After seeing photos of the new MacBook I couldn’t resist stopping by the Apple store on the way home to check out the new form factor, keyboard — kick the tires and such. When I got there a gaggle of males, ranging from nerds to closet nerds, were hovering over the different models but it was the black one that drew the most attention. Upon closer inspection I could see why, the new form factor wrapped in a dark-matte finish gave it immediate placement in the black bad-ass club who’s rank and file includes Darth Vader, K.A.R.R., Snake Eyes, and Batman.

Apple has pumped so many glossy white or metallic silver products over the years that bringing black (the Powerbook line was black for a long time, don’t ask me why I completely forgot about this a few days ago because I don’t know, lack of sleep maybe) back into the fold makes this product pronounce a bad-boy, black-sheep image.

With that in mind it didn’t take long before I decided that I had to have one. I call it DarthBook (not really but if I did ‘name’ my computers — like the wife has habit of doing — then this laptop would most definitely be named after Sith Lord if not THE Sith Lord).

I would leave it at that but a few friends and peers have noted their uncertainty about other changes made to the new Mac line (specifically the glossy screen and the keyboard) and having similar concerns — now put to rest — I thought I would share my experience thus far.

Speed, performance, and the packaging of the MacBooks have already been beat into the ground and I have nothing further to add to those subjects. If you want to learn more then read Daring Fireball and browse Flickr.

Glossy screens are new to the Mac world but they have been around for non-Mac users for quite some time. My Sony Vaio has it and I admit it took a bit of getting used to but now I hardly notice. The same is true for the MacBook. Sure the surface is more reflective than the matte finish we have all grown accustom to but I don’t work outside or under retail lighting so the chance of that being a constant problem is slim to none. And the luminance of the screen is much, much brighter than any other Macintosh laptop that I have owned. The result is an image that shines past most reflections that you might encounter under common lighting. Of course if you’re working in dark colors or watching a dark film then yes, you’re likely going to see some ghostly pale image staring back at you. So to those goths who blog during their day shift at Dunkin Doughnuts and watch Anne Rice inspired flicks at night; the black MacBook might suit your underworld meme but the glossy screen will likely be frustrating.

The keyboard. It’s not perfect (I should note here that in my opinion Mac keyboard perfection was reached during the bronze keyboard years of the old Powerbook G3 days), but it’s nothing like the ‘old’ iBook ivories which was a cheap forgery of the superiorly engineered Powerbook keys. I know it has more to do with the keys but I’m not up on my keyboard assembly lingo so let’s keep it simple here. The iBook keyboard has always felt weak to me. They are better than most PC keyboards but nothing like the Powerbook keys that I’m attuned too. Hell, it took weeks for me to get used to the feel of the Apple desktop keyboard (also not near as nice as the Powerbook) and I still don’t like it as much.

I have it under good authority that a lot of sweat and tears went into the new MacBook keyboard, it wasn’t a last minute detail that slipped under the quality control radar. And I appreciate that Apple found a solution that does not require the purchase and use of material that protects the screen from damage related to the keyboard as is the case with the old iBooks, Powerbooks and MacBook Pros.

More importantly the experience of typing on this new arrangement was easy to assimilate into. Of course it was a bit awkward at first but after an hour or so it feels second nature. It’s still nothing like the bronze keyboard of yesteryear but it is leaps and bounds over the crap that passed for a keyboard on the iBooks.

In short, the keyboard is fine, better than pervious editions. Move on.

I do want to close with a few notes about the case. Again, unlike it’s predecessor, the MacBook feels solid, more like a Powerbook than an iBook ever did. Picking it up you immediately notice the nicely packed density right away. Quality exudes from this product from the time you pick it up and on through it’s use. I only wish it was as light as an old 12″ Powerbook G4 but considering all of the new features that come with the MacBook it’s an easy trade-off.