What About the New MacBook Pro?

The new MacBook Pro. Yes, there’s a lot of new things about it. New colour. New keyboard design. New trackpad. New ports. And a new Touch Bar too (which is its most hyped feature).


The question is: Is it worth buying?

New MacBook Pro with Touch Bar

My quick answer: it isn’t. The cheapest model with the Touch Bar is $1800; without the Touch Bar, it’s $1500. It’s becomes a bigger waste of money when you consider three things.


1. No SD card slot

SD card with camera

This is a big letdown for photo and video professionals everywhere. The fastest and most convenient way of transferring photos and videos from a camera to a computer is still by popping in the SD card. Sure, there are more and more cameras having built-in WiFi, but pixel resolutions are also getting bigger and bigger. Thus, file sizes are also getting more and more gigantic. Transmitting via WiFi is still much slower than directly transferring from the SD card itself. And that’s especially true when you have hours worth of 4K footage or hundreds of 20-megapixel photos.

I’d understand if Apple removed the DVD drive from the Retina MacBook Pro, because less and less people use DVDs these days. It is only logical. But what does Apple accomplish by taking away the SD card slot?

Are they expecting SD cards to become obsolete in a hurry? Not a chance. SD cards are still standard-issue storage devices for cameras and other recording devices, and it will continue to be so for years and years to come. There’s even a 1-terabyte SD card from SanDisk that was announced just a few months ago. That’s four times the storage of a new $1500 MacBook Pro.

Clearly, SD cards are here to stay for a long time. Apple just drove people many people away with that move.


2. Nothing is upgradeable anymore

Upgrade stairs

With the old, pre-Retina MacBook Pros, you could at least replace the hard drive and memory. Running out of space? Just install a bigger hard drive. Mac getting slow? Then you could add some more RAM. Convenient.

But with the new MacBook Pro, you can do neither of these. The RAM and hard drive are both soldered into the motherboard, making them impossible to replace without some serious tinkering. This is the sort of tinkering that I would not recommend to those who aren’t that skilled in the field of hardware. Even I would be afraid to do such a thing.

So essentially, for almost all users, it’s impossible to do those upgrades now. In the following years when your new MacBook Pro slows down or doesn’t perform as well as you need it to, your only recourse is to buy a new one.

What a shame.


3. You WILL need to buy a lot of dongles

USB dongles

For all those things that you need to connect to the new MacBook Pro, but now can’t, there’s still a solution: Dongles. But you’ll need a lot of them. Not all dongles are created equally; some may have more ports, and others may have less. Some dongles are just for connecting to a projector, some are just for SD cards, and so on. And dongles can be expensive, so these will be on top of that $1800.

Not only that; this collection of dongles will also clog your bag. And if you’re not very careful, you could easily lose them. Dongles are not really foolproof solutions to the lack of ports, but they are the only ones available. You’ll have to live with that.


The Touch Bar does seem nice though!

But that’s about it. It just seems nice, but as to how useful it is, it may not be as good as it looks. One thing it does is give you easier access to commonly-used items in software like Final Cut Pro or Adobe Premiere. But that’s exactly the reason keyboard shortcuts exist. Many creative professionals and enthusiasts already know their most-used keyboard shortcuts like the backs of their hands. Why would they need a touch bar?


optimus maximus keyboard like the Touch Bar
(Photo from Engadget)

This Touch Bar just reminds me of the Optimus Maximus keyboard. With the towering price tag of $1600, this keyboard is as nearly as expensive as the new MacBook Pro with Touch Bar. The premise is that each key has a tiny LCD, allowing it to change into an icon appropriate to the program that’s currently running. So if it were StarCraft, the keys would change into the game’s controls. Similarly, with Photoshop, the keys would change to Photoshop controls. Convenient, it would seem, but absolutely unnecessary. Not to mention grossly overpriced for just a keyboard.


“But I want a MacBook Pro”

Don’t worry. If you really want a MacBook Pro, I suggest going for the Retina models. At least they still have SD card slots, USB ports that are not Type-C, and Thunderbolt ports. And for roughly the same price, you get the same specs as the new MacBook Pro; only with the SD card slot and the normal USB ports. That’s a better deal, don’t you think?

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