Apple’s Not Too Hot (to handle) MacBook…

…was quite a stunner in person when I spent time with it and some nice Apple folks at the Le Parker Meridian Hotel here in Manhattan today. The MacBook is especially attractive to a guy like me who believes (small) size matters when it comes to easily working out of the house in a cafe or when traveling, vs. a bigger screen and the bigger stress it puts on the shoulder (and wallet).

Enter Apple’s new MacBook with its spectacularly bright 13-inch widescreen that’s got the shiny finish I prefer over the anti-glare screen of the workhorse PowerBook G4 12″ (1.5 GHz) I’ve been using for more than a year now.


But after reading the initial hands-on reviews, I was worried about various reports of the MacBook’s underside heating up to the point of discomfort (and crashing). I was pleased to find that the MacBook resting atop my bare legs (relax, I was wearing shorts) for nearly an hour felt barely hotter than the PowerBook G4 12″ sitting on the same skin now as I write this. Yes, the white MacBook I shot in the photo tried out had the battery settings set to custom, which means the processor was probably throttled down to a slower speed, but the black MacBook I later swapped to, which was playing The Incredibles off a DVD spinning inside, wasn’t unusually hot either. Hotter than the white MacBook, definitely. But burning hot (like an early generation G4 PowerBook I used before the one I’m using now, which had not only a toasty underside, but also an uncomfortably hot-to-the-touch wrist rest)? Nope. Which isn’t to say the early reviews are inaccurate.

The MacBook’s bigger brother, the MacBook Pro, has been the subject of heated too-hot issues after it was released, and only time will tell if the MacBook reports are contained to a few too-hot-to-handle first-run units or more widespread. If history repeats itself, Apple will cool the MacBook down in the future with hardware tweaks and/or Software Update firmware fixes. The warm-hearted issue aside, my only other quibble is that the MacBook employs built-in graphics vs. a dedicated video processor better suited to playing 3-D games like Quake 4 or Splinter Cell Chaos Theory. Sure, I tend to play games on my Xbox 360 more than on the computer anymore, but it’s nice to have the option. Otherwise, I probably wouldn’t notice, since I don’t do any serious graphic or photo or video work.

Fine points in today’s hands-on legs-on demo include the keyboard that looks weird in pictures but is divine in person; the built-in iSight camera; the nice trackpad that recognizes fingertip gestures for scrolling up and down and left and right and all around; the fine Front Row software for managing picture slideshows,
listening to music, and watching videos; the lid that’s magnetic and thankfully latch-free like earlier loose-tooth-prone models; and the smooth, matte black finish that’s comfortable to the touch, yet doesn’t show fingerprints, the way black iPods do.

One wish list feature I hope to see reach all of Apple’s Mac products this year: TiVo-like TV viewing and recording. So, would I buy a MacBook? Hell yes. If I could afford one. Until then, the MacBook (like TV on the Mac) will be parked on my Wish List (in this case,’s) until I can park one on my lap again for a longer review. Stay tuned.

Apple MacBook MA472LL/A 13.3


2 Responses to “Apple’s Not Too Hot (to handle) MacBook…”

  1.   1 A.Miha

    Way to go Joe.

  2.   2 Derek

    Take a look at this link. You might get a kick out of the reason why we’re seeing these heat issues:

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