There are three things I want from a new Apple laptop. I want it to be thin and light. I want it to have a lovely high-resolution display. I want it to connect to the other devices I own. I don't think I'm alone in those wishes.
That situation has left me in something of a bind for several years now - I can only have two of those three things. If I buy a Macbook, I lose connectivity. If I buy a Macbook Air, I lose the beautiful display. If I buy a Macbook Pro, it's not so thin and light.
I hoped that situation would be resolved yesterday. All I wanted was a slightly slimmer Macbook Pro that retained its excellent connectivity. But my hopes were dashed - the new models are indeed thinner and lighter, but almost every port I regularly use on my 2012 model is gone.
Gone is the SD card reader that I use to get photos off my camera. Gone is the mini DisplayPort that I used to hook my laptop up to my TV and to projectors in class for presentations. Gone is the simple, out-of-the-box cable connection to my iOS devices. Gone is the MagSafe connector that prevented so many nasty accidents.
- Consider choosing one of the best Chromebooks of 2016 instead
Speaking of accidents, there's a complicating factor here, y'see. About a month ago an incident with a glass of apple juice (fate does have a sense of humour) rendered the keyboard on my existing Macbook Pro inoperable. I , but this isn't a problem I can just sit on for much longer.
Unfortunately, none of the solutions to that problem look good. Solution one is to get my existing model repaired. That would cost about £500/$605, my local repair store tells me, and while I like this approach from an environmental point of view, it would leave me with an almost five-year-old machine that's showing its age.
Solution two is a new Macbook Pro. If I didn't care unduly about adding more snakes to the snake pit that is my spare cables box (every home has one), then I could replace all my old USB-A cables with shiny new USB-C ones, along with a handful of dongles for special occasions. But jeez, when I'm spending so much on the computer in the first place, why should I have to spend even more to simply make it work with the devices I own?
I mean seriously. I costed out the machine that would fit my needs, and it's about £3,200/$3,800, plus whatever the cornucopia of dongles and accessories I'd need would cost. That's insane. After a few years of disappointing, short-lived PC laptops, I've come around to the idea of paying more for Apple's high quality standards. But more is not £2,500/$3,000 more over a Windows machine with comparable specs.
Then there's solution three, which is compromise, and there's several routes I could go here. I could opt for a lower-end Macbook Pro, but the specs on those are hardly 'pro'. I could buy a retina Macbook, which is still damn expensive and also awful in the connectivity department, but not as ludicrously expensive as the Pro. The Air feels like too much of a step backward to be worth considering, but I could buy the previous generation of Macbook Pro (maybe second hand), which is looking like the least worst solution right now.
Switch to Microsoft?
The new Microsoft is a thing too, of course. But I'm looking for a portable machine here, and my home-built gaming desktop does a great job of sitting on my desk. The is closer to what I'm looking for, but it's still expensive and I'm fairly invested in the MacOS ecosystem. Plus, I feel like it would overlap too much with what I use my ten-inch iPad Pro for.
All of this, of course, is the very definition of a first-world problem. I'm absolutely whining that (in fact, the laptop that Joey's using in that clip only underlines how ridiculous my complaints are).
But the bottom line is that when I buy a computer, I want it to solve problems - and Apple's new Macbook Pro creates many more problems than it solves.
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