It’s not a bad laptop, but for me there should be much better alternatives out there.
So 9days ago I went to the Apple Store and bought a new MacBook Pro w/ Touchbar for €1999. I still have my 2014 MacBook Air, but it is definitely showing it’s age with each update, and the limited CPU horsepower, RAM, SSD capacity, and ports are making my life harder a little bit everyday. Even though I was not a big fan of the MacBook Pro refresh from day one, I don’t really have much choice since I want to stick to macOS if possible, and the MacBook Pro seems to be the most logical replacement for me. And after 9 days, I have decided that I am going to return it next week, but before explaining why, I need to tell you a bit more of how I use my computer.
I am a developer, and writing Android apps is my day job. I also work on several side projects at a time, including writing apps (with Android Studio), designing apps (with Sketch), and sometimes making API (with Node.js on any text editor). And for the last 3 years I have been using my small but surprisingly powerful 11.6" MacBook Air, and I love that machine. I can type on it for hours, it is very light weight and compact, and most importantly I brought it with my student discout and it just feels like a perfect computer for the price as a student. But now when I actually want to and need to work on my other projects (hopefully I can make some money/experiences from it), the laptop start to show its age, especially in the battery department. I can barely get it through a day of conference by turning the brightness all the way down to 1 block for the whole day, which is pretty stupid. That’s the final straw and I decide to get a new computer. Now back to why I am returning the MBP, and the reasons are as follows:
Keyboard is too thin and too noisy
I instantly fall in love with the MacBook Air keybord. It is way better than the flimsy and not-that-ergonomic keyboard from my old 17" Fujitsu NH532. But when I switch to this keyboard, I don’t like it this much, not only because it has the German layout (that definitely does not help). The biggest painpoint is that it is has way too little travel and it gets way too noisy. I would say I am a lazy but hard typer, i.e. I don’t want too much nor too little travel (like all those desktop keyboards) but I always type way too hard (hit the key all the way to the bottom). In the MacBook Pro keyboard, the travel is too little and it makes it harder for my finger to rest on keys or find a character with my finger. I need the gap between keys to figure out which key I am trying to hit. And also I don’t know if it is because of the new switch or just the overall design, the keyboard is loud and annoying! No matter how soft you type the actuation is still very loud, and the moment you start typing faster (for me also harder) it sounds like a freaking horse running on wood floor.
Battery life is not that great
I have been going to a gathering for about a month now, it happens once a week, and a bunch of Android developers just sit down and work on their own stuff, and chat if we want to. It happens to be a pretty useful way for me to test the battery life, since I know my MacBook Air lasts about 3–3.5 hours. For the MacBook Pro, it lasts longer and still have about 30% after around 3.5 hours. Even though this is definitely an improvement, it is not the improvement I want to see, especially considering the MacBook Air’s battery is already pretty old and not as good as it used to be. I know that if I do only basics like use Safari the battery life is actually pretty good, but I don’t want to compromise considering how many better options are available out there.
Ports are extremely limited
As much as I want to push forward the adoption of USB Type-C and Thunderbolt 3, replacing ALL ports is not what I want from a computre. Everyone has at least 1 or 2 USB drives or adapters that would be a hazel to use with adapters, and as an Android dev I don’t want to buy a whole bunch of USB cables. I already have to deal with the transition from micro USB to USB C, and I am tired of it. And don’t even get me started on MagSafe! It is the best charging port and I am super sad to see it goes!
Other minor things that I am just nitpicking
- Replacing functions keys with Touchbar is mostly gimmick. Not enough app are having actually practical use of such small space and keyboard shortcuts FTW!
- Touchpad is too large and the palm rejection did not improve enough (i.e. slightly more accidental touches)
- Force touch is not really useful and it feels like the old force touch is ever so slightly better in terms of giving you a realistic haptic feedback
- Nothing is replaceable and in a few years I will need to get it fix/get a new one (i.e. the current status of my MBA)
- Screen resolution is too low for HiDPI and too high for native resolution. I would rather have 1080p screen or (almost) 4K screen. I know I can just tune in to other resolution buy again, why settle when there are better options out there?
All of the things above, combine with the fact that this thing cost €2000, makes me decided to return it. At this moment I have I brief idea of what computer I will get next, and I will probably read this article again to remind myself what I need to make a right decisions next time. Because you know, not everyone operates like Apple and allows you to return your purchase for no reason whatsoever 😛