Benjamin Button reviews the new MacBook Pro

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Point of pedantry: Benjamin Button aged in reverse but did not, as I understand it, go through time backwards: he remembered the past, not the future.

Merlin from The Once and Future King would have been a more logical choice, though unfortunately far fewer would have got the joke.


Of all the issues I have with the new MBP, the USB-C ports are not among them. Yes, it’s inconvenient, but USB-C is the superior port, we should all just standardize on it. It’s more objectionable that the iPhone is still using the facacta lightning connector.


Also, the reason there’s only 16GB of RAM is because the Intel chips only support 16GB of low-power RAM, from what I understand. If you wanted to go to 32GB, you’d need to switch to desktop RAM. Also, the Integrated Graphics are crap because Intel forecasted a delivery date in mid-2016, and then it slipped to 2017.

Which puts Apple back into the position it was near the end of the old PowerPC days- they were reliant on a vendor that couldn’t hit the targets Apple wanted them to hit. Apple is also releasing more and more devices containing its own, internally designed chips- the A* series and now the T-1. I’m going to go out on a limb and say that Apple is going to jump from Intel to its own chips again within the next 5 years, but retain x86/ARM compatibility. This is highly speculative, but that’s the direction I see things headed.


No problem with USB-C, the problem is in the arrogance of Apple not including even a single one of the “legacy” ports, despite it not costing them anything (if there is hw for USB-C, it can handle even an USB-A port) and certainly having enough space to include one or two in the chassis.

The reality is that USB-C is going to be an obscure thing for a few years still, certainly longer than this MB Pro will be on the market. The majority of USB devices that people use are still using the old USB-A ports and most peripheral devices that are being sold are still like that. It is completely retarded when your colleague/client/etc hands you an USB stick full of data you need to do your work and you can’t even plug it in without a dongle.

(Don’t try the idiotic Apple argument about “using the cloud/network” to transfer the data - that is often not an option. The data confidentiality aside, unless the other person is on the same network as you are already, the USB stick is pretty much always faster than setting up their network connection, especially in a corporate environment where it may require a ton of paperwork. That’s just not an option, especially when you are going on site to a client. And how many know how to configure an ad-hoc network (whether wired or wireless) between two computers? But everyone knows how to use an USB stick. )

This is not the first time Apple has shot themselves in the foot like this. 6 years ago when I was teaching at a university, many of my colleagues were Apple users. And almost every class or meeting inevitably ended up with the person asking whether anyone happens to have the DisplayPort/DVI/VGA (or what it was) dongle so that they can connect their laptop to the projector, because they forgot to bring their own. Nobody else but Apple users had that issue. That was at a time when DisplayPort was an obscure oddity and most projectors used VGA connectors. 6 years later VGA plugs are still very common, even HDMI won’t help you much, especially in places that use the various distribution/patch panels because the projector is far away from the presenter (like most conference halls and auditoriums). Only very new installations carry HDMI signals and pretty much none does DisplayPort. And it is not a simple or cheap upgrade, because these digital signals can’t handle long cables as well as the old analog VGA did. You may need an amplifier/repeater on the way, increasing the cost hugely.

The way to properly introduce something like this would be to slowly start phasing it in and once the devices with it start to become common, start to phase out the legacy ports. That is how it happened with the ISA bus connectors, with the PS/2 mice and keyboards, the old DB9 style serial ports, the DB25 printer ports, etc. But no, Apple is special, they can afford to ignore both reality and their clients. This hubris will hurt them, IMO.

Apple is simply completely out of touch with the real world and how their products are being used, especially in the professional market. That may be only 10% of their revenues but the professionals are the ones without whom there would be no iOS app market, no software for OS X, no creative/graphics/video market and the only users would be hip kiddies that need a laptop only to sit on Instagram & Facebook most of the day. While the kiddies and hipsters will likely not care, considering that Mac/iOS development can be done only on a Mac, Apple is putting their entire ecosystem in jeopardy by alienating developers with these boneheaded decisions (and complete ignorance of the obsolescence of their desktop machines - laptop is simply unusable for doing certain types of heavy workloads).


The flip side is- if you don’t push people to use new ports and adapters, no one will. Look at the persistence of VGA (which, despite being able to travel long distances via analog connections loses quality rapidly across those connections). It’s never going to die, even when it really should- the connector is not suitable for the modern world. We could argue over making some sort of micro-VGA standard, with a slim connector, but the VGA connector is larger than many devices that you may want to connect to a projector.

I don’t think USB-C is going to be all that “obscure”, either. I think mobile devices, like cellphones, are going to flock to it, and the upgrade cycle on those is much shorter than laptops. I’ve already got a number of devices that are USB-C, and my travel battery-pack makes a big deal out of the fact that it can recharge a laptop over USB-C. I don’t even (yet) have a laptop that can take a charge on USB-C, yet here we are- I have a battery pack that will do it.


It’s amusing that you can’t even connect your new iPhone with your new MBP. Or use its headphones on it.


The thing is, you can push people like this, but then expect an appropriate backlash. Expecting people to replace all their peripherals (where many may simply not be available in USB-C) or to carry a bag load of dongles will only push them closer to switching platforms. If a Windows laptop can do everything they need to do, doesn’t have these boneheaded hw decision and is cheaper to boot, people will start switching. Professionals are not sheep and the discontent is huge already - people likely won’t switch over a USB-C only ports, but it could well be the straw the broke the camel’s back.

USB-C is very obscure outside of mobile phones (even there most still have the micro USB connector, only the very latest and most expensive ones have USB-C) and Apple laptop ecosystem. It is much more expensive and complicated to implement and few computers have the USB-C ports, so most manufacturers still keep producing USB-A hardware. That your power bank has USB C is logical - it is meant to charge the new smartphones and charging a phone is the raison d’être for a power bank. But find me e.g. a keyboard, mouse or a cheap USB stick with USB-C - and those only the most common peripherals. USB-A ones I can find in every supermarket.

The example with the VGA connector was just that - an example. We can argue technical merits - there I would certainly agree with you (re quality over long cables - well, at least VGA works, but HDMI/DP wouldn’t at all, so the quality argument is pointless there) - but most users don’t care. They care that the projector system they need to connect to has the stupid DB15 plug and the university isn’t going to redo their lecture halls for another 5 years, so that means lugging a dongle around for the lifetime of their laptop. I don’t buy the size argument - yes, the connector is large, but we aren’t talking a smartphone where every millimetre counts. E.g. my Lenovo E31 still has a VGA plug and that is a laptop very comparable in size with the MB Pros. Clients were demanding it, so the manufacturer has kept it in. You can even buy laptops with the DB25 printer port if you really want. The manufacturers are not stupid, especially not in so commoditized market where the customer can simply look elsewhere.

The decision to remove it from Apple laptops was purely a design issue, not a technical one. The same as removing the headphone jack from the iPhone or including only USB-C connectors on Macs. It is being presented as some sort of pushing technical advance but that’s just BS. Since when is incoveniencing your clients by requiring dongles or forcing them to replace perfectly good hw with overpriced “Apple specials” (because nobody else needs these) a technical progress?


Apple makes a USB-C to Lightning cable. But they do not (at this time) bundle it with any of the products that ship with Lightning cables.

Apple seriously need to drop lightning from the next iPhone. Now that they’ve dropped the headphone socket it makes sense for us to all move to USB-C together.

It also doesn’t make sense that the iPhone is the ONLY device that uses it.


Yes, so the brand-new iPhone doesn’t connect to the brand new MBP, and neither of them come with the cables you need to do so.

So, USB-C is the future, except definitely not for their phones. And Lightning headphones are the future, except for their laptops.

USB-C for everything would just about make sense. Although it’s hardly a replacement for an SD slot.


I have a hunch that Apple are not surprised or worried by the reaction of a handful of computer dorks to this, given how many times they’ve won the exact same argument in the course of their journey from bankruptcy to science-fictional profitability.

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I have a hunch that Apple are not surprised or worried by the reaction of a handful of computer dorks to this

You mean creatives and software developers? Gosh, thank goodness they don’t sell their “pro” line to professionals or they’d be in trouble.


Exactly. Apple doesn’t care about power users. They make their money on people who use their overpriced laptops to check email and surf the web. They only provide solutions to power users under protest, and those solutions are circuitous and expensive.


This makes me love the broken 2011 MBP I got for free and fixed up for a few hundreds dollars. So many ports I haven’t even used them all yet. Mu-haaaaa. :heart_eyes:


I’m looking forward even farther to the next Macbook model, renamed the PowerBook, which properly supports SCSI and has two incredibly useful serial ports. They’ll scrap USB, WiFi and Bluetooth which never worked all that well if you believe the reviews, and gone back to the stuff we all know works. They can ditch the track pad as well as the touch bar, and instead of bringing back function keys make the whole thing smaller. Function keys were another new fangled gimmick that never caught on. Also, what’s with this 80x86 thing. It’s high time the old 8088 or even Z80 got back its rightful place as king of the desktop. We don’t need no stinking innovation, especially from companies like Apple that refuse to innovate.

I’m a long time Apple user, heck I’m even typing this on a 6 month old MacBook.

I was super impressed with the level of innovation shown by the two new Microsoft computers. The surface desktop looks fantastic.

I was very very disappointed with apple’s lack of innovation. They still refuse to add a touch screen to their computers, but have now added a small touch screen to the keyboard. wtf apple? it wouldn’t be that bad of an idea if they did it in addition to the keyboard, but they removed an entire row of keys to do so. they also only added it to 2 of the three new macbook pros, and haven’t added it to their desktop keyboards, the mackbooks, or the macbook airs, so the coverage is horrible from a developers perspective, you can’t depend on it being there for any significant percentage of their user base.

a touch screen on the screen makes sense, you are working on the screen and already looking at it and can choose to touch it or not. a digitizer in the screen makes sense, you can design directly on screen. apple has neither of these standard features. a touch screen as a keyboard has no tactile feedback meaning you have to look away from the screen to a small screen at an odd angle to use it. nevermind all the macbook pro users who dock their laptops when at a desk and use an external keyboard or mouse.

watching them hunt and peck on the new touch bar during their keynote was both painful and laughable. look you can spend a minute finding a single emoji…lol.


can we resurrect steve jobs now? sighs


:clap: exactly, they are a mess right now! you have to carry adapters and dongles, what is this, the 1990s?

As a owner of a new MacBook, i can confirm that carrying a dongle is just stupid.


People actually want those? I actually actively avoid laptops with touch screens. If I wanted to touch the screen, I’d use an iPad. This is leaving aside the ergonomics of laptops with touch screens or greasy fingerprints that you have to stare through to read text.


i assume that it is the fastest growing laptop segment for a reason.
pro tip: you don’t have to touch it if you don’t want to…

Having touch, a digitizer, handwriting recognition, etc. is pretty par for the course these days. Do you own a smart phone? you likely already have your grubby mitts all over your most used computer screen if you do. :stuck_out_tongue_winking_eye: can you still read the text? i’m guessing you can.

having the ability opens a ton of possibilities for designers, note taking, etc. and again, using it is always optional. no reason to hobble an entire line of computers to suit the preferences of a few when you can have both. why not have both?

these have already been addressed.
touch screen laptops typically can flip and work as tablets.

apple added a touch screen to 2 of their computers, it is just really narrow and small and in the worst possible place, while the main screen remains dumb. kicker is, using that one isn’t optional if you need things like the escape key, etc.

modern screens are quite resistant to fingerprints.