Amazon.com: Customer Reviews: Apple MacBook Pro MD311LL/A 17-Inch Laptop
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on February 18, 2012
Pros:

- Stunning full HD display.
- Very fast machine.
- Great interface and touchpad is the best I have seen.
- Solid, quality build.
- Clean OS and fluid experience.

Cons:

-- Obviously, the price. Some will find they need to take out a second mortgage to finance the credit card bill just incurred--especially if you get upgrades.
-- Only 4 GIG Ram standard.
-- Upgrades to default specs are expensive.
-- If you are used to Windows OS, the interface takes a while to get used to.
-- Did I mention it is expensive?

I use both Mac and PC windows devices. Each has their pros and cons. Some people purchase MAC on brand or OS loyatly or as a botique item, but I just decide based on needs and specs. I was shopping for a laptop, not only for portability but also to act as a dedicated replacement for a Desktop. I wanted a large high-res full 1080p HD screen and decent specs that won't be outdated in a year. I limited my searches to this crtieria. There are only a few laptops today that offer this criteria and all of the ones I sampled fall short of the Macbook on screen quality and display. You can get a higher spec machine for much less, but the quality and user experience on the MAC is what sold me. The display is just stunning. I would have opted for the 15 inch model but I was looking for the full 1080P resolution. I am mainly into multimedia and the Videos and Images are simply stunning. I have not seen a better display on any laptop out there, period.

As far as tech specs, you can get more for less money. The standard RAM is 4 GIG. Most other brands with laptops in this range start with 8. This is cheap as heck, IMO. You can get 4 GIG for $40 at cost. Basically, then, you can find other machines with equal specs for half the price. If tech specs are you main concern when purchasing, you can do better. But the machine is by no means slow and the specs will not be outdated in a year. It is a very fast machine and will outdo many of the deskptops on the market today. You will also be hard to find a display that riavls the macbook and the user experience is simply something else. IMO, of course.

Obviously, my decision was based on more than just specs. I will be using this quite a bit. Like most Apple products, the laptop itself is very high quality and solid with a sleek profile. No plasticy materials or feel. One of the reasons I disliked some other laptops is that they just felt too fragile and the materials seem cheap, as if you can snap the plastic easily. Some things you buy feel built to last and some things feel built to last a few months before something goes wrong. I sense the Macbook belongs to the latter category.

The user experience on the Macbook is also fluid and fast. The trackpad is the best I have ever come across. Pinching, swiping, selecting. Its all done with fluidity and without delays. It is a quality high-end experience and thats part of what sold me. This is a solid, well built machine. Period.

I have come across a few minor annoyances. Why are the ports on the left? When hooking up externals, I found this a bit annoying.

Overall, if you re not into graphics or multimedia, you should probably go with the 13 or 15 inch models. There is a lot of real estate on the 17 inch and the high res screen is nice but not everyone will need this. You can save some money by downgrading if multimedia is not a main priority. Also, the 17 inch is obviously not as portable. So if you travel a lot, you should consider this. You will probably find it hard to use this machine in economy coach class.

Overall, with a few minor annoyances, I couldn't be happier. Awesome machine. It is very expensive, but this is Apple and you know that going in. Can you do better with something else? It all depends on your needs and what you are looking for. The premium price was worth it for me. It may or may not be for you. I would suggest playing around with the macbooks and a number of laptops in the store before buying and avoid the MAC vs PC wars.
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on December 1, 2011
First, Apple's service is terrific! The computer is incredibly fast, and there seems to be a big difference between the new 7200 RPM hard drive models versus the slower hard drive model that they had before the refresh came out. I won't go into lengthy detail on this laptop, as the other reviews on the 15 inch would be quite similar. Just remember there is no SD card slot, and instead you have to purchase an inexpensive ExpressCard adapter, which allows you to have quite a bit of flexibility on what you want to plug in there.

Now here's the thing: I've returned this laptop two times over a dead area on the lower right of the space bar key. Great support, and Apple had no problem exchanging the first laptop and refunding the amount on the second laptop. Note that the problem I experienced with the space bar key occurred on the two laptops I had, and I was also able to replicate the issue on the models in the Apple Store and in the Best Buy Store. This is only unique to the 17 inch model, and the space bar works perfectly fine on the 13 or 15 inch models. This is strange to me since they're supposed to all have the same keyboard.

If you're a typist that pecks, then this won't bother you. But if you are a fast typer, and one who doesn't pound down on the keys, this probably will affect you.

Here's the problem: The first morning I started typing an e-mail, and got something like this, " HelloAnn, how areyou doing?" When I pressed the space bar key, the computer didn't actually recognize my 'press.' Granted, I type lightly, but I've never had a problem with a key press not being recognized. Try this test out yourself at an Apple Store or Best Buy Store with their 17 inch models.

Lightly press the lower right edge of the space bar (very lightly, but enough so that the space bar actually goes down). Do this 20 or 30 times in a row in a text editor so you can see the cursor move as you press the space bar. Sometimes the space bar will move and sometimes it won't, like righthere where there are fewspaces. The last sentence was just an example, but that's what happens when you press the space bar but the computer acts as if you didn't press it. It drives me nuts that the space bar does not always work. Now do the same test on the 13 and 15 inch models and notice that the space bar works every time, even with the lightest press (on the lower right hand portion of the space bar key, where touch typists usually press the space bar key).

So I ended up returning the 17 inch models (after 2 times, thinking the keyboard was just defective). After the second one was still defective, and the models at the stores had the same problem, I'll have to get the 15 inch model or wait until Apple fixes the lower right hand portion of the space bar key on the 17 inch models.

I'm picky, and for many buyers they won't even notice the space bar not being recognized because they type really hard or they type in the middle of the space bar. But for touch typists, usually the space bar is pressed on the left or right sides, and a press should be a press, even if it is light. I'm probably just going to get the 15 inch model, as it doesn't have the space bar issue.

Edit December 22nd: For further information, see the Apple discussion board from multiple folks at the official Apple site where people are having similar issues with the space bar key (including the Airs and other lines). Apparently Apple is forgetting to put the rubber pads on the underneath of the space bar -- there's a picture on the first page of the forum of what it looks like. If you're experiencing the same issue, I would call Apple support so hopefully they can start shipping with keyboards where the space bar actually works 100% of the time.

Since Amazon doesn't allow outside links, just go to google and type in the following search words "dead spot on space bar macbook pro" and it's the first link at the top that comes up.
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on December 27, 2011
I bought this laptop thinking of a computer with excellent graphics, performance and design, and let me just tell you, it has it all and more. I couldn't be happier with this purchase, great service from amazon btw.

I'm an architecture student, who has to run demanding softwares and create photorealistic representations, and this is the best computer you can find for such tasks. The design is flawless, I'm very happy with the improvements apple has made on this model, the extra graphics and the faster processor are not just small changes, you will definitely feel the big difference, and soon, there will be a lot of more devices to take advantage of the unique thunderbolt port.

It doesn't matter if you're looking for a home computer to have fun and search the web or if you need to run hardcore software and games, this is worth every $ you spend
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on February 17, 2012
Positives:

Mac Os X is a fantastic experience
Beautiful 17" screen
Track pad is a thing of beauty. If you've never used swipe gestures (like me) prepared to be amazed
Solid aluminum construction. Most solid laptop I've ever experienced.
Great sound.
Light and sleek. In my opinion 17" is not overdoing it.
Love the magsafe charging. No more broken DC power ports.

Cons:

Keyboard takes a little getting used to.
I don't understand the arrow buttons.
4GB of ram and 5600 RPM HD are a bit underwhelming.
Glossy screen does occasionally reflect.
Expensive
I'm afraid the bottom of the laptop is going to scratch up good. Offsets are minimal

Of note, if you think you're going to swap out more ram easily, its a little bit more involved than that. I was expecting an easy open bay like most laptops. More memory means taking off the entire back plate of the laptop which involves close to 8 screws. I don't know about you but I'm a little hesitant to use a screw driver on my new 2300$ laptop. Ill get around to it eventually, but right now its not horribly pressing for normal use. Ram is SO cheap.

I was afraid 17" would be too big, but in the end I'm glad I went with the larger size. Its completely manageable and the laptop is quite light and looks great of course. Amazon shipping was as usual incredible and the presentation of the laptop inside its packaging was an apple experience, meaning I loved it.

Those are my initial post 3 days purchase thoughts. I also wanted to bootcamp the computer as well as test out a bit of light to medium weight gaming, i'll edit the review as those things come up. I might even try run skyrim on bootcamp!

I see no downside to this. Get a great laptop with overall great specs. Run Linux, OSX, Windows 7, whatever you want. Pay for a better than average screen and all aluminum body, plus a trackpad that is something else. Down the line throw in more ram, a bigger faster HD or even an SSD at the rate SSD is going.
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VINE VOICEon January 17, 2012
Updated: June 21, 2012. Changed rating from 4 stars to 5 (4.5) stars. Changed review title.

In light of Apple's announcement that the 17-inch MBP is soon to disappear, I thought it worthwhile to update this review a bit. Bottom line, the concerns I expressed in my original review (below) remain, but I think this was a worthwhile purchase and it is a shame that the 17-inch edition will be out of the MBP line-up (I get why the Mac desktop is dying a lingering death, but this MBP...?).

Apple can certainly do what it wants and clearly (to Apple's way of thinking) the 17-inch wasn't worth the effort, cost, etc. (apparently the metric was measuring its sales as a percentage of overall MBP (or MBA) sales - I've been told/reading that the 17-inch garnered less than 2% of total MBP/MBA sales). But clearly there was a niche market for the 17-inch MBP and with that in mind, I would say this edition is a "must buy" if you need a "portable desktop".

I can't help but wonder if Apple's strategy is to get you to buy a Thunderbolt monitor to go along with your next-gen MBP (or MBA) significantly raising the cost of your purchase but also giving buyers several configuration options. I get the raving over the new Retina display, but it seems to me (and I admit to speaking from a position of ignorance here - I haven't seen the new Retina display yet) the Retina display is overkill (?) in the 15-inch and would have been absolutely perfect/delightful/stunning/"pick and place your adjective here" in the 17-inch. But I also understand that the additional real estate of the 17-inch screen would probably have boosted the price of a 17-inch Retina MBP to a level where both customers and Apple would think the cost prohibitive. But wait, cost never seems to have stopped Apple in the past and second, couldn't the Retina display be offered as an upgrade/option?

In the end, oh well. If someone senses there is a market for a "MBP 17-inch Retina display type" machine, they'll eventually build it and we'll see. And something better will come along at some point.

Bottom line, this (apparently) last edition of the 17-inch MBP is a very good machine (not perfect), so if a sleek 17-inch OS X desktop replacement is what you're looking for and need now, you had better buy this before they're gone. (Original review follows (below).)

-

Original review:
I was looking to move from a desktop setup to a laptop setup that could function as a desktop replacement. I use multiple Operating Systems (OS) - Windows, Mac OS X, and Linux, but I didn't want to use virtualization (e.g., FusionWare or Parallels), nor a hacked rig, nor a dual or triple booter (been through that phase and while it is a great idea and I did it for awhile, it just wasn't working for me anymore). So, with the requirement that each have true HD display (1920x1080 minimum), I eventually settled on 3 machines: a Toshiba Qosmio X505 18.4" i7 laptop for Windows, repurposed my HP HDX16 Windows machine for Linux, and this MacBook Pro for OS X. But since you're not reading this to learn about Windows, Linux, or my preferred computer setup, let's skip all that and move on to my impressions of this MacBook Pro 17.

Well, on the plus side, I used to believe there was an outrageous "Mac tax," that is, you paid a premium for a MacBook because it was a Mac and that similar hardware (a Windows 7 machine, for example) would cost substantially less. Well, imho the "Mac tax" is still there, but it isn't nearly as high as I thought (on this machine, it's probably a chunk of change somewhere in the $500-600 range, but it is less than the $1,200 I had in mind earlier). Also, the laptop is as nice as all the numerous reviews out there state it is. But....

Hard Fact #1: When you get past the love-fest that surrounds "all things Apple," I've found that Apple's build quality isn't all that much better than numerous other manufacturers I've dealt with (frankly, Sony consistently betters Apple and I've had equal or better results from HP, Dell, and Acer). This MBP Pro is my tenth or so Mac (several MacBooks, several MBP, several Mac Minis, and an MacBook Air (I haven't included my numerous iOS devices)) and while they are nicely put together, they have had their fair share of defects (both cosmetic and functional) that far exceeds the so-called Conventional Wisdom (CW). For instance, this unit arrived with a bad "backlit keyboard" feature (the %-5 key looked as if all the light was radiating out from under it alone and all the other keys remained dim). Didn't spend almost $2,400 to have the %-5 key burn out my optic nerves, so I ordered a replacement. As usual, Amazon CS was great and I had the replacement within 1 business day (with return postage for the defective unit paid for by Amazon).

Hard Fact #2: I also find the Apple community's insistence that they own the GUI world ridiculous. I continue to hear over and over that once you own a Mac, you can mouse your way through life and you'll "never" again have to use the Command Line. Fact of the matter (at least for me) is I find myself using Terminal more in Mac OS X than I ever had to in either Windows or newer versions of Linux. The last time I used the Command Line this much was way back in my MS-DOS days.

Hard Fact #3: Apple fans (encouraged by Apple itself) want you to believe that Mac OS X is like Burger King - you can have it your way. Sorry, Mac OS X remains maddeningly non-customizable. For example, we're now in Lion (10.7) and a user still can't change something as simple as the color of the mouse cursor! In the end, using a Mac is like living life in a pre-school - you can have as much freedom as you want so long as it doesn't exceed what "they" want you to have. One can never can't get past the feeling that with Mac OS X it is "do it Apple's way or no way at all" (incredibly ironic given the fact that Apple pretty much launched with the 1984 Super Bowl commercial which compared IBM to "Big Brother" and Apple to "freedom").

Hard Fact #4: With the standard 4GB RAM configuration this MBP is an absolute dog (especially if you set up your machine with the security features OS X offers). With both the Firewall and the File Vault feature (which offers "on-the-fly" encryption of your hard drive) enabled, I was lucky to keep more than one application running smoothly. If I ran a multi-tab browser session and a photo editing package, the laptop would crawl to a virtual halt. BTW, initial encryption of the hard drive took more than a whopping 20 hours! In the end, I can't think of any user of this MBP model who would not need more RAM right from the get-go. Buying this laptop means buying more RAM immediately! Apple says 8GB is the max. But don't settle for 8GB as 16GB works. Crucial offers a 16GB RAM kit that turns this into a usable laptop. The 16GB kit is not cheap (almost $300 with "2-day Business shipping), but it is worth it. I received the RAM kit this a.m., installed it, the MBP recognized it, and I am now running it. Am thrilled; I now have a laptop worthy of the i7 CPU.

Final verdict? Nice machine, but it's nothing to swoon in ecstasy over (contrary to the seemingly usual reaction to Apple's offerings by the "Death to Microsoft and Other Non-OS X Companies" cult community of mags, rags, and fan-boys). Frankly, I have other machines that I think are nicer to look at, do (more) things better, and are more reasonably priced. But if you want to use OS X (and some of the programs I need to use require OS X), this is a great way to go.

3 stars for the as-shipped OEM config machine, 4 stars for the 16GB, working final setup.

Updated (June 21, 2012): 3.5 stars for the as-shipped OEM config machine, 4.5 stars for the 16GB, working final setup. So I'm going to rate the machine 5 stars.... I must admit that I'm sorry to see this edition of the MBP line go.
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on May 9, 2015
I had just gotten this laptop a couple of weeks ago, and I am in love with it. I recently got into the Apple camp by getting an iPhone, and that made me want a macbook (along with my Microsoft Surface Pro 2 catching several nasty viruses that required a total system wipe). I didn't feel like the 15 inch MBPs on the market were big enough for me (I do a lot of reading/projects, so multiple windows need to be open), and I had always liked the 17 inch MBP. I decided to give in after all those years and buy one! Mine is the latest model they had made. It's a shame that they discontinued this line (a 5K display 17 inch MBP would be perfect), but I understand that not everyone is crazy about lugging around a 17 inch table tray.

My machine came with a 251 GB SSD and 16 GB of DDR3 RAM, and it runs like a dream. Everything opens up snappily and there is very little wait time. It runs silently, until I launch GPU heavy programs (World of Warcraft), at which point it will get hot. This is after I cleaned out the fan vents too (there was quite a bit of dust). To remedy this, I recommend taking the machine and getting the heat sinks redone with a silver or diamond-based heat transduction paste. I tried to do it myself but the heat sink was too tightly screwed together, and I didn't feel like taking a risk and snapping my motherboard. I also feel as though the battery might need replacing as it is 3 years old, but that's a purchase far down the line for now.

Yosemite is also really exciting, and I love that everything is synced with my iPhone. The fact that i can make phone calls off of my laptop is blowing my mind. I got the anti-glare option, which does sacrifice a little color form the screen- but I'm not bothered by that. I enjoy being able to do my work from anywhere, even outside on a sunny day. The massive screen is also great to watch movies on, and the sound quality is phenomenal and rich. A media powerhouse, for sure.

I highly recommend this machine to anyone who is looking to buy a 17 inch computer.

Uses: casual gaming (WoW), pharmacy school, iMessage
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on July 22, 2012
Sadly, the Apple MacBook Pro 17-inch appears to be the last of the line, since Apple seems to have thrown this model under the bus. Too bad, since it's ideal for high quality work on the run - fast, with brilliant screen, sufficient memory, nice hard drive, ruggedly built, and lots of territory on that nice big screen to get work done.
Apple seems to have opted for smaller screens with higher resolution. But the problem with that is imagery and type gets compressed into a smaller space, and a lot of us don't have eyes that sharp any more. The 17-inch avoids that problem.
So if you can still locate one of these, buy it fast before it totally disappears from the market. This is the second 17-inch MacBook Pro I've owned. The first one got to all the continents except Australia and Antarctica. Maybe this one will will make the full circuit.
Only minor complaint I have is that the current model didn't come with a separate Enter key, like my older one did. And if you do much work with Excel, you will definitely miss it.
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on April 11, 2015
4 years after my purchase I can say this is a stunning piece of work. Never compromised performance, excellent durability, sturdy built.
As a VFX supervisor / designer, I get my MBP to location in every kind of environment and hard work; and it never let me down.
I write this review for I've read too much "I just got it an love it" kind of stuff; that's ok, but the real test of any product, at least for me, is time; time let you know how an item reacts to use, wear, even abuse; so in this case I can say: after many years trying to save some money getting really great windows products form HP, Gateway and Dell XPS, getting my first Mac laptop is a no way back. I just regret that there's not a 17" retina, but in any case, my next laptop will be a MacBookPro for sure.
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VINE VOICEon February 29, 2012
I needed a home PC that was fast, reliable and not going to bog me down by updating itself every week and then slowing down (considerably) each time I used it.

I already own a MacAir which is fantastic for travel. I needed a dedicated system as well and so when my PC finally got too creaky, I opted for the MacBook Pro - and I am glad I did.

It is almost as light as the MacAir even though: it has a CD Drive; it has a 17 inch screen. How Apple did it, I don't know. But, they managed to create a sleek, solid machine that is a truly amazing work horse.

I didn't find there to be any problems with the keyboard (and I am quite use to a PC set up) so I don't understand some of the negative aspects about that. I did, however, purchase a bluetooth keyboard (as I stated, this Mac is for home use only).

My thoughts? It is easy to set up and loads a bit on the slow side (surprisingly) but I get around that by putting it into SLEEP mode. One touch of the keyboard and it is awake and ready for me. It is fast and the screen is a glorious 17 inches of clear, vivid beauty. I found the stereo speakers to be a bit on the tinny side but that isn't going to be a major concern for me. With a generous 3 USB ports on the left side,you can expand this system all you like. It is quite smart (found my WiFi and set up the bluetooth mouse, keyboard and the WiFi printer). Problems? Not really although I found it odd that it did not have Adobe Flash installed (a free and simple download). Also, the operating system didn't work well with one program until I went to their web site and got a patch. From there, it was clear sailing.

Yes, the price is a bit steep but I found it to be in-line with other systems similar to the MacBook Pro. Although user friendly almost to the point of being a fun toy, it is system oriented and offers a serious challenge to the PC world.
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on May 20, 2014
I'm still using my 2006 Mac Pro as my main computer, but it's showing its age. It won't upgrade to any newer Mac OS than Lion (10.7), so software that requires a newer OS doesn't work. I have a newer Mac Mini, but it's underpowered. The paucity of ports on newer MacBooks is a concern, and I'm of an age where tiny text on a tiny screen is unappealing.

Though it's three years old, this laptop has plenty of punch, with an Intel i7 processor. Amazon's independent vendor was iPowerResale, who did a TERRIFIC job. I opted to swap out the optical drive into a separate USB enclosure, move the 750GB hard drive in its place, and install a 500GB solid state drive as the main drive. They upgraded memory to 8GB and installed Mavericks. This thing is ten pounds heavy but rugged and works like a dream. The battery lasts hours between charges, and the screen is a dream.
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