Macleay is more like a suburb of Brisbane whereas Russell has more of a country town feel.
I like to visit Macleay but live on Russell (Travel inter island is free...!!)
Over all after nine years on Macleay I would say it is the preferred place. Both have things to offer but socially (and that's the main thing) Macleay has the edge. No worries for bike or scooter access on any SMBI. Tracks provided by the Council. Bikes can be taken on the boats too.
Internet is very good but Telstra have the edge with mobile phones. I had DODO (optus) for years with no trouble too.