Apple has finally announced the much-awaited upgrades to its Pro line of MacBooks. As expected, Apple made some unorthodox decisions and they are getting beaten up for it.
I use a mix of technologies. I have a MacBook, Chromebook, Google Pixel C, Windows 10 PC and I primarily use openSUSE on my main desktop. As a result, I consider myself well educated on the advantages and disadvantages of each platform, without any bias.
Although my 2013 MacBook with 8GB of RAM is in great shape and is my go-to device when I am not on my desktop, I am looking at upgrading it to the new MacBook.
In this post I am addressing some of the unfair criticism of the new MacBook Pro and also talking about the facts that make them great devices.
First things first: Hardware specs
The new MacBooks are running on Intel’s 6th generation Sky Lake processors and not the newly released Kaby Lake. Does that matter? It would have been better if Apple used the latest chips, but for a MacBook user Kaby Lake doesn’t really make a big difference. Both processors are 14nm and are literally identical. The only slight difference you may notice is in the battery life if you watch 4K video. Period.
Don’t forget, MacBooks have a long shelf life (Apple claims four years, but they go beyond four years depending on your usecase). Since Intel is moving away from tick-tock model they will probably be releasing a new processor every year. No matter which processor Apple pack into their MacBooks, it’s going to be old by the following year. So don’t keep falling for the newer hardware madness telling you that you should always have the latest and greatest hardware.
Is 16GB RAM enough?
The short answer is yes. I have the 2013 MacBook Pro that came with 8GB of RAM. Initially I fretted whether this device is future proof or not. We are approaching 2017 and I am heavily using Adobe Premier, Photoshop, Lightroom and 3d modeling software, and MacBook is serving me very well. In fact it outperformed a high end 2016 laptop with 16GB of RAM. Yes, it would be great to have a 32GB model, but I won’t go over 16GB of RAM for an ultrabook. Why? Because RAM is not a magic potion, you need an equally powerful processor to process the data.
USB Type C
Thank you Apple for removing all legacy USB ports from the device. USB has been nothing more than a mess. There are at least 7 legacy USB ports. I have to carry around at least 5 types of USB cables to be able to connect to my devices. My Western Digital external hard drive uses USB B, whereas Nikon d750 uses UC-E17 USB Cable, headphone charger uses Micro USB and Xoom Dictaphone Mini USB, plus USB Type C for my Nexus phone. Yes. That’s legacy USB mess. And don’t forget all those HDMI cables. Please kill the legacy USB!.
Get rid of all that mess and everyone, please move to USB Type C. One type to rule them all: from audio video output to charging to data transfers.Needless to say, I am very happy there are no legacy USB ports in MacBooks. Initially I will have to carry 2 adapters, but as soon as the rest of the world moves to USB Type C the better. I am already carrying 5 different cables to survive the legacy USB world.
Lack of SD card reader
The new MacBooks don’t have a SD card reader. How many people actually use the SD Card reader? The only use case that I can think of is photographers who may prefer SD Card. But it’s not a deal breaker for a professional photographer. Have you seen the bag of a photographer? All you will see is cables, connectors, filters, lenses, SD Cards…one more USB Type C SD Card reader is not going to break their back and chances are they already own one.
Come on folks. MacBooks are the only devices that offered Magsafe. Do you have MagSafe in your Dell, HP, Lenovo, ASUS laptops? Are you tripping and falling all the time? What do you do with your iPad, iPhone, Android phones? Yes, MagSafe was a good approach but that’s not the end of the world and I am much happier to use the same USB Type C port for charging than MagSafe.
Touch bar is a gimmick
Finally someone is doing something for those useless function keys. If you are a Chromebook user, you already know how ‘valuable’ those are. All I care about is ‘Esc’ key as I use it heavily in the text editor, and that’s going to stay with the ‘Touch Bar’. Touch Bar is going to expand the functionality of the keyboard and applications and give me more control over features. In fact it creates new ways to interact with apps, without having to lift your fingers from the keyboard area. I love the new Touch Bar.
Let me say this straight out: Apple is the only company that got the touch pad right. I have yet to come across a non-Apple laptop where trackpad is nothing more than an extension of the mouse. With the new MacBook, the trackpad is doubled in size. In addition, there is a secret that most people don’t know: with the new force field touch pads, you can convert it into a tablet by using a stylus. Apps like Inklet allow you to enjoy pressure sensitivity so all those aspiring graphic artists don’t need to buy expensive tablets. I can’t tell you how excited I am about it.
They don’t have touchscreen
As a Chromebook Flip and Dell XPS 13 user, I can tell you touchscreens on laptops are pure waste. No one uses them. Touch screens do make sense for those devices that lack keyboard and mouse, but not on laptops. Also these touchscreens work more or less like input devices, like a mouse, so unlike iPad or Surface Pro like devices, you really can’t use them for drawing due to lack of palm rejection, it’s counterproductive. So, no, I don’t need touchscreen on my laptop.
MacBooks are expensive
I often hear people say Apple products are overpriced. May I ask what wasthe price of Chromebook Pixel? You get 32GB of storage for $1600. Check out laptops from Dell, HP, Lenovo … look at any vendor out there matching the MacBook specs and you are talking about over $2000. You still get the crappy touchpad and Windows 10 that doesn’t scale apps very well for HiDPI monitors….and I won’t get into the 45 minute long downtime every time there is a system update. Yes, you can get a laptop under $300 but don’t complain about creaky hinges, unresponsive touchpad, 3Kg of weight and 4GB of RAM. The bottom line is good hardware is expensive. Just check the price of Pixel XL phone. It’s the same price of MacBook Air.
Resistance to change
Apple is finally pushing laptops into new territories. Unlike Ubuntu Linux or Gnome, it’s not creating new interfaces that require users to relearn everything. It’s sticking to the WIMP paradigm and yet making game-changing improvements to hardware. That’s what we need. In all these years, the only innovation that we saw in the non-Apple market was more RAM and new CPUs. Period. Apple is pushing the envelope.
I think the latest MacBook Pro is the rightful successor and I will be buying one. If you have any doubts, don’t listen to critics and get one. You won’t regret it. Trust me.