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> The new keyboard has the same dimensions and look as its two predecessors, but the keys feel just a little bit different. They're quieter, for one thing. They have a softer, less click-y feel that is a little closer to the pre-2016 models' chiclet keys. We found the new keyboard to be a little nicer to type on, but it's not a radical difference. It's unlikely to convert the detractors, but it's a welcome iteration for those who liked or didn't mind the previous butterfly keyboards.

I'm going to wait a year, maybe 18 months for feedback before I consider upgrading. Why they couldn't grab a 2012-2015 model and upgrade the guts? No touchbar, smaller touchpad than the newer macbooks, but updated specs? Call it Macbook Developer... We build the software for the "Pros" after all.

I just don't get it.




They didn't do that because it is not what most people want. Apple has to make changes that will sell more laptops to the masses to maximize shareholder value.

The niche developer/macrumors posters will never be happy regardless of what Apple does. Better to focus on the 90% of customers who buy products and make up 10% of the complaints then to focus on the 10% of customers who make up 90% of the complaints.


> They didn't do that because it is not what most people want.

> Better to focus on the 90% of customers who buy products

So either you're wrong, or Apple's PR team is really bad positioning their product. From the Press Release itself in the first few paragraphs:

ideal for manipulating large data sets, performing complex simulations, creating multi-track audio projects or doing advanced image processing or film editing.

Already the most popular notebook for developers around the world, the new MacBook Pro can compile code faster and run multiple virtual machines and test environments easier than before.

MacBook Pro now delivers faster performance for complex simulations and data manipulation.

With the new MacBook Pro, developers can compile code faster and more easily run multiple virtual machines and test environments.

Aren't those all features described exactly for the "niche developer/macrumors posters"?!


I believe this is a case of a disparity between who they say their products are for (power users), and who they are actually for (people who want to think of themselves as power users).

This would be similar to, for example, many sportswear brands who say they are for professional athletes, but whose primary consumer base is... not.

In both cases, they may still attract the audience they claim to target, but in practice, that niche market makes up only a small fraction of their total sales.


Nicely put. People also like to buy over-featured products for “bragging rights” (huge pick up trucks used to go shopping, ultralight trekking gear for 5 km hikes, €300 knives to cut apples in slices etc.)


I agree with you, but also think there might be more nuance going on here than all that.

I think this is actually sometimes about minimalism. I'd rather have one nice, good, high-quality thing than to accumulate junk over the years as I get deeper into a hobby. The longest hike I've done was a three-day section hike on the AT, but I have ultralight hiking and camping gear. I know, in the future, when I have more time, I'll do longer and more frequent hikes, and even now, lighter is more comfortable to carry.

There's also the Paradox of Choice. Upper middle class folks are strapped for time and flush with cash. Would I rather spend two hours reading reviews to find out whether the discount pocket knife is really as good for my purposes as a Benchmade, or just make the purchase secure in the knowledge that I bought a well-regarded brand with excellent customer service? Maybe I overpaid, but the speed and hassle-free nature of the transaction are worth it.


I'm reminded of the recent "news story" making the rounds, that some researchers found iPhone ownership to be the clearest signal of wealth.

"Signal"

There is a lot of signaling going on, using these product choices. And Apple's at the top of the heap.

It has transitioned from "tech" to "brand".

I've seen people write off William Gibson's more recent work, that takes this on as a central topic for examination and exposition. It may not be as... "awesome" as the universe of Molly and Wintermute. But it's a very good and engaging application of creating writing to this topic. Recommended.


Well, in this case, the deluxe/upsell machine is just the wrong tool for the job. An overbuilt kitchen knife, a high-performance light truck, or ultralight hiking gear will generally accomplish those tasks as well or better than a mid-market alternative. A new MacBook Pro is worse for most developers than one from a couple years ago, and worse in all sorts of other ways (namely the slashing of battery capacity in exchange for an ultimately minor reduction in size and weight).


> €300 knives to cut apples in slices

Oh, I really enjoy prep-work. I have to admit, I like using a nice, sharp knife (plus, it's much safer).

I hate doing prep-work at other peoples houses. The knives are just so dull.

So, I spend more money on knives than I should because I enjoy good knives and get lots of good use out of them.


What are your fave brands?


I have to admit I've gone through a few, but my daily driver can be found for ~ $30 online if you watch for it. I also spend good money on sharpeners, etc. Ironic? yes.

https://www.amazon.com/Victorinox-Fibrox-Chefs-Knife-8-Inch/...


It’s funny because I “perform complex simulations and handle massive data sets” but no laptop (or even desktop) is capable of handling them. I normally need to SSH to some cluster with thousands of CPU cores and terabytes of RAM. I’m actually kind of curious who the target user is for a high performance laptop nowadays. Video editors? What kinds of tasks require more performance than a standard laptop but less than a desktop?

I currently have a 2012 MBP Retina, but am not sure if I want my next laptop to be another MBP or just the regular MacBook. I really like the 15” screen and would have a hard time giving that up. I wish they had a regular MacBook with a high quality screen, battery, and keyboard and not much else.


> What kinds of tasks require more performance than a standard laptop but less than a desktop?

I suppose it depends on the desktop! I just moved from a MacBook Pro to a Dell XPS 15. I thought I'd replace the MBP with the Dell, but I ended up replacing my desktop machine with the Dell, and still using the MacBook in my dining room.

The XPS 15 I bought has an i9, 32GB RAM, and 1TB SSD for $1100 less than the equivalent MacBook. My workload is primarily Adobe- and WordPress-centric, with some coding and article writing thrown in for good measure.

I do video editing, photo editing, and run code with zero issues. The i9 beats the pants off my Skylake i7 desktop. And it's portable! And the screen is amazing. I have it hooked up to my 5K monitor in my home office, and it's gorgeous.

Since my workload is 98% Chrome, Adobe products, Microsoft products, or text editors, everything was pretty much identical from one platform to another. I turned off automatic updates on Windows 10 (I do this on my Mac too) and had no issues at all migrating over.

I don't think I'll be buying a new Mac at this point.


I also "perform complex simulations and handle massive data sets" and often do mockup on my laptop (where power is nice) before shipping it off to the cluster, and often truck the results back to my laptop for analysis.


I can get a much better idea how my ML models will behave at scale if I prototype on my 16GB MBP than if I only had whatever ram is leftover from 8GB after Chrome and everything use up most of it. It's no match for server GPUs but I can run multiple Jupyter notebooks with decent size datasets loaded and not have to think about it.


I suspect that a ryzen+ or even eypc+ when its out would be good or initial investigations on the desk top and as an interface to a bigger hpc cluster when needed.


> I believe this is a case of a disparity between who they say their products are for (power users), and who they are actually for (people who want to think of themselves as power users).

That's true for most gaming rigs and high-end Windows laptops ;-)


computer advert in 2018, truth in advertising version:

"stalk your ex on Facebook, 37% faster"

"Cat videos on youtube look great in Retina full screen"

"Your stolen music files sound fab thanks to deeper bass response from the stereo speakers"

"chat with your dumb friends for hours, with a new longer-lasting battery"

"call in sick without removing your phone from its case, thanks to bluetooth."

Other than dying batteries, or physical damage (broken trackpad/keyboard) I seriously wonder why the average person needs anything but the most basic laptop when a $99 android phone is in all measures more powerful than a 10 year old laptop but we're doing basically the same activities: surf the web, chat, email. Very, very few people create content. Most consume.


YouTube videos don’t serve 4K on Safari. When they do, it’s over Chrome which is using 10W more powerr, which over entire world equals power use of a small country...


h264ify [1] will save you power on Chrome. It does not support 4k however.

[1] https://chrome.google.com/webstore/detail/h264ify/aleakchihd...


Kaby Lake/Coffee Lake have full hardware VP9 decoding, so all told you'll probably be using more energy playing H.264 in Chrome if you're on a Kaby Lake or Coffee Lake processor.


Yes, been using that. Problem is that YouTube quietly removed 1440p h264 videos too! Used to be my indicator that I can turn off h264ify for a minute to view 4k content...


complex simulations” strikes me as particularly wannabe-ish. I really do run pretty complex simulations that take hours, sometimes days, to run to completion (on a maxed-out 2012 Mac Mini with dual SSDs and the maximum amount of memory it will support). It would never occur to me to run such stuff on a laptop that might run out of power, throttle back the processor because of heating, or something else going wrong.

“Managing data and complex simulations” seems to allude to ‘em Excel jockeys who should be using a humble database and/or are running some kind of what-if calculations.


Agree with you. I have a ~4k touchbar Macbook Pro and do HPC type of stuff all day... and I rarely consider doing anything more than a toy simulation or computational experiment on my laptop. When I previously used a Macbook Air, my toy PoC stuff ran pretty must just as well.

Anything else either quickly gets offloaded to one of my group's servers with 64-80 threads and 100s of GB of RAM or, if it's even bigger, to the local HPC cluster with 1000s of CPUs.

Even without access to existing resources: I'm having a hard time imagining a situation where, if I have a fixed budget of ~3-5k to do computational work, it'd be better for me to spend that on a top-end MBP than a two-piece solution of laptop+linux server.


A couple months ago, building projections for a rabies elimination program while sitting in a hotel bar in Zambia, I was pretty pleased I wasn't relying on a server.

Edge case, sure, but shrug


Haha fair enough.

How's the rabies situation there? Are people still doing multicompartment SIR models? That kind of stuff is hard to parralelize.


It's still a big deal, but getting better - my university's running a decently successful program in Kenya.

And yeah, people still use compartmental models pretty heavily. A lot of my stuff is stochastic (it's about the beginning or end of epidemics, or in small populations) so that's nicely parallel.


On the other hand, I do this all the time on my laptop, and have found having some more RAM or a couple more cores to be something that would make my life actively easier.


Very nicely put. A $1600 MBP pro user is different than a $4500 MBP pro user. The niche market also drives credibility.


> Aren't those all features described exactly for the "niche developer/macrumors posters"?!

Yes, and, trust me, most developers I know who got newer MBPs are pretty happy with theirs. I know I am and I hope I get one of these newer ones next week. 6 cores and 32 gigs of DDR4 make a lot of a difference. The vi users make jokes about the Esc key, of course (but I'm into Emacs, so no problem for me). One company I know of offered the "classic" model for those who wanted to have it and nobody took the offer.

Among developers, the 10% troublesome to 90% happy rate seems to be present.

I, personally, have different priorities and have no problem with thicker laptops. My next personal one will probably be a maxed out Lenovo or Dell XPS, since they are cheaper than Macs at the cost of features I don't really need (high-fidelity screen, for instance).


The developers where I work who have new MBPs complain a lot about the keyboard, the lack of ports, the lack of an escape key, and the lack of an SD card slot.

I had a new MBP for a few months and hated it.

As soon as an old MBP freed up, I traded in for it. SO much happier, and my friends are jealous.

And I pretty much live in emacs. Where I use the escape key regularly. C-x ESC ESC is one of my go-tos.

YMMV.


I'm pretty happy with mine. Ports were annoying until tech caught up (yubikey was awful until the usb-c version came out, for example).

My esc key has been caps-lock for the past like 6 years, so that isn't an issue. (HIGHLY recommend this either way)

I don't use the touchbar too much (just like I didn't use the f bar too much), but the sliding action for volume control and a few others is nice.


Exactly. The escape key has never been an issue for me either (for what it's worth, I use Spacemacs as my primary editor).

I just open the macOS preferences, and remap Caps Lock to Control. Then escape becomes a Caps Lock + [ combination. Simple, and no fumbling around for an Escape key.

This also works well on both macOS and Linux, especially when moving about the command line (e.g. Ctrl+A / Ctrl+E to move to the beginning/end of the current line, respectively). See [1] for more shortcuts. Especially useful is Ctrl+K to cut text after the cursor, and then Ctrl+Y to paste it back.

Of course, the regular control key will do the same thing. But using Caps Lock as control reduces strain, at least for me. In fact, it's the first change I make on macOS, Linux, and Windows.

And on Ubuntu, gnome-tweak-tool makes it trivial to make Caps Lock and additional Control key (if you really need Caps Lock, you can also swap Caps Lock and Control).

[1] https://www.howtogeek.com/howto/ubuntu/keyboard-shortcuts-fo...


Oh, and the trackpad is too big, so I was always hitting it accidentally. (Or maybe my paws are too big.)


For me, the trackpad is the thing that got me to get rid of my MBP and replace it with a Pixelbook. I was getting false positive clicks all the time while typing, which would move the cursor and destroyed my productivity. And I was not hitting it accidentally - I contorted my hands into all sorts of strange positions and it still happened, I had people observe me while it occurred, etc. Happened on two different MBPs, but the tech support folks at my company couldn't make it happen. Must be something weird about my capacitive field. Much happier with the Pixelbook, especially since I can now run Android Studio on it along with other Linux apps.


FWIW you can do C-x M-: instead of C-x ESC ESC


The MBP with the new keyboard has been a bad experience for as well as a few of my co-workers. I switched back to a 2015 version we had laying around.

When I am forced to move to a new machine I am strongly considering grabbing a Dell or Lenovo and throwing Ubuntu on it. Experience has been that bad.


what key do use for meta then on emacs? capslock? esc key was default for my 2012 mbp


ctrl-[

(a habit I picked up on DEC and Wyse and etc... terminals where the key labeled ESC was in different locations)


Option.


> I know I am and I hope I get one of these newer ones next week. 6 cores and 32 gigs of DDR4 make a lot of a difference.

Even if they provide 64 GB, it will never be enough RAM. OSX is dogshit at memory management, with massive memory leaks. On my work laptop (-1 generation), I have 16 GB. Normal workloads (i.e. not even developer workloads/compilation tasks) consume memory to the point where I’m constantly swapping. Until they fix their shit, I’m not going to buy a new one, nor will I ask my company (I am good friends with IT) to refresh.


That’s not a remotely true for the vast majority of users. If you’re having this problem, you should push for a clean install because nobody on a dev team full of Macs at two different companies has had your complaint (although plenty have had a Slack or Chrome is leaky/bad memory management complaint)


Ok, then why I do only run into this issue on hardware running OS X? This is across machines (I worked at Apple btw, and had to dogfood Mavericks at the time) and across time. Same problem, it was never fixed.

I run Chrome and Slack on Windows and I never have had memory issues. Using Occam’s Razor, it has to be an issue with memory management at the OS level. I’ve also run Chrome and Slack on Linux - 1/10th of the memory footprint. I will write a blogpost in the future about it.


I guess 32 gigs can take me through the next 5 years like 16 took me through the past 4.


They trumpet those features only because it doesn't conflict with their MacBook Pro aesthetic that's meant to appeal the the wider audience.

Given a choice between a sexy MacBook Pro design and a pro-developer feature, Apple will choose the sexy design everytime.


Yes and no. Yes in the sense that those niche developer/macrumors posters are part of the described target audience, but no in the sense that they are a small fraction of the described target audience.


I think this is like cars that market themselves as capable of racing and/or off roading, but people use them to commute in stop and go traffic. Majority of people don't select products for rational/practical reasons.


I think those descriptions are aspirational for large segment of those buying MBPs (current MBP owner)


In the article they cite the MBP as being the most popular notebook for developers so this niche must be important, otherwise why list it?:

> Already the most popular notebook for developers around the world, the new MacBook Pro can compile code faster and run multiple virtual machines and test environments easier than before.

What we want is a functional keyboard. They are losing this market-share quickly but you're right maybe they don't care about this market anymore. They must not since they aren't doing anything about it.


Take a look at the photos for a moment. Curious what the keyboard is like? Too bad - Every single photo shows the keyboard from the side.

Ah but you can still tell something. If there's anything to the idea that a picture sends a message or that there's such a thing as "visual language," this group of photos is loudly and stubbornly doubling down on "Thin is all that matters."

Customer: "Does the keyboard work this time?"

Apple: "IT'S THIN!"

Considering that the drive toward thinness is precisely what's ruining the keyboards, that tells you plenty, without even reading anything.


It reminds of the nForce chipset from 15 years ago. It was a godsend. The audio chip had an optical input, rivaled the best consumer-grade audio sound card, true dolby 5.1, etc. and... reviewers tanked it.

When the next generation of north/southbridge motherboard appeared and sound wasn't a priority for motherboard builders only then journalists noticed what they missed.


Every single photo shows the keyboard from the side.

This is standard operating practice for an international firm like Apple. The first set of images doesn't show certain details because you want it to have broad appeal. Since Apple keyboards come in a dozen or so different configurations for different markets, you show the more vague master images.

Once the global media outlets have had their splash, then the regionals will get images with more details. In this case, the regional keyboards.

Sorry. No conspiracy here. Just good marketing.


Nice try, but Apple's international press release pages also show English graphics https://www.apple.com/jp/newsroom/2018/06/football-fans-can-...


Why’s that a relevant argument? The web site is localised, the physical objects are localised, surely it’s not beyond them to take localised photos of localised keyboards for their localised versions of their site?

(I’ve just looked at some of their locations, and German seems to use photos with German text on screen, while Greek seems to use photos with English on screen).


Now way, this is ridiculous that not a single picture shows even a glance of keyboard. They just don't show you half of the laptop (and the other part is screen which you can't say much without seeing it in person).


[flagged]


Personal attacks and insinuations of shillage will get you banned here, so please don't post like this again.

https://news.ycombinator.com/newsguidelines.html


The niche is not developers themselves; the niche is a (vocal) sample of the developer community. I'm a developer and I like the 2016 MacBook Pro keyboard with touchbar.

In particular:

What we want is a functional keyboard.

This is your opinion, but it's not necessarily the majority opinion. For example, I would rather Apple focus on other parts of the computer than the keyboard. The keyboard just isn't that meaningful to me, and I'm just as productive a developer without whatever platonic ideal of a keyboard Apple could put on the thing.

I think a lot of people vastly overestimate the number of Apple customers who have an opinion about this, because it's relatively easy to see complaints on HN, blogs or tech journalism.


I think a lot of people vastly underestimate the size of the problem with the keyboard. Apple has had atleast three class action lawsuits regarding the defective keyboards. They have setup a warranty program to try and placate consumers and resolve the lawsuits. It's a real problem and just because it did not impact you does not mean that millions of others have not been impacted. So here we are, I'm a developer of 1 and have been impacted you're a developer of 1 and have not been impacted. It doesn't make yours or my experience any less real but I think the class action lawsuits speak for themselves. For me personally, it's hard to write a lot of code when keys don't hit or they endlessly repeat. So, I picked up a Lenovo and through Linux on it and ditched the MBP.

I honestly don't know how any of the other market shares can put up with this failing keyboard either. For students, teachers, scientists .. any one that uses a keyboard frequently... it would have to be real hard to write a paper with keys that fail or keys that start repeating constantly.


> It's a real problem and just because it did not impact you does not mean that millions of others have not been impacted.

This is a good point, which I acknowledge. Maybe I've been lucky with my keyboard. But while you point this out, I think most folks complaining about the keyboard are not acknowledging the other side - that it may not be as important as they think it is either. Hence my original comment indicating my own opinion.

> For students, teachers, scientists .. any one that uses a keyboard frequently... it would have to be real hard to write a paper with keys that fail or keys that start repeating constantly.

For what it's worth, I wrote a ~170 page paper (in LaTeX) on a 2016 MacBook Pro. I cared a lot more about screen real estate than the keyboard, so I added a few monitors. All anyone seems to be able to provide is an exchange of anecdotal evidence for or against the keyboard. If there's a real issue I'm not defending it. But I am saying it might not be worth it for Apple to fix it depending on incidence rate, and it might not be as prevalent as the tech blogging/journalism sphere would have us believe.


The feel of the keyboard is certainly a matter of preference, but the reliability issues are prevalent enough Apple has a special repair program (again): https://www.apple.com/support/keyboard-service-program-for-m...


Actually it is more widespread than the blogging would have you believe as most people don't blog. They just take the computer in and pay for it to be fixed and go back to life.

If your keyboard ever breaks and you find yourself unable to type, then you will discover why people with defective keyboards think its super important. Until then you can minimize the impact it has on people all day long as they cannot type properly without an external keyboard. I'm sure Apple recalled the keyboard because there was nothing wrong and some bloggers went crazy...


You're not discussing this in good faith, and I don't understand why you feel the need to be passive aggressive in response to my comments. You also seem to be almost willfully misreading what I'm saying.

To make this particular point painfully clear, I didn't postulate the problem is not widespread because literally only bloggers have the problem, and there are relatively few bloggers. My postulate was that the problem seems more widespread than it is due to the magnifying effect journalism and blogging has. If you disagree then critique the point I made, not the contrived false equivalence you seem to think I made.

Other than that yes, I've had a broken keyboard on a laptop, and no, I'm not minimizing anything. Devil's advocacy and a request for some quantitative evidence (which was elsewhere provided, and to which I conceded) does not constitute minimization or dismissal of a problem. This especially:

> I'm sure Apple recalled the keyboard because there was nothing wrong and some bloggers went crazy...

is a false dichotomy, and one which I did not make.


> because literally only bloggers have the problem

It could be the ambiguous way you've phrased this, but if I'm reading this right, then that's what you're not getting: a lot of people actually do have this problem. Not just bloggers.


I don't think we have enough information to know whether or not "millions were affected." Neither class-action lawsuits nor a warranty program nor complaints on Hacker News prove this one way or the other.


> does not mean that millions of others have not been impacted

"millions"? Let's not spout hyperbole here. You can't say that without some backup.


Sorry, I was spouting hyperbole to counter-act hyperbole. You're right, that is not helpful, I agree. As someone says below: Only Apple can conclusively provide the numbers and they have no desire to do so. So, everyones opinion is just that. Anecdotal and an opinion because _no one_ can back up their claims. I'll take my statement back though, because it's not useful to fight hyperbole with hyperbole. What I can say is, I was impacted twice and I have since switched vendors.


I strongly disagree with you that I was being hyperbolic. In fact, my comment (the one you responded to) did not quantify anything, much less in a hyperbolic way. I expressed an opinion. As it stands, your comment is a pretty passive aggressive way to withdraw a statement.


> I think a lot of people vastly underestimate the size of the problem with the keyboard.

Actually the opposite is true.

Apple itself has said it is a tiny, tiny percentage of users. If they were to lie about this then it would be an SEC violation since they would be lying to markets about potential impact of replacements/lawsuits.


Wanting a functional keyboard on a laptop is a niche opinion? Wowwwwww. The reality distortion field is strong.

I've used every MacBook model and the new ones have unacceptably bad keyboards. I am in an office with dozens of broken ones and the things have become a joke amongst the developers. The IT department got so tired of Apple's time to repair them that they started just ordering extra keys from third party websites for $20/each.

I worked at Apple with Steve Jobs and I can assure you he would not say that the keyboard isn't meaningful and its fine if its broken. There is a reason all the major Apple bloggers have written piece after piece about their poor reliability and repairability. If your space bar breaks with one piece of dust you need to replace the entire top of the computer including the battery since its glued to it.


> Wanting a functional keyboard on a laptop is a niche opinion? Wowwwwww. The reality distortion field is strong.

This is a deliberate misreading of what I said. My point is that reasonable people can disagree about what a "functional keyboard" is for software development. You're free to disagree with me, but don't accuse me of being under a "reality distortion field." And for what it's worth, the comment of mine that you responded to is talking about design and aesthetic choices. You're primarily talking about hardware faults and reliability.


The source comment was not about design and aesthetic choices. Here is the first comment that you responded to: “What we want is a functional keyboard”

We want a functional keyboard. This is not about reasonable people disagreeing. If your space bar does not work, your keyboard is broken and typing sucks.


So I use a lot of different keyboards - my main ones are a whitefox with blue switches and a CODE with greens. I actually like the MBP keyboard - key stability and clickiness are the parameters I like, and the MBP has both.

My problem with the keyboard is just reliability - I now keep a can of compressed air at my desk just because a key is going to get screwed up at least once a month. And I have one key that is particularly bad, so I assume some piece of dust is just trapped under the key and the compressed air pushes it somewhere until it eventually falls back into place. I'm waiting a little longer to bring it in for repair in hopes that they start using this new v3 keyboard as a replacement - maybe it secretly fixes the dust issue (And they don't want to say it because that would be admitting that there was a problem.)


mainly interested in this news to learn if they'll start exchanging 2016/17 mbps for this new model. Does the new keyboard require dozens of tiny screws to assemble/dissemble?


I may be wrong but I was under the impression the difficulty in replacing the keyboard is due to it being fused to the battery. You pretty much have to replace both when attempting to replace one or the other.


Yeah, that is the issue. A keyboard replacement means replacing both battery and keyboard because they are glued together.

But I have heard that they were replacing older keyboards (2016) with 2017 models (You could easily tell because they add new symbols above control/option.) I wonder if they'll be doing replacements with 2018 keys now. It would be really nice - the keyboard reliability is pretty much my only complaint, minus not having a physical escape key.


The thing is it'd be easy to have a functional keyboard. Just give back the one they had been using. Doesn't need focus.


I assume Apple is a rational organization equipped with a better understanding than I have of its products. I know - big assumption - but let's assume it's true. What reasons would Apple as a company have for improving the keyboard, and what reasons would Apple have for not improving the keyboard?


No company is perfectly rational. Apple have built their empire on doing things that run counter to the received wisdom of the industry, things that many analysts and competitors saw as deeply irrational.

Personally, I think that the loss of Jobs has created a serious leadership problem, because so much of the company's direction was led by the personal taste of one man. Apple has retained the institutional knowledge and habits accrued during that era, but it hasn't found a satisfactory replacement for the functions that Jobs performed. It has retained an obsessive focus, but it has lost the compass that guided that focus towards the user experience. They know how to do thinner, lighter, fewer ports and so they keep doing it, but there's no why. So many aspects of Apple's corporate culture are uniquely ritualistic, but the meaning of those rituals died with Jobs.


I didn't want to be this explicit with my point because I think it's patronizing. But your comment isn't responding to what I intended to say, so here it is. I'm not talking about ideological design mandates and I'm not talking about perfect rationality. I'm talking about charitable estimation of competency and an assumption of baseline rationality.

Apple is one of the most valuable and critically examined companies in the world, with 125,000 employees and end-to-end vertical integration across its hardware and software development process. In consideration of feedback from design decisions, like choosing to develop progressively thinner products, removing physical function keys and implementing touchbars, why would Apple make those decisions? More importantly, why would Apple double down on these decisions in a line refresh of the product 18 months after the initial launch? Presumably Apple is well aware of the number of developers who use their machines, and presumably Apple is aware of developer feedback (again: basic competency as an organization).

So let's reframe this question as follows: why would Apple, with all its resources and talent for research and development, choose to double down on a controversial design mandate instead of rolling back the keyboard to the version most widely praised? A very reasonable answer is that customers in the aggregate - developers included - don't care that much about the touchbar or the virtual function keys, and will continue to buy the products.

Regardless of my own opinion about the keyboard design, I try to approach this from the perspective that as a single individual with vastly fewer resources than Apple, I likely have a fundamentally less perfect understanding of Apple's product goals, customer demographic and design initiatives. So if I see an incongruence that seems to have a simple answer ("Why doesn't Apple just do the thing everyone clearly wants"), my instinct is that my priors are incorrect and/or it's actually not simple at all.


>why would Apple, with all its resources and talent for research and development, choose to double down on a controversial design mandate instead of rolling back the keyboard to the version most widely praised?

Because their approach to design is completely unique. Their industrial design studio is small, insular and incredibly secretive. That studio has almost complete independence; most Apple employees won't see a new product until the design is finalised and ready for launch. They have an overt belief in the wisdom of ignoring user feedback and media criticism, going back to the original Macintosh. They don't think that their role is to provide people with what they want, but what they should want.

https://www.amazon.com/Inside-Apple-Americas-Admired-Secreti...

That approach is one of Apple's greatest assets. They were right to ignore the people who said that a computer needed serial ports and a floppy disk drive. They were right to ignore the people who said that a phone needed buttons. They're willing to ignore conventional wisdom and the demands of the market in favour of a singular design vision for what technology should be. They're willing to tell their customers trust us, this is for the best. That approach is necessary if you're going to be a highly innovative company that creates entire new categories of product, but it's not right 100% of the time and it can be infuriatingly stubborn.

The strain relief on the MagSafe connector was too short. Any cable manufacturer would tell you that it was too short. Any electrical engineer would tell you that it was too short. The internet was full of pictures of frayed (and sometimes charred) MagSafe cables. The Apple store website was full of one-star reviews for MagSafe power adaptors that had frayed. Apple did nothing for over five years until a class action forced their hand; they offered replacements, but didn't fix the defect.


Your charitable estimation of Apple's competency and baseline rationality is a reasonable one and absolutely could be correct, and I agree it would follow that your priors are incorrect and/or it's actually not simple at all.

But I find jdietrich's argument totally plausible. They could have tons of negative user feedback that they ignored. "They" probably being a handful of designers (so the total number of talented people at Apple is basically irrelevant). Apple's always had a certain arrogance. They (believe they) know what customers want better than their customers do: in this case a thinner and thinner laptop. Sometimes they're right. Sometimes they lose their way and I end up with a really expensive MacBook Pro that I hate typing on.

I've certainly seen a few cases inside Google where a small team ignored dogfood feedback from other Googlers ("you aren't the user", basically), then were shocked when they got the same feedback from real users. It's absolutely possible for a small number of people inside a giant organization to make decisions that later bite them. I don't have any particular reason to believe Apple's immune to this.


Apple has built a substantial quality lead over competitors, over the years. That gives them a lot of room to make mistakes (like removing a useful key from the keyboard) while maintaining sales. That doesn't mean every decision they make is perfect.

Think of the thickness thing - Apple made billions of dollars before it wasn't even possible to make razor thin laptops. Is razor-thinness, to the point of losing port connectivity in a Pro device, really necessary or optimal?


This is a great question, but many people seem to have already decided that Apple is personally out to sell worse computers because they can, or something.

It's worth noting that they did change the keyboard on these new models, and I would guess they did so to avoid extending their special keyboard replacement program they have fro the current one.


Apple doesn't care because people (including myself) will continue to throw money at them even if they make something that sucks. All of their competitors' laptops simply suck more. Freed from market pressures, Apple's hardware designers have free reign to pursue form over function, a dream situation for any designer to be in.


To answer your question, it is because Apple is an example of a company where the design people have run amok.

They don't want to improve the keyboard, because it would make the laptop slightly less thin, and the people with the power, (the design department) don't want that.

Just because Apple has lots of people working there, doesn't mean that the RIGHT people are in charge.

No company is perfect. And although apples religious focus on design has helped it in the past, this time it seems to have hurt thebl company.

And maybe they will learn from their mistakes or maybe they wont.


>> I assume Apple is a rational organization equipped with a better understanding than I have of its products. I know - big assumption - but let's assume it's true. What reasons would Apple as a company have for improving the keyboard, and what reasons would Apple have for not improving the keyboard?

Your question has already been answered by Apple with the current generation of problematic keyboards.

They already had a mature, reliable keyboard that felt pretty good and was not noisy. It was not "broke" and did not need "fixing".

They presumably chose to "improve" it with the current one so that their computers could be a little bit thinner and that Jony Ive could brag about the new technology in a video during a keynote.


It could be that the keyboard is actually amazing, that the concerns are overblown, and that the engineers, developers, journalists, and consumers that have been complaining about it are either lying for some reason or lack the perspective to realize what is and isn't important to their workflow.

It could be that it would be a huge public image loss to admit that they were wrong about this. No matter how Apple phrases it, it's always look bad to say "we've spent the last 2-3 years telling you this was a technical achievement, turns out we were wrong." One of Apple's biggest marketing angles is "we put the work in and get it right the first time." That's going to be something that people mock them over, regardless of whether or not it's the right decision to make.

It also might open the floodgates on more expensive litigation and warranty requirements in the future. Apple's current warranty that they just rolled out is only valid up to 3 years after the initial purchase. Is a judge more likely to force them to extend it if a lawyer can argue in court "they lacked so much confidence that they reverted their own design?" Are their significant investments into blocking Right to Repair going to be hampered by that kind of public admission?

They've also invested large amounts of money into the current manufacturing process and design. Their recent decision to discontinue the 2015 model might point to this being about manufacturing costs - you could ask the same question of that decision: "why not allow the holdouts to keep purchasing the older model?"

Along with that, it could also be sunk-cost fallacy at play. One way to check if Apple has a problem with sunk-cost is to look back in the past to see if they've exhibited a pattern of doubling down on controversial decisions and rejecting criticism or blaming customers for issues.

It also could just be that the keyboard looks sexier in advertisements, and perhaps Apple optimizes for advertisements over extended customer experience because they have enough built up goodwill and reputation to do so. The devices might sell better right now when marketed as futuristic status symbols, rather than as practical machines.

Finally, don't dismiss the idea that it could just be the result of designers and engineers running wild without enough practical input to reign them in. I'm all for giving companies the benefit of the doubt, and I understand what you're getting at. But you should apply your philosophy in moderation or else someday you'll find yourself defending Microsoft Bob. Companies are made of people after all.


Maybe a crappier keyboard is cheaper to produce?


Doesn't matter. The crappier keyboard is probably .014mm thinner, which supersedes all other considerations because producing thinner hardware is really really REALLY important to apple.


> The keyboard just isn't that meaningful to me

That's ridiculous. The keyboard is probably the most important feature for someone who codes. You're basically saying, "Whatever Apple sells I will buy, regardless of its qualities." That strikes me as a strange stance to take.


I think what OP is saying is: I'm not picky about the keyboard. I can relate -- I actually prefer the new keyboard -- but also still like the old one (my work laptop), as well as two other external keyboards I switch between (a mechanical keyboard and another wireless keyboard). There's keyboards out there I don't like -- but there's plenty more that I do. So I think overall, Macbook could probably ship with any of these keyboards and it wouldn't be a factor affecting my purchasing decision. That's probably what OP means.


> That's ridiculous.

No it isn’t. Plenty of people use external keyboards. I do, for one.


You act as though I said I wanted to use something outlandish as a keyboard, like a reprogrammed toaster. The MacBook Pro is a qwerty keyboard. It doesn't have the full function row or numpad, yes, but it's fundamentally a usable keyboard.

I'm not "basically saying whatever Apple sells I will buy", and to think that would indicate you have an unrealistically uncharitable interpretation of my comment. In fact, I explicitly stated elsewhere in this thread that screen real estate matters to me.

If you feel strongly about the keyboard, that's fine. But that's not intrinsic to your capacity as a developer, it's just your opinion about its suitability for your purpose. Reasonable people can disagree over the importance of a keyboard.


There's a fundamental difference between a keyboard whose feel I might not like (travel distance, click feel) and a keyboard which has been reported to fail catastrophically from the smallest bits of dust.

If Apple decided to go for a chiclet, or other variety of keyboard, I probably wouldn't care. I'd deal with that. In this case, though, I pretty much have to expect (based on news and class action lawsuits) that it will stop working correctly, in a matter of months, in a way which directly impacts my productivity. I'll use one at work if I have to, but there's no way I'd buy one for home while the keyboard is that unreliable.


To be clear, I'm talking about the design of the thing here. There are two different conversations being had - one is about a dislike of the design, the other is about the hardware reliability of the thing.


>> it's just your opinion about its suitability for your purpose. Reasonable people can disagree over the importance of a keyboard.

I find that people who take themselves very seriously tend to project their preferences on others.

As it relates to laptops for developers-- not agreeing on things like keyboards, matte screens, aspect ratios, touchscreens, etc. - that can elicit very strong absolutist responses from them.


>> That's ridiculous. The keyboard is probably the most important feature for someone who codes.

This is true, but not everyone is picky about keyboards.

I started using mechanicals in the 80s, and I know a lot of people think it's the only way to type, but I actually don't like mechanicals any more.

Today, I use a dome keyboard (shudder!) as my daily driver and I can adapt to most keyboards, regardless of feel.

So while I get what you're saying, the OP is probably implying that he/she can adapt to different keyboard types -- as such keyboard type is not a meaningful selection criterion for him/her.


The only time I ever use a laptop keyboard directly is when I'm on a plane. I travel with an external keyboard and mouse. This is partially for ergonomic reasons, and partially preference. I like having a larger keyboard and full numberpad. So I agree with this comment completely. The keyboard would never be a factor in purchase for me.


If you don't use it much, I'd recommend getting one that can survive a semi-permanent coating of dust...


IIRC the keyboard has hardware problems and dead keys are common


This is abslutely crrect.


Sure, that would be shitty. But do we have an authoritative and empirical source indicating a meaningful increase in keyboard hardware problems?

When I search for information about this, I come up with articles like [1]. But none of the data is provided and the analysis isn't exactly...rigorous, to put it charitably.

EDIT: Why in the world has this been downvoted to -3?! This is a reasonable comment to make complete with an example. If you disagree, blindly downvoting isn't informative of anything except that you don't like a comment.

_________________

1. https://appleinsider.com/articles/18/04/30/2016-macbook-pro-...


But do we have an authoritative and empirical source indicating a meaningful increase in keyboard hardware problems?

Apple has that information, and they've decided it's a big enough problem to issue a repair program and adjust the keyboard in the new version:

https://www.apple.com/support/keyboard-service-program-for-m...

So, in answer to your question, yes we do have an authoritative source - Apple.


Okay, that's fair. It looks like it goes beyond the tech reporting bubble then. Thanks for being the only one to provide a cited source in response to my own.

I'll concede that the hardware flaws - independent of personal taste about the touchbar or function keys - is a major problem then.


The only people that could conclusively provide that information is Apple, and they have no desire to do so. So all we have to go on is anecdata. My personal experiences suggest that the keyboard is problem is widespread, though by no means common.


Uncommon but widespread: Sparse?


The fact that Apple has made a keyboard repair program available indicates just how bad this is directly. We don't have numbers, no, but it's pretty obvious it's not just a small number of users experiencing this given their response.


Google apple keyboard class action lawsuit


You can walk into any Best Buy or other non-Apple retail location that sells Apple computers and find at least one machine with keyboard issues. The most common one I've found is a left shift key that doesn't work unless you press it exactly in the center or with excessive force.


I love the new keyboard and touchbar. I haven’t had any issues with the keys not working.


I loved my mbp 2017 keyboard as well until one key started "double typing", then another one, and another one... now my life is misarable..


Add me to the list of people who don't give a crap about the keyboard, so long as it's functional. The #1 thing I was looking for when I opened the page was...

"how many relevant ports does it have? will I have to carry around a dongle to do the same things I can do on my 2015 MBP without a dongle? oh wait.. nope still need dongles."

And then "Wait why is the 13 inch form factor not even getting discrete graphics processing, nor up to 32GB ram?"

A dysfunctional keyboard is a no-no, because I need a functional keyboard. But in general I'm not bothered at all about the other things that are important to other people, such as key travel, etc. So I haven't been vocal about it.


> In the article they cite the MBP as being the most popular notebook for developers so this niche must be important, otherwise why list it?:

Marketing 101. The majority of smokers weren't cowboys.


Well, if they continue, they'll lose the cowboys.


I really doubt it.


In the article they cite the MBP as being the most popular notebook for developers so this niche must be important, otherwise why list it?

That "most popular" is marketing - they have all of the developers running OSX and most of those are probably on MBP or Air, where developers using Windows or Linux are fragmented across multiple models from multiple manufacturers.


What does wanting a functional keyboard have to do with being a developer? All laptop users use the keyboard, not just software developers.


Developers are more likely to use software that's designed for multiple platforms, without priority given to the Mac. (I guess if you assume not all developers live their life in Xcode.)

This means that developers are more likely to be regularly using software that actually depends on the keys they stripped off to make the touchbar, and/or software with sub-par to nonexistent touchbar support.


Good point. I was pretty myopic when I wrote that. Having a good keyboard that does not fail is something all laptop users would want.


Most developers I know use rarely touch the laptop keyboard. On my desk I have a bunch of monitors and an awesome mechanical keyboard. The only time I need the built-in keyboard is when I'm away from my desk.


Here's the thing - I am big on ergonomics, keyboard and trackpads are always a super high priority for me.

At my desk I have a Topre Realforce 88UB 45g keyboard that cost me like £200, a Razer Blackwidow for gaming, and a Microsoft Sculpt to switch it up.

I'm fairly big on keyboards, but I do love the new MBP keyboard.

I can't remember the old one enough now (I had the 2014 model previously), but I know I spoke of it as the best laptop keyboard - so I agree I probably rate it more than this one, BUT I am so used to typing on this now that I really don't think about the keyboard as a con in the slightest - you have to sit with it for a few weeks and you'll be flying - I break 120wpm on this because there is practically no travel.

What I DO hate, is that effing touchbar. Worst design decision on this laptop. I am 'over' it in that I can work fine with it and don't feel like it hinders me anymore, but everytime I look at it I get annoyed they are still sticking with it.

The only two cons of this MBP now it has a spec refresh -> touchbar sucks and not having ONE USB-A slot really pisses me off everytime I reach for the adapter...


Agree about the keyboard speed. I can fly on the new keyboard (2017). My only complaint is the noise which they seemed to have attempted to address in the 2018.


Right. But it doesn't say developers are the majority of MBP users.


People who want functional keyboards is the majority of MBP users. Even non-technical blogs like The Verge and The Outline are complaining about major failures with the keyboards. This problem isn't developer-specific in any way.


Then make it an option, or risk losing the segment. When my company gave me a 2015 MBP I was really impressed with it, it seemed like the perfect hardware. I knew when I upgraded my personal laptop it'd be a Macbook Pro.

Then they started handing out post-2015 MBP to others and so I've used them a bit. There is zero chance now that a MBP will be my next laptop.


i for one love the new keyboards, i don't give a damn about the touchbar and i dislike the battery usage, but the keyboard to me is near perfect. When i type on the old model now the keys feel overly mushy and inaccurate. Maybe people just give it a try for more than 20 minutes.


>They are losing this market-share quickly

are they really though? or are people complaining but still buying it?


> The niche developer/macrumors posters will never be happy regardless of what Apple does.

Haven't done a survey, but quite a few folks I know who work at Mac shops report that their employers have been steering clear of the new MacBooks and just trying to keep the older models they already have alive, while also looking seriously into the feasibility of switching to PCs running Linux if they don't get their act together.

Making the keyboard reliable would help, but that touchbar is also a legitimate ergonomic concern for anyone who uses software that requires you to be banging on F-keys all day.


>while also looking seriously into the feasibility of switching to PCs running Linux if they don't get their act together.

This is ultimately what I ended up having to do; not really by choice. My 2015 MBP was stolen, considered looking for a refurb model but found myself test driving an HP Spectre x360-a minute with the keyboard, another few minutes Googling linux driver support on my phone and some other specs. I was walking out the door with the new purchase 15 minutes later.

It's been a couple of days now, I still haven't gotten around to throwing *nix at it, but for a majority of purposes WSL is getting me by pretty nicely enough. A few days of getting a fresh Windows installation and ridding myself of all that retail bloatware, I'm actually not having a bad time with Windows 10 given it's the first time I've dailied a windows machine since XPSP1.

That's how far I'm going to avoid the new mbp because key input means that much to me-given how much time I spend in text fields, but this is a really enjoyable machine so far. After 3 years though my eyes definitely got used to the retina display, and this screen just can't match the color variation or the deep darks-then again it also may be the high gloss touch screen.


I wrote up some tips on how to make Windows 10 more palatable for a Linux user. https://github.com/chx/chx.github.io/wiki/How-I-set-up-my-Wi...


Good god almighty that easy window dragging is getting installed right tf now. Thanks for putting this list together!


Maybe 2019 will be the year of the Linux desktop? :)


Every time one of the big boys screws up, we all hope for this. Then the relevant players in the Linux community fail to get their shit together and the cycle repeats itself.


In your view, what would it take for the big players to "get their [act] together"? I'd like to hear a bit more of how you see it. What players would need to work together or coordinate? What are some more-or-less realistic paths forward?


First, they'd need to have a willingness to license "encumbered" codecs, drivers, etc, even if it meant charging for a version of their product.

Second, it would involve a ton of product testing, and tedious ironing out of rough edges. Every single time an installation or upgrade fails, or runs into a strange error needing obscure forum searches to fix it, that's a problem.

Third, they'd have to seriously cozy up to proprietary software vendors for application support. This one is unfortunately an endless time and money sink, and can't pay off until they have enough users that they don't need to do it anymore. Thankfully F/OSS options provide some limits on this, but not entirely. Many times there are F/OSS options that are usable, but the proprietary ones are better (and worth paying for).

This is just a few thoughts off the top of my head. Its not well researched or thought out, but a starting point for a conversation.


I think you are spot on. These are such a huge issues that keep most people away from Linux. The perpetual denial of these issues is a ridiculously huge blind spot in the Linux comunity.


First, someone (RedHat?) needs to establish a partnership with an OEM so they can deliver an end product. "Some assembly required" in the software environment is, almost by definition, a hobbyist project. End users shouldn't need to spend hours researching what hardware is compatible and hunting down drivers. And yes, that means that proprietary codecs and other essential packages will need to be included.

Second, Linux systems have a bit of a jerry-rigged feel to them that needs to be addressed. Things like fd.o and the FHS are intended to help this, but don't go far enough. Compare this to FreeBSD, where every decision about which packages are used in the base install, what the filesystem hierarchy is, etc. is well documented and cohesive. Linux can't go mainstream until, say, a runit-based distro has no references to systemd in its documentation.


I recently tried Linux on the desktop. Which is why I just ordered the Macbook Pro.


I'm being forced into an timed upgrade by corporate and I couldn't be unhappier. If some of the extraneous software needed to work in the environment wasn't Mac/Windows only, I'd request a hi-res Thinkpad and throw Linux on it. Even my ~2010 iMac at home runs Ubuntu.


You might consider running Windows virtualized. About 5 years ago it was still a little janky and slow. These days those problems are mostly non-existent. I run heavy Adobe applications through VirtualBox and can't tell any difference from native speeds, even on my older laptop.


> trying to keep the older models they already have alive

It's not a bad move - if you can maximize the return on DisplayPort monitors, USB keyboards, HDMI cables and MagSafe chargers, it makes sense. Keep in mind the company will eventually have to move to USB-C, as the MacBook Air is the only remaining MagSafe laptop and I won't bet on its longevity. OTOH, the old-style MBPs are enough for most uses, as are the Air for anyone who can live within 8GB.


> the company will eventually have to move to USB-C

Not necessarily. A minority of machines are Macs, and I wouldn't be surprised if not wanting to deal with the whole USB-C thing right now is yet another incentive for IT to be interested in ditching Apple.


If you have a substantial investment in MagSafe chargers, my bet is that you are a Mac shop already. USB-C is unavoidable.


> a few folks I know who work at Mac shops report that their employers have been steering clear of the new MacBooks

My office is a great example of this. Hundreds of developers here, and I've seen exactly one of the touchbar MBPs in the office. The CIO hates them with a passion, and nobody's demanding them, so it's 2014/2015 MBPs for everyone. There are a lot of Airs, too, but I've seen zero Macbooks.


My office has hundreds of developers as well.

We have about 20% of people with 2017 MacBook Pros, including, myself.


> The niche developer/macrumors posters will never be happy regardless of what Apple does. Better to focus on the 90% of customers who buy products and make up 10% of the complaints then to focus on the 10% of customers who make up 90% of the complaints.

I was very happy with every single MacBook Air since I had one (which I think might have been 3rd generation?), and in fact purchased every single MacBook Air thereafter. People really liked the original Retina MacBook Pros.

This idea that these Pro customers who regularly spend $3,000 on their computers are a fickle whiny bunch who are never happy about anything and have always found something to be upset about is complete fantasy and ignores the reality of an actual degradation in quality.

We didn't just imagine the extension of the warranty on MacBook Pros with butterfly keyboards: Apple had to take action because the computers were ACTUALLY BREAKING. I own one of these, my t key ACTUALLY FELL OFF. I'm not just trying to come up with arbitrary reasons to hate on Apple, the "t" key is not some ivory tower feature only some 10% niche care about, this is a serious quality problem.

No one is saying they shouldn't innovate and come up with gimmicks to sell new computers. In fact, the T2 gimmick might be perfect: they get to tell "the common user" that the computer now runs Siri without compromising existing behavior -- brilliant! Compare this to the Touch Bar, which while flashy infuriates me every single day as I repeatedly mute and unmute my computer as my pinky brushes the touch bar so delicately I don't even register the feeling on my finger.


Ugh. A problem? No. Everyone can go on fine never using such a dumb key. Simply avoid. Move on. Adap...t.

/S


hink differen


I don’t necessarily agree that it’s what most people want. I think the reason that most people keep buying macs is because of MacOS. It is so nice to have a UNIX-based OS with great UI, so we keep buying the overpriced, out-of-date, defective laptops because we have no other choice. I’m convinced that a solid, secure, reliable and polished Unix-based OS for developers would quickly wipe out a large segment of Apple’s market share.


I've long felt that the greatest threat to Linux on the desktop (for the past ~15 years) has been OSX, not Windows.

We all want a solid and reliable UNIX-based OS, but we also want an OS that won't be treated as a bastard child by hardware and software vendors. As much as we all love the world of free software, sometimes we actually do want/need to use commercial software as well.

Apple has given us what we fundamentally want, so we just put up with all the baggage that comes along with it. After all, what else are we going to do? Use Windows?


I have been going back and forth for many years between Linux and MacOS. In 2013, I just got annoyed at how finicky it was to get something compiled. I ended up with a Mac at my current job at the beginning, but a year into it, I had enough.

Ubuntu has been a fine OS for me. It's not perfect, but it serves its purpose well enough.


I think that's right. Our only two options are the Linux desktop with its high-maintenance potential of timesink, and Windows that, while it has improved, suffers from an authoritarian approach to things like reboots, updates, ability to customize and so forth. I use Windows 10 + MobaXTerm after moving off of the increasingly annoying MacBook design choices.

But there's something far worse: killer apps (for some professionals and hobbyists) only exist for Mac OSX and Windows. I'm looking at you, Adobe.


Linux has improved a lot in the last couple of years. Even on state-of-the-art hardware you can expect reasonable support if you choose a distro that uses a recent kernel (ie. Manjaro instead of stock debian).

I've been using a 8th gen computer for a year and I haven't had any problems. On the contrary the hevc hardware decoder/encoder works on linux, but I couldn't get it to work on Windows.

On the other hand Windows looks more polished than KDE and GNOME.


Having recently built an AMD gaming rig and bought a Aero 15 laptop with the latest 8th gen chip and installed the latest Ubuntu on both, not everything works out of the box (sensors and discrete graphics specifically), but both machines did everything I asked of them.


> great UI

Curious. Have you tried Gnome Shell or recent KDE or some modern Linux desktop like that for a while?

Because I always assumed MacOS as a Unix with shiny UI as well, however once I worked on one for a year or two I realized it long lost its uniqness. In many ways the UI is closer to Windows 7 than Windows 10 is. And things like Unity/Gnome Shell or even win 10 long went in a more productivity focused UI concept.


Agreed... we need another apple that makes laptops and polishes the linux OS that it comes with (great software/hardware integration). I'll buy those over macs


Look at the iPhone SE. For customers who prefer a compact form-factor at a low price point, Apple still make a phone with the body of an iPhone 5 and the guts of an iPhone 6s. It's a niche product, but an important part of the line-up. "Old chassis, new internals" is a standard part of the Apple playbook. Mac sales represent an almost irrelevant part of Apple's revenues, but they're a vital part of the overall Apple ecosystem.

Apple still have the tooling for the 2015 Macbook Pro. The NRE costs to put a modern processor in that chassis would be relatively modes, because it's a much larger chassis with a more straightforward thermal design. The market for such a machine might not be large, but it's extremely important for the health of their ecosystem, because developers developers developers.

Personally, I think that the post-Jobs Apple has developed a nasty case of cargo cultism. Obsessive focus on the user experience has transmuted into obsessive focus on arbitrary design goals - thinner, lighter, fewer ports. They're making record profits thanks to the huge margins on iPhones and the strong vendor lock-in on iOS, but they're burning the goodwill that kept them alive during the lean years. If Apple can't find a way to delight customers rather than frustrate them, they're facing a serious long-term problem.


Internet hearsay (Apple store/reseller staff quoted in podcasts etc.) often mentions that the MacBook Air is (was?) their best-selling laptop. It has no TouchBar, more keyboard travel, a smaller trackpad, arguably more useful ports, and longer battery life. If the trade-offs in the latest MacBook Pro were universally loved, why wouldn't they spread into Apple's other, more popular product lines?

I honestly don't see how their current laptop line-up makes any sense for consumers (and shareholders). If the TouchBar really makes it easier for non-nerds to find shortcuts, why only offer it in high-end laptops?


The Air is their best-selling laptop because: (1) it's by far the cheapest and (2) it's tiny. It's also extremely outdated -- people universally love the retina screen but the Air doesn't have that either. Also, rumor has it the Air is being replaced this fall, so we won't see what features make it downstream until then.

The above is to disagree with all of your specific arguments, but I do not disagree with your implied conclusion -- I don't think the touch bar is universally loved. I suspect most consumers do not care about it one way or the other, and I think it was a mistake that Apple should kill.


Fair enough. In any case, the MacBook Pro hasn't been Apple's laptop for the masses in a long time, unlike what r0fl implied. We can't infer from its design what 90% of customers want.


Longtime Mac user (I had an Apple II+). I've had a new MBP since Jan '17. Replaced a five year old MBA. The keyboard itself isn't terrible (although my left command key seems to be going, so yay) the Touch Bar is worthless. I simply cannot fathom who though putting something non-tactile on the keyboard was a good idea. I was so hoping they brought back regular fxn keys with the next iteration.

One of the key tenets of touch typing instruction is to NOT LOOK at the keyboard. And the lack of universal control over iTunes is admittedly a first world problem however they didn't replace it with anything meaningful. I've had this machine for 18 months and I have found zero utility in the touch bar.

I'm very curious to try the new BlackMagic eGPU though!


honestly, I don't think a touchbar is "bad" so much that the implementation may not've been the best. Maybe as an external piece of hardware like Microsoft's dial where I could use it for the cases it seems best suited for (sliders, picture thumbnails to render full screen on display, etc.), that would've been optimal. Although, I would've probably preferred a Magic Trackpad-sized device with a touch screen instead of a long bar. Would seem to allow for more use cases.

Though honestly, I was never much for the f keys beyond the browser and in Visual Studio. So the loss of those keys didn't hit me as much as it has others.


The MacBook Air competes with Chromebooks. It lost the low end to Chromebooks, and I see more and more high end MacBook Air users switching to Chromebooks as well. Neither the Air nor Chromebooks currently target developers.


>If the TouchBar really makes it easier for non-nerds to find shortcuts, why only offer it in the top-end laptops?

Maybe it helps the laptop feel more highend/luxury?


... but the DJ in the video can slide the volume up and down with his finger. Surely that counts for something big.


It's big alright. A big $300 extra for Apple on every laptop.


I think most laptop DJ's will be using an external control surface.


The niche developer/macrumors posters will never be happy regardless of what Apple does

The "niche developer/macrumors posters" were extremely happy with it before, and were hearty advocates of it.

Further, I would say that developers/enthusiasts comprise a very high percentage of macbook purchasers.


Happy? Every single MacBook that's come out has been booed, loudly, by the "niche developer/macrumors posters". Without exception.

This is a long trend that goes back to the old PowerBook days.

Yet the same group that was so vocal in denouncing the new model is suddenly a huge fan of it when a new-new model comes in.

And so the cycle repeats.


It happens with every Apple product since as far back as at least the original iPod. There is always one thing (or a small number of things) that people just can't stop complaining about... Yet the product gets super high sales numbers a year or two later the people who complained the loudest return to buy the newest verison anyway.

I mean, the people who don't like it are in their right to have that opinion. It sucks when your use case gets fucked. But when the removal of the ESC key is your reason to bemoan the sure death of the MacBook, you gotta at least be aware that you are in a tiny, tiny minority.


I just don't understand the grief over that. Even if you do use a notebook for programming, would you actually use the laptop keyboard all the time?

I always have an external keyboard around for any serious dev work. That way you can pick any style you want, clicky mechanical or wireless or whatever.


"Further, I would say that developers/enthusiasts comprise a very high percentage of macbook purchasers."

And you base this assumption on?

Every action from Apple in these last few years have gone towards the wishes of the average developer/enthusiast.

Worse keyboards, useless gimmicks, gimped CPUs, fewer ports, less repairability/configurability.

If they consider developers/enthusiasts as their main audience, they have a really weird way of catering to them.

And since Mac sales have been at least steady over the last years, developers/enthusiasts have a really weird way of showing their discontent.

https://bgr.com/2018/01/14/mac-sales-2017-marketshare-pc-dec...


I base it on the fact that among developers it is an extraordinarily popular laptop, and that there are a shitload more developers than most people seem to estimate. We are a pretty large "niche" nowadays. I have a Lenova Yoga 720 and I am almost always the single non Macbook user in any developer group.

"developers/enthusiasts have a really weird way of showing their discontent"

If you want to use xcode, you have no choice[1]. If you're in the ecosystem, you have no choice. So you complain about it and hope they change it the next time around.

[1]-I remote desktop to my desktop, but eh.


My point is that there is a much larger audience outside of our own "niche". The fact that we see a lot of developers with Macs, does not mean that they are a large audience among all of the Mac users.

My brother works at an Apple shop, and the vast majority of people he has to attend come from all walks of life, they are not developers/enthusiasts.


There are around 20 million developers globally and Apple has been selling 4.5 million Macs per year on average since 2013 (most of them MacBooks).

If 27% of all developers are using Macs (as the stackoverflow survey indicates) and the machines are replaced after 4.5 years then developers would be buying ~1.2 million Macs per year, 27% of all Macs sold.

In terms of revenue developers are probably an even larger share, perhaps a third? That's still not the majority, but it's certainly very significant even assuming that Mac users are overrepresented in the stackoverflow survey.


We are talking specifically about Macbooks. Among buyers of the iPhone, iPad, and iMac is a broad, society-representing demographic. For Apple laptop it is overwhelmingly developers and aficionados (e.g. designers). I don't have any official stats, but I don't know a single person who owns a Mac laptop who isn't in those two categories.


The Macbook Pro has been the go-to software developer machine for years now, and that segment is seeing a massive exodus after the touch bar launch. I don't know how big a percentage that is of total sales, but it can't just be a trivial niche.


Is there a real, large exodus though? I don’t notice that, anecdotally, but others seem to (seemingly anecdotally too). Are there data about it? For the segment that are “professionals” or for work use, for example? At least broadly, 3Q saw Mac sales decline 7.5 percent YOY. But, the whole PC industry declined. So, I’m not sure what conclusions to draw — and in the absence of that it seems a bit hard to swing either way in claims.

Know any other data?


The PC industry as a whole is declining from a sales perspective because refresh cycles moved from 30-40 months to 60-70 months. If you have 1000 computers, you needed to buy 200/year today, and would have needed 350 in 2005. Computers don't need to replaced as often, so slowdowns in momentum are very important because they indicate the institutions are slowing down purchases.

Microsoft is trying to push back on this by making it impossible to support Windows 10. We'll see how that goes.

When I was responsible for this at a large enterprise, I was buying 40k devices a year, every year. The Mac component was about 1,500/year. That dropped to 50 when the new keyboards came out and started failing. Losing a few hundred sales isn't a big deal, but some of that money that was going to MacBooks went elsewhere.


I have no data, and I personally use Linux and track point equipped machines, but my observation is Mac fans paying for their computers with their own money are not buying the new macs. I suspect that the sales number are reflecting corporate sales. I think Apple should remember that it is people from the former group who have managed to arm-twist corporations to look at non-Windows machines, that and the slow rise of Linux acceptance in more and more companies should make them listen to people who don't want Windows want.


I bought a Dell XPS rather than buy a new 13" MBP because of the keyboard issues + touchbar.


I had a touchbar 15" from work and once I left I bought the no touch bar 13" version. I was waiting for the 15" no touch bar version, but it looks like I'll stick with the 13" for now. Eventually they'll probably fix it somehow, but if not it sucks as I used to like both the machine and the OS.


I'm holding on to my 2013 mbpro with a real keyboard, but if it dies... looks like they only have emoji keyboards now. I'll have to join the exodus then.


Late 2013 mbp crew represent!

I think this is the longest i've held onto a computer.


Same here, I'm typing this with my late 2013 mbp, this was my first Mac. And it's amazing how it keeps working perfectly just like the first day, I haven't noticed any slowdown, it doesn't have any noticeable hardware issue. I never experienced this with other computer.


Same, I see mine as the last great computer ever made by Apple. & slowly look at Lenovo's just in case, it gives up.


Same here. Well, that's my personal laptop which is perfectly fast and in great condition.

My work laptop was actually the same generation, until IT recently upgraded me to one of the new-keyboard models. I don't like how loud the keyboard is, and I don't like the touchbar. (sorry, I actually need to press "Esc" and also use non-beautifully-designed software that sometimes uses Fn keys.)

Needless to say, I have absolutely no desire to upgrade my personal laptop. When I do, I can only hope Apple has moved past this, or the F/OSS world has finally acknowledged that the touchbar actually needs to be supported.


Mine's a mid-2012 model. I've been quite happy with it. I've long been looking forward to Apple coming out with a model capable of 32GB, so I would have upgraded immediately, but my understanding is that the new machines haven't addressed the keyboard dust issue. So I'm probably going to hold on to my 2012 for at least another year.


I have a 2013 13" and a 2014 (I think) 15" for work and having had used a lenovo thinkpad for work briefly I can confidently say that there is no way I will be joining any sort of exodus when my work laptop or personal laptop come time for upgrade.


With all of the (deserved) internet outrage about the MacBook Pro, Apple’s sales of Macs aren’t showing thier direction is the wrong one.

That being said, for a personal development machine, I would much rather have a 27 inch 5K iMac with the same specs. Work provides me a decent laptop.


It's hard to tell from the data. Sales should perhaps have been higher. The macbook pro hadn't been refreshed for a bit in late 2016.

Me and some other pro users were insta-buys for the new machines. But then they had few ports and no function keys. We're still on 2015 machines.

I'm holding out for the mac pro, but I would have bought 1-2 macbook pros if they had been suitable.


> go-to software developer machine

It really isn't. In some localized niches, perhaps. Overall, no.


At least among web developers (not just front-end, and not just JavaScript), it's completely ubiquitous in my experience.


You say that but it's the vocal but happy 10% that can sway the 90% to buy it. Mac wouldn't have been as big as it is today without its fans. The ones that complain are your best customers, because the ones that don't just walk away without giving you feedback as to why they walk away. The 90% is too indifferent to speak up.


You're greatly overestimating the tech community's importance. The average person doesn't need any swaying to buy Apple products.


A lot of people ask techie friends for advice on what computer to buy.

As argued by Paul Graham:

"So what, the business world may say. Who cares if hackers like Apple again? How big is the hacker market, after all?

Quite small, but important out of proportion to its size. When it comes to computers, what hackers are doing now, everyone will be doing in ten years. Almost all technology, from Unix to bitmapped displays to the Web, became popular first within CS departments and research labs, and gradually spread to the rest of the world."

http://www.paulgraham.com/mac.html


Quite small, but important out of proportion to its size. When it comes to computers,

If that were the case, Apple wouldn't be selling tons of iPhone's in their "wall gardens" and DRM'd media content and the "Year of the Linux Desktop" would have come ages ago....


PG’s argument is a meaningless non sequitur. The question isn’t about what new technologies people adopt; it’s about what product designs they go for. The former of course will start in CS departments and research labs, because that’s where they’re developed. That’s really not saying anything, and has no bearing on the latter.


A lot of people ask techie friends for advice on what computer to buy.

The number of people with HN-grade "techie" friends is a rounding error.


I'm pretty sure I switched my parents into an imac, and three iphones so far, with a fourth on the way soon.

If I was on android/PC they would have bought those, for tech support reasons.

I've influenced some friends, too. Word of mouth is the most powerful form of marketing, and professional users talk about their machines a lot.

(Devs, video editors, writers, designers, photographers, etc)


Yeah, I don't think that's because you're a tech person. To most parents, their children may as well be tech experts because their bar for that is simply "they know more about computers than I do." I'm sure most people could probably convince their parents to buy a Macbook, or any other brand of computer, for even arbitrary reasons.

I may be wrong, but I'm highly skeptical that your parents had to be convinced to be a Macbook on the merits of it's technical prowess in relation to other competition. They probably just respect your opinion on technology regardless of what it is.


Based on data or anecdotes?


You're greatly overestimating the tech community's importance. The average person doesn't need any swaying to buy Apple products.

“There’s a App for That” <—- who makes the apps?


The most popular apps made be made by computer geeks but which apps are made are decided by large corporations. Corporate America (and corporate marketing) have a far bigger sway than computer nerds.

If that weren't the case Samsung wouldn't be the most profitable Android manufacturer with their crappy bespoked custom Android version.


I’d be willing to bet a big part of the base that buy the MacBook pros are the creatives. Most consumer consumers are happy with iPhones and iPads.

As someone who was a massive fan of Apple MacBooks and recommended them to other people, I don’t do that now. I highly unrecommend them nowadays. I’ve personally in fact bought older second MacBooks since they last longer and work better than the new ones.

So it slowly adds up. Microsoft surface is already making a good dent in what was a loyal Mac Pro market.


See “leading” vs “trailing” indicators.


that's how it is now but it didn't happen overnight and without a reason.


> The niche developer/macrumors posters

It's not just developers and MacRumors posters. Joe Rogan - the comedian and MMA commentator - did a massive unprompted rant on how poor (and he didn't use the word 'poor') the Apple keyboard was on his recent podcast (3rd most popular podcast in the world http://www.itunescharts.net/us/charts/podcasts/).

The keyboard affects anyone who types. It's not a niche group of obsessives at all.


I don't know why you're being downvoted. Rogan is a good proxy of Hollywood creatives, which in turn has an enormous impact on how often Macs show up as default movie props.


I would also add Rogan has a massive following and is a big influencer in many areas. His opinion could easily affect people thinking about or considering moving to a Mac product.

I know a lot of his followers on Twitter are super loyal to the brands he promotes.


Isn’t a better “proxy” for how well the Mac is doing reported sales numbers?


Have you seen reported sales numbers specifically for Hollywood creatives? Will you ever?


Consumer electronics movie props are typically paid advertising placements now. I don't think there's really a default anymore, at least not for big-budget Hollywood productions.


Apple sends hardware to movie production companies. They’ve been doing this for years.


There's a big difference between the AfterEffects guys and the writers. Rogan's complaints were as someone whose career requires massive amounts of writing and understandably wants a keyboard to have feedback.

I'm in complete agreement with him. In their obsession to make the thing thinner and fancier they have rendered it less usable. They've locked themselves into a marketing pattern that precludes them from having a "if it ain't broke" mindset.


..the difference being, Apple can send the hardware, other companies often have to pay for product placements.


I actually like the Touchbar MacBook Pros'. Including the keyboard. I love how small they are and how all the plugs are the "same" :)

I use it as my home-notebook and iOS development.


You are funny. I like :D


That niche of developer/macrumors posters USED to be happy with everything Apple did. Under Steve Jobs, it seemed like Macbooks got cheaper every year, with more value. Now, every year the price goes up, but less value.


>> Why they couldn't grab a 2012-2015 model and upgrade the guts? No touchbar, smaller touchpad than the newer macbooks, but updated specs? Call it Macbook Developer... We build the software for the "Pros" after all.

> They didn't do that because it is not what most people want.

What's your basis for saying that, besides the assumption that Apple can't be wrong, so whatever it's doing must be what people actually want?

Apple has a habit of designing from an ivory tower and not admitting to its mistakes. I would say it's arguable that their design priorities are currently out of whack: chasing thinness when you're going from 1.5in to 0.75in is one thing, it's quite another when you're going from 18mm to 15mm. It may not be a fatal mistake for them, but it's evidence that they may longer deserve the design deference they've traditionally gotten.

> Apple has to make changes that will sell more laptops to the masses to maximize shareholder value.

Many of those changes could be characterized as pointless sidegrades: merely change for change's sake.


You can tell no one is clamoring for those features because they're not getting copy-catted.

No one wants that touchbar and Apple themselves just replaced the keyboard so to say its what consumers want is just pure fantasy. There's no data yet. Maybe they'll want this new keyboard but you're assuming anything Apple does is what the consumer wants.


Apple has notoriously aggressively focused on a future-facing scalable way. I.e. where they see enough of the market in say 5 years (i.e. firewire, USB-C). However, they have been wrong before, AND I don't think anyone can argue that they aren't focusing on non-mobile hardware right now.

While it's easy to say "just trust apple, they're doing it for the shareholders," I think it's also fair to say that they're losing their touch in this venue.

It used to be the only reason you didn't buy a Mac for pro creative-type work was the price. Now there are many great reasons from ergonomics to computing power.


>The niche developer/macrumors posters will never be happy regardless of what Apple does.

That's not entirely accurate. The original 15 inch Retina Macbook Pro is an ideal laptop as far as I'm concerned. I'm still holding on to mine for home use. It was extremely well received in development communities at the time of release. On the other hand I have 2017 Touchbar Pro from work and it's horrendous for undocked use, borderline unusable.


The 10% are the "word of mouthers" (evangelists) that influence the other 90%.

Apple isn't where it is today because of TV advertising. It's where it is because of brand advocates like the people who are now complaining about the new products.


Then they'd be wrong. You focus on the 5% of people who tell the 95% others what to think.

And you don't ask people what they think, you observe their behavior and hope you can make sense of it. People have no fucking clue what they want. You would have to be insane to ask people for their _opinions_ and expect something you can work with.


Developers are influencers. Lots of people I know ask me what kind of laptop they should get.

For normal humans, having a card slot and being able to use old chargers and accessories is a real consideration.

If you can’t reuse that stuff anyway, then fenestrating may become less distasteful.


How do you know what consumers want without offering choice?


It’s a pretty important “niche” of customers though, since 100% of Apple’s App Store revenue is derived from apps built by users in that “niche”...


And users in that "niche" would build those apps using Macs whether it was their preference or not if the money was in it.


> They didn't do that because it is not what most people want.

Bingo. Most people on this site don't realize they are in the minority.


Most of Apple's shareholder value these days comes from the fucking iPhone and iPad. They won't be terribly hurt by switching back. This is purely marketroid-driven product design, and if it keeps up it'll bust Apple back down to also-ran status.

(Not that Jobs wasn't a Dire Marketroid himself, but at least he knew that practical and functional sells better in the long run than snazzy but busted.)


And who builds the apps?


I'm starting to question how "niche" the creator/developer market actually is


This is speculation at best, not a fact. There's no data to indicate that developers aren't the 90% customers.


The 15-inch 2015 Retina model is no longer being sold on their website, too. It was there as an option for some time, but it appears this new update called for getting rid of it. I was planning on saving up to finance that as my next laptop purchase, but seems as if I'll have to go through a third party seller.


The mid-2015 model (which I still use and think is way better) is over 3 years old now. It was always bound to be discontinued eventually.

There are still some available in the Apple Store under the clearance section (https://www.apple.com/shop/browse/home/specialdeals/clearanc...). Definitely your last chance to get this model new from Apple.


Bought a 2016, then returned it and got a refurb 2015. My only regret was getting the 500g SSD vs waiting for a 1tb model (which my friend got). The refurb levels were changing daily, and I kept missing the 1tb models, so I pulled the trigger on a 500g.

Didn't care for the touch bar - yes, hey, apparently all the cool kids 'remap' their ESC key, and many did it I guess 20 years ago(!), but I've got decades of muscle memory to overcome. But beyond that, yeah sure it was thinner and sexier, but had a 20% smaller battery, and for the work I do, I guess I'm not 'pro' enough, but never managed more than about 4 hours max of real work.

The 2015 model was 'good enough' in most respects, and better in others (keyboard, battery), and... cheaper.

Always interested to see and try the newer models, but probably won't upgrade in 2018 or 2019 without some massive reason to do so.

EDIT - well, the 32g option might be a worthwhile reason to upgrade. And the battery looks slightly larger than the 2016 model.


The battery increase for the high end i7/i9 models is to offset the increased power draw -- it supposedly won't give you much in terms of battery life in actual usage.


Pro models will probably not have amazing battery life, especially if you're saturating the GPU (i.e. gaming).

However, Apple has previously led the market in power optimizations. I'm not confident they'll do that this time.


Or just... running stuff that kicks on the GPU? Running development tools (ios stuff, java stuff) would always kick things in to overdrive and send the fans whirring, and killing my battery. Yes, I'm often plugged in, but knowing that, if I need to be mobile, I'm going to get 2-3 hours... was a hard pill to swallow for $3700, when for 30%+ less I'd have a machine that lasted longer, had quieter keyboard, etc.


500g SSD is misleading. 'g' is used for 'grams' not for storage size. GB or GiB (or gb if you're really lazy), but not 'g'.


apologies - I can def see how it can read like that.


You can upgrade the SSD yourself (e.g. https://eshop.macsales.com/shop/ssd/owc/macbook-pro-retina-d... ) although a 1TB drive is $600.


had looked at that - seemed potentially more trouble than it's worth, but... it might be a cost-effective avenue (factoring in time/value) before another upgrade. thanks.


I'm about to do that with my mid-2015 MBP, although I'm probably going to get an mSATA off of Amazon.


And worth noting the 2015 15-inch MBP they've discontinued had the old non-butterfly keyboards. The old style keyboards are gone, Apple is 100% in on the keyboards they currently have a defect service program on. [1]

(Edit: Though these new MBPs apparently have a new third generation keyboard, so not exactly identical.)

[1] https://www.apple.com/support/keyboard-service-program-for-m...


The 15-inch 2015 Retina model is no longer being sold on their website, too.

Check Apple's refurb store: https://www.apple.com/shop/browse/home/specialdeals/mac/macb...

Also, Woot: https://computers.woot.com/plus/refurbished-macbooks-macbook...


You are wording my exact thoughts. mid-2015 13" MBP was good balance.

They've played this thinness and flashy lights game too much too long. My new Lenovo T480S (24GB DDR4, is coming next week :) Sweet Linux with i3 tiled window manager. All the ports & productivity I can ask for.

I'm voting with my wallet and my vote doesn't go to Apple.


Right now, I'm hoping my maxed out 2015 13" lasts forever.


Better yet, why don't they go back and grab the 2006 17" form factor?

That was the best developer laptop I had. The missing 2" on the 15" just makes the IDE too narrow.


I keep wanting to buy a 17" and then walking back from it after seeing/handling 17" laptops in physical stores.

All the bezel-shrinking R&D being done for phones has to reach laptops at some point. I'm seriously losing half an inch of luggable-but-not-lookable space on each side of the screen, plus a good inch below. (I have like the most common 13" Dell in the world; just walking around in the study room of the library I see three more.)


The Apple 17" laptops were about the same size (maybe even smaller) as large 15" laptops though. Presumably, an Apple 17" laptop in this day and age would be pretty manageable size-wise.


I can definitely attest to this, having had one back in the day. Of course back then, everyone else made super-chunky laptops, at least with the cheaper models (so chunky that people bought netbooks because laptops were insufficiently portable.)

I frequently put Apple's 17" laptop in a backpack/case slot designed for 15" normal laptops, and it fit just fine.


The HP Spectre x360 is a good example of bezel-shrinking in laptops. I have a 13" model and it's nice to have a more compact laptop.

I have no idea why this style isn't more popular. Maybe it seems too fragile to consumers?


It is extremely popular, in the PC market and to some extent in the Mac market as well. The MacBook Pro 2016 had smaller bezels than the 2015.


Dell XPS 13


The 2006 17" MacBook Pro only had a resolution of only 1680x1050. A 15" Retina MacBook Pro has a "true" resolution of 2880x1800 but is normally used at an effective resolution of 1440x900. However, you can easily adjust it to be an effective resolution of 1680x1050 or 1920x1200 (the resolution of the last 17" MacBook Pro in 2011).

Of course the effective pixels per inch may make some features too small but the effective PPI of 1680x1050 on a current 15" MacBook Pro is lower than the actual PPI of the last 17" MacBook Pro's screen:

147 PPI 15.4" 1920x1200 133 PPI 17" 1920x1200 129 PPI 15.4" 1680x1050 116 PPI 17" 1680x1050 110 PPI 15.4" 144x900


My favorite was the first Aluminum Powerbook 12 and 17. I wamted both. I owned the 17 inch. I envied the 12 inch also. The 17 inch was almost the size of a Dell 15 inch at the time, so it wasn't as large it seemed. It was and is my favorite laptop I owned, ever. Well, that or my IBM Thinkpad 600e.


I wouldn't mind that either, but OTOH, I don't work on a laptop screen all day as a rule. I'd rather have a compact machine that I can just plug into a screen. I wouldn't mind a Mac Mini style machine with magsafe power and/or an easily detachable docking station.


Without a battery, you'd have to shut down each time you moved from seat to seat. You might as well carry a fast, bootable drive around and treat the actual computer at each seat as the docking station.


That was back in the day when you had to buy Apple's 17" model just to get the same number of pixels on your screen as everyone else's 15" model. Apple had worse density than the competition back then.

Then a few years passed, and Apple went all-in on high-DPI "Retina" displays, while the whole PC laptop world had a great display regression.

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