As I'm in the unusual (and uncomfortable) position of buying a new computer, I watched the entire Apple presentation yesterday. First time I've ever watched an Apple Event, although of course I've been aware of them. First I need to say in passing that I find corporate events culturally bizarre. It's positively weird to watch corporate types recite scripted bonhomie while acting fake-casual, and the ever-present fealty to the Almighty Corporate Interest plays like a thick layer of gooey treacle over a thin steely core of ruthlessness. But I'll move on.
My first impressions: I liked the idea of the Touch Bar much more than I thought I would. There's a whole category these days of "things that look like gimmicks but actually (surprisingly) aren't," and it's possible the Touch Bar will fit into that category. I was enthused when they got to the Photoshop part of the Touch Bar presentation—it's true that you have to know Photoshop in the first place in order for the Touch Bar to make it quicker and handier to use, and I'm not sure I qualify, but it sure looks like the Touch Bar might indeed actually be a smart implementation of touchscreen technology in a laptop. I sure don't want to have to touch the screen of a laptop all the time, that's for sure. And when the Touch Bar migrates to desktop keyboards it will make even more sense. I'm not attracted to the idea of the Microsoft Surface Studio's whole-screen touchscreen at all.
So the big new feature looks good.
...So now on to the bad, and let me first firmly put the reins on my scorn so that it doesn't wither and blast the landscape in all directions.
The new MacBook Pros don't have SD card slots.
Really. Apple's addlepated, brain-dead, counter-productive insistence on design nicety and the tiresome modernist spare-and-clean design aesthetic above user convenience, usability, and plain old functionality has been a consistent if intermittent failing of the brand over many years. I thought it would die with Steve, because I thought it was his self-indulgent idiosyncratic peccadillo. But no. This is possibly the worst instance yet—Jobs' indulgent idiosyncratic peccadillo raised to the level of corporate policy. (I'm getting exercised, so whoa boy.) But one big reason I've liked my last two large-screen iMacs, and definitely a big part of the appeal of my MacBook Air laptop, is that they all have built-in SD card slots—it's been especially convenient not to have to carry card readers when I travel like in the bad old days. And one big reason I haven't replaced my mid-2010 27" iMac is because they relocated the SD card slot to the back, which is exactly where you don't want it to be, and I know myself well enough to know that I would be annoyed anew every single time I had to stand up and crane my neck over the monitor to see the back of the machine just to insert or remove a card. Just like I'm annoyed every single time I have to swap a USB cable on my iMac because Apple thinks it's cool somehow to not give you enough USB ports (you're supposed to buy a Mac Pro if you want enough ports).
Well, I guess I don't have to worry about any of that any more.
Moreover, Apple's stupid design-first mantra is actually back-asswards anyway, because the cleaner the machine, the more your desk, not to mention your luggage, is cluttered with dongles and peripherals and other shit. I can see this working OK for a desktop unit, though, where you can use the USB-C/Thunderbolt port to connect to something that's actually useful for connectivity like a dock, even though that completely defeats the purpose of the alleged simplicity they're going for. But really, when you're on the road, traveling, the last thing you want to do is to have to carry along and keep track of a bunch of different connector cables and dongles. And what if you encounter a situation while traveling that you don't happen to be carrying the proper dongle for? That's another reasons why laptops should have maximal connectivity and why maximal connectivity is good.
I'm not an expert on computers, but as a photographer I see this as a major fail on Apple's part. You might disagree, so go ahead, tell me about that.
Sorry, haven't been very good with those reins. Don't worry, I'll calm down eventually.
Anyway, I'm leaning towards getting one of the just-discontinued MacBook Pros, because they have the features I actually need and use in the situations in which I need a laptop, whereas the new ones don't and would just, yes, continually annoy and irritate me anew every single damn time I travel with my expensive laptop and a camera, which is, by the way Apple, how I travel.
Sheesh to the nth. Apple! Annoyed photoblogger out.
Original contents copyright 2016 by Michael C. Johnston and/or the bylined author. All Rights Reserved. Links in this post may be to our affiliates; sales through affiliate links may benefit this site.
(To see all the comments, click on the "Comments" link below.)
Featured Comments from:
Jeff (partial comment): "Blueberries good; Apples bad...."
Dave Kosiur: "Lloyd Chambers agrees with you (and many other commenters), although he is ordering the 15-inch MBP."
Mike replies: I see Lloyd was even more acerbic than I was.
Alan Barnard: "The main reason I would upgrade to a new MacBook Pro is the inclusion of the four Thunderbolt 3 ports. These ports offer many advantages to photographers, including wicked fast data transfer for large RAW and 4K video files, the ability to drive multiple 4K/5K external monitors, and fast charging. Additionally, they are backward-compatible to almost every existing standard. All one needs to do is buy a few new cables; no need for dongles. What's not to love? More info here."
D: "Funny, I just came across this tweet about how Apple's fastest growing product category is adapter dongles."
John Kauk: "I suspect that the average Apple customer's camera is the iPhone, so there's no need for a card slot for the vast majority of them. Since my primary camera uses CF cards, carrying a card reader (or two since the 1DX added CFast) is habit now, so I'm not too worked up about the change. I'm geeky enough to be interested in how the Touch Bar will improve the user experience, and my son needs a newer computer, so I ordered the new MBP and the required adapters. Onward and upward! ;-) "
Kostas: "The irony is that if you go and buy a new MacBook Pro and an iPhone now, you cannot connect them (you need to buy an extra cable or adapter), but you can connect the iPhone to a Microsoft Surface."
Kent (partial comment): "Mike said 'shit'...this must be serious."
Richard Howe (partial comment): "Dysfunctional elegance is just another form of ornamentation—and much more annoying than the traditional kind. Somebody should get that message across to Apple."