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  • Ben Szymanski
  • Software Developer
  • East Haddam, CT
  • Bio

Shifting the Argument

I need to talk about this: The best laptop ever made

The argument needing to be made is not that the 2015 MacBook Pro was some kind of pinnacle of a laptop - I was in 2015, and it wasn't. The 2015 MacBook Pro was just a speedbump, and a ho-hum one at that.

Today, in 2017, people are raising complaints online about the new touchbar MacBook Pros. Typical complaints are usually about the reliability of the keyboard, the usefulness of the touchbar strip, the battery life and offering only USB-C ports. And, you can't do a damn thing to upgrade any of the hardware in this machine after you purchase it.

In 2012, people complained online endlessly about the loss of an optical drive and ethernet port (among a few other ports) that the new retina MacBook Pros introduced. Internal hardward was a lot less easier to repair than the previous Unibody family. RAM was soldered directly to the logic board, and the solid state drive was a PCI stick. The new MacBook Pros were clearly less flexible and less capable in certain ways than the older unibody MacBook Pros.

But before that, with any redesign of Apple's laptop lineup, none of these were ever talking points because every laptop redesign retained most, if not all, of its predecessor's functionality. This is true from the 2009 Unibody redesign, to the first Intel-based MacBook Pros, to the aluminum PowerBook G4's to the titanium PowerBook G4's, to the black-rubber PowerBook G3's. The trend in Mac laptops since 2012 is troubling (if you actually give a damn), not only for Mac users, but now even Wintel vendors have started to copy this line of thinking.

The argument needing to be made, in a most dire and desperate way right now, is that we are slowly being herded into closed, physically sealed systems and proprietary software and services. In the last few years, other vendors (not just Apple) have made their products and "ecosystems" both more open and more sealed-off at the same time.

Yes, it probably is better for Apple to manage every aspect of the computer for the vast majority. But this is a trade-off. Control is always complicated and messy.