Slow MacBook Pro Wireless (and other gripes)

January 21, 2007

Jesus. I’ve got a real love/hate relationship going with this not-yet-two-month-old laptop. It’s gorgeous — and it’s maddening. The Mac OS is fine. I like it quite a bit in fact, but the majority of the tools I use are Windows-based. Parallels solved that for the most part, allowing me to run Windows from within OS X. It’s quite slick and doubly so with “coherence”. But… There are also drawbacks. Splitting the memory between Windows and OS X does little for either and immediately get the fan fired up. It works in a pinch, but I think Bootcamp is the way I’m going to need to go. Up to this point, my complaints are at least addressable.

The Wireless.
This has been a real problem. I use CNET’s Bandwidth test every now and then (and more often now after watching my connectivity screech to a halt on the MacBook and scream on the Windows laptop). I searched the web for an answer and there are pages about Mac-freindly routers and such — which is complete bullshit. “Hey Apple! Write to the f’ing standard.” There appear to be MANY people experiencing the same slowness I am (somewhere in the neighborhood of 150Kbps on the Mac to 2000Kbps on the Toshiba laptop). I’ve tried everything and have — at least for now — found a solution. I, of course, did two things so I have no idea which is the “magic” fix.

  1. Turned off Windows Sharing
  2. Changed the Channel on the router

Others have entered the DNS servers manually instead of relying on DHCP as well as a multitude of other wacky fixes. Someone dropped the ball on the wireless over at Apple — at least in 10.4.8.

The Battery
The website says:

60-watt-hour lithium-polymer battery (with integrated charge indicator LEDs) providing up to 5 hours of battery life(1)

I’ve yet to see anything close to that. I use the wireless typically, so that’s going to cut into the time, but I dim the screen quite a bit (just a click or two above ‘off’) and I’m usually just editing text or browsing the web. I’m lucky to see 2 hours and 15 minutes on a full charge.

In 42 load cycles (according to Coconut Battery), I’m down to a max charge of 94% of the original. That’s a significant drop, but it still doesn’t explain the discrepancy in the estimate. You want to know what does? Apple lied about it. Yep. Unless they’re using some alien technology, you’re not going to be able to get 5 hours out of it. And this thing sucks the juice with the cover closed in sleep mode too. Routinely, it’ll use 25% of it’s battery “sleeping” overnight.

The Display (added this as an UPDATE on 1/23/2007)
This is a big one. I’m a developer. I also hack around in Photoshop, Illustrator and such when need be — in more of a production graphics sense. What the hell was Apple thinking putting a 1440 x 900 screen (with no other option available) into a machine such as this? My $1600 Dell Inspiron Core Duo has the 1680 x 1050 option — and it’s an amazing screen. I subscribe to the notion that we have too much choice in our lives and that that amount of choice makes us less happy as we are constantly forced to be… making choices (head over to Subway at lunch if you don’t agree), but my list of choices for displays on a Mac laptop are too limited:

  • 13.3 inch Glossy (1280 by 800)
  • 15.4 inch Glossy (1440 by 900)
  • 15.4 inch Standard (1440 x 900)
  • 17 inch Glossy (1680 by 1050)
  • 17 inch Standard (1680 by 1050)

Glossy and non-glossy are hardly the important options I need. Add this option:

  • 15.4 inch Standard (1680 x 1050)

…and you’ve solved the problem.

The Keyboard
Love it — except the squeaky space bar. I gotta get that fixed.

Worth It?
For $2500? No. Too many problems. I love the flexibility, but realistically some of my main Windows apps — Visual Studio, OneNote, and even Open Office have no real Mac peers (I’m willing to retract this point if you can help me find OS X replacements). Mac Fanboys will surely chime in — as they ALWAYS do, “Why don’t you go buy a Dell then?” The answer is, I might next time if Apple refuses to fix these (VERY FIXABLE) hardware issues in the next generation. My $1600 Dell and one of those kick-ass 23-inch Studio Displays for the same cost as the MacBook Pro? Hmm…

5 Responses to “Slow MacBook Pro Wireless (and other gripes)”

  1. twolsten Says:

    Open Office is available on the Mac. This requires the use of the Xserver. There is a port is available that does not use the Xserver, I just don’t remember the name off the top of my head.

  2. Microsoft Employee (really) Says:

    I have the basic MacBook and noticed my internet browsing is much slower when running on battery power (even when the batter is “fully” charged”. Once I plug in the power cord, there is an immediate improvement. This sucks. Going to investigate it more.

    As for a Mac replacement for OneNote, check out Journler. I just downloaded it recently and it is awesome. OneNote is cool, too, but I only have a copy of it at work and prefer to use strictly OS X at home.

  3. Microsoft Employee (really) Says:

    Looks like my slow internet when using battery power is related to this unresolved issue:

  4. Paul Says:

    Problem: wireless download speed is much slower running windows Xp on a macbook pro (bootcamp) then when running osx. Example OSX = 1,164 KB/sec download, 496 upload vs Xp = 265 KB/sec download, 940 KB/sec upload.

    I have a Macbook Pro Duo Core running Leopard with the newest Boot camp drivers for windows installed.

    funny how only the download speed is slow under Xp, not the upload speed.

    thanks for any help,


  5. M.Anderson Says:

    For an OS X port of Open Office, check out

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