Surviving the New MacBook Pro
I got the new MacBook Pro (13″, fully maxed-out version) several months ago. My older MacBook Pro was (and is!) in good working order, but when I hired my brother last year he ended up using my ancient MacBook Air. Every time he’d do basic work the computer sounded like it was gearing up to blast off to the moon.
So we continued our life-long tradition of Ian getting my hand-me-downs. I upgraded to the new MacBook Pro and he got my old MacBook Pro.
Here’s my thoughts on the new MacBook Pro after using it for a few months:
- TouchID is great, especially when combined with 1Password. It’s cool logging into sites and stuff using my fingerprint. Feels futuristic.
- The screen is nice and crisp.
- The thickness is nice. I miss the old MacBook Air bevel, and the harsh edge of the MacBook Pro always hurt my wrist. Because it’s thinner I don’t notice the harsh edge as much.
- I like the trackpad size. It gives me a lot of room to maneuver.
- I don’t mind the new keyboard. It’s louder, but writing feels good on it.
- The Touchbar is atrocious. It hasn’t provided any real value for me, and it’s extremely glitchy. Behold a regular occurrence:
This Touch Bar has been nothing but a pain in the ass for me. It’s just one more thing to blow up in my face. pic.twitter.com/Kf3FdTeE8I
— Brad Frost ?? (@brad_frost) January 27, 2017
- The ports are annoying. Managing a bunch of dongles isn’t necessarily the pain here, although I’d prefer to do without all that. More annoying is that when I travel with my wife, we often would charge our phones off the same computer in an airport or hotel room. That’s now harder to do (I could get more dongles to deal with that I suppose). My desk setup leads to port confusion, as I charge my USB-C phone next to my computer. Because both the male and female ends are the same, I’ll accidentally plug my USB hub into my phone and wake up to a dead phone instead.
- The battery life is really bad. They say “Up to 10 hours of battery life” but I don’t think I’ve ever gotten anywhere near half that.
- So so so many bugs. This is the glitchiest computer I’ve ever owned. I don’t know if it’s hardware related, software related, or some combination of the two. As I’m writing this, my audio won’t work. “Internal speakers” doesn’t show up at all as an available Output Device option. Fun! Last night when visiting my family I tried to play my mom an MP4 video from vacation. QuickTime wouldn’t play it. I downloaded VLC and it played just fine. I attended a workshop, and my computer simply wouldn’t start up (!). It just sat there with a black screen and showed no sign of life (they did away with the MagSafe power cord that has a little power charging indicator). Thankfully and bizarrely, after 15 minutes it decided to power on all on its own, without me even touching it. I’ve had other smaller bouts of this as well. The log-in screen experience feels super buggy, and it will often log me in only to redirect me to the login screen again. This occurs multiple times before it finally lets me in.
- Lack of MagSafe Cable – One of the things they did away with is the MagSafe charging port, which prevented my bulldog from ripping my $3000 machine off the coffee table. I got one of these, which works pretty well, but it it’s not as strong (meaning it comes apart easily) and it doesn’t have a charging indicator. I’ve already been burned a few times where I thought my computer was charging and it wasn’t. The computer lets out a pathetic little whimper of a sound effect when you plug in to power with the lid shut, but that doesn’t even feel consistent.
What to do
I honestly don’t know. I’ve watched friends like Dave Rupert and Scott Jenson document their Windows journeys, and while they seem to be mostly happy, it’s not without significant time and effort. Other friends who have dipped their toes into the Windows waters came away less impressed. I like to think that I could give it a shot, but in reality I have far too little time and bandwidth to mess around with all that.
I just want a computer that boots up reliably, plays audio and video, allows me to work for more than a couple hours before dying, and has a keyboard that doesn’t freak out on me.