So with Apple’s last keynote they announced a new MacBook and indeed a new kind of laptop altogether. Despite the press insisting otherwise, it does have two ports, a USB-C and a headphone jack, not just the USB-C. And like any other time Apple drops a new thing, the tech media proceeded to lose their minds over said thing for the next week.
After watching this circus in my Feedly for said week, I’ve decided to put up some thoughts here on why the tech blogs are crap and the clickbait articles are getting old, and how I’m smarter than all of them in my own head. Let’s go!
1. This is the future of laptops.
This statement I agree with wholeheartedly, Apple has tapped into what I think is the logical conclusion for the needs of the average user; long battery, extreme portability, not necessarily a ton of horsepower but enough to get shit done. This is amped up by the fact that their advertised battery life includes web use and even streaming, which is one of the things that destroys most batteries. This is clearly a machine designed to spend more of it’s time off the charger than on it.
The techies point to the single port with disdain. “How do I hook up my displays?” “Where does the keyboard go?” “Why can’t I charge it and my iPhone at the same time?” These people are missing the entire damn point. This doesn’t charge your phone; it charges next to your phone. It’s designed from the ground up to be used off it’s charger, and probably out of the house too.
2. This is NOT a Development/Graphics Designer/Gamer’s powerhouse.
This is patently obvious but so many bloggers still get it wrong: yes, a core M is radically underpowered for many tasks we do daily. No, it is not a good platform to develop applications on or even websites if we’re honest. It’s made for web browsing and media consumption, slamming out a few emails, or getting some work done on that screen play that will never be read by another living soul.
A lot of them point out (correctly) that it has more in common with an iPad than a MacBook. They then follow this with condemnation as if this is a bad thing. I love my iPad, despite the fact that it doesn’t run Photoshop or Xcode. It’s a different device with a different purpose.
3. There is no touch, and by all accounts, no plans to add it.
Again the bloggers cried foul because Apple has yet to introduce touch to OS X. Why? I have no idea, Tim Cook has commented numerous times about this:
“Other people have tried that with desktops, and I think to say it hasn’t caught traction is probably an understatement of the year,” Cook said. “Take the desktop thing. You’re parked further away from your desktop, assuming it has any kind of size at all, and it’s, you know, you should draw your own conclusion, but this kind of reach for me isn’t a terribly intuitive thing.”
Who is echoing Steve Jobs:
“We’ve done tons of user testing on this, and it turns out it doesn’t work, touch surfaces don’t want to be vertical.”
It’s pretty obvious that OS X isn’t getting touch capabilities anytime soon, and frankly I’d rather see Apple hold out and do it well than come out with the ham fisted and awful experience that Windows XP brought with the Tablet edition. Touch capability in Windows still feels awkward and strange, when it isn’t feeling outright hostile to the user in Windows 8. It was so bad, Microsoft is doubling back as fast as they can for Windows 10, offering a completely different experience for the desktop akin to the old one (start menu, windows, windowed Metro apps). Yeah it’s touch enabled, in the same way that you can install your own tires: you can do it, but you probably won’t.
4. This isn’t a desktop replacement, it’s a laptop replacement.
For some reason tech bloggers live in a world where the Desktop is dying a slow death. This world is obviously not the same world as the one I live in, where desktops are on the rise, specifically home-brewed BFC’s with enough power to play Battlefield 3 at 4K, 120 FPS. The desktop in the workplace is dying because employers recognize the need for mobility and cooperation in their employees, and that gets easier when they don’t need to drag around an Inspiron tower.
So this laptop won’t replace your desktop, and again the failure here is that it isn’t supposed to. In fact I see this as a great companion for someone who has an iMac or a Mac Pro and wants a little mobility. You leave this little guy on your desk, and when you head out, grab it and toss it in your backpack.
5. The price isn’t that crazy.
Going back to the iPad comparison: I have a case for my iPad that gives it a bluetooth keyboard I charge about once a month and makes it act as a laptop. It’s awesome. When I need to type out a quick email or just do light web browsing or word processing, that’s what comes out, not my MacBook or even my Alienware. It’s got a tiny 10″ screen and the keyboard is somewhat hard to work, but even with a base 16 GB model, plus the cost of that keyboard you’re already sitting at about a $650 investment. When you consider that the iPad with similar size (biggest is 128 GB, at $699 as I write this) already pushes you to $850 roughly, you’re within spitting distance of the new MacBook, at $1299. The new MacBook then also comes with more storage, OS X instead of iOS which gives you access to a ton more productivity apps and capabilities, with the added benefit of not having to charge your keyboard and roughly the same battery life packed under a larger screen along with a full size comfortable keyboard. That sounds like a win-win-win to me.
So am I buying one?
Not likely. If I had the cash to toss I would probably but I already have two laptops plus an iPad that masquerades as a laptop, and I don’t need another. The fact that I don’t want one doesn’t mean I can’t see the value in it.
This post is less about wanting a MacBook and more that I’m so very, very tired of watching the tech press just completely screw up very simple concepts over and over. Half have called the new MacBook the Desktop Killer, half have called it a useless overpriced toy (which is hilarious when those same sites are showing off the $17,000 Watch) and none of them seem to get what this thing is for.
A note on the keynote: Johnny Ive’s voice could sell water to a drowning man. It’s like ear butter.