The New MacBook Pro

So in 1998 Apple introduced the iMac, which was notable for a) looking like an alien and b) eschewing all standard ports for all new ports and I/O. This involved dropping ADB and moving to USB, which makes sense only in retrospect because at the time there were Zero peripherals available for the Mac in USB. It also dropped the Floppy drive in favor of a CD drive. At the time, this was an indication that "Apple didn't know who its products were for," and that it would be preventing its customers from actually being productive.

Except, thats not what happened. As always, the prime mover for connectivity is the Client, not the Extension - no one is buying a new computer to connect with their camera, but the pressure to buy a new camera to connect with their computer increases exponentially over time. Pretty soon, everything as USB, the Floppy was dead, and the iMac was unique in that it was ready for all the new goodies before anyone else.

So, of course we're going to talk about the new MacBook Pro.


I'm a strange case, or at least I feel like one. (Once again, this is me disclosing my biases and needs and preferences before I submit a review of an object as Good or Bad.) Part of me thinks I'm a non-traditional user, but I still kind of feel like, in other ways, I'm a pretty normal customer.

My Mac experience nowadays changed when Omar knocked over my work 13" retina MBP from mid-2014. The digitizer has been nuts ever since, so I run it 100% in clamshell mode, connected to a 20-something inch monitor over HDMI. It's got a USB backup drive plugged into it running Time Machine, constantly plugged into power because I don't have the attention span to be unplugging and replugging it to efficiently cycle the battery, a USB -> Lightning cable to build iOS apps onto devices with Xcode, headphones, and a Thunderbolt -> Ethernet adapter to keep me on my office VPN. Plus, headphones.

I currently don't have a personal Mac. I "work" from home using iOS devices exclusively, and I enjoy it, but the more consulting and web work I get asked to do, the more I think i could make a business case for a home Mac. Hence, I was excited to see what they came out with last week, because it could potentially be one of those devices.

So, if you were to look at my current needs, the new MacBook Pro seems like it would require dongle after dongle to act as my work machine, and the benefits (including the Touch Bar) would be almost invisible to me. But, I'd disagree.

If my current Mac had a working display, I'd be picking the thing up and using it out and about more regularly, meaning i'd be plugging and unplugging the ports I use multiple times a day, which would suck, so I'd probably be plugging into a hub over Thunderbolt. I'd forego Clamshell mode for a primary-secondary display setup, if that: going back and forth from retina to non-retina is terrible on my eyes, so the likelihood I'd either upgrade my monitor to the 4K or 5K LG ones offered at the event (giving me the hub I wanted) or forego a secondary display entirely is high. I'd also be less forgiving over HDMI refresh rate, and use that hub to display via Display Port rather than HDMI, which is out of necessity rather than choice: HDMI is designed to support film and TV at 27-29fps, not computer graphics and animation, which run at 60fps.

A Thunderbolt hub under USB-C becomes more capable and higher bandwidth, while also carrying power - that would mean I put my machine on my desk, plug a single cable in, and attach ethernet, display, power and backup all at once, at a faster rate than before. Oh, and on whatever side I want. That's a compelling upgrade, pushing forward the peripheral market, fitting directly in line with Pro Mac use.

As far as the Lightning headphones, I'm more focused on the AirPods automatically picking up that I'm on my Mac and switching over seamlessly. People who have issue with the Mac not having a Lightning port are people who forget the amount of people who have iPhones that don't have Macs (spoiler: over 85% of them).

Plus, again for those who complained, remember where your headphones that you used before you got the phone that came out a month ago? Use those.

So, in two months, Apple's vision for the future revolves around flexible, adaptable ports, multi-purpose connections, wireless audio switching, while improving portability (I'm actually considering a 15" laptop for the first time, which is crazy) while improving battery life?

Remind me again why I'm supposed to be upset?