Creator's Criticism, or the new MacBook Pros

I haven’t been blogging in a while, but the controversy over the latest MacBook Pro announcement just has me fired up. As a creator of things, I’m frankly appalled at the outrage over the new Macs. When I look at them, I understand and agree with every single one of the decisions I’ve seen Apple make here. I really don’t get why they’re taking so much heat over this.

Personally, I kept hitting refresh on the Apple Store app on my iPad after the keynote, until it was ready to take my order for the biggest and baddest of them. $200 CPU upgrade: Check. $1200 upgrade to 2TB SSD: Check. 4GB graphics: Check. $4,300 plus tax, almost $4,700 including tax.

Would I have liked it to be cheaper? Sure.

Would I have liked it if it had 32GB of RAM instead of 16GB? And would I have paid extra for that? Sure.

Would I have liked an even faster CUP? Sure.

But we live in the real world. In the real world, Intel doesn’t make faster processors, and apparently they can’t handle more than 16GB of RAM without a serious power consumption penalty. Could they offer that to power users anyway? My guess is, yes, but not without serious non-obvious consequences, and possibly challenging changes in other parts of the system.

I for one can’t wait for Apple to eschew Intel entirely and make their own CPUs for Macs, but I’m afraid it might be some ways off. It seems like eventually they’ll have to do it, though, and I’m paying that day comes soon, because clearly it looks like Intel has dropped the ball.

As for the ports, I LOVE that it comes with four absolutely identical ports. My current MacBook Pro has 1 power connector, two USB-A ports, two Thunderbolt 2 ports, an HDMI port, a SD card reader. I very rarely use the Thunderbolt ports. I’ve never used the HDMI port, not even once. I’ve used the SD card reader a handful of times, maybe.

My problem is, when I make music, I need to plug in both an iLok, a eLicenser, and an external SSD hard drive, to have everything. That requires 3 USB-A connections, but my Mac only has two. So with my current Mac, I have to either plug in a USB hub, which I do at my desk. Or I have to juggle the iLok and the eLicenser, which I do when I’m out and about, because it turns out the music software plugins only need the thing plugged in when the plugin loads.

A setup with four identical connectors makes so much more sense to me. Then instead of a 2 + 2 scenario, there’s four. Sure, I need a new cable for my USB hub, and a new cable for my audio interface, and an adapter or two for the licensing dongles, but those are both cheap and easy to find. To my knowledge, there’s no adapter that’ll let me plug an USB-A device into an HDMI port or an SD card reader or a Thunderbolt 2 port. The last one totally might exist, I’ve just never heard of it (or really looked for it).

The new world order where everything’s USB-C, and that connector supports power, USB 2 and 3.1 as well as Thunderbolt 2 and 3, and you can get connectors for everything else … just so much simpler. Stop bitching, everybody! It’s beautiful and clean and simple and easy.

The stories about needing $250-300 worth of dongles are just ridiculous. I bought two tiny USB-C to USB-A adaptors at $11 each. I bought a small USB-A hub with a USB-C connector for when I’m on the road for $18. I also bought a USB-B to USB-C cable for my audio interface for $7, and a USB-B 3.1 to USB-C cable for my current USB hub for $9. I also bought 2 pure USB-C cables, because my 2 TB Samsung portable SSD actually comes with a USB-C connector built-in, for $13 for two cables. A grand total of $69. And I could’ve gotten a way with at least a third less if I wanted.

As for USB-C to lightning, I’ll probably wait till Amazon has their Amazon Basics cables out there. I actually like them better than Apple’s own, and they seem to be more sturdy. Apple’s lightning cables have a tendency to come undone near the lightning connector, and I abhor things like that. I toss them as soon as the outer casing comes undone.

I have a feeling that there’s consideration within Apple of ditching the lightning connector altogether and go with USB-C everywhere. It’s reversible, it’s small, and it’s now universal. I understand there’s a lot of investment into the ecosystem, but it just makes so much sense. When the lightning connector was introduced in September 2012, it would be another 2 years until USB-C was introduced. Apple had to move away from the 30-pin connector, it was just too big and ugly and old. But were they to do it all over again today, it would make so much more sense to go with USB-C. Sure, they have intellectual property rights on the lightning adapter, and that gives them a certain power, but my feeling is the cleanliness and elegance of USB-C everywhere would outweigh that. Okay, I’m talking about things that I know very little about right now, but that’s my hunch.

Bottom line, I’m really excited about getting a new Mac, I’m slightly scared about losing the Esc key because it feels like I’m using it all the time, and I really don’t get the amount of flak that Apple has had to take over the announcement of the most recent upgrade to the MacBook Pro.

Go Apple. I, for one, think you’re still kicking ass. Hope it counts for at least a little.


Christian Ørsted

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