PDA

View Full Version : Using a MacBook/Pro for a desktop everyday computer



karter
2nd February 2011, 10:56 AM
Hey all

Ive just purchased my new MBP 13" and am planning on it to take over my desktop pc..

I am patiently waiting on my mini port to HDMI cable so i can use it on my monitor.

Am really happy with the MBP since ive started using it, incredible over my old PC desktop..

So im just wondering, has/is anyone else useing their MacBook/Pro for a permanent desktop alternative?

Also the main reason I actually bought the MBP was because i needed the portability that it offers, and the thought occured to me that i could replace the MBP with my old desktop :)

cheers

MissionMan
2nd February 2011, 11:13 AM
Yup. I'm using a 15" to do the same and I have for the last couple of years. Started with a 13" and then moved to 15" but I don't think it makes much of a difference.

I'd consider getting a 24" screen, particularly at home if you can. You can get them for $200 these days and the added size makes working much easier. I also carry a portable keyboard and cricket laptop stand for extended consulting at customers so I can lift the screen to face height to prevent damage to back and neck which will inevitably happen from years of bending over a laptop screen.

From an overall power perspective, the 13" should be more than adequate for most requirements if you have 4GB RAM. I'd consider an SSD if speed is critical for you, but its a nice to have, not a mandatory.

Dust For Eyes
2nd February 2011, 11:47 AM
My 13" MBP is more or less a desktop replacement for me with a secondary monitor hooked up to it.

I use a Griffin Elevator Laptop stand (http://store.apple.com/us/product/H2619ZM/A) along with a wired keyboard and magic mouse.

Steve_D
2nd February 2011, 11:53 AM
Have used my Macbooks as sole PCs for years now.

Highly recommend getting external monitor, mouse and keyboard and decent speakers.

Then its the best of both worlds :)

Rust
2nd February 2011, 12:22 PM
To the OP, check these out:
Henge Docks (http://www.hengedocks.com/)

You'll love it. I have one and they are fantastic :)

wokka wokka
2nd February 2011, 01:32 PM
I used a 15" MBP as my main computer for the past 4 years.

I didn't have an external monitor, the MBP sat on the desk's monitor shelf and I used it with an external keyboard and mouse (and decent speakers). I hardy ever used it as a portable.

The only thing I would say to look at is battery life, as I'm not sure how well modern batteries now cope with being connected to a charger all the time? My MBP used to be always plugged in, and I know they have some charging smarts built in, but it didn't take long for the battery life to drop off (though this was a 2007 model MBP). I ended up putting a switch inline with the powerboard (a actually a light switch screwed to the desk), which also meant I could make sure the printer and speakers etc were turned off.

AnthoMac
2nd February 2011, 01:40 PM
Since the Apple laptops are the only Macs I can use they serve as both my portable and my 'desktop'.
I have a Toshiba stand (http://www.catchoftheday.com.au/Toshiba_Universal_Notebook_Projector_Stand-p-1160.html)and have used my PowerBook G4, then MBP unibody 08 and now my current i7 MBP all plugged into the monitor besides the stand. I switch between my desktop PC and the Mac as they both share the screen but sometimes I close the MBP lid so I can focus all tasks on the bigger monitor.

I also had an external drive to increase capacity but since then have converted it to a NAS (Synology DS211J). Oh and all this connected to my home theatre receiver.

karter
2nd February 2011, 02:57 PM
have just received my mini port to hdmi cable

I have:
-A 24" FULL HD monitor (use to run the pc, but will now be the MBP)
-A apple bluetooth keyboard
-Magic trackpad
-External speakers

only have just plugged the MBP into the full hd monitor, but the resolution looks hidious. I have gone to settings and the monitor is at 1600x900 and does not look anywhere as good as my PC did on the screen. have also tryed 1080p and still doesnt look as good.

Also the display on the monitor doesnt even fill the whole screen.

Anyone care to send through some tips at how to get a better picture?
cheers

MissionMan
2nd February 2011, 03:01 PM
Is it setup to mirror your display or be side by side with it. Go to the arrangement tab and drag the monitor to whatever side it is of your laptop.

https://img.skitch.com/20110202-f5pyknu9ymgatmqr2dwci16n3f.jpg

karter
2nd February 2011, 03:08 PM
Is it setup to mirror your display or be side by side with it. Go to the arrangement tab and drag the monitor to whatever side it is of your laptop.

https://img.skitch.com/20110202-f5pyknu9ymgatmqr2dwci16n3f.jpg

its set up to mirror but still no difference

MissionMan
2nd February 2011, 03:16 PM
its set up to mirror but still no difference

It shouldn't be setup to mirror. If it mirrors its limited to the max resolution of your laptop which is why the screen is smaller. Once you have them side by side you can set the resolution of the two screens independently.

karter
2nd February 2011, 03:20 PM
It shouldn't be setup to mirror. If it mirrors its limited to the max resolution of your laptop which is why the screen is smaller. Once you have them side by side you can set the resolution of the two screens independently.

oh, that explains it then, thanks mate!!

But once setup next to each otherhow do you make the dock run off the monitor?

MissionMan
2nd February 2011, 03:23 PM
Drag the dock from one screen to the other in the arrangement settings area. Pretty simple really :) If you disconnected your screen it will push the dock back to your macbook again until the screen is plugged in again.

skyhawkmatthew
2nd February 2011, 03:25 PM
The dock will always (if set to the bottom) pin itself to whatever screen edge is directly below the menu bar: if you had both screens set one above the other, the dock would end up on the bottom of the lower screen even if the menu bar was on the top screen, but apart from that it will always be on the same display as the menu bar.

---
I've always had a Mac laptop as my main computer - started with a hand-me-down PowerBook G3, moved to a 13" MacBook, added a 20" display - now I have a 15" MacBook Pro and a 23" Cinema Display. It's great.

karter
2nd February 2011, 03:30 PM
Drag the dock from one screen to the other in the arrangement settings area. Pretty simple really :) If you disconnected your screen it will push the dock back to your macbook again until the screen is plugged in again.

sorry mate, im totally new to macs!

I cannot however, seem to arrange for the dock to be on the monitor without it being in the "mirror" arrangement. or drag the dock??

karter
2nd February 2011, 03:31 PM
found it!

thanks heaps everyone!

the display now looks amazing :0 thanks heaps!

karter
2nd February 2011, 03:34 PM
sorry, one more question.. can you shut the the screen on the mbp without it going to sleep?
cheers

skyhawkmatthew
2nd February 2011, 03:42 PM
As long as you have an external keyboard and mouse connected (bluetooth or otherwise), you can close the macbook while it's connected to the external display, then wake it up again using the keyboard/mouse once it goes to sleep.

There isn't an Apple-sanctioned way to run the computer lid-closed without it connected to a display - if you really want to do it, Google InsomniaX. :)

karter
2nd February 2011, 03:46 PM
As long as you have an external keyboard and mouse connected (bluetooth or otherwise), you can close the macbook while it's connected to the external display, then wake it up again using the keyboard/mouse once it goes to sleep.

There isn't an Apple-sanctioned way to run the computer lid-closed without it connected to a display - if you really want to do it, Google InsomniaX. :)

have the wireless keyboard and trackpad, but once the lid goes down, and it goes to sleep i cant wake it with the keyboard or trackpad:dry:

skyhawkmatthew
2nd February 2011, 04:15 PM
Check in Bluetooth Preferences > Advanced... that "Allow Bluetooth devices to wake this computer" is enabled:

http://img200.imageshack.us/img200/3703/screenshot20110202at514.png

Gothikon
2nd February 2011, 06:38 PM
The only thing I would say to look at is battery life, as I'm not sure how well modern batteries now cope with being connected to a charger all the time? My MBP used to be always plugged in, and I know they have some charging smarts built in, but it didn't take long for the battery life to drop off (though this was a 2007 model MBP). I ended up putting a switch inline with the powerboard (a actually a light switch screwed to the desk), which also meant I could make sure the printer and speakers etc were turned off.
I've been using PowerBooks and MacBook Pros as desktop replacements (6 hours or more per day on a desk 5 days a week) for several years.

The single best piece of advice is whatever you do *do not* leave them plugged in to the mains all day.

In the old days I'd leave my laptop plugged in at the office during the day and never connect it at home unless it needed charging, most of my batteries lasted a couple of years.

However, when we switched to Macs at work they rolled out 13" laptops to all the developers so I stopped taking my own machine in to work, so I have no need to bring my work laptop home. The work laptop is connected to a 24" cinema display 24x7, it's about 18 months old and can no longer hold a charge for more than 2 hours usage and that's being very generous. The battery can't even keep the laptop in sleep mode overnight which is incredibly annoying so the vicious circle continues and I leave it hooked up to the PSU.

My home laptop (roughly the same age) which apart from the occasional overnight charge I never leave connected to the power supply for longer than necessary still has enough juice in the battery for 5+ hours usage. I only ever charge it when the battery goes in to the red zone so the battery gets a full cycle.

Note, it's possible that the battery in my work laptop isn't completely stuffed and is just suffering from memory affect which could be address, I know this could happen on older batteries but I thought newer batteries didn't have these sorts of issues.

Chundermuffin
2nd February 2011, 08:31 PM
I'm currently using a 17" Macbook Pro with an anti-glare screen as my main computer and am liking it immensely. I changed from a desktop PC to a 15" Macbook Pro nearly 5 years ago, then late last year went to a 24" iMac for a short period. I found the occasional portability was handier than I realised and went back to a MBP a little while ago. I also vastly prefer the anti-glare display, which is no longer possible to get in an Apple desktop machine.

I've heard the batteries in the newer models (2010 onwards) are more intelligent in that once they're fully charged any extra power is transferred back to the mains, meaning they can be left plugged in all the time without issue. Anyone know more details on this?

Gothikon
3rd February 2011, 06:18 PM
You hear comments about more intelligent charging almost every year but personally I would not take the risk considering how little effort it is to unplug the power and plug it back in when the battery gets low.

Whilst I don't claim to be a battery expert I expect there are two parts to the problem. A dumb charger could damage a battery by overcharging unlike an intelligent charger. This was certainly a problem in the past but not so much these days.

However I believe that actually using and cycling the battery is an important step in prolonging it's life.

happyfrappy
5th February 2011, 12:07 AM
I've been using a PowerBook, Thinkpad and now a MacBook Pro in a desktop replacement setup since 2003, with any notebook you should run it off the battery at least 45-60 minutes twice a week so the battery health doesn't degrade rapidly. Once a month you should run it down to ~25% and let it charge overnight. On average you should be able to squeeze 4-5yrs from the battery with light to moderate usage.
The reasons I've been a notebook user is the quiet sound, they're perfect for mobile recording(music recording demo sessions), less footprint/power than a desktop and easy to have two systems next to each other.

In my experience Apple Lithium-Ion batteries aren't that great on aging, the replacement batteries I got from Apple during the recall on my 12" PowerBook G4 were mixed in life: Replacement 1 is 50% capacity and replacement 2 is 99% capacity after 4 years. My 2010 MacBook Pro has a strange battery it bounces between 88-93% capacity health. (my Thinkpad's included 4-cell battery from 2007 is still at 98% capacity)
Sometimes I wish Apple had a battery calibration utility like Lenovo, you leave the notebook plugged in and it discharges then recharges-I thought my old T61's original battery was on the verge of death after 3yrs, after two tries of calibration revived the battery's 50% capacity status to 98%.

Steve_D
5th February 2011, 01:05 PM
Heres Apples "official" guide to batteries and maintenance.

Apple Portables: Calibrating your computer's battery for best performance (http://support.apple.com/kb/ht1490)

and more info and iCal reminder here Apple - Batteries (http://www.apple.com/batteries/)

happyfrappy
5th February 2011, 10:21 PM
Apple's official guide isn't that useful when they ship batteries of questionable quality and I'm sure the change from Lion cells to lithium polymer cells didn't make matters better. I'm sure my region environment plays a role in the strange battery capacity levels, however I find it odd using my Thinkpad for 3yrs in below freezing weather hasn't degraded the batteries as much as my MacBook Pro.

*shrugs* I wish Apple made a "Tough MacBook Pro" which meets military specs... I'd be willing to pay $3,500 USD for a matte display 13" model easily! :D