can’t go wrong with giving it a try. Although I can pull up the full version of the tivo.com site on my iPhone, this mobile version is sooooooooo much easier and faster. As good as the Safari browser is on the iPhone, I wish that ALL companies would offer mobile friendly versions of their websites. It’s just makes it easier and faster to get to the info we need. Less is more.


iPhone Software Update 2.2

On Thursday night last week, Apple released the iPhone 2.2 update. I’ve had it installed and have been playing with it over the weekend and thus far no issues. The official list of new features is as follows:

 

 

Enhancements to Maps

 

  • Google Street View
  • public transit and walking directions
  • display street address of dropped pins
  • share location via email

 

Enhancements to Mail

 

  • resolved isolated issues with scheduled fetching of mail
  • improved formatting of wide HTML email
  • Improved stability and performance of Safari

 

Podcasts are now available for download in iTunes

Decrease call-setups and call drops

Improved sound quality of visual voicemail

Pressing the Home button from any Home screen takes you to the first Home screen

Preference to turn off auto-correction in the Keyboard settings.

I’m really impressed and happy with the additions to the Maps app. Apple did a great job in implementing Google Maps Street View. Here’s how it works:

You can access Google Maps Street View (in areas where it’s available) by either using the Drop Pin feature or search for an existing Address/Contact. If Street View is available, the little orange guy/icon on the left of the address will be highlighted so that you can tap it. Once you tap it, the iPhone will go into a 360° Interactive Street View. You can use your finger to navigate around and see the area. It’s really pretty cool!

 

 

You can also get directions now using public transit and walking directions! This is really handy in places like New York City. I’ll never forget years ago following a set of directions that had me walk all the way around the block avoiding one way streets, arggghhh!

 

 

It’s also cool to be able to download podcasts now directly to your iPhone via the iTunes Wi-Fi store. One less reason to have to connect your iPhone to your computer to do a sync. So go ahead and check out an episode or two from my Adobe Creative Suite Video Podcast :)

 

Although these are cool features, the one that I’ll probably use the most is one of the smallest ones. Now when you’ve scrolled to a second, third, forth, etc. Home screen, you can tap the Home button to get back to the first Home screen without having to go back, back, back. I have 6 home screens so this will come in extremely handy. The iPhone Software Update 2.2 is now available through iTunes. Just plug your iPhone in and it should prompt you to do the download/install.


iPhone App of the Week – iChoose

Having a problem making a decision? Thinking of flipping a coin and going with chance? If that’s how you roll, then iChoose is your app. This isn’t just your basic coin flipping app. iChoose has got it all: Coin Toss, Yes/No, Dice Roll, Card Choice, Boy/Girl, Weather, Quit/Stay (in these economic times STAY!), Loves Me/Loves Me Not, and even Rock, Paper, Scissors. The latest version even comes with a random number generator, which you can set the range for in the preferences. 

Does this app solve the problems of the world? No, but it does make being on the fence regarding a decision a lot more fun. Check it out in the App Store. It’s FREE and works on the iPhone and the iPod touch. Download it here.

 



Reading SDHC cards via the ExpressCard slot

I’ve been using ExpressCard media readers for about as long as I’ve been using a MacBook Pro (years). I’ve used ones from SanDisk, Griffin Technologies, Synchrotech and now Belkin. Hands down my favorite Compact Flash reader/writer is the Synchrotech CF Express Card Reader. This is one of the only ones that takes true advantage of the ExpressCard slot’s speed when reading high-speed UDMA enabled Compact Flash cards. Read my earlier reviews of this card here and here.

 

What about reading SD cards?

My point and shoot still camera and consumer HD camcorder both use SD cards. So what about those? Although I love my San Disk 12-in-1 memory card reader, it’s really overkill since I’m only dealing CF and SD cards these days. Also since I don’t want to read CF cards at USB speeds, then I would only be using that reader for SD cards. So my answer is a very small ExpressCard Media Reader. I actually have a couple of these. However, I recently realized that the ones I have are older models that don’t read the high capacity SD (SDHC) cards. I ran into this problem just last weekend while doing an Adobe Premiere Pro CS4 demo. I needed the read the 8GB SDHC card from my Canon HF10 HD camcorder. My old Belkin ExpressCard reader wouldn’t mount the card. Luckily there was someone in the audience with a newer model and he let me use his.

Knowing that I was going to need to use one from here on out (SD cards continue to grow in capacity), I stopped by the Apple Store while I was in San Francisco for Adobe MAX. I was looking for the same brand that he had let me borrow (SanDisk). Unfortunately, I could only find ONE model and it was the Belkin. As a matter of fact it was the last one left and it looked just like the one I was using already. However, on the side of the packaging it did specifically show the SDHC logo, so I took a chance and bought it. When I got back to my hotel room, I compared the two and there was a difference in part number. So apparently Belkin had upgraded it. It worked like a charm!

Although these ExpressCard readers from Belkin and others (not counting the Syncrotech CF reader), go in the ExpressCard slot, they operate at USB speeds. So you really don’t gain anything speed wise (until someone develops a native ExpressCard slot one for SD), however, you do gain on compactness. When this Belkin reader is in the ExpressCard slot it’s flush with the side of my MacBook Pro. So nothing sticks out. You could even leave it in all the time if you don’t use your ExpressCard slot for other cards.

These readers read/write: SD/SDHC, MMC, MMCplus, MemoryStick, MemoryStick Pro, and xD-Picture Card without the need for an adapter. There really is no functional difference between the Belkin, SanDisk and Griffin Technology (although the Griffin reader doesn’t specially call out SDHC. It may not be updated yet!) readers. However, since they they all do the same thing and both the Belkin and SanDisk readers specifically list SDHC, you’re probably better off going with the SanDisk. Why? Because it lists for only $17.29, while the Belkin reader lists for $29.99. Had the Apple Store had the SanDisk model for that price, I would have gotten it.

If your Mac or PC notebook has an ExpressCard slot, then having one of these adapters is a must. They will fit in just about any pocket in your laptop bag. If you need Compact Flash support and you have an ExpressCard slot, then go with the Syncrotech. It will be way faster than your USB reader. If all you’re going to use is SD/SDHC cards, then you might be better off going with SanDisk’s very clever Ultra II SD/SDHC Plus Cards. These cards fold in half to expose a USB plug that goes right into your computer. No card reader necessary. They are my FAVORITE SD cards hands down!



Cool things at Adobe MAX 2008!

I’m here at Adobe MAX in San Francisco! This is actually my first time attending MAX and I gotta say that it’s blowing me away! There are about 5,000 people here that are attending sessions from sun up to sun down. This morning’s general session/keynote Adobe announced the NEW Adobe Flash Platform and showcased several very cool solutions around Adobe Flash and AIR. Adobe also announced that Major League Baseball (MLB) was going to be streaming their games now via Flash (take that Microsoft Silverlight). 

I taught two sessions yesterday on the conference track and have more to teach today and the audiences have been great. This is THE CONFERENCE if you’re a designer or developer. There are hands-on labs, conference sessions, birds-of-a-feather gatherings in the evening and the chance to meet with the actual engineers that write Adobe products and solutions. I’m having a blast meeting so many interesting customers. Thanks to those of you who read this blog and watch my Creative Suite Podcast that came up to me and said hello.

 

The Adobe Logo Store is back!

Now you can get your Adobe Gear on! When I did the CS3 tour last year, one of the most popular areas during the breaks, was the Adobe CS3 Logo Store. You could get hats, t-shirts, bags, pens, toys, etc. all bearing the Adobe CS3 logos. People were buying stuff left and right. Once the tour was over the store’s webpage also went away. I’m please to report that the NEW CS4 Gear Store is here! Now you stock up on your Adobe CS4 stuff, just in time for the holidays :)


2008 MacBook Pro Review

Fortunately my MacBook Pro is supplied to me by my employer. It’s my work computer. Therefore, I have to wait an adequate amount of time (usually around 18 months) before requesting a new one. This time around I waited a lot longer. The last two updates to the MacBook Pro were good, just not earth shattering. I didn’t feel like going through the hassle of transferring to a new MacBook Pro (including Boot Camp) the last two times. So I waited and kept using my MacBook Pro 2.33GHz model. Now I’m glad I did!

 

The New MacBook Pro

Apple has completely redesigned the MacBook Pro! As with anything, there will be some pluses and minuses and I certainly have my list. So let’s get to it:

 

The Pros:

The New MacBook Pro is crafted out of a single piece (brick) of aluminum through a new manufacturing process at Apple that looks pretty amazing. I can definitely see the benefits of this process because my New MacBook Pro is very sturdy. I can remember the days of the PowerBook G4 Titanium and how “flexible” those cases were. If you squeezed too hard while the CD drive was going, you would hear a grinding noise. Or if you flexed the casing too much the battery would fall out. Those days are gone, this thing is built very well. I also appreciate going to black keys on the keyboard. My keyboard over the years was really getting kind of grimy and this new keyboard should hide the dirt better. All the ports are back to being on one side. I kinda like this, although in some cases they are a little too close together. It can get pretty tight trying to plug in two USB cables, ethernet and Firewire 800. The speakers are much nicer and louder than any previous model. The new graphics card kicks butt! Graphics performance is night and day faster over my last model. Since CS4 takes advantage of the GPU, I’m seeing some really nice speed increases across the board. One of my long time pet peeves has finally been addressed. The two components that I have usually upgraded in the past on my MacBook Pro were the RAM and the hard drive. While I usually max out the RAM right off the bat, I may not upgrade the size of the hard drive until months later when larger capacities are available. Replacing a hard drive in PowerBooks and MacBook Pros has always been a real pain. Now Apple has made the hard drive very accessible via the same door that hides the battery. I took the cover off to take a peek and it was right there. I was speechless. The built-in iSight camera has improved drastically in image quality. Lastly I also really appreciate the speed. It is noticeably faster in many areas over my older model. If you want to continue to be in a happy place, stop reading now and go place your order. Have a nice day.

 

The Cons:

We have to take the bad with the good and there is some bad with this new model. While there are some Apple zealots out there that may not like to ever hear anything bad about Apple, the fact is Apple does make mistakes like any other company. The products are not perfect. Very cool, exciting yes, but not perfect. Everyone’s entitled to their opinion and here’s mine: The two areas I was most concerned about was the glossy screen and the new trackpad. The new LED glossy display is VERY BRIGHT! Almost too bright. I find myself sometimes turning it down a notch. I’ve used it now in all the places I normally use it in around the house and no real issues. Photos look fantastic on it and color looks awesome.  Apple decided to cover the display with glass! I was thinking that this was going to be a nightmare. As you might imagine, glass is highly reflective. So far this hasn’t been an issue, but I do notice the glare when looking at it from the sides. Another interesting thing was actually seeing the reflection of the backlit keyboard in the display under certain lighting conditions. As I tell people with any display/monitor, you need to see it with your own eyes, before passing judgement. No reviewer can tell you if it’s going to be right for you or not. It will also depend upon the lighting conditions you’re going to use it under. While I like the new black keys on the keyboard, the keyboard itself is missing a couple of things. I really miss the separate Enter key on the bottom right of the keyboard. I also miss the ability of having a numeric keypad using the Numlock key. I can’t figure out why Apple would remove this functionality? In the Pros section above, I mentioned that I liked having all the ports on one side. I do! However, I do miss having a USB port on the right side too. On occasion I use an AT&T USB Connect 881U USB 3G modem for internet access when I travel. Due to the width of this modem, it blocks the other USB port. This wasn’t an issue before, because I had another USB port on the other side of the computer. As I write this I have a Firewire 800 drive and an Ethernet cable plugged in and it’s really tight with no space between them. Speaking of ports, I really miss the other Firewire port. My older MacBook Pro had both a Firewire 800 and Firewire 400 port. While Firewire is daisy chainable, I have to remember to always have either the right cables with me or an adapter since I have a mix of Firewire 800 and 400 devices. If you get the new MacBook Pro, you will definitely want to get this Firewire 400 to 800 adapter. Apple also completely changed the battery. While that’s not uncommon they did a couple things to make it a little harder on travelers. I normally travel with at least one extra battery for my MacBook Pro for those cross country flights. The new MacBook Pro’s battery is longer/bigger than the previous model, which is going to be a consideration for packing my computer bag. Also Apple removed the battery charge indicator from the battery itself and put it on the side of the MacBook Pro. While this makes it more convenient to check the charge of the battery while it’s installed, it makes it impossible to know if a spare battery is charged or not without first putting it in the computer. Speaking of which is not as easy to do either. Now the battery is behind a removable door, which you must take off first!

 

My biggest complaint!

Yes, this con is so big that it needs it’s own section. Like I said earlier, I use my MacBook Pro about 90% of the time. So that means that I’m going to be using the trackpad a lot too. Yes, I know I know – you say get a mouse or a tablet! I have both a mouse and a tablet and I use them. I use my Bluetooth mighty mouse when I’m doing demos and I use my Wacom tablet when I’m doing photo retouching and demos as well. However, there are plenty of times where I’m just doing email, surfing the web, writing this blog post, etc. and I don’t always have a surface to put a mouse on. I could be sitting in an airport, on a plane, sitting in bed or laying back in a recliner. I’m not going to grab a mouse in these situations. Never had to before, I shouldn’t have to now! The new MacBook Pro’s trackpad is completely redesigned. The separate “click” button is GONE! The whole trackpad (actually most of the lower section) is a button. This has it’s pluses and minuses too. Unfortunately it has more minuses than pluses. It’s just sometimes awkward to click and drag objects. Speaking of clicking, this trackpad is the loudest I’ve ever heard. When you click it, everyone around you will know! This includes your sleeping mate that is lying next to you while you work late. I could deal with this if the darn thing just worked consistently. It seems that depending upon where you click (for example the center vs. the sides, you may get a click you may not. Now in all fairness, Apple is rumored to be working on a software fix to address at least this one issue. Let’s hope they can address other issues too. The New MacBook Pro has additional gestures that you can perform on the trackpad such as pinching to zoom in and out of photos. Photoshop CS4, InDesign CS4, iPhoto, etc. take advantage of these gestures. However, as it stands right now in their current implementation, it’s just too sensitive to be useful. I’m also stunned that there is no way to turn them off! This makes working in Photoshop or iPhoto very challenging from the trackpad. Sure, you can just use a mouse! Yeah, I get that. However, that’s a workaround! The trackpad is built-in and should be usable! I had none of these issues with the old one and used the old trackpad the majority of the time. Let’s hope that much of this is addressed in the upcoming software update. I want to believe that I’ll get used to the trackpad. These few days were kinda rough. It puts me in the mind of the first week I started typing on the iPhone. I thought that was going to take a long time to get used to too. However, it’s second nature now. We’ll see how this goes over time.

 

The bottom line

Despite the issues I’m having with the trackpad, I’m very pleased with the New MacBook Pro. The Glossy display is no where near as annoying as I thought it would be. The new MacBook Pro is solid, gorgeous and fast! Migrating over from my previous MacBook Pro was a piece of cake (I still have Boot Camp left to do). It was worth the wait and I would gladly do it again. My configuration is the Core 2 Duo 2.8GHz, 320GB 7200 RPM hard drive with 4GB of RAM. Should you upgrade to the MacBook Pro. If you want a faster better built MacBook? YES! However, you need to see the display for yourself! What is acceptable for me, may not be for you.



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