My MacBook Pro is over 7 years old now. I’m a software engineer, and I like to do my own design work for small projects. I’m also a fan of photography, and need a machine powerful enough to process large images. I even occasionally make and edit videos. Basically, I desperately need a new, far more powerful, computer. Through upgrades, my 7 year old machine has gotten upgraded memory and a solid state drive, which is why it’s been able to stay relevant for so long. But now it’s too old to keep up, the processor has been pushed to its limits, and even with more memory and a faster drive, it’s finally starting to feel sluggish. Software demands have finally outpaced what I was able to do for this plucky little machine. What do I replace it with? What could last me 5-6 years and provide the power I need? Can it also be portable?
No, not if I want to buy any of Apple’s disappointing computers.
Apple stood at the top of LaptopMag’s annual laptop computer brand rankings for 6 years. However, instead of a seventh win, Apple plummeted to 5th* place, dropping in rating more than any other manufacturer in the top 10. Even Microsoft dropped only 3 places. Apple scored 78 out of 100 on LaptopMag’s ratings, causing the company’s ranking to drop. What hurt Apple? Discontinued inexpensive models, the new MacBook and MacBook Pro’s lack of ports (USB-C only, for bags packed with adapters), only decent performance, no touch screens on the Mac linup, and the inability of iOS on the iPad Pro to replace macOS for less expensive portable options when compared to Microsoft Windows. Basically, Apple’s inexpensive mobile computing options, iPads, have severe software limitations, and their more robust platform, macOS, is hindered by extreme hardware limitations. Apple has an amazing hardware platform in the iPad Pro, and wonderful software in the form of macOS, but doesn’t put the two together in a single package.
*Apple tied with Acer for 5th, but LaptopMag placed it just below Acer on their chart here.
The cylindrical Mac Pro was revealed in 2013, and has only received one recent minor update since, and not one that brings it up to more modern desktop computers, but not quite at the forefront of technology. This has lead professional Mac users to abandon the platform for Windows PCs, build hackintoshes, or wait patiently without buying anything. These options are obviously not preferred by Apple, but what could they expect? The iMac, Mac mini, and MacBook Pro fall short of professional expectations, and the Mac Pro is just too old and too expensive. Apple heard the criticisms levied against them since the release of the unimpressive MacBook Pro, and actually decided to do something about it. They changed course and began working on a more modular Mac Pro, one that would be easier to upgrade, a more traditional Mac Pro, like the PowerMacs and Mac Pro tower that came before it. Perhaps strangest of all, this isn’t a rumor. Apple’s own Phil Schiller described the upcoming Mac Pro upgrade himself, and even promised a new display to go with it.
“We are completely rethinking the Mac Pro. Since the Mac Pro is a modular system, we are also doing a pro display. There’s a team working hard on it right now.”
-Apple’s SVP of Worldwide Marketing, Phil Schiller.
It seems Apple has finally realized that professionals want computing power, upgradeability, and repairability above all other things, a modular system with power. Continue reading →
When Donald Trump tried to ban Muslim immigrants from 7 countries from entering the United States, Tim Cook, CEO of Apple, was quick to speak out against it. Apple was also there at Pride last year and the year before, holding their rainbow Apple banner high. Cook has stated that Apple will never become a place where discrimination is acceptable, no matter what the laws in the U.S. look like in a few years. However, there’s one place where they’re against consumers’ rights, and that’s the right to repair their equipment themselves or wherever they’d like. Apple wants to force users to come to them for repairs, and doesn’t want them upgrading their devices. Their extremely slim iOS devices, and Macs with soldered and glued parts are proof that, even if Apple doesn’t get to keep the right to force customers to come to them, they won’t easily or reasonably be able to do anything else with their devices anyway. Continue reading →
My biggest complaint about the new MacBook Pro is Apple’s anti-consumer and anti-environment move to solder the memory and storage to the logicboard. If a user can’t upgrade or repair their own laptop, it’ll be obsolete in a few short years. My 2010 MacBook Pro is starting to show its age when editing RAW images, but other than that, it’s faster than ever thanks to a memory upgrade and solid state drive. The MacBook Pro was already borderline obsolete when it was introduced, coming with only 16GB of memory, with no ability to upgrade due to not only it being soldered to the board, but Apple’s choice to use an older Intel processor that maxed out at 16GB of RAM. The end result is a “Pro” laptop that won’t appeal to all Pros, especially those in video or batch photo editing. Forget it if you’re a gamer, Apple made adding an external GPU so difficult, you actually have to install Windows on your Mac to set it up (but it is possible). I could deal with the USB-C ports, the foolishness of not including even just one USB-A port or an SD card slot, that’s not too bad. I already have a USB hub and SD card reader for my MacBook Pro (the SD Card slot has never worked reliably on it), and some companies have already made excellent options. No, as a pro, the most unforgivable thing Apple did was release a device that was this expensive yet so limited.
Apple’s heard our cries, and in 2017, they’ll release the MacBook Pro that they should have released in late 2016 or early 2017, one with Intel’s latest Kaby Lake processors and a 32GB memory option. We can also expect battery improvements, though I doubt Apple will take the consumer and environment friendly approach of giving us upgradeable memory or storage so we A) Don’t have to throw out our laptops in 3 years, and B) don’t have to go to the Apple Store for a simple drive repair. Still, more power and battery capacity will be very welcome. Continue reading →
Consumer Reports has reverse an earlier decision to withhold their recommendation from the MacBook Pro with Touch Bar. To recap, Consumer Reports ran their standardized battery life test using Safari on the new MacBook Pros. Their test loads the same webpages stopped locally on their servers repeatedly until the battery dies. In their testing of the 2016 MacBook Pro with Touch Bar, they saw the wildest difference between test runs that they’ve ever encountered. It seems the battery life of the MacBook Pro varied wildly from test to test due to a bug in Safari, not a problem with the MacBook Pro’s battery. After re-testing the new MacBooks, they now recommend it. Continue reading →
In the holiday classic, National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation, the season’s most festive patriarch, Clark W. Griswold, finds himself in a conundrum. He’s purchased a new pool for his family, but he’s assuming he’ll receive a bonus as large as the one he received before to pay for it. However, instead of a bonus, his boss handed out memberships to the jelly of the month club, and now he can’t afford his pool. Don’t worry, it all ends up hilariously OK in the end for the Griswolds. Tim Cook, on the other hand, definitely won’t be seeing his usual end of year compensation. 2016 proved to be a disappointing year for everyone (especially Americans and the British), but it was also a disappointing one for Apple. An iPhone with an old design and unpopular removal of the headphone jack for little benefit, a lull in iPhone sales worldwide, the late release of the AirPod wireless headphones for that headphone jack-less iPhone, a MacBook Pro that’s not suitable for professionals, no other new Macs, and a sluggish feeling of malaise as update after update failed to impress reviewers or consumers (with the exception of the Apple Watch) lead to terrible profits. Apple failed to meet their profit and revenue goals for 2016 by a surprising margin, and as such, CEO Tim Cook took a generous pay cut of $1.5 million dollars. $1,500,000. Imagine the size of the pool that could have bought. Tim’s fantasies of luaus and barbecues at his gigantic infinity pool may be cut short by lackluster products.
After not listening to consumers about what we want to see in an iPhone or a Mac, ruining two of the products I cared most about and threatening their futures, I can’t help but feel a little schadenfreude right now. Continue reading →