I have so NOT explored all there is to do with my Macbook, so consider this an off-the-cuff kind of review, and a review from a former non-Mac user, at that.
First, why a Mac and why the Macbook Pro, specifically? I've been toying with getting a laptop for a while. My pc is, I think, 4-5 years old and very, v e r y s - l - o - w. I knew replacing it was my best option given its age. What remained was deciding what to replace it with. Well, one of the biggie issues I've had with Windows is the near constant virus scans that are a security necessity. Pair that with what seems to be an awfully frequent need for updates, and I'm not-so-virtually tearing my hair out every other week.
I had heard good things about the Mac. From what I could learn, it was much less vulnerable to viruses and hacking in general. I don't pretend to understand all the geek-ese, but I gather it has something to do with the way it is designed. Which doesn't mean it's impervious, just much less likely to get hit. That means the software does not need to be constantly on the defensive, which sounds like a good thing to me.
And I've usedother Apple products (iTunes, iPod and iPhone) and I've been very well pleased with them. There's a sleek, consumer-friendliness to their design, and they've been dependable with regular updates that don't take forever to install, and the one time I did have to contact a customer service rep, it was someone who was obviously not reading from a script, something which drives me absolutely bonkers when I encounter it.
So I was favorable to the Mac, but still wary of the price, which is a lot higher than a Windows OS laptop. The price difference seemed to make the choice a no-brainer at first, but as I played with building a virtual Windows laptop I realized that my first impression wasn't entirely accurate. By the time I had built my preferences to include memory, battery-life, and software comparable to the Mac, that price difference narrowed considerably. A Mac was still a lot pricier, but not so scary now. And I reasoned that if I was happier with it, that difference would be worth it. My only remaining quibble is the cost per screen size. 15" seemed to be pretty standard for Windows, but to keep the Macbook to anything like a comparable price I had to settle for a 13". And I'm okay with that because it's for home use, mostly Internet surfing and so forth. But I still don't see why Apple needs to charge so much more for a measly 2". And I would be very much surprised if they don't phase out the 13" in the very near future and drop the 15" inch price to something more in the 13" neighborhood. I think it would go a long way towards luring in the fence-sitters for whom screen size might be important.
I went with the Macbook Pro mainly because I wanted to be sure of having all the same device options - memory stick and so on - that I was used to using. In reading through the specifications, the Macbook Pro appeared to be the only one that had no limitations that I could tell.
Placing the order was fairly painless in the end. I opted for the free shipping rather than express,but I still had it within a week, and true to all the talk, it really was ready to go pretty much out of the box. The only setting up required was introducing it to my wifi, which was relatively painless.
What's different? Well the whole look of the thing, for starters. Getting used to not having "windows" as I've understood them was something to wrap my brain around. You can certainly have multiple programs operating at the same time, but whereas each Windows program has its own menu, the Mac OS (which is called "Leopard") has essentially one menu bar that shifts focus according to whatever program is on top, or "active" at the moment. Thus, if I am working in iTunes, the menu is all iTunes related. If I have Safari (the Internet browser) open and active, then the menu is Safari related. Other programs can be operating, but Leopard focuses on whichever is active or upper most. But they are all visible as icons on what is called the "dock" at the bottom of the screen. and it is very simple to switch from one to another simply by clicking on the icon.
And although there is a "control" key, all comparable functions are accomplished with the "command" key. Also, there is no right click. That's taking some getting used to. The track pad is all one piece, no right or left options. I think there's an option to get something similar to a right click, but I want to learn my way around before I go changing things much.
The sound quality is amazing. Listening to Pandora or iTunes is a great experience. For music, no additional speakers are necessary. I've heard that the volume suffers if you are watching video, but I haven't tried that yet. I have no idea where they are hiding the speakers, though.
It's only run one system update in the two weeks I've had it (no virus scans - yay!), and I was instructed that it is preferable to have it hooked up to a power source rather than running the update on battery. But it was a smooth and speedy process, and I was able to still work in another program at the same time with no noticeable hitch.
I love that there's no 'booting up' period. I turn it on, the screen goes blue, there's a tone, and it's ready to go. I'm talking about seconds as opposed to the minutes I am used to waiting for Windows to get up and running.
I think there will be things I miss down the road, programs or software that are Windows only that I just can't get for the Mac. But so far I'm very pleased, and so far the pros are out-weighing the cons. I'll come back in a few weeks when I've explored further and feel more comfortable.