Last week Apple had an event to introduce new MacBook Pros to the world. Its had the most negative response i’ve seen from a Mac announcement in a while. With everyone else writing their thoughts and as someone who’s in the market for a new laptop here are my thoughts.
Let’s start with the positives. The new MacBooks are amazing feats of engineering. They are smaller, lighter, more powerful (sometimes) and they have can drive dual 4k or 5k displays (woohoo!).
On the higher end models the Touch Bar seems a pretty amazing bit of technology too. It adds a new input method which i cant wait to play with.
These MacBooks are amazing computers and apple needs to be recognised for producing something which is both high quality and sticking to a bold visions.
That bold vision is where it gets complicated. The Apple MacBooks embrace three trends and not all of those trends benefit the user much today.
- Apple prioritise lightness and size over performance and battery life.
- Apple prioritise a small number of amazingly capable ports over a smaller wider selection of less capable but more common ports.
- Apple prioritise “new technology” over and above affordability to pro-sumers such as myself.
Lets dig into that.
The lightness and size is impressive and as portable computers being lighter and smaller is useful. However, there is a cost. To achieve the 25% reduction in volume Apple have also compromised the performance. These MacBooks are not as fast as they could be, they don’t have the Memory they could have had and they don’t have the battery life they could have had.
The port situation is better than on the MacBook but it shares many of the same issues. The thunderbolt 3 ports are amazingly flexible, but loosing the magnetic charging cable and having no other ports to use is a big compromise Apple didn’t need to make. In day to day life with a MacBook Pro today i will need half a dozen adaptors.
Finally, the touch bar is neat, but its adding a huge amount to the price. The entry level has gone up hugely in the UK. In the past a new entry level MacBook worth having was around £999-1099, now with the combined effect of Brexit and the new technology an entry level MacBook Pro worth having is £1750. Thats a HUGE increase and it wipes out all of the gains from the other decisions.
Is it worth updating?
In simple terms it’s not worth me updating my MacBook Pro this year unless there is a compelling business reason to do so. To upgrade like for like with my Current MacBook would be a £1250 investment assuming i get £750 from the sale of my current MacBook. Thats a whole lot of money for very little real world benefit. In three years the MacBook Pros have only got 15% faster and the battery life has not improved much either.
Back in March i decided to stop waiting for the MacBook Pro of my dreams and just go for an iMac 5k. I’m really glad i did. The iMac is a brilliant fit for my needs and by making the decision then i saved over £1000 compared to making the same decision today.
All in, while the new MacBook Pro are feats of engineering, today they don’t make much sense and i cannot see me buying one or recommending them to people.