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Apple MacBook MB403B/A

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      29.07.2012 22:32
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      You get what you pay for - and what you get is next to Perfection.

      Introduction
      My college was the place of change in operating system for me, as a graphic designer on a related course, the whole department was fully furnished with Macintosh computers and one memorable room with brand spanking new top of the line iMacs. At first, the many apples were intimidating with their arctic white, glossy shine and backwards way of functioning. The first thing standing out was the change of sides, from the dektop items to the open applications and web-tabs, the 'X' for close, square for maximize and underline for minimize moved from right to left and replaced with traffic lights. Look down and you realise you're missing something, the infamous 'right click' on the mouse, now I had to hold the command button. Looking back, the switch from the default windows operating system was smooth, with no real problems at all - no crashes or viruses, just slowly learning the ropes. The reasons why the department relied on Macs was that they were industry standard for design jobs - because Macs run programs faster, more reliably and generally better than that of the Windows equivalent. Its clear that the 2 years of experience using them, made a big impact... In this review, I won't be going into detail about processors, RAM or any other inner workings of the MacBook as they can be long lists and are easily found elsewhere.

      The Operating System
      With Apple and systems Tiger/Lion/SnowLeopard, you get a far sleeker, manageable system that can be almost exactly the same as other filing systems, so you could have a load of folders (which can be colour coded!) use Alias' (Shortcuts) or include applications - which it does so well that the latest versions of Vista followed suit - having all or selected, hidden, static or magnified application icons present at the bottom of the screen. The first thing you'll notice is how fast the thing boots, its ridiculous when you think about all those times you had to watch for the windows logo and loading bar or 'wait for messenger to load up' after you've logged in. Since the MacBook's rise in popularity, numerous apps and browsers have since started making their products for Mac users, so you can still download your preferred web browsers and well known programs. I can say wholeheartedly that I have never had a serious problem with this Mac, touch wood. No viruses, internal errors, faults or failures of any kind. Sure the Airport (Network connection) has its moments but all that comes down to other variables (modem, router, ISP etc). Like with all computers, applications will have the odd 'unexpected quit' or freeze (lookout for the dreaded spinning beach-ball) but the aftermath is far less damaging compared to other OS', no underlying problems or reinstall/rebooting necessary. Which brings me onto the almighty 'Force Quit', should you encounter a frozen application, simply click on the apple logo, select it and watch your problem solve itself in seconds - Ever used Windows 'Task Manager'? Its like that but it actually works! As for security, I literally don't buy into all that '6 month protection' software rubbish you see on tv paired with new laptops, I just don't click on adverts, visit porn sites or do anything stupid that's expected of me.. so yeah, no viruses as of yet ;)

      Hardware
      Its a pristine white bit of genius with a 13' screen that'll make you want to keep it clean and to some extent fingerprint-less. You get a built in camera for web-chats and average quality photos, a magnetised AC plug which is very handy as it is far less likely to break or conceive problems compared to other models, a built-in disc drive capable of reading/burning at 24X speed, 2 USB ports, 1 Ethernet port, firewire port, minidisplay port and both headphone and microphone inputs. I've owned mine for well over 3 years and it has remained practically shipshape, with only very small pieces of trim casing coming loose (After seeing a friends, this is clearly a design flaw, albeit a little one). The 160GB space is a tad disappointing as there are several other laptops with over 320GB.. but perhaps I'm just nitpicking because it has the same storage as my iPod :) - boasting over. The keys and touchpad are prone to wear and end up with shiny surfaces (mainly the most well used keys). You can check the health of your battery (which I prefer to keep plugged in as with all batteries, depletes faster over time, starting around 5 hours and ending up about half that) thanks to a small button with LED lights. Underneath you'll also find a locking mechanism to keep the battery pack secure. Despite a fairly mediocre battery life, it can still be used when travelling for necessary tasks and the odd bit of entertainment. Its nice to have a tray-less disc drive too, as other types are so ungraceful and rickety, prone to faults. Instead you get a simple disc in/out slot with a button to eject. Instead of tinkering with the insides of your Macbook, you can find most of your curiosities in one utility folder, or even on the keyboard with both volume and brightness controls as buttons.

      Price
      This is where most people are turned off. Apple's price-tags are astronomical compared to alternatives on the market, however those cheap substitutes just don't compare (a good example here is the use of the operating system - No other manufacturer can use it - where as with Windows... you've got bucket-loads of brands.. Samsung, Sony, Packard Bell, HP, Dell & Toshiba to name a few (the last 2 being dreadful). So you can expect to find this particular model of MacBook for just under the four digit mark - a big investment which can be a bit lighter on the pursestrings for students with a 10% discount. Or better yet, find a manufacturer refurbished one for a third of the price!

      Dispelling some Rumors
      "Macs have no right click" - It's true that many macs, particularly the laptops, have no defined right click option, but instead rely on the pressing of the command button on the keyboard. However, should you be using a mouse, you'll find that it is only the official products of Apple that disregard the second click, as many others include the right click. As for the laptops and their touchpads, it's even easier: simply place 2 fingers on the touchpad instead of one, and click away, sorted.

      "Macs can't play video games" - Again, a truth down to the fact that many games are released/published by rival company Microsoft but also because the majority of game developers, create their products with tools equivalent to that of Windows systems. Consequently, there are many programs out there... and as such, one could indeed run a game, program or even the OS of Windows on a Mac if one were so inclined... This though is best left down to those with the know how as it may have questionable drawbacks, software-wise and legally.

      "Macs are for media students" - While they do excel in the more entertaining careers, they can be just as exponential as their competitors. As I've mentioned, the design applications are not all for film and music-making - the Adobe programs for example include Dreamweaver for creating websites, Photoshop for editing and creating images, Flash for putting together animations.. then there's InDesign & Illustrator. Theres no doubt that PCs are better suited to the grey dull sludge office work with Microsofts own programs excel and word but thats just it - They're made by Microsoft.

      "Macs don't get viruses" - Wrong, they do. Just nowhere near as many as windows. The more popular the Macintosh computers become, the more prevalent related viruses and malware will become. Frankly, viruses can run riot on a PC because there is so much under the hood that users no next to little about whereas with a mac its far more... organised.

      "Macs don't have _ _ _ _" - You may hear several rumors about Macs, such as they don't have fans or harddrives. Nonsense, they have both, its simply because A) the fans are discreet (usually) and B) the HD doesn't get cluttered with crap. The phrase 'don't judge a book by its cover' applies here... except with apples :P but then again so does 'anything you can do I can do better'... wait that's not a phrase.. its a song... best end it there :S

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        28.07.2011 00:28
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        A simple to use, enjoyable laptop which will make you not want to use a Windows computer ever again.

        I've had this Macbook for over three years now, and in that time, it has suited its purpose wonderfully. I had never used a Mac before, but the intuitive operating system was very simple to pick up and now I really couldn't live without it. I've utilised many of the built in features during this time, such as the iLife package, and these are very useful. The laptop is small and portable, but the screen is big enough to watch DVDs on quite happily. The hard drive is plenty big enough for a casual user, as long as you don't want to store too much data or have a large amount of applications.

        It is worth buying some office software for the laptop, I went for Apple's iWork, which again has been brilliant. It is also good to note that the white body can get dirty, so does need wiping fairly often. However, the design of the laptop is very good and the white looks good overall.

        I did have an issue with the Airport card inside mine, but took it to an Apple store where they fixed it for me quite happily, so customer support is good too. Apple's software updates/new operating systems have all worked fine with my Macbook, it is nice to be able to keep my fairly old laptop up to date! I would definitely recommend this laptop.

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        02.06.2010 23:04

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        I wouldn't be without my beautiful, beautiful MacBook.

        I bought my MacBook about at the beginning of 2008. It is my first Mac, having been a Windows user since the age old days of Windows 3.1! I can honestly say that I will never buy another Windows PC.. EVER. Every time I use my MacBook I am left in a good mood. It looks amazing, it's quick, it does everything I have ever asked of it and more. Compare that to the frustration of using Windows which will slow with age, crash at every opportunity and need replacing within 18 months. I am confident that my MacBook will continue to serve me well for at least another two years, probably longer. I have upgraded one aspect of my MacBook, the hard drive. I bought a 500Gb hard drive for around £50 from eBay and installed it myself. Even this is easier on a Mac! Having never touched the inside of a computer at all, I read a simple how-to guide online and completed the upgrade in an evening. All the software I needed was already on my Mac and I have had no problems with my hard drive since.
        The only problem that I have had was with a chip that appeared on the wrist pad. There are a lot of pictures online of this recurring problem which is well worth being aware of. Luckily my MacBook is still under warranty, Apple replaced the base plate without question.

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        13.09.2009 17:02
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        A fantastic upgrade from being on Windows.

        I have had this Macbook for almost exactly a year now and have plenty of good things to say!

        Id been a 100% Windows user previously, apart from the odd poke around on a Macbook in the Apple Store, or a couple of clicks when someone else had one, so i was a little unsure at first when it came to throwing down so much cash. But, for anyone else in this situation, i can only say it was totally worth it.

        I got this from the Apple Store in Meadowhall, Sheffield, and the whole process was quick, easy and quite enjoyable. Very friendly staff made it simple, got a good student discount and discounted Applecare, and then my receipt emailed in PDF format for me to keep in my inbox if required.

        Now, i originally planned to bump up the amount of RAM in the Macbook from the supplied 2 to 4GB, but that hasnt been necessary. Alsongside the 2.2GHz Core2Duo processor, the machine flies for what i need it to do. I like to do some bedroom DJing with a Midi controller, edit photos, download music and movies, create presentations, stream media and the usual general surfing and word processing, and speed has never, ever been an issue, even with many applications running simultaneously.

        The screen is large enough for what i like to do, especially sitting on the sofa at night reading forums etc, but if required, just plug in an external monitor with a VGA cable and Mini DVA port adapter and use one larger screen or utilise the MAcbook to have a dual screen setup.

        One minor fear i had from coming from Windows was the transition to OSX. THis hasnt been a problem. The operating system is simple to use, lightning fast andvery intuitive. At first things seem a little too different, but now im more than happy and much prefer the operating system over anything else i have used. I have upgraded to 10.6 Snow Leopard, and it has given me lots of free hard drive space and seems alot faster in many programs i use.

        It does get a little hot now and again, however, which isnt much fun in summer in shorts with the laptop on your knees, but some software is available (for free) to play with the fan speeds to keep the temperature low.
        The other minor issue i have is the occasional wifi speed drop issues (which is definitely just this machine, as any others using my router have no problems at all). This hasnt been too much of an issue though, and im happy to keep working away with it as it is!

        I know newer Macbooks are now out there, but this little plastic one has served me well, and will continue to well into the future. I happily reccommend these machines to everyone i speak to!

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          29.07.2009 04:58
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          If you can afford it, definitely buy a laptop from Apple.

          When my old Apple laptop (Powerbook G4) stopped working properly, mostly due to me not taking care of it properly, I knew i needed to get a new Mac ASAP. I had about £700 already saved up, but decided to save around another £100, so I could get a Macbook with slightly better specs (this one is 2.4GHz and has a 100GB HDD). As soon as I could, I bought my Macbook from Amazon.co.uk, along with as many protective items I could find - I didn't want to ruin this laptop like I had the last!

          Anyway, being a Mac user for my whole life, I obviously didn't need to get used to the OS. As with every Apple computer, all I needed to do was take the Macbook out of the box, start it up, and within a couple of minutes it was up and running.
          One of my favourite features of Apple's these days is Boot Camp, an application that allows you to dual boot the computer into Windows. I thought this might be tricky to configure, but within a couple of hours I had the Windoze OS installed on my laptop as well. As much as I hate using any OS other than Mac, I do need Windoze for the occassional usage (such as webam chats via MSN Messenger), but I try to avoid using it whenever possible!

          I have never had any problems with my Macbook. Many PC users complain that Macs are hard to use, and that there isn't any software available for them. However, they couldn't be more wrong!
          The Operating System is so easy to use, even a new user can get used to it within seconds. The OS also uses a lot less RAM than Windows seems to use, saving more for any programs you want to use. I can be running a dozen applications at once on my Macbook and barely notice any lagging.
          As for software available - most Windows programs are also available for Mac, and if not there are always alternatives (which a lot of the time are cheaper and better). The only problem I've had is that some games aren't available for Mac, but seeing as I also have Windows installed, I can still play them on my Macbook.

          One of the best things about owning a Mac is the support from Apple. My Macbook came with a year's free warranty (which I never even needed to use). With every Mac product I've owned, if i have any problem, I just send it off to Mac, and they either send it back within a few days repaired, or simply send a replacement. I feel more safe buying from Apple than from any other company!

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          23.06.2009 00:02
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          Bit of an inital culture shock easily outweighed by the plusses

          I got my MacBook a month ago and, despite having been a heavy PC user for the last 20+ years, I'm a convert. It's just great.

          I got it because of all the good stories I'd heard about them; usability, security, availabiity of applications and it's stylish looking too, not like the lumpy almost invariably black Windows laptops out there. It's not cheap at £700 you can get a lot of PC for that, but I really like my Mac, so I'm not going to linger on that side of things.

          The 13" screen is crystal clear, the keyboard feels nice and it doesn't take long to get used to the trackpad style mouse. It's super fast to boot up and shut down, less than 30 seconds from 'off' and probably less than 5 from 'sleep' mode. That's stunning compared to my other machines that can take anything from 5 to 20 minutes to do the same.

          It was initially a bit of a leap of faith to go from the familiar surroundings and user interface of Windows to OS X, the Mac operating system. Additionally, I had built up a fair bit of knowledge and collection of software applications for Windows too. But, one month in, it's been great, with very little issues at all.

          Setting up wireless access, finding and installing apps; all very straight forward, no issues at all, no 'Blue-Screen' no need for Anti-Virus. And there's a stack of unambiguous help out there, that works first time.

          So, for anyone looking to jump to Mac, fear not, there are equivalents for pretty much everything you need, many of them free. So here's a 'top ten' of apps, effectively the 'essentials' for day to day work/play.

          I know there are alternatives to all of the below, but these are the ones I plumped for. One prevailing factor influenced the choices below; they're all open source/freeware. My budget for toys is dry following the arrival of the MacBook, so it's cheapies or freebies for me for a while.

          So here goes:

          1. Browser (Firefox)
          With the advent of Firefox V3.0 (FF3), I was finally teased away from Internet Explorer (IE) on the PC. The time taken to develop css sites and make them work cross-platform was hugely reduced, I was a convert. I'm sure Safari is truly great, but I'll be sticking to FF for dev for the foreseeable future.

          2. Messaging client (MSN Messenger for Mac)
          A no brainer really, need to retain the continuity with my previous MSN contacts. That said, I've hardly used it since I installed it.

          3. Twitter client (TweetDeck)|
          If you're into Twitter, you need a client. This one fits the bill nicely, lets you group your followees and has a nice user interface. It has a few nice features, like url shortening and picture display.

          4. Music (Spotify)
          Obviously iTunes features quite heavily on the Mac OS platform. And, with the iPhone, you need it to sync and for app download, which is fine, but only works for music you already own. That's where Spotify comes in; Spotify gives you free access to the music you don't own. It's like having a radio where you're the DJ.

          5. Fonts
          Gotta have fonts. In fact, gotta have loads of fonts. The Mac comes with over 100, covering the main requirements. But now I've extended that a little to include some of the more funky ones. I'll leave it to you to search for them yourself.

          6. HTML Editor (Smultron)
          I've been using EditPlus for years now, it's a great little editor. Unfortunately EditPlus is a Windows only app, so I needed an equivalent. The EditPlus Wiki recommends this one (amongst others), so I've gone for that. Still to try it out, but it has a good reputation, so expecting some great things from this. No idea where the name comes from.

          7. FTP Client (Cyberduck)
          To upload files for bimbogami, I need an FTP client. Was using File Explorer on Windows previously, so reckoned I'd better get something proper for the Mac. Cyberduck, despite the bizarrely unrelated name, fits the bill nicely (see what I did there?).

          8. Image Editor (Gimp)
          GIMP is a bitmap image editing app. So far I've only used it for cropping and re-sizing, but from the menus it looks as though it can do pretty much everything I've ever done in Photoshop in the past. BTW, GIMP stands for GNU Image Manipulation Program, nothing to do with fetishists, so they say.

          9. Image Editor 2 (InkScape)
          This one's for vector graphics. not had much time to play about with it yet, but it comes highly recommended and on first impression, it looks pretty good.

          10. Productivity (OpenOffice)
          I hate calling it that. Word processor, Spreadsheet and presentation, otherwise known as MS Office. Well, I've plumped for the free, compatible OpenOffice. Not had to do much more than open and update a few MS Office things so far, but it seems OK.

          ** Edited from a post on my blog **

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            26.02.2009 22:53
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            fantastic buy

            I have never used a mac before.....however now i have i will never go back to PC!!! My Macbook has not been completly problem free but despite this i am still very impressed with the overall performance.

            For starters it looks smart (although this can have a downside as it does get dirty very easily). It comes with a very nifty trip free charger which is small and easy to move around.

            the layout is simple and easy to use and it comes with fun and useful progs. The eye is a brilliant inbuilt feature for taking pictures or using as a webcam. general performance is very fast.

            The worst thing about the macbook is that i have had a reated problem with the battery. If i accidently leave the laptop on without a charger and it dies completely than the battery no longer works and it will only work with the charger. However apple have been quick and efficient with solving this problem.

            Overall a brilliant buy !

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              24.09.2008 10:01
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              I love my MacBook and I'm well and truly converted

              I recently bought this MacBook after being convinced by my colleagues at work. I've always owned a PC and I use a PC at work. This isn't a technical review, but more from the point of view from someone that's never touched a Mac before.

              I use my MacBook for email, internet, iTunes and general admin tasks (OpenOffice).

              The Look
              =======
              My worry was - it's white. It's going to get dirty. But having now owned it 6 months, it's still white (although I do make everyone wash their hands before using it!)

              The Magnasafe charger
              ===============
              This is genius. Already it's been invaluable when I've pulled my laptop toward me not realising it's still plugged in. Basically, the power adapter has a magnet that sticks onto the slot on your MacBook, so if somebody trips over the wire, the cable just comes loose instead of pulling the MacBook on the floor. Brilliant.

              The general Mac thing
              ==============
              I had never ever used a Mac before getting this. And I have to admit it's not all that intuitive, but once you know how, everything is so easy and quick. If you're unsure it might be worthwhile popping along to your Mac store and getting a tutorial. The staff are very helpful.

              All in all I can do everything on here that I can do on a PC. It's fast, it's pretty and it has lots of cool features (the dashboard for example). And no sign yet of a blue screen of death (or any Mac equivalent).

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                19.09.2008 12:21
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                The Core 2 Duo 2.4 GHz Macbook is a very impressive laptop indeed.

                Made by Apple, it possesses all the qualities you would expect from a computer made by the Californian super-company; Good looks, powerful specs, and an innovative design.

                I was initially concerned that the Macbook wouldn't be able to handle graphic intensive applications like Photoshop and iMovie very well, and would take an age to complete mundane processor intensive challenges. However, i'm pleased to report that Apple's product exceeds all my expectations. In fact, the speed of the macbook is only a little behind that of my powerful desktop iMac.

                I don't really want to get into a Mac vs PC debate with this - basically I use both, and each has their benefits and downsides. However, if you are a Mac person, then I would highly recommend this model.

                The design is very good, although the white interior, track-pad and screen surround can get dirty very quickly - nothing a weekly wipe-down with a soft damp cloth can't fix though.

                The Macbook as a whole is well built - and although it doesn't look to substantial, is made from high grade plastic and can withstand a knock or two.

                The innovative 'Magsafe' power adapter is an exceptional piece of design. Basically, the power attachment which goes into the Macbook itself is only connected to the computer by magnetism. Therefore if you trip over the lead - the power cord comes away quickly without pulling your expensive laptop off the desk. It's little touches like this which put Apple ahead of the competition.

                The high quality 13" widescreen display really makes a difference when you're using your computer for viewing movies, and the in built DVD player has been updated a lot in the last few years to add more options and make it more user friendly.

                The keyboard is well laid out and feels nice when you type. I like the separation of the individual keys, which seems to reduce errors when i'm typing at full speed.

                When I first got hold of the laptop, there were a few issues that I wasn't entirely happy with - firstly, in specific applications, it occasionally wouldn't let you input any numbers, and secondly, it would not wake from sleep effectively. However, I downloaded the latest firmware update from Apple (which is free), and the problem was sorted.

                There is a fairly good range of software which comes with the Macbook, but you do have to pay a little extra if you want a decent word processor (office), design programme (Photoshop) etc.

                The battery life is pretty good and certainly better than any other laptop I have owned. Even though Apple claim it's 3 hours - I find I can get around 2 and a half hours from a full charge, when i'm browsing the net.

                I highly recommend the Macbook, not only for it's speed and good looks, but also for its overall useability.

                This particular model cost £829 directly from the Apple store - however, with their credit options, you get purchase one for £28 per moth.

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                  08.09.2008 22:27
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                  better than windows, make it your own

                  I'm sure a newer version will be out soon, but for those perhaps buying a previously used Macbook, I would highly recommend this version. It looks identical to previous models (except for a slightly different keyboard layout) but is a lot faster and has a lot more storage space. It also comes equipped with the newer operating system Leopard, which seems to have sorted out a few bugs i used to have, such as Safari crashing and having to always quit it. The battery life is also better at over 4 hours.

                  If you have never used a Mac before, it is easy to set up. Everything is pretty much installed and you can be up and running in a matter of minutes. It is also compact, and although the screen may be small, i have had no problems using Photoshop or watching movies and you get used to it after a while. What I love the most is that the 'Dock' (Apple's Start bar) can be hidden, so your desktop doesn't look cluttered with all those applications. Everything is visual and icons are like little previews of your documents and pictures. It saves your passwords and personal details for internet sites, so you aren't forever typing them in (it's best to have a master password before you do this though). What I really love is that you can really personalise your laptop, not only with wallpaper and screensavers, but with layouts, applications and make it relevant to you. I would never go back to Windows again, Apple is sleek and smart.

                  Update: Saying that, I have now managed to put Windows on my Mac, to play some games that I bought in my pre-mac days. Bootcamp worked a treat, partitioning my drive in several easy steps and I can now switch easily from OS X to Windows. My Sims game also seems faster on the Mac, due to increased memory, so I would recommend doing this if you have enough hard disc space left.

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                • Product Details

                  The MacBook uses a graphics processor that economizes space in a whole new way. A traditional computer logic board contains multiple components: the CPU, two chips that control communication throughout the computer, and the graphics processor. The logic board in the MacBook contains only two components: the CPU and a graphics processor with all of the core logic built into a single chip.

                  Open your MacBook and you're instantly greeted by glorious full screen brightness. Anything you view, including the glossy widescreen display itself, is a spectacular experience. The LED-backlit display is more power efficient. And it's mercury- and arsenic-free, so it's greener than ever.