Round 1: Design
Good looks aren't everything.
Proudly declaring "Designed by Apple in California" on all of its packaging, Apple has helped fetishize clean product design--and the MacBook Pro is no exception. With a sleek aluminum case and minimalist, white accents, the MacBook Pro (like the PowerBook
) inspires a pica
-like desire to lick it. That said, the TravelMate 8200 is no slouch in the aesthetics department; its matte-black case has silver accents that are reminiscent of automotive design, and its shiny lid features a cool, 3D lattice pattern.
But as any designer will tell you, good looks will get you only so far. In the case of laptops, a great design is one that's functional as well as aesthetically pleasing. Apple's dedication to simplicity and minimalism has resulted in some truly elegant innovations: a touch pad that lets you scroll through documents and Web pages by dragging two fingers down or across it; a backlit keyboard that adjusts to changes in ambient light levels; and the MagSafe power connector, which gracefully detaches from the laptop if you accidentally trip over the cord.
Though the TravelMate 8200 lacks these features, it does have a dedicated scroll button beneath its trackpad as well as a few elements that the MacBook Pro misses, such as quick-launch application buttons and external Wi-Fi and Bluetooth on/off switches. The TravelMate 8200 also features Acer's signature curved keyboard, which some people prefer for its ergonomic properties. Those touches are a plus, but they aren't enough to outweigh the Apple's design innovations.
The Apple completely undercuts the Acer in terms of physical dimensions, which is bad for boxers, but good for laptops. Though both models feature 15.4-inch wide-screen displays, the MacBook Pro weighs a pound less than the TravelMate 8200 and has a more compact footprint. When you put them side by side, the TravelMate 8200 looks a bit pudgy.
The winner? The MacBook Pro, for its innovative usability features, stunning good looks, and compact profile. Does that make us shallow?