It’s been a very quick thirteen days since I brought the DarthBook home, oh where has the time gone? As promised, here are a few more notes on the performance and durability of the new MacBook in response to questions that have come in from my last post on the subject.

I have yet to see any wear or tear on the black case and I see no evidence of chipping of flaking of any kind. I should state that I treat my things, laptops included, with the upmost care and that could make all the difference. I suppose time will tell but my guess is that if you don’t bang it around or pick at it, the black matte finish will last for a long, long time.

The black is very unforgiving when it comes to hand perspiration, dust, and finger prints but these all wipe off very very easily with a warm towel. I had similar experiences with the aluminum books but these marks only appeared at certain angles whereas the matte finish of the DarthBook hides nothing in a well lit room. Yet with all the human markings left behind I have yet to see a trace of it on the screen. Who ever engineered the keyboard did well to prevent contact with the screen and that is a huge plus.

Speaking of which, the screen is bright enough that I can use the laptop outside during the middle of the day. I could never do that with the old screens without having to squint — not so with the DarthBook.

Did I mention this thing is fast? There are two tasks in which I have noticed a big, big difference in the speed of operation: Loading and surfing. Too much has already been said and demonstrated by others on boot speed but I haven’t seen too many mentions of Safari’s performance — it damn near matches the speed of FireFox on my PCs. Used to be that loading multiple tabs (around 15-20) was a heavy undertaking that sent the Mac into fever but not anymore, and single page loads are snappier than ever. I don’t know what makes this possible but the rendering speed is a big improvement.

Having said that I can not emphasize the need for additional memory in these units. Mine came with 512MB and that was fine for operating an application or two but beyond that the experience is far from happy with agonizing lag switching between applications, especially if anything had been copied to the clipboard. Adding an additional 1GB for a total of 1.5GB has done the trick and even created room for improvement. Like Windows XP, Mac OS X loves memory and the more you give it the happier the Mac will be and the more pleasurable it is to use. As always I bought the additional memory from Crucial — it’s half the price of what Apple charges, great quality, and you can get it sent next-day without paying through the nose.

Despite the additional memory, any applications that has to load in Rosetta still takes a bit longer to open but once they are loaded I have yet to experience any real noticeable lag in performance. For example it takes Microsoft Word about ten seconds longer to load than it did on my G4 based Powerbook. Adobe Photoshop CS 2 requires a even more time to load but once it’s open, game on.

Since the debut of the MacBook Pro there has been much ado about the poor performance of Photoshop. Benchmarks from multiple sources were not encouraging, showing that Photoshop was as slow as a three legged dog in a swim meet on a January day. Said tests were usually conducted with a large document being altered by automated actions or tasks but I rarely find that this method mirrors average use of the application. Apple used this technique when trying to demonstrate the awesome power of the G3, G4, and G5 when compared to Intel or AMD chips but how many times does anyone really open up a 300 DPI Photoshop document apply 150 actions to it and start a stopwatch?

It’s possible that for a print designer (or anyone working with large resolution documents) that Photoshop, in it’s current state, will run too slow but form the work I have already done (72 DPI web-design) I don’t see what all the fuss is about. If you’re a web designer waiting for Adobe to release Photoshop CS 3 before upgrading to a then stop waiting and go get yourself a new MacBook.

Hell, if you breathe oxygen and are looking to upgrade or try something new, go get yourself a MacBook.