Bye-bye, MacBook Pro; Hello, Dell XPS 15z
8 years ago
After some 8 months of really trying to use it as my main machine for everything I do, I’m converting my MacBook Pro back into a Mac OS X only machine. In replacement, I just received a Dell XPS 15z.
The brief history went like this. Back in October last year, I thought I’d try using a Mac as my main machine. Hence I bought a 13 inch MacBook Pro, bought AppleCare, decked it out with 8GB RAM and a 500GB Seagate hybrid drive, installed Mac OS X as the main OS, and VMware’s Fusion as a tool to access a Windows VM. I also installed Office for the Mac. The VM was so that I could use those Windows apps I could not do without (Live Writer and Visual Studio being the most important). I continued like this for a while, until probably April, when I’d finally had enough with the sheer flakiness of Office for the Mac (and various other Mac flakiness), and was spending most of my time in the Windows VM.
So I partitioned the drive, installed Boot Camp and tried that instead: booting directly into Windows and basically using the Apple hardware as a Windows machine. Every now and then I’d boot into Mac OS X to update the software and to refresh the videos and music on my iPod Touch (I use it as the testbed for playing around with writing iOS apps).
Even this usage has now palled, and palled badly. The reason? For the most part, it’s the absolutely crappy drivers provided by Apple in Boot Camp.
To this day, despite keeping up with the latest versions, there’s hardware on my Mac that Device Manager in Windows 7 does not recognize (“Coprocessor” and “SM Bus Controller”). There are no working Boot Camp drivers for this hardware. Just Google those terms to see the number of people who suffer from the same problem. Google further to see the attempts at magic incantations that sometimes seem to work (tossing salt over shoulder, rotating on your office chair widdershins, etc) – but in reality no they don’t.
The screen resolution is just too small (1280 × 800) to be used on its own, say when I’m travelling.
The trackpad’s Windows drivers just don’t support the breadth of functionality that the Mac OS X drivers do. In particular, I’m finding right-click virtually impossible to get right now. I have to use an external mouse. I even bought a snazzy external Apple Trackpad – works beautifully in OS X, and in Windows? Meh.
If you boot with an external Apple extended keyboard attached, pull the plug out of the USB port and then push it back in, the drivers forget how I’ve set up the function keys. The keys become volume controls, etc, again and not Fn keys. This has to be the stupidest bug in the history of keyboard drivers and is absolutely and utterly effing irritating. The only way I’ve found to get things back the way I want them is to reboot.
The MacBook Pros come with a nifty single jack port for headphones and mic. I’ve bought a Y-connector and this works just great with my headphones and headset mic. On OS X, that is. The Boot Camp drivers don’t support this joint jack. Hence, in order to do webinars and conf calls over the Internet, I’ve had to buy a USB-capable headphone set.
There are only two USB ports. USB 2.0 at that. It wouldn’t be so bad, except…
The Boot Camp drivers for the USB ports allow just a single device to be attached to each port. Just. The only exception I’ve found is that I can plug my external mouse into the Apple external keyboard and that keyboard into a single port. That’s allowed. But try attaching a USB drive to the keyboard as well (there are 2 extra ports on the Apple keyboard) and the system fails with a “too much power through a hub” error. Even my headphones suffer from the same issue. The thing is, this all works just fine in OS X, so it’s not the hardware. It’s the crap Boot Camp drivers. Since I have both USB ports occupied when I’m at home (one keyboard, one extra screen), it means that I lose a screen for webinars, etc.
Sorry, Apple, but a Delete key (delete forward, to use the terminology) is necessary. On a journey where I just have the built-in keyboard, to permanently delete an email in Outlook I have to press fn+shift+delete. You can’ t imagine the number of times I press shift+delete and nothing happens.
So, I’m retiring this MacBook Pro to become an occasional usage boot-into-OS-X machine and have bought a Dell XPS 15z with a sweet 1080p screen. A bit heavier, sure, a bit bigger, but faster and suffering from none of those pesky Boot Camp driver problems. 2 USB 3.0 ports, 1 USB 2.0 slash eSATA, two video ports, and, mirabile dictu, separate headphone/mic jacks. It will become my main machine, supplanting the UDR desktop I still have running in the background at home.
(BTW, in other news, the photo service I use for my blog posts, Wylio, has just changed, for the worst. This post is the last time I’ll be using it.)
Van Dyk, Paul - Beautiful Place (Just Beautiful)
(from Seven Ways)
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