Macbook Pro: The Future of Laptops

Macbook Pro: The Future of Laptops

Author Nikhil Kanamarla

Source: The Verge, The new Macbook Pro without touchbar, unveiled in october in full view

Source: The Verge, The new Macbook Pro without touchbar, unveiled in october in full view

“For 25 years we’ve been defining and redefining what a notebook is and what it can do.” Dramatic pause. “And today, we’re going to do it again,”  said Tim Cook. Recently, in a nostalgic fueled launch event, Apple has released an update to the Macbook Pro line. The last major update Apple made to the Macbook product line was in 2012, with the introduction of the Retina Macbook Pro. The original 15-inch MacBook Pro was announced on January 10, 2006 by Steve Jobs at the Macworld Conference & Expo. I am typing this article on an old Macbook Pro from 2013. This computer was my first computer and an introduction to the Apple ecosystem. The new Macbook Pro represents Apple’s vision of the future, a sleek yet powerful and useful machine. The new Macbook Pro is split into two distinct product lines, the Macbook Pro without touch bar and the Macbook Pro with touchbar.

The first major part of the update to the laptop is the bump in specifications. Both Macbook Pros have a 2.0GHz dual-core Intel Core i5 (without touch bar) or 2.9GHz dual-core Intel Core i5 (with touchbar), 256GB SSD, 8GB of Ram, Intel Iris 540 or 550 graphics.  Many people will raise objections to the seemingly low specs of Apple’s laptops. Apple builds the hardware and software in a process called vertical integration. This process allows them to optimize the hardware and software to work consistently smoothly. Vertical integration means fast software updates, better battery life, and better performance even with slightly slower processors.

Source: The Verge, The Macbook Pro without touchbar side angle view

Source: The Verge, The Macbook Pro without touchbar side angle view

The computers have several upgrades to their core features. Both laptops have a refreshed metallic design that further advances Apple’s industrial design merit. Both laptops have the 2nd generation butterfly keys which have less tractability and travel, but are easy to get used to. Both have crisp stereo speakers with great dynamic range and a headphone jack. The glass trackpad is large and responsive with force touch functionality. Force touch allows a user to press harder on the trackpad and to access a new feature, such as a preview of a website. Force touch also replaces the click function of the trackpad with haptic feedback. The retina display is stunning and comes with a new wider color gamut and smaller bezels. The laptops come with long battery life of around 8 hours on a full Both computers come in silver and space gray colors. The computers are also thinner and lighter than a Macbook Air. The Macbook Pro without touchbar can even replace the Macbook Air.    

Source: The Verge, The Macbook Pro compared to the Macbook Air

Source: The Verge, The Macbook Pro compared to the Macbook Air

The Macbook Air served as a benchmark for thinness, battery life, and industrial design in its category. The new Macbook Pro without touchbar is an heir to the Macbook Air. The computer has the same dimensions as the Macbook Air and brings pro performance and a refresh to it's top-notch industrial design. However, battery life is weaker than the Macbook Air slightly. charge. Both Macbook Pros lose the illustrious mac safe chargers. However, many third party accessories have arisen to created a magnetically connected charger. The computer also has several upgrades in the display, speakers, keyboard, and the trackpad. The Macbook pro without touchbar is the computer most people should buy.

Source: Wired, The MacBook Pro with Touchbar overhead shot

Source: Wired, The MacBook Pro with Touchbar overhead shot

The Macbook Pro with Touchbar is Apple’s response to touch screen PCs. The Touch bar is horizontal, capacitive oled strip that replaces the function row. The Touch Bar allows access to standard features such as brightness, volume and the escape key. The center part of the touchbar allows for custom functionality from apps. This part of the touchbar provides quick access to important settings or features based on the app you are using. In Safari, the touchbar allows you to switch between tabs. In iMessage, the touchbar allows you to pick and send emoji. The versatility and utility of the touchbar is impressive. The touchbar is only supported by Apple apps and some third parties. The fate of the touchbar lies in the will of developers to build functionality for their apps. The touchbar also comes with a Touch ID fingerprint sensor in the right corner. The Touch ID sensor allows for users to sign in and purchase items from the web or app store. The Touch ID sensor will alleviate the friction around using a laptop. The reason Apple has chosen to build the touchbar instead of a touch screen comes down to ergonomics. Interaction with a touch screen takes your hands of the keyboard to touch a wobbly screen. A touchbar will only succeed on the Macbook Pro because of it’s large, smooth and responsive trackpad. Many PCs have terrible trackpads, so a touch screen is a better experience than a trackpad.   

Source: The Verge, The Macbook Pro’s lack of ports highlighted in comparison to the old Macbook Pro

Source: The Verge, The Macbook Pro’s lack of ports highlighted in comparison to the old Macbook Pro

Apple’s closed ecosystem, often called the walled garden has become the Berlin wall. This is represented from the iPhone to the new Macbook Pro. The Macbook Pro with & without touchbar comes with four USB-C/thunderbolt ports or two USB-C/thunderbolt ports. This makes it very difficult for people who wanted to use these ports for an SD card or a USB stick and even charging their phone. This means that most people will have to buy a few dongles with each around $25. However, the lack of ports becomes a serious problem to professionals. Although, many third party accessories have arisen to satisfy this need in a convenient and economical way.  For example the Satechi Hub acts as dongle with multiple ports that attaches to the side of the computer. Overall, there is a new design trend in Silicon Valley. This trend emphasizes form over function, which leads to a focus on the aesthetics of products at the expense of usability. Great design is balancing form and function.

The release of these laptops highlights a trend in Apple’s product’s decisions, where they tend to neglect the professional market. Another example of this trend would be the Mac Pro, which hasn’t been updated for 3 years. The issue of neglecting semi-important markets in favor of key markets has sprung from Apple’s unusual corporate structure. These laptops further fosters confusion in Apple’s computer product line. Apple now has a Macbook, Macbook Air, Macbook Pro with/without touchbar. I would recommend the removal of the Macbook Air in exchange for the 12 inch Macbook. I would recommend a slight price decrease in the Macbook Pro without touchbar and a new name. The Macbook Pro without touchbar would become the Macbook and serve as a middle way between the pro and air lineups. The Macbook Pro with touchbar should remain the same. The Macbook Pro without Touchbar starts at $1500 and the Macbook Pro with touchbar starts at $1800. The laptop market is stagnating because the upgrade cycle of computers has slowed down. Consequently many manufacturers have been raising their prices and Apple has followed suit. Unfortunately, many consumers will suffer because of this price increase and will have to adjust to this landscape. 

Source: The Verge, The Macbook Pro with touchbar's juxtaposition with the present and the future

Source: The Verge, The Macbook Pro with touchbar's juxtaposition with the present and the future

In conclusion, the new Macbook Pros represent the future of laptops. Computers of the future will be  sleek, portable, powerful and expensive. However, the issue of dongles will give consumers pause in their purchasing process. The Macbook Pro is a polarizing computer, a vision of the future struck by the reality of the present. The Macbook has served as the benchmark of what a great computer can be.

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