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A take on some of the criticisms being levelled at the new MacBook Pro models (9to5mac.com)
47 points by binaryapparatus on Oct 31, 2016 | hide | past | favorite | 73 comments

I think the simplest explanation here is that where previously the MacBookPro was a device for professionals with Mass Market appeal, it is now a device for mass market that hasn't quite lost the professional price. When your company has catered so heavily to one demographic over the years it's more than a bit disingenuous to use the same product name to sale vastly under suited machines to those individuals. The new MacbookPros are clearly not going to work in a lot of pro use style environments. It's fair to argue that most people don't plug anything in but power, and that 16gb of memory is already overkill but I'd argue that's what the Air and non pro lineup are for. The pro moniker has meant something for the past 15+ years, and these machines do not honor that. If Apple isn't in the business of making machines for developer and serious creatives that's fine but they need to do a better job communicating that.

Also as a side note the new iPhone not coming with a cable is just bad. Directly connecting the phone to the computer remains the easiest way to transfer content and the only real way to reset the device in certain situations. Just complete failure to not have that included.

People keep saying this "for professionals" thing, but what about the previous generation of Pros was so different compared to this new one? The 13" still only had integrated graphics and a dual core cpu. The 15" still only had the option for a kind of bad discrete graphics cards, and the more-or-less top of the line intel laptop chip. Other than 32gb ram, I'm not sure what they could have done here to satisfy "professionals" on the specs.

To me the reason these are Pro devices is they use top of the line materials and manufacturing techniques to make a powerful and portable device that basically lasts forever in computer years. Nothing so far has led me to believe the new MBPs will fail at this. And very little suggests PCs are competitive on this dimension yet.

I think it's because professionals need consistency and reliability in their products. They invest a lot in their ecosystem and repurchasing new adapters and peripherals now have to get tested and purchased in addition to new hardware. If something breaks or you need to grow your business, it's nice to buy something identical or mostly the same (but beefier).

To me this felt like too much, too quick. Each time Apple changed the MBP I cringe a little wondering if it's personally a net win or a net loss; non-removable battery (when each of the laptops had batteries die prematurely after 1 or 2 years), ditching ethernet, ditching the CDROM, non-upgradable RAM and HDD, dropping video connector of the week. Those all mostly happened one or two at a time over the years. Personally, I still have a 6yo MBP before most of that happened. These new changes make it a much harder pill to swallow and make me want to look at other options more closely.

The MBP line was long in the tooth before this. Everyone was expecting a spec bump last year, then in spring, and now we finally get it. Dropping all of the connectors and charging ports without even allowing for a significant boost in specs hit some people hard.

Better GPU? I wonder how the 13" will fare when hooked up to the LG 5K screen coming out in December.

I wondered about this as well, since I have an (I think) early 2015 13" and notice some slowness when using the display scaling feature or connecting it to an external 4k monitor.

Ars mentions this:

> It’s also much more feasible to use the scaling modes with current GPUs than it was with 2012’s GPUs, which were prone to dropping frames even at lower resolutions. I noticed no slowdown or jerkiness whatsoever in 1440×900 or 1680×1050 mode on the new Pro—you don’t need to worry about performance, so just pick the mode that treats your eyeballs the best.

Doesn't address 5K, but at least seems promising in terms of the ability of the new Iris chips to drive the display at higher resolutions. Hopefully 5k won't be an issue, and Apple is specifically advertising it as supported.

My gut, however, says that if you want to run 5k without any noticeable slowness, you'll need the 15.

Almost certainly better than the early 2016 13" which had a Broadwell Iris chip, which was better than all the previous 13" rMBP chips before it.

It seems like the transition away from professional users has been happening for quite some time on both the hardware and software fronts. Most new OSX features seem heavily tilted towards the home user, not the power user, and especially not developers. The question does become, who are these 'pro' machines really intended for now? The cynic in me says that Apple intends MBP's to be used to mainly create apps and content for iOS devices...

I have a new Macbook Pro on order, I'm excited to try out TouchBar, I hope it hangs around and isn't just a gimmick that falls by the way side.

The price is high and I'm surprised they pushed it that far (being in the UK it's even worse since at the same time they corrected for the USD > GBP exchange rate changes) but I'm also not hugely price sensitive. I just like a robust, light, laptop that works.

I use Windows, macOS, and Linux daily and while I'm comfortable with all of them I'd never choose anything else for a laptop (equally I never use macOS in a desktop setup).

macOS feels, to me, like an operating system designed for laptops. The power management is excellent, the hibernation is robust, the screen (on the Macbook Pro line at least) is high quality and crucially the OS is well optimised for a high DPI display.

I get the feeling there is some sort of internet/blog drama war going on here, it just doesn't seem to warrant the response it's getting.

Legitimate question: How much time right now do you spend staring down at your keyboard as opposed to up at the screen? How do you think looking down at the TouchBar will impact your productivity?

Perfectly fair question! I touch type, so basically never. But I'm open to seeing what possibilities it brings. :-)

I mostly use Sublime Text, Slack, Google Docs, and the terminal. That pretty much covers everything I need to achieve. I appreciate I'm a special snowflake and other people have other requirements.

Disclaimer: I only ever use the function keys for display brightness, volume, etc. They are just not part of my routine keyboard usage.

I've seen these questions asked the couple times now so here is one last question that I think needs to be addressed –

Do you think that you will always need to look at the TouchBar in order to use it?

I am of the opinion that you will not. Especially for large dynamic control such as sliders.

The analysis here pretty much echoes my own thoughts.

Computers are becoming closer to appliances as time moves forward and "we" are not the target market. A lot of the chatter here has been about how Apple has "forgotten about us", developers/power users. The same outcry happened when Apple moved away from catering to video professionals. It doesn't seem like that really hurt their sales.

I know more people who own Apple products that are not power users. They buy their Apple products to read email, take care of their photo, music, and movie needs, and maybe do some homework. Being light, sleek, and fast enough is more important than having every port under the sun with the absolute newest CPU with the absolute maximum memory. I feel pretty confident that Apple is chasing their main user base.

I can pretty much guarantee that that segment you mentioned, doesn't need a $3000 computer to read email and do homework... And as much as they appreciate light, sleek, and fast enough, they'll appreciate keeping money in their bank accounts a bit more..

True. But that segment does care about aesthetics and build quality; which is arguably what they understand most about their Apple machine. They also tend to care about their social projection. As long as Apple remains king in those areas, they can continue to charge the prices they do. Anecdotally, every Apple user I talk to says agrees their machine is expensive but also says it's worth the price.

That's the entire point of product lines. One should buy the air or regular macbook if they don't need the beefier hardware of the pro.

Except those machines are (arguably) full of compromises in today's market. I don't feel the same personally, but I get the general impression that if they kept each product line healthy and active, then the differences between each line wouldn't be so stark at any given point in time.

For example the MacBook Air would be fantastic with a Retina display, but it's a tough sell without one in 2016.

But Apple could have upgraded the Airs.

They don't need $500 leather jackets and whatnot, either, but the local cafe near me is full of them.

In the world of general ("non-technical") commerce, branding is very important.

And Apple has nailed that down, in spades.

Thought, the last year or two, I've seen more and more people with non-Apple ultrabooks and the like.

Personally, I don't like the latest changes to the Mac laptops. But Apple may indeed see where the broad, commercial demographic is going.

As for me, personally, I've long hated "giant" palm rests in front of the keyboard. Anywhere I cannot optimize my position/posture (i.e. desk at home), the front edge ends up pressing very uncomfortably into my wrists. And after decades at keyboard and managing to escape nascent RSI, I find this immediately and, increasing rapidly, extremely uncomfortable.

But, that doesn't seem to matter to most people. Again, I'm not the target demographic.

P.S. I should add that people also moved to Macs during a time where Windows machines were increasing sh-tfests of black-box breakage, malware, and frustration for the "average user".

And, as other people have pointed out while discussing this launch, Macs tend to "just keep working" for a lot of people a lot longer than Windows machines do. While providing a perception of "quality" and many hardware aspects that people have also found very attractive.

I don't know whether Apple has "lost it". But I do suspect that "developers" are not central to its product planning and marketing projections.

Hell, it's the case in the enterprise world too. Why do you think Cisco gets to charge 2-3x (sometimes 5x) what their competitors charge for an outdated, inferior product?

They don't, that's why Apple considers the iPad Pro the next generation of personal computers.

I think the only thing keeping our preferred platform tethered to the future is iOS publishing, it seems inevitable Apple soon figures out how to make an IDE for iOS devices that already have big screens, powerful CPUs and gigabytes of ram.

The same sentiment could be applied to luxury cars but people still buy them. A 30k car and a 300k car will both get you to the grocery store.

I know more people who own Apple products that are not power users.

Me too, but those people buy MBAs and MacBooks, not MBPs, which leaves the question who are they really targeting with this laptop.

This makes complete sense to me, but the fact that they felt the need to gut the MacBook Pro name for this purpose is what's strange. Is the idea that these people want to believe that the computers they use for elementary computer tasks are made for "professionals" who require significant hardware?

And why do people who want to do the basics on a computer require such an expensive piece of machinery? What does Apple expect people who actually require ports/hardware to do?

And why are these people buying a "Pro"? Apple should just get rid of the moniker at this point. The user you're describing is not a professional and they will be happy with an Air or a MB. Just get rid of the Pro line if you're no longer designing it for professionals.

The highest price of the 15" MacBook Pro 2013 was 2300 € with a 512 GB SSD, 2,3 GHz Intel Core i7, 16 GB Memory and a Nvidia Whatever Card. Basically I even added a 100 Euro/140USD extra Storage with 256 GB to fit my needs (https://www.amazon.com/dp/B00WGARJGU/).

Now the cheapest model with 512 GB SSD would cost 2500 € without a Extra Slot, which would make it 200 € pricier without taking inflation into account but which would only be 20€ - 40€ in Germany and I forgot that it won't have a dedicated graphics card which the 2013er had for a smaller price. (And not taking into Account that SSD prices are dropping) Actually even their additional option do suggest that "Developers" are not their target. You can preinstall Final Cut Pro and Logic Pro, you couldn't pre install that on the 2013er and now you can even upgrade your dedicated graphics card memory, so that makes it even a bigger target for Designers, Movie specialists etc.

Just not useful for developers, since they will probably need more dongles than just one, I can count myself at least buying 6-7 of them.

You are forgetting that people like to buy Apple product for status symbol. Like $10,000 gold Apple Watch. It works same as $400 watch but along with that it also work as a good reminder of your wealth. Apple products are not for poor folks and it has been made clear several time.

price is not a problem, but getting worse and having a higher price is bad. Also I actually used the function key, the SD slot and need at least one USB slot. and there aren't many USB-C docks available so keeping my old Thunderbolt dock would be great, but that is possible by buying another Dongle for 50 Euro http://www.apple.com/shop/product/MMEL2AM/A/thunderbolt-3-us...

So my overall sum would be at least 3000 € to have at least 756 GB storage 16 GB memory enough Dongle's and a dedicated graphics card. For the 2013er version we actually had a bill of 2600 Euro, but we also bought a dock, additional storage and a additional charger. If Apple would actually provide enough value to satisfy the price increase, i would say that it's fine, but they didn't they even made it pricier and removed stuff that I actually need to pay more for Accessoires. I'm actually really really happy with my late 2013 15" but I probably need to wait till for the new one till USB-c is more common to satisfy the additional price and I basically never need the touch bar, I don't see any value in it. I mean contextual bases switching is nonsense. I want to stop the music without having iTunes open.

Actually price is starting to be a problem, for businesses in some EU countries.

We have a tax law, that exactly specifies what you can expense as a tax-admitted OPEX during a year, and what you must depreciate over several years as CAPEX. For laptops, the amount is below 1700 EUR (without VAT, so that makes it 2040 EUR with 20% VAT) and the duration of depreciation is 4 years.

No way most businesses are going do depreciate laptops for 4 years, unless there's a very pressing business need. The recent 200 EUR price hike severely limits the useful configurations available.

That $10,000 watch was a failure that has been discontinued.

> You do have to buy a new cable, yes, but you don’t need any clunky adapters [to plugin in an iPhone 7 to a new MBP]

I think the semantic distinction he's trying to make is that a new cable is a replacement for the old cable, and that you don't need to carry around a new thing in addition to your charge cable.

But for most people, we'll now need to carry around two types of iPhone cables: one for use with our shiny new MBPs, and one for use everywhere else. My wall chargers? USB-A. Every charger in a hotel room, coffee shop, or airport? USB-A.

So while it might be possible to buy a new cable, it would actually be easier (and five bucks cheaper!) to buy an adapter because it's smaller than a cable, and multi-purpose.

Not to mention the millions of existing devices that use USB-A style cables.

I very much doubt that over the next couple years you'll see a mass migration to USB-C cabling. Every device you buy for this thing (printer, hard drive, usb stick, card reader....), you'll now have to buy an adapter.

Maybe in 3 years it won't be a problem, but I doubt it.

I think part of the issue is we're being told this is one connector "To Rule them All" to this machine. There are only 2 types of ports and one is a headphone jack. I think most of us would love that in an ideal world, but this world isn't.

It's taken 15 years to get to the point where USB is simply everywhere (cars, airports, chargers for random $20 quad-copters from Fry's, keyboard/mouse connections on servers, etc). And it's kinda nice right now. I'm better much more than three years to get to this point again with USB-C. I'm claiming it cannot be worth it. I'm aware of the advantages of USB-C, but we're so extremely invested in the USB-A ecosystem...

Why would you buy an adapter to connect your printer? You can get USB-C to B cables for printers, and USB-C to micro USB for pretty much anything else. There are USB-C/A sticks.... transitioning to USB-C will be pretty neat, you'll just need a few new standardized cables. Migrating from SCSI to Firewire and then to USB 2.0 was a lot more hassle...

In my experience, people hardly ever connect their phones to their computer. Unless they absolutely have to (operator unlock or restore).

at least for me, my MBP is sometimes just a mobile battery to charge my phone/headset/3DS/whatever. :-/

The thing is, how long before USB-C is everywhere. It's being adopted at a rapid pace. It sucks now but very soon having nothing but USB-C connectors might be an advantage.

One of those new Macbook Pros, combined with that 5k LG display, would be my dream setup. Plug in a single cable, and you're connected to power, keyboard, display, network & mouse.

I don't use VMs, so 16GB are enough for my development needs (thanks to compressed Memory I seem to rarely fill up my RAM anymore). CPU performance has never been an issue for me.

Since I carry my Macbook Pro with me every day, and I often use it on public transport, I appreciate low weight & long battery life.

One thing I'd really like would be a built-in 3G/LTE modem because connecting to public Wifi or personal hotspot seems like an unnecesary hassle -- I'd like to have my Mac be always online without any manual intervention.

Yes, I'd probably need to get a new cable for my keyboard, but at least USB-C is a standard that everyone agrees is the future!

> Plug in a single cable, and you're connected to power, keyboard, display, network & mouse.

I suppose this might be a “feature” of the 12″ MacBook. Since there's only one port, it forces you to use a single-cable setup, and creates a market for accessories that fit this use case, which will also work with the MacBook Pro.

Regarding the ports, I think it's worth pointing out that the specific set Apple is offering is the most powerful possible. Inconvenient at present, perhaps, but consider that a USB Type-A port can't do USB 3.1 10Gbps, can't do Thunderbolt, and can't charge the machine.

USB-C, on the other hand, can do all of these. By having four of them, the laptop is maximally versatile (USB, Thunderbolt, DisplayPort, power input, configure as you like) and offers maximum peak I/O bandwidth.

Keeping one of the older ports would be more immediately convenient (no need for an adapter), but would mean a less powerful machine overall if that means sacrificing a USB-C port.

The lack of an SD card slot is sad, though. Losing MagSafe is maybe a shame, too, but you do gain a standardised port (so one companies other than Apple can make chargers for), a power cable detachable from the brick, and the ability to connect it to either side of the machine.

I guess the best way to describe the port configuration is “far-sighted”. It's extremely future-proof and capable, and will be great once USB-C is everywhere, but it's painful right now.

MacSafe is probably also not as effective as it was advertised. I had a situations where the cord dragged the MacBook in the opposite direction of the MagSafe port and it almost fell of the table, and conversely I cannot remember having a situation where the plug saved my MacBook in 5 years. One needs to be very careful either way.

Fortunately, I am not a photographer. I can imagine that they will miss the SD slot.

Modern MacBooks, with their aluminum unibody design, are pretty sturdy things in any case.


I agree with most of this, but the dongle thing is pretty silly and he does a bad job of covering it. As a developer I need:

* a thunderbolt 2 dongle for my external monitor

* a lightning dongle for my phone (not for backups, for dev work)

* a usb dongle for my mouse (the trackpad is great for casual use, but a real mouse is still far more productive -- and I hate bluetooth mice with a passion due to recharging hassles and the fact that after so many years they still haven't completely solved the interference issue)

* a second usb dongle for my video conferencing USB headphones

Keep in mind I bought one of these things the second the site opened up, but I still had a moment of "oh shit, yeah, I need to buy a lot of dongles!"

If I could have I would also have bought something that lets me use the 4 power bricks I already have with the new box. Not looking forward to having to buy a few extra of those.

I would guess that there will be a 'workstation' hub that occupies one laptop port which will have monitor, power, and multiple usb-a ports. Just walk up and plug in one plug and you should be set.

There are already thunderbolt docks: https://eshop.macsales.com/shop/Thunderbolt/Dock/OWC/Thunder...

It's just a matter of time for it to be adapted to usb-c/thunderbolt.

Adding more to your list:

+ One also need VGA or HDMI adapter because when I go for a presentation at some place then it is very probable that their projector is at least four year old.

+ I use Ethernet connected to my router

+ CD/DVD player (Super Drive) has USB A end.

With the current MacBook Pro you already need dongles for the "VGA" and Ethernet, so not much of a change.

I managed to reply to the wrong comment, the fact that you now need to have more dongles than before. I agree that it is annoying to have to buy new dongles, but if you need this many dongles I would be looking at a USB-C hub instead.

Yes, but they have TB2/miniDP connector, so they won't fit into the new machine.

Except now the dongles you had to buy last time need to be replaced.

Many of us have already spend $100 (?) on cables / dongles that work with our current rMBP (VGA confs, network, miniDP to DP for office) and we're being asked to throw those away and buy yet more ones!

Why not a single USB-C to USB-A hub for the mouse, phone and headphones?

> a lightning dongle for my phone

I think that's just called a cable.

Heh, maybe! When does a cable become a dongle? :)

I'd call a dongle a short cable whose only purpose is to provide an adapter from socket A to socket B.

When you plug it into another cable instead of a device, then it becomes a dongle.

How many of these could be resolved with a really decent USB-C hub? Is there none that currently exists?

Here's what I was able to find:


Honestly unless one of my friends had tried one and told me it was great, I would stay far away.

People seem to forget there are a lot of smart people working at Apple on the business side who know what they are doing.

Apple has calculated how many customers will be upset, lost, indifferent and gained due to various product decisions.

Apple is not perfect or flop-proof, but they must make product decisions. These decisions, whether short term or long term, consider customers, competition and technology trends. Every decision has benefits and costs.

I agree Apple may have lost its way a bit and taken too far the old Steve Jobs' approach of "don't ask the customer what they want, they don't know, a company has to show them what they will want".

If you have decided not to upgrade to the new MBP because of the price or lack of ports. If you are going to buy a non-Apple laptop next time you do need to upgrade. Apple already knows this, you/we are statistics, and while they want customers to stay, they know a certain % of customers will not.

The removal of the headphone jack on the iphone went through the same calculations.

Still worth voicing our opinions, Apple listens as does the competition. Someone will offer what enough people want.

I just plugged my iPhone SE into my 2014 MBP to charge it while I'm also charging my MBP. Yeah, I do this frequently.

Offering USB-C and USB-A would have been a safe move. I think Schiller said *we don't design for price, we design for the experience". This is a bad experience.

Removing the chime seems like a pointless slap. Again, experience.

I do like having the T1 Security Enclave. We'll see about the function keys but that'll probably turn out pretty good.

16GB DRAM cap is really low, especially when prices got kicked up. Battery charge isn't great since they went with thin. Again, bad experience.

Lastly, I really don't want a thinner MBP. That is the Air which seems to have died. I want a powerful MBP because the P in MBP stands for Pro.

I think part of the problem is they capped the RAM at 16gb and many buyers of these devices expect to use them for 4-5 years. It's questionable whether 16gb will be suitable in 2021. Also - raising the price and taking away ports creates this vacuum just asking for opinions -- and since they're not shippping for a couple more weeks - there's no way to physically see how big an impact these changes will have - so it's fair to be skeptical of something that seems disruptive in a bad way.

The pricing keeps getting brought up. I understand the prices have gone up especially for some non-US buyers, but for those in the US, where are you seeing the hit? I might be insulated from this because I usually opt for the high-end 15", and from what I can remember the price on that hasn't changed. Is it the 13" models where the price has gone up?

The 16GB limit is the real issue for me personally. There are plenty of Windows/Unix laptops that can do 32GB or more so all the excuses I've been hearing are ludicrous.


Increased power consumption with higher RAM may be true.

A bit more sure. Although generally power scales mostly with the number of chips (or number of dimms). The graph mentions SDR, DDR, and DDR2 for a factor of 6 decrease in watts per GB.

Presumably DDR3 and more important DDR3L have continues to improve the watts/GB.

Generally the CPU/GPU and LCD are the leading consumers of power on laptops. LCDs get somewhat warm, but have a large surface to dissipate heat from. CPUs on the other hand often need active cooling, where dimms (generally) do not.

Seems unlikely compared to a 28 Watt CPU and a 500 nit 13.3" display that the 16 -> 32GB upgrade would be particularly noticeable. Especially when apple claims that the low end and high end models have the same battery life, despite the low end model having a 10% larger battery and lower power CPU, GPU, less ports, and no touch panel.

Sure - but I (and most devs I know) don't care. Let us have the option, Apple.

Out of curiosity, what are you doing where 16GB is becoming an issue?

Running multiple vagrant VMs, an IDE, Scala sbt, etc. - all at once.

Not to mention tenths of chrome tabs.


In that case, the tl;dr of most criticism of the touch bar is "100% of 'pro' users are touch typists who can never ever under any circumstances or for any reason ever learn anything new or develop muscle memory for anything they haven't already been doing for thirty years and so they will abandon the platform in droves to run Linux on machines that only look equivalent on paper and on which the key software they use and care about will never run".

You are being dramatic, but honestly they probably would adopt it if it was better. There is a reason people like mechanical keyboards and solid feedback from input. It's not just nostalgia, trust me.

I use a mechanical keyboard plugged into a Macbook Pro.

But I also know I have no useful opinion on the new one until I actually try it. I was talking earlier on Twitter about how I think this is an overlooked positive of alleged "lock-in": there's enough friction in switching that people end up actually trying the new thing and developing an informed opinion as opposed to angry knee-jerk internet reactions, and very often find out that the new thing is not the end of everything they've ever loved and may even be useful in ways they didn't anticipate.

Just because someone has a different opinion doesn't mean you have to strawman them. I don't think he was saying that at all, it read like he was just trying to understand the engineering decisions by trying to understand what the design constraints were that drove them. Engineering is fundamentally about picking and choosing what to compromise in order meet some set of design goals.

Not that I necessarily agree with what appear to be the core design goals for these systems (quite the opposite). But many interesting discussions can be had about what those design or marketing goals might be, whether or not those are good goals for this product line, and whether or not the engineering approaches to those goals were well-implemented. If what you wrote is the only thing you took from the article, then...OK? You get out of the world what you put into it.

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