The 2010 MacBook, Apple’s least expensive notebook, has a lot going for it, well beyond its good looks and processing prowess. It delivers a lot of technology in a small package. But packing all those goodies into the small form factor, and keeping the price around the £850 level, meant Apple had to make a few design tradeoffs.
Find out if the Apple MacBook is the right notebook for you.
Polycarbonate Unibody Construction
The 2010 MacBook uses the same unibody case design pioneered in its bigger sibling, the MacBook Pro. But while the design concept is the same - milling a single billet of material to produce an ultra-strong and ultra-lightweight case - the material is different. The MacBook eschews aluminum in favor of less expensive polycarbonate.
The plastic polycarbonate case has a no-slip coating on the bottom that will help your MacBook stay wherever you set it down. The unibody case and non-slip coating make this edition of the MacBook one tough contender.
The MacBook has a 13.3-inch LED-backlit glossy display that produces a very bright screen as well as vivid colors and deep blacks. On the down side, glossy screens have a very high potential for glare. Of course, this depends on the environment you’re using the MacBook in. In most cases, you can negate glare by simply turning the screen or adjusting the angle of the display.
One other problem with a glossy display is that colors, while vivid, tend to be less accurate than with a matte finish display. If color accuracy is important to you, you may want to consider the MacBook Pro lineup instead.
Multi-Touch Comes to the MacBook
The same Multi-Touch glass trackpad used in the MacBook Pro line makes its first appearance in the MacBook. The large glass trackpad supports one-finger taps, which are equivalent to left and right mouse clicks, as well as two-finger scrolling and gestures, such as the pinch to zoom in or zoom out, and the three-finger swipe, which lets you move forward and backward in web browsers, the Finder, and iPhoto. You can also use the trackpad to rotate images by simply inscribing a circle with your fingertip.
The glass trackpad was a high-end feature of the MacBook Pro, so seeing it in the MacBook is a pleasant surprise.
The MacBook uses an NVIDIA GeForce 320M as its graphics processor. Just last year, Apple fans were excited at the 9400M’s inclusion in the 2009 MacBook. But a year is a long time in the computer world. The change to the GeForce 320M is nice upgrade, and should provide performance ranging from 1.3 to 1.8 times better than last year’s graphics.
Even though the graphics have been upgraded, the GeForce 320M is still a consumer-level graphics processor. It’s a great choice for education, home, and professional work that doesn’t require high-end graphics capabilities.
The MacBook is powered by a 2.4 Intel Core 2 Duo processor, the same processor line used in the Mac mini and the 13-inch MacBook Pro. When it comes to performance, this processor is no slouch. With two processors on a single core, the MacBook has enough performance to handle just about any task you can throw at it without breaking a sweat.
The MacBook is usually configured with 2 GB of RAM, and can support up to 4 GB. Apple considers MacBook memory to be a user-replaceable part. Adding memory to a MacBook is a fairly straightforward task. Apple provides step-by-step instructions in the MacBook user manual.
You can probably save yourself a little bit of cash by purchasing a MacBook with the minimum amount of RAM, and performing any memory upgrades yourself, using RAM purchased from third-party vendors.
The MacBook has a 2.5-inch SATA hard drive, and is offered with your choice of a 250 GB, 320 GB, or 500 GB drive. Along with RAM, Apple considers the hard drive a user-replaceable part, and provides step-by-step instructions for replacing the hard drive in the user manual.
If you’re considering a MacBook with a hard drive larger than the default 250 GB, you can probably save yourself some cash by purchasing a hard drive from a third-party vendor, at a price much lower than what Apple charges for a hard drive upgrade. You can use the original hard drive in an external case for backups.
Is the MacBook Right for You?
The MacBook is intended to be Apple’s consumer-level notebook. With a target audience of students, educators, home users, and small businesses, the MacBook is a great choice for individuals who need a small, lightweight notebook with good performance.
The MacBook’s main weaknesses are its average performing graphics system and its glossy screen. If these two features don’t concern you, then the MacBook may be a great choice, especially considering how easy it is to upgrade RAM and the hard drive.