So Do I Want A MacBook Pro?

So far, I’ve “defended” the new MacBook Pro on the whole dongle non-issue, and the limitations imposed by the hardware Apple selected. Do I like this machine or not? Do I want one or not? Part of me wants one, but part of me wants to wait. There are plenty of shortcomings on this machine to give cause for concern.

Dollars and Sense

The first, and biggest, issue with this machine is the price. A loaded-up 15″ is just over $5,500 in Canada. That’s a lot of scratch for a machine that isn’t a big jump over the 2014 15″ MacBook Pro I have today. The biggest change is doubling the local storage to 2TB. Otherwise, the CPU improvements aren’t exactly massive, and the new discrete graphics card doesn’t appear to be a big improvement.

My challenge is that, since I develop for iOS as well as the Mac, going with something other than Apple product just isn’t an option. If I were doing Android exclusively, or was back working on web- and server-based products, then I would definitely be looking at things like the XPS 13 (I have a stripped-down one I bought to be able to run Windows 10 software), the HP Spectre or the Razer Blade. All of these are excellent machines, and at far lower prices than Apple is asking.

The price is what has, so far, held me back the most. It’s a lot of money to put out for not much more machine. Worse, my current machine spends its time in a Arc MacBook stand, connected to a dual monitor setup with a Blue Raspberry microphone, Logitech camera Corsair mechanical keyboard, Magic Trackpad and Magic Mouse. It rarely leaves the stand (in part because I have a 12″ MacBook Retina that I use when I’m out and about). It is really more desktop than notebook, and only hits the road when I hit the road and go out of town.

A Real Hardware Beef

I don’t need more than 16GB of RAM, so the limitations on that part of the hardware aren’t an issue for me (but I agree it is an issue for others). The fact that it uses the previous generation Intel CPU is annoying, but not a showstopper for me. My bigger complaint is that switch to Radeon GPUs, which are, to my mind, inferior to the Nvidia parts. That bugs me, because part of what I’m doing more of is editing graphics and video. That means a good graphics processor, and the Radeon part is an inferior product.

I also don’t care much about the Touch Bar, because it will spend almost all of its time buried under the closed lid of the machine. The same goes for Touch ID. While I can see value in a hypothetical sense, in practice they just don’t provide me with any value. If the next generation of Apple keyboards offer them, then I might be interested. For now, though, they are more gimmick than real feature, and one that I would rarely use anyways.

If Apple offered the discrete graphics card (despite it being a Radeon) and the 2TB storage option on the 13″ MacBook Pro, I might be all over that. The integrated graphics just isn’t up to the job of running a Retina display with proper graphics or video editing tools. The fact that they’ve limited the storage to 1TB baffles me. To get that much power and storage in something smaller than a 13″ MacBook Air would be very, very compelling. Having to go up to the 15″ model to get it makes it less interesting to me.

Can’t Keep It Up

So if the cost and the hardware limitations aren’t reason enough to wait, there is just one more thing: the crappy battery life. Apple’s “solution” of removing the estimated battery life strikes me as just a bit silly, more than a bit clumsy, and essentially tone-deaf to the reality of the situation. Pretending that battery life isn’t good doesn’t make it good. This is about trying to whitewash a situation because you don’t have a real solution ready.

My current 15″ MacBook Pro can easily get 10-11 hours out of a battery (depending, of course, on how I use it). The new MacBook Pro, according to people in the real world, can barely get 8 hours on a charge. And that’s only if they get truly aggressive to save power. Apparently even 8 hours may be unobtainable under normal use. The last machine I used that offered similar battery life was the amazingly awesome 19″ MacBook Pro (the last true “pro” grade machine from Apple, in my opinion). That at least offered desktop performance, with battery life and size being the tradeoffs.

Wait And See?

All of these issues (the older CPU, the cheaper and less capable Radeon GPU, the poor battery life) all point to a machine that wasn’t designed with real care, and perhaps was rushed. It seems they put all their effort into the Touch Bar, and completely forgot about the rest of the machine. If Apple can’t get their flagship notebook right, then what else are they going to screw up?

Every time I build one on-line and add it to the shopping bag, I sit on it a few days and then delete it. I’ve done this a few times. The combination of lacklustre hardware and an extraordinarily high price continue keep me from pulling the trigger. The last generation MacBook Pro was a no-brainer. It was a really easy decision to make. This one, not so much. There are just enough things that are either “meh” or “sorta bad” that are making it more likely that I won’t get one. Never say never (I hadn’t planned on getting an Apple Watch either), but right now, I’m still not sure.

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