Apple Macbooks - When design meets usability
According to Steve Jobs
Design is not just what it looks like and feels like. Design is how it works.
I think this is a quote that defines the character of Apple. Let us have a look at the Apple macbook to see how well this insight has translated to action.
- Magsafe: Magsafe is the power connector for apple macbooks which by disengaging easily will prevent the laptop being pulled off the table when the cable is tuged on.
- The magsafe connector has a charging indicator which glows green when the battery is full and orange when the battery is charging. On all the windows laptops I have seen charging status is a small icon in the notification area which is much harder to interpret.
- On OS X when you disable wireless the icon changes but the icon is still available in the menu bar. You can enable it back by clicking on the icon again. But on windows, if you disable the wireless the icon disappears from the notification area and you can enable it back only from network preferences. On laptops, you can conserve power by turning off wireless. Windows makes it harder to disbale and enable wireless easily.
- A click on the wireless icon in OS X reveals all the wireless networks available and you cn join any one of them from right there. On windows switching to a different wireless network involves right clicking the wireless icon and choosing "View available networks". This brings up a window with the available wireless networks and you can connect to any one of them. Not very difficult but still very involved.
- Many hotels require your MAC address in order to enable access to their wifi. On OS X this is available on the ethernet tab in adavanced settings. On windows you have to use the command line to get the MAC address.
- On OS X, if you open the network preferences and select "Airport" it will tell you which network it is connected to and the IP address assigned. On windows if you open "network connections" the wireless icon just says "connected" and shows the name wireless manufacturer. You have to actually go to "view available wireless networks" to see which network you are connected to.
- On macbooks, volume for the headphone output is independant from the volume of the internal speakers and the OS remembers your settings for each output. ie if you are listening to music on your macbook speakers and decided to mute it. When you plug your headphone in you need not unmute and the volume will be set to your last used one when using headphones.
- Minimal use of indicator lights. There are only two indicator lights in macbook. The power indicator light and the sleep light. Quite a lot of windows laptops have an annoying array of lights which would have been more suitable for a christmas tree rather than a laptop. The most annoying of all the lights are the blue LEDs which flash/blink. They are highly distracting and sometimes there is no way to turn them off other than putting a tape over them.
- Well spaced keys. Most windows laptops have keybaords that have keys set together without much space between them and most of them do not provide good tactile feedback. The macbook keyboard has well spaced out keys and they provide excellent tactile feedback making typing on them as easy as on normal desktop keyboards.
- A slot drive instead of a tray drive. Laptop tray drives unlike their desktop counterparts are much harder to use since you need to push the cd down and lock it in place. On the other hand slot drives are easier to use than even desktop tray drives [ There is more likelihood of a cd getting jammed in the slot drive].
- User replaceable RAM and Hard Drive. The old and the new macbooks made it incredibly easy to replace hard drives and RAM. In the old macbooks the battery compartment could be opened with a coin and in the new unibody macbooks there is a latch to open the compartment. Opening the laptop did not void the warranty and it is officially supported by Apple.
- Magnetic latch: Closing the lid of a macbook engages the magnetic latch. No more fiddling around with sliding latches and using one hand to pry open the lid.