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Customer Review

153 of 167 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars I REALLY want to give it five stars... but. (UPDATED), November 8, 2011
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This review is from: Apple MacBook Pro MD318LL/A 15.4-Inch Laptop (OLD VERSION) (Personal Computers)
Let me start with the good:
So awesome. Great OS, fabulous improvements to the existing line bumping up the processor speed and adding the thunderbolt port. This is my second MacBook. The first one I had was a 2006 model, not the Pro. I fell in love with it. This one has had the same effect. I had upgraded my old MacBook to Lion, so I kind of knew what I was getting, but hadn't been able to enjoy some of the awesome new multi-touch features. The improvements to the OS have been relatively gradual, but substantive. The feel of this machine compared to the old MacBook is far superior. The Unibody construction is solid, sleek and beautiful. It is everything I'd hoped it would be from a look and feel standpoint, but somehow a bit more sturdy.

For the not so good, I got the stock screen - which is VERY glossy. I mean ... REALLY glossy. It's still beautiful and has better color reproduction than I could ever expect from a notebook. The reflectiveness of the display is only a minor inconvenience if you work in a controlled-lighting environment like me (I prefer it dark) or if you can crank up the brightness.

My real problem with it? The statement of 7 hour battery life is not just mere exaggeration -- it's a lie. I challenge anyone to show proof that through anywhere near normal use can get more than 2.5 hrs out of it. I've got the brightness all the way down to just one notch above 'off' and the keyboard backlight off. The first full charge of this battery got me only about 2 full hours. Enabling the battery timer is useless. The "Time remaining" goes from 4 hours plus to less than 2 hours over the span of about 10 minutes. It's a joke. It's so bad that I'm thinking I only got half a battery or something.

I have an extended battery on a Dell notebook that gives me 7.5 hrs of regular use, and had an extra "slice" battery that attached to a Compaq elitebook that gave me 7-8 hrs. I know what 7 hrs of battery looks like. This ain't it.

My only other complaint is that it gets really hot. There's a reason they aren't called laptops. :-)

If you buy this - don't go into it expecting 7 hrs of battery life, and you'll be perfectly satisfied.

All that being said, I think I'm done buying Windows PCs.

With the help of some responders to my original review, I am seeing much better results from the battery - close to 5 hrs + of normal use. Leaving the original text of the review intact, but updating the rating to the 5 stars the product deserves. I'm extremely satisfied. Very happy Mac owner. :-D
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Showing 1-10 of 38 posts in this discussion
Initial post: Nov 9, 2011 6:26:23 AM PST
Last edited by the author on Nov 9, 2011 6:36:21 AM PST
Websites with Flash content, games and other multimedia apps will put higher demand on the CPU/GPU, generating more heat. Also, since the 2010 the MBP's that have a dedicated graphics chip in them also have automatic switching. This means that when you are using anything that needs graphics, like watching or editing movies or using Photoshop, that the the system will switch from the integrated graphics chip to the dedicated one - that chip will reliably use more power and more power is heat. So this is might be why you are getting low battery life, but yeah, 7 hours is a stretch unless you are only doing something like word processing. Also the aluminum body is designed to be a huge heat sink so heat doesn't stay inside but radiates out - that is likely why Apple refers to them as notebooks not laptops... Keep in mind these models also use quad core CPU's unlike all previous models so those use more power...

Also, make sure Bluetooth is turned Off if you are not using it as that will drain battery power. The same goes for WiFi but to a lesser extent. I know leaving Bluetooth On with my iPhone will drain the battery very quickly.

The next refresh is expected to use the next generation Intel CPU called Ivy Bridge which is expected to use much less power - these MBP's might be out in another 6 or 7 months. Apple is also rumored to have a resign of the MBP's by then, likely thinner which may compensate for the lower heat to make a smaller, lighter.

In reply to an earlier post on Nov 9, 2011 11:38:58 AM PST
S. Lacey says:

Thanks for the info. I will say there's nothing graphics intensive happening, but as I read that I wondered if the alternate display is used when apps are full screen (which I do frequently with Pages) or with iPhoto. Is there an easy way to tell which display is in use?

Wireless is always on (see the Apple marketing site: Bluetooth on occasionally... But really nothing that _should_ cut projected battery life by 66%. I had similar issues with my old MacBook which also made outrageous (untrue) claims about its battery life... Which is why I found the promise of a "new, more rigorous battery test that measures the results you can expect in the real world" so very promising. I was disappointed.

Something else that struck me today about the machine - the "feet" on the bottom of it are slick. Usually you'd expect them to be rubber or something to help keep the thing in place on a desk... but these are not (and do not).

Like I said though, despite its shortcomings, it's an amazing machine.

I was so tempted to wait for the next refresh, but my poor little MacBook could barely run Lion, much less run Xcode on top of that.

Thanks again for your input.

In reply to an earlier post on Nov 9, 2011 10:56:58 PM PST
Ambercool says:
You're definitely right. Anyone that comes from using a long line of Windows laptops would agree that these Mac Book Pros don't come close to providing enough lasting battery life. There are Windows laptops that blow the Mac line out of the water with crazy energy consumption components that last longer than this.

Yes, I have a Mac Book Pro.

Posted on Nov 10, 2011 7:46:30 PM PST
Matthew Durr says:
I have the 2010 MBP, which has the same kind of battery as yours. It honestly sounds like your battery is defective. My (now a year and a half old) battery that has been fully discharged and recharged still gives me a solid 6 hours of web time with half brightness. When I start watching YouTube or other video, it drops to around 3 (which is still really good for an internal battery). Gaming without connection to power? Pssshyeah, MAYBE an hour and a half, but that's pushing it.

In reply to an earlier post on Nov 10, 2011 8:55:59 PM PST
S. Lacey says:
Thanks... I've been thinking about going to Apple about it. Just might do that. The only thing better than getting to use it 2 hrs at a time would be using it 6 hrs at a time :-)

In reply to an earlier post on Nov 10, 2011 10:25:12 PM PST
Matthew Durr says:
*your results may vary. :P

In reply to an earlier post on Nov 11, 2011 4:45:05 AM PST
Last edited by the author on Nov 11, 2011 5:05:34 AM PST
Like Matthew mine is the 2010 15" MBP. I can't say I get 7 hours but with light use it is closer to six max but more often closer to five or so. I replaced my stock drive with a WD Scorpio black 750gb 7200rpm drive which not only gave me more storage but also made dent in boot times (48 seconds down to about 35 seconds) and helped with read/write times but I believe that also lowered battery life by about 20 minutes or so - tough to quantify. I also replaced the RAM to 8gb which has no effect of battery life but helped with photoshop performance...

Anyway, mine has a dual core with a smaller graphics chip (256mb) which requires a bit less power. I know flash can eat battery life.

I would give apple service a call - you get 90 days of free phone help. Make sure you have updated to the latest version of Lion before you can as that can sometimes address issues like this (same goes for their iPhone as they releases a new version of iOS 5.0.1 yesterday to address battery life). Also, you can bring your into an apple store and they will run a diagnostic - make an appointment online or on the phone. Lastly, remember that the battery does require calibration about once/month to accurately gauge charge - below is the official method from apple.

To calibrate a portable computer battery:
1. Plug in the MagSafe Power Adapter and fully charge the battery.
When the battery is fully charged, the light on the MagSafe Power Adapter connector changes to green and the Battery icon in the menu bar indicates that the battery is charged.
2. Allow the battery to rest in the fully charged state for two hours or longer. You can use your computer during this time as long as the power adapter is plugged in.
3. With the computer still on, disconnect the power adapter and continue to use your computer.
4. When you see the low battery warning, save your work and close all applications. Keep your computer turned on until it goes to sleep.
5. After your computer goes to sleep, turn it off or allow it to sleep for five hours or longer.
6. Connect the power adapter and leave it connected until the battery is fully charged. You can use your computer during this time.

Since I am considering upgrading my 2010 to this same model I for the extra power I am interested in this

In reply to an earlier post on Nov 11, 2011 5:12:06 AM PST
One more thing. I found this review from earlier this year. It is on the non-base model (at the time) which has the same CPU as this refreshed model but the larger 1Gb graphics chip (2x bigger than the one in this model so that will use more power). This refreshed model is a much better value. Anyway, here is the link and battery life is address at the bottom of the review - you may have to cut and paste the link

Posted on Nov 13, 2011 12:29:35 PM PST
Turn the brightness down to about half or lower, don't multitask more than you need to, and download gfxCardStatus so that discrete graphics can be disabled. Problem solved.

Posted on Nov 13, 2011 7:10:49 PM PST
S. Lacey says:
I just wanted to take a second to thank everyone for all their feedback and input on the battery issues.

It's clearly a far superior machine when compared with anything running Windows - but the battery technology just doesn't come close to what I've become accustomed to on Windows laptops (Compaq Elite Book, and Dell E6400). Granted, both of those machines have an "extended" battery (the Compaq has a second, piggy-back "slice" battery that sits beneath the computer, the Dell has a single larger battery that extends out the back of the computer about an inch) - but both claim to have up to 7 hrs of battery life and deliver. With either of them, I could use it at work all day (doing whatever I need to do all day) and not even bring my charger.

This MacBook claims to have up to 7hrs of battery life and simply doesn't deliver.

I'll admit, I'm spoiled; I don't want to have to worry about running Evernote, Trillian (IM client), Chrome, iTunes and iCal. That's really not a lot of stuff. It would be different if I were trying to burn DVDs or watch a full length movie while rendering a feature-length film in Final Cut or recording 24 tracks of 24 bit audio in Pro Tools. But I'm not.

I'm going to take it to the Apple store and see what they've got to say about it. I suspect that I'll find that if I run more than a browser, I'm just not going to see 7 hrs. Or 6hrs. I'd honestly settle for 5 at this point.

Thanks again.
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