Yesterday we discussed the Top Ten Reasons I Love my MacBook Pro and today, to be fair, we look at the darker side of the MacBook Pro in the definitive Top Ten List of Hates:

1. Heat: The 17-inch MacBook I have runs hot. Because the case is made of metal the heat goes directly from inside the machine to the case and outside right to your hands. I don’t mind the heat so much but, compared to my other Windows laptops made of plastic, I wonder if this burning MacBook metal is a better or worse sensation or if my wondering is merely being sensational.

2. Whine: It seems many MacBook Pros have an annoying high-pitched whine that Apple cannot seem to fix or even make it clear if they think the problem exists or not. I don’t mind the whine so much — many blame it on the new Intel chip in the MacBook Pros and Intel blames Apple and Apple says nothing — because I always have iTunes playing, the TV is on, the radio is turned up and my Vornado fans are blowing full blast. My poor cat, however, refuses to sit on my lap now. The whine hurts his ears and in a quiet room it hurts mine, too. I can’t imagine using this MacBook Pro in a library where quiet is the mandate of the day: I’d be tossed out on my dual-core.

3. Giant Wrist Wrest: As I stated in an earlier review, the GIANT WRIST REST IS THE SIZE OF SIBERIA! Bring the keyboard closer to us, Apple, and give us a chance to properly type again for those of us who were taught the correct hand and wrist position early on in our typewriter lives.
4. Mandatory CRON Jobs: MacBooks run on UNIX. I was surprised to learn there are mandatory CRON jobs Mac OS X must do every day to keep things humming. Those script jobs run at 3:15am during the week and at 4:30am on Saturdays and then again on the first of each month. If your machine is not on 24/7 these maintenance CRON jobs don’t run. Your machine gets old and cranky and unstable and — you wonder why! A new Mac friend pointed me to the Cocktail program you can use to force those CRON jobs to run when you want them to run so you don’t have to keep your machine on all day and all night. Also, no one tells you about “repairing disk permissions” and that’s an important thing to do — I have learned on my own from new Mac friends — before and after you install any software on your Mac. Cocktail can also help you get those permissions repaired.
5. Lack of Major Intel-Only Software: The new Intel dual-core Macs have been out for a year now but there is still an unforgivable lack of major company software support for that platform. This tells me Apple has no real muscle in the marketplace. There is no Intel version of PhotoShop for the Mac from Adobe. There’s no updated Office suite for the Intel Macs from Microsoft. Apple itself can’t even seem to get an Intel version of its necessary and vital QuickTime PlugInHelper ported over to the Intel platform:
QuickTime PlugInHelper Won't Run on Intel Macs!
When I asked Apple about the lack of a proper Intel PlugInHelpher I was told, rather brusquely, “Apple does not comment on unannounced products.” When you get that kind of crass response from a company you begin to wonder why you moved to Apple in the first place and why you chose QuickTime to code and play your movies and why you ever moved away from Windows and the Windows Media Player.
I guess I’ll have to go back to coding my QuickTime movies on my ThinkPad and that’s plain goofy. Even Sisyphus is laughing at me! I have yet to find a comprehensive visual HTML editor for the Intel Macs.
6. No Proper Bluetooth Mouse: Apple makes a single Bluetooth mouse. It has no scroll capability and no second button. If Apple can’t properly support Bluetooth on their machines by providing excellent accessories like a Bluetooth mouse with more than one button and some sort of scroll wheel then why should any other company bother to serve us with one?
7. Poor Ports Location: Splitting the multitude of ports on the Macbook Pro between both sides of the machine is ridiculous and silly. Obviously the Apple designers don’t think you’ll use a mouse with your MacBook Pro because, if they did, they would not have so badly split the ports baby.
8. Fonts: I complained long and hard about the chalky fonts on the MacBook Pro. I received no response from Apple. Then, last week, the OS X update 10.4.7 arrived and — shazam! — the fonts rendering is fixed and perfect.
9. No Manual: No manual? I like paper.  I like a hardcopy book I can hold in my hands. When other Mac people tell you to buy a book instead of relying on Apple’s documentation, you begin to wonder why Apple is acquiescing the understanding of their computer and platform to minds outside the company. A PDF file is never a manual. A web-based “Knowledge Base” does not a manual make.
10. Lack of Communication: The dual-core processor whine, the lack of a PlugInHelper, the heat problem and the fonts problem and the CRON jobs issue are all examples of poor communication between company and end user. A more egregious example of poor Apple communication happened last week with the release of the 10.4.7 OS X upgrade. It seems some vital files were left out of the update and, two days later, Apple re-released the upgrade with all the proper files included.
However, if you downloaded and installed the first version of the update you were never informed via Software Update or any other method that you should re-download and re-install the upgrade! If you wanted to re-install the upgrade you could not do it via the Software Upgrade menu because it didn’t see or feel the second upgrade. You can dig into the Apple website on your own and find the right updated update file, download it and then figure out how to get the installation to happen.
That process wasn’t much of a problem for me but for a newbie to the Apple platform that process is vague and needlessly confusing. I also found it miraculous Apple were not vilified in the press and by their peers for the “Ooops, let’s do it again!” 10.4.7 OS X update! If Microsoft had made that kind of blunder with a Windows OS update you would still be reading about it in the press as the end users howl for more Microsoft blood to be spilled over the error.
There are other niggles I have with my MacBook Pro, but these Top Ten Hates will have to last us for now because, in the larger scheme of life, the MacBook Pro is a terrific machine from a company that continuously tempts greatness.

30 Comments

  1. Hi Gordon!
    That seems to be the trade-off. Apple wants a quieter machine so the threshold for turning on the fan — or not — is higher which means the machine gets hotter. Those who seem to know, though, say the MacBook Pros run just as hot as other machines but the metal case makes the heat seem hotter.
    I just read that turning off Bluetooth — which means I’d have to go with some sort of wired wireless mouse solution — will lower you heat by five degrees. We’ll see if that works!

  2. Hot is a problem. Some people use skins on their keyboard. That seems like that would make your machine hotter. I agree there isn’t much Intel-Mac major band software out there. That’s depressing.

  3. Hi Roger!
    Thanks for popping in here again. I don’t know if I’d use a keyboard protector or not. I guess if you’re a messy eater it might help and it might help to protect your screen from getting scratched by the keys if you travel a lot.
    I agree the difference between rosetta-kluged software and Intel-Mac Universal applications is a mile wide and a fathom deep. I’m doing everything I can to only have Intel-Mac software on this box — but I’m stuck with Office and Macromedia Studio 8. I deleted all the Adobe stuff. It just did not behave right.

  4. Yeah, Roger, it’s so funny it has me pulling out my hair! I want to strangle that double-faced Blue Finder Man in that screen shot!
    :mrgreen:
    How could Apple abandon those who use Intel Macs by not updating their own Apple QuickTime PlugInHelper? It makes zero sense. To have to code all my QuickTime stuff on my Windows ThinkPad — where the Windows version of that Plugin works just fine — is so stupid!

  5. I now feel ready to talk to anyone with MAC woes! LOL
    My all-time favorite laptop was my snappy little blue Toshiba Satellite. Talk about being a workhorse.
    I got myself a HP with a tru-brite screen because it’s really great for all the digi photography I do.
    So glad I found you on BlogExplosion. Have a fabulous 4th, Frances

  6. Hi Frances!
    It’s wonderful to meet you and thanks for the good holiday wishes!
    I am a Toshiba fan as well.
    My MacBook Pro is holding up pretty well, though! I’m not having a lot of the hardware troubles some are reporting in the Apple forums.

  7. Thanks for publishing this. I’m very tempted to get a MacBook and it’s made me think I should perhaps wait a little longer.
    What I’m extremely disappointed with is the keyboard. I know this may sound a bit picky, but I’m really unhappy with the keys. I really dislike the new font they’ve used; Apple has always, up until now, used the Univers typeface, and to me it looks classic. Plus, the characters are placed in the centre of the key. Finally, I’m not keen on the spacing between the keys.
    If anyone has any information on the above changes to the keyboard I’d be very grateful if you could inform me.

  8. Hey Ritchie!
    Welcome to the blog!
    I’m new to the Mac line of computers. Are you talking about a MacBook or a MacBook Pro?
    I have both machines and I find the keyboard on each of them to be excellent. There’s no reason to wait to purchase. You’re never supposed to look at your keyboard while typing so the font on the keys shouldn’t matter!
    😀

  9. Nobody seems to want to admit it, but UNIX is a language that has limitations and is simply that one language that techies love to fiddle with. But it is a language that hinders many multi-media functions over extended periods. The CRON jobs have to be done or you’ll be in trouble and it’s simply a part of UNIX.
    If UNIX and Apple ever made a machine as user friendly as a PC with Windows XP I’d be there in a flash. But it isn’t going to happen and any Apple lover that says differently is bound by some odd ego that can’t admit when they are wrong.
    By the way, I bought the MacBook myself just to see. I sent it back and got refunded. It was a lemon.

  10. Treeorc,
    UNIX is not a language. It is an operating system, comprised of a kernel and a standard collection of core programs. Techies do enjoy fiddling with UNIX, but this is beside the point entirely and has nothing to do with the MacBook Pro or Intel Macs specifically, or even OS X in general. In any case, the UNIX systems I’ve maintained (mostly OS X, FreeBSD and different Linux distros) have been more much stable and predictable than any Windows system I’ve used.
    David,
    I hate my MacBook Pro too. I have the 15″ model. Like you, the heat and whine issues had topped my ‘hate list’– until recently.
    About a month ago my keyboard started acting funny. Now certain keys don’t work in certain combinations. For e.g. I can’t type a captial ‘T’ using the left shift key; I must use either Shift-T, or CapsLock-T. Also, the ‘fn’ key fails when used in combination with some (but not all) other keys. For e.g. I can’t use fn-F5 to raise my volume. Nor can I use fn-downarrow to page down. So annoying!!
    Further, roughly one week ago my battery began to fail (that is my diagnosis, anyway). My MBP now randomly shuts down, with a 30% battery charge remaining.
    I had been more or less happy with my MacBook Pro, until these issues began (I bought it in early March). It’s high time I sent the machine in for repairs, though I have been loath to do so up to this point since I rely on the machine daily for my teaching job and writing projects. However, it looks like Apple may now be recognizing the whine issue as a real problem:
    http://docs.info.apple.com/article.html?artnum=303365
    The prospect of fixing the whine makes me feel a lot better about sending in my bread-and-butter MBP for repairs. Previously I’d thought that the whine was a problem with Core Duo processors across the board, and not a problem with the MacBook Pros in particular. I am hoping for a logic board replacement, or perhaps even an entire system replacement considering the other issues I’m having.
    All in all, I wish I’d bought a late-model Powerbook instead. I am an author who doesn’t really need the processor speed of the MBP. I was hoping that shelling out a few extra $$$ for the MBP would buy me a little extra system-longevity. Instead, it looks like I bought a lemon. I am extremely upset witha Apple and frequently recommend that others avoid purchasing MacBook Pros. WArgh!!

  11. Sorry to hear about your problems, Brian.
    So far I’ve been lucky — I only seem to have the whine — my battery seems okay, my 17″ MacBook is running cooler with the 10.4.7 update. The screen is fine. Power management seems like it’s working without much trouble.
    The 15″ MacBook Pros seem to have a harder time with production quality than the 17″ versions for some reason.
    I will deal with the whine unless something else awful happens — then I’ll send the whole thing in and hope for the best.
    I hear from some people that their MacBook Pro machines come back in worse shape than when they were sent in for servicing so right now I’m holding on, but not holding my breath.
    Make sure you check your 15” battery for its recall status here:
    https://support.apple.com/macbookpro15/batteryexchange/

  12. I was forced into buying a new laptop because a case failed and my old Tibook crashed to the ground. 🙁 It would be almost as much to repair it as to buy a new laptop, so I chose the “new “route. It was around the time of the advent of the Intel macs, so I held out as long as I could… then while I dithered between getting a PB G4 and a Macbook Pro, they ran out of 15” Powerbooks! That essentially forced me into the MBP route.
    I have to say that I am extremely happy with this turn of events. I missed the batches of whiny, mooey machines, and my battery has only shut down randomly once or twice, LOL, so I am awaiting my recall replacement. With 1.5 GB of RAM, I am able to run *everything,* including Win XP over Parallels, Adobe Pshop Rosetta version, M$oft Office whatever, multiple web browsers, etc., etc. smoothly and quickly. All Adobe apps (I’m a couple of versions behind, Pshop 7, Indesign 2, etc.) work perfectly. I’ve totally redesigned my website and been on my laptop about 16 hours a day at times, with few or no problems, bashing it to its max performance as I quickly multitask between photo and video editing, blogging, music editing, video chatting, running Windoze progs when I need to, etc. It is a *workhorse*. I highly recommend it.

  13. Thanks for the great comment, Susan and welcome to the blog!
    I agree with you. I reconditioned my 17″ battery the other day and I went back to my ThinkPad for awhile and enjoyed it. Then I went back to my MacBook Pro and LOVED everything about it so much more.

  14. Yeah, we have a Thinkpad that’s maybe two years old… XP runs SO much faster on Parallels than on that! Ironic… I can hardly wait until Parallels fixes the USB access info so I can do things like use my USB CD printer and transfer secure WMA library audiobooks to my Sandisk MP3 player, all on my Mac, and never have to fire up that PC again!

  15. Yes… as I indicated, the software to print CDs with my Casio CD printer that has no Mac software (other models do, but not this one), and the Netlibrary .wmv secure audiobooks to transfer to my player. Also, our Canon printer doesn’t have a network Mac driver, so I used Windows to print wirelessly to our print server in our house. I print to PDF to a shared folder the Parallels program accesses. But it’s just a matter of firing Parallels up, doing the stuff I need to do on it, then shutting it down again. It’s not on all the time, fortunately! It’s just nice having the flexibility to do this. Virtual PC doesn’t work on Intel, and the last version I had was so slow it wasn’t worth it anyway.
    Susan

  16. I have experienced some of the same issues. The laptop does get hot and I hate where all the port are.
    The whine on my computer was driving me crazy and one of my co-workers could not come in my office because the high pitched whine bothered him so much, but my 10 year old son found a way to fix it. He dropped it on the floor. Ever since then the whine has been gone.
    Parallels is great! As soon as the update is availble I should be able to sync my Pocket PC and then I will be set.
    Even with my complaints I would still recommend the Macbook Pro. Been the best laptop I have ever owned.
    K.

  17. You can run the maintence scripts that Cocktail runs from the Unix shell. Although, I agree that Apple should build an interface to make it easy.
    You’d run the Terminal app, move to the directory /etc and run the following scripts:
    daily
    weekly
    monthly

  18. I’m slightly off here. I recently bought the brand new Macbook. The one all the adds say is so fast and superior. It is a chick magnet but it too runs like a dog. I am flaberghast at the time it takes to open Office applications. It is embarassing to me in my work.

  19. I have a 15 in MB Pro unibody, I hate it. I had windows 7 installed on it, because I play games on my computer. I have had to get a handful of programs just as work arounds. You really can not do anything cool with macs. The one thing I hate, more than anything, is the mouse acceleration. Holy crap, so unusable. Oh I also tried installing Ubuntu on it…… Yea, epic fail on Macs. Not only did nothing work on start up, but when I tried to remove it I could not delete the new partition. So I am stuck with 50 gig void.

    Oh but the trackpad is nice.