Up to 12 months, as low as Rs. 1,667 per month.
Up to 12 months, as low as Rs. 1,667 per month.
Let’s take a quick look at the specifications:
Build and Design
The first difference between the plastic MacBook and its Aluminum sibling is the elimination of aluminum and glass from the materials. This model has the white plastic polycarbonate we have known and loved through the years. Like its predecessors (of which I owned three generations) build quality is hit and miss. There are small gaps where panels come together, and the battery still sticks out a wee bit. Controlling tolerances with plastic construction is harder than when using metal.
In terms of creaks and noise while using it, this MacBook is almost silent. The flexy and fragile feeling plastic hinge on this MacBook is no match for the Aluminum model’s hinge. Rather than a LCD latch mechanism all MacBooks use a magnetic latch.
In terms of size, nothing has changed. MacBooks are tough to beat if a small notebook is what you need. Dimensions are: height 1.08 inches (2.75 cm), width 12.78 inches (32.5 cm), depth 8.92 inches (22.7 cm), weight 5.0 pounds (2.27 kg). This is thicker and slightly heavier than the Aluminum MacBook. I had to check that twice because you would expect the Aluminum Body and Glass screen of the unibody MacBook to weigh more, not less.
Port layout on this MacBook is sparse; on the left side you get Kensington lock, microphone, headphone, one Firewire 400, two USB 2.0, mini-DVI and Ethernet ports. An integrated card reader would be a great addition in my opinion.
A tiny 60 Watt power adapter is included that adds about half a pound to the travel weight. MacBook uses Apple’s Mag Safe connector. This innovation eliminates a few risks from notebooks; for example a sudden yank of the cord releases the magnetic connector before the notebook is pulled off the table or the socket breaks.
Another feature left off of this basic MacBook is an LED back light. As a result the screen on this notebook is nowhere near as bright as the one on my Aluminum MacBook. Its plastic screen coating is high gloss, but not as bright as the glass screen on the Aluminum MacBook.
For a screen this size, the MacBook’s 1280 x 800 is a good resolution. Text size and the amount of usable screen real estate are decent. If you plan on doing any video or photo work an external monitor will be a good idea. Colors are washed out compared to the Aluminum MacBook. Viewing angles are good horizontally and poor vertically – this is what I have come to expect from consumer notebooks. Pressing fingers firmly against the back did not cause ripples in the LCD display. Above the display is the iSight webcam and what appears to be stereo microphones.
Keyboard and Touchpad
Apple’s chiclet keyboard is starting to appear in many competitor’s products for good reason, key travel is short and the action is quiet (although not as quiet as Aluminum MacBook’s keyboard). The base reassuringly flex-free.
The next omission is the fancy touch pad from the new Aluminum MacBook. Rather than the new over-sized glass design without the customary single button, this model uses a more traditional wide aspect ratio single button pad. It is a little fussier to setup than the glass version, but it works great once you have dialed the settings to suit your preferences. While not quite as good as the new version, this is still one of the better input devices you’ll find on a computer.
The omission of a glass trackpad means that you won’t be using Apple’s full multi touch capabilities. What you will be missing is the ability to rotate pictures, increase/decrease zoom and even change the screen magnification with the touch pad.
The MacBook’s CPU is common in this price range; Intel’s Core 2 Duo P7350 CPU. This is a Penryn-3M medium voltage chip. What does this mean?
MacBook uses NVIDIA’s 9400M chipset (comparable to the desktop nForce 730i). This is a core logic chipset that incorporates integrated graphics (IGP). Before we get to the video system, let’s look at the basic features. As a Centrino 2 alternative it features many of the same characteristics; faster Front Side Bus (FSB) speed of 1066MHz with DDR3 or DDR2. Unlike Intel, NVIDIA packages all on the chipset’s features into a single small chip – it uses space more efficiently.
Apple offers the base MacBook with only 2GB of inexpensive and easy to find DDR2 667 RAM. Most competitors offer 4GB at this price so Apple’s stinginess with RAM is a disappointment. Sure, you can get 4GB on sale for $30 but you shouldn’t have to. Apple’s operating system conserves memory pretty well and runs fine with only 2GB.
NVIDIA’s GeForce 9400M video system is one of the faster integrated solutions along with the AMD RADEON Mobility 3200. However, this only gets it to the ankle level of powerful mobile GPUs. Apple and NVIDIA each claim that this solution is 5x as powerful as Intel’s latest. Apple describes the chip as having 256MB of dedicated shared memory – very misleading. As an IGP it uses 256MB of system memory leaving you with approximately 1750MB free to run programs. In the Aluminum MacBook, fast DDR3 helped the 9400M post some very good benchmark scores. It will be interesting to see how slower DDR2 changes the equation.
Before we test whether it can handle recent games, here are some of the salient points:
How much of these GPU features are used in OS X 10.5 is debatable. I did not see much evidence of it. Video playback was good, but that could just be the CPU doing its job. Encoding in iMovie did not appear to be much faster than previous Core 2 Duo Macs – GPU acceleration makes a big difference, so if it was on we would know. Whether future software updates enable PureVideo acceleration, CUDA and PhysX remains to be seen. Hopefully you won’t have to upgrade to 10.6 to see benefits.
Onwards, to the storage system; FUJITSU MHZ2120BH 120GB HDD has a spindle speed of 5400rpm, 8MB buffer and SATA-II 3.0 Gb/s interface. This is an OK performer but the size is a disappointment. Even basic notebooks come with 320GB now.
Optical recording is robust and the Hitachi LG Data Storage GS22N SATA burner covers all but the most exotic formats (CD-R 24x, CD-RW 4x, DVD-R 8x, DVD-R DL 4x, DVD-RW 4x, DVD+R 8x, DVD+R DL 4x DVD+RW 4x, DVD-RAM 5x). This is a slot loading model so it spares you the wimpy cheap feel of normal tray loading notebook optical drives.
Networking is handled by Nvidia chipset and RealTek RTL8211. No 56k modem here (available separately as a USB dongle). Wireless networking capabilities are powered by Broadcom’s Atheros BCM4322 802.11 ABGN Wi-Fi chip. RealTek also provides the HD Audio Codec along with autosensing jacks that seem to work a little better than those of the previous MacBook which were known to get stuck on digital out mode from time to time.