December 21, 2008
The old MacBook was just over 2 years old. My usual update schedule is 2 years but that was when building my own average spec’d Windows machine. With Macs, if you buy right after a refresh, the specs are just about top of the line. The machine was starting to slow down, but not dramatically. The real need for the replacement was my hard drive filling up and the new model MacBook looking to offer quite a bit.
Things I wanted in the new MacBook
250gb Hard Drive – The old MacBook’s hard drive was 160gb. I had it upgraded at time of purchase from Apple. With a Windows partition, it cut the size down even more. Now with a 250gb drive my main concern is that my 320gb external is not going to be enough for Time Machine and some decent amount of backup space.
Backlit Keys – I usually use my MacBook as a desktop machine. Meaning it’s connected to an external monitor, keyboard, and mouse. A few months ago I started using it more as an actual laptop. It was pretty nice but it really bothered me that I couldn’t see the keys.
Better Video Card – Not that I game but just the OSX animations need something decent to run. My only concern is the shared 256mb that comes out of my 2gb of RAM. I think it will be fine for now, I will likely upgrade the RAM once the DDR3 sticks come down a bit in price.
Things Lost with the New MacBook
FireWire – I used FireWire for my external hard drive. It has the option for USB, so not a huge deal. I also used FireWire for my video camera. This could be a pain but I’m not sure the camera still works. If I have to, I will use one of the old Macs with FireWire around the house.
I didn’t go with a MacBook Pro because I thought it might be a little larger than I wanted. I thought my MacBook screen was a little small. I compared it to my HP Laptop, which is the perfect size. I had always thought the HP was 15″. Turns out, I was wrong. It was 14″. I don’t know of many 14″ laptops so I’ve excused my stupidity. I think my feeling that the MacBook was took small when it is almost the same size as my HP comes down to what I use it for. On my HP I’m using a web browser 98% of the time. On the MacBook I was trying to use it just like I do on my 20″ widescreen monitor. Obviously that’s going to be different.
I ordered the MacBook from Amazon, their deal was the best I saw from a place I knew I could trust. The free shipping took about as long as it would have from Apple. Fast shipping from China (Apple) vs Slow shipping from Maryland (Amazon). I also didn’t need to customize, which I could have only done with Apple. If the prices were the same I likely would have ordered from Apple and upgraded the RAM, but in a few months it will still be cheaper to have ordered from Amazon and buying the RAM and putting it in myself.
I opened it up and started with the Migration Assistant. This was my first experience using the tool. All I had to do was connected an Ethernet cable between the 2 MacBooks. Then it went on its way transferring about 120gb. It took a little more than 3 hours to complete the process. Easy enough. I was then presented with a registration screen. As I typed in my email address, I came across a problem. The O key didn’t feel right when I was typing in .com. It felt like it was stuck. Thanks to the backlit keyboard, I was able to see a piece of plastic under the key keeping it from being pressed down normally like the others.
I was upset that I hadn’t realized the problem before spending the 3 hours waiting for everything to copy to the new machine. It only took clicks to do that process, I didn’t have to use the keyboard at all. Since it would be going back somewhere I had to clear the hard drive and reinstall OSX.
I gave my first ever call to Apple Tech Support. I expected to just be told to go deal with Amazon, but I’ve heard stories of Apple having excellent Tech Support, so I figured I’d at least give it a shot. I was given 2 options: return to Amazon for a new replacement or return to Apple to be repaired. Since it was the 1st day with the machine I knew I wanted a new machine. Before hanging up I asked for a case number in case Amazon was too much of a hassle and I decided I wanted to do the repair. As he was typing in the description of the problem he told me something popped up on his screen and he put me on hold. When he came back he said I was being transferred to a specialist.
When I first got to the specialist I described my problem again, but it didn’t seem like it was going any differently than the previous rep. I figured I would still be calling Amazon. Then he explained to me that this broken key issue was a problem Apple was investigating so they wanted my machine to take a look at it. I was given 2 options: repair or replacement from Apple. The replacement would take a few more days, which doesn’t seem to make sense. My only guess is that they’d rather repair so they need some difference to get some people to opt for the repair. I went with the replacement but then I asked if I could speed things up by going to the Apple Store. At the very least I figured they would handle the shipping back to Apple and then I would wait for my new unit. I was told that would be just fine and (as I was hoping) if they had any in stock I would given a replacement in the store. Score! I scheduled a Genius Bar appointment for early Saturday morning.
I chose an early Genius Bar time because the Apple Store is always a zoo and the mall this time of year would make things exponentially more ridiculous. When I got the the mall the Apple Store was already a little busy and getting crowded by the time I left.
I got to my Genius and he took a look at the machine. He was perplexed when he tried and the key seemed to work alright to him. I was getting a little nervous that this was actually a problem and I didn’t tend to make up problems just so I could take a trip to the Apple Store. The fact that the key might be fine now was not at all shocking since I had hit the key a few times trying to get it to work originally and now I’ve put it back in the box and transported it to the store. If the bused piece wasn’t in the way, they key might work fine forever. But knowing it was busted in some way, I wanted it replaced. After some more attempts he finally noticed the problem. He had to fill out some stuff on his computer and find a manger. Then I was given a brand new MacBook and sent on my way.
After getting it home the first thing I did was play with all the keys. I almost asked to do that in the store. The keys were fine so I initiated the migration again and anxiously waited the 3+ hours.
So far the machine has been just fine. I haven’t done anything all that intense. I have hard drive space and flash videos don’t seem as choppy.
My lesson from all of this is that Apple does indeed have solid Tech Support. I may even consider AppleCare for this machine ($199 at Amazon doesn’t seem terrible). My tip for any dealings with them is to have a ticket created. If I wouldn’t have asked for that, I’m not sure it would have been flagged and I’d be waiting to get my new machine for another week or two.