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2016 MacBook Pro: Pros and Cons Abound

Joe M writes:

What's "cumbersome" is current camera wireless transfer techniques. By contrast an SD card slot in an expensive Pro laptop is "useful".

It is ironic that Jony Ive is often lauded for his clean, Bauhaus-inspired work. A key tenet of Bauhaus design is "form follows function". The 2016 MacBook Pro is the *opposite* -- function is sacrificed at the altar of form.

Such design decisions could be termed mindless minimalism. It is worse than past design fads such as automotive tail fins, which were ornamental but at least did not subtract from function.

MPG: Let’s examine that idea on the merits, that is, how well “form follows function”. I’m going to assume that the “function” is not to look cool while sipping $6 lattés and checking email and watching videos (a MacBook will do just fine for consumption of all those kinds), but for serious professionals looking to create content and get work done, particularly photographers and videographers and so on.

Looked at this way, it’s easy to see why MacBook Pro users are conflicted; there are too many losing propositions competing against the gains. As per a reader:

... Apple will see an overall lift in sales and declare it a success even where it’s failed to capture the larger sales/lift/base it could have.

Good is not great. The 2016 MacBook Pro is good, but it falls short of the gold.

See also 2016 MacBook Pro: What Options I Ordered, and Why.

Aspect Functionality
Size and weight a good bit lighter
battery life slightly longer
SSD up to 2TB internal, blazingly fast class leading performance (!) but soldered on, so buy a new computer if it fails?
I/O performance and connectivity Thunderbolt 3 / USB-C offer a lot of potential.
5K/4K display support very cool for those who want to use it as a desktop
display (!) Mixed blessing: DCI P3 color gamut (claimed), but only 8-bit color!
CPU Presumably marginally faster, but from from compelling.
GPU Presumably faster, but the GPU is fractionally as fast as some PC laptops.
cost Most expensive Apple laptop yet if 2TB SSD is chosen. The function to cost ratio has hardly budged albeit each new MacBook Pro acquires reasonably current technology.
16GB memory limit (!) no change, and it’s supposed to be a pro laptop. For a user looking for one pro level machine, this may force purchase of a 2nd more capable machine for use when not on the road. That said, most users will do fine with 16GB.
keyboard (!!!) faux MacBook style keys; toy keyboard.
SD card reader (!!!) forces user to carry external card reader
total form factor, compatibility (!!!) forces user to carry a bag of dongles
built-in cellular (like an iPad) no change but in late 2016 the lack of built-in cell-phone internet connectivity is lame. Tethering is fine, but internal connectivity has its uses too.

Edward A writes:

This article about the Macbook Pro and Mindless Minimalism reminds me what has happened to the iMac. Obviously the iMac is not meant to be a portable device. But, the older iMacs were relatively easy to upgrade RAM and HDD, and there was space in the case for an optical drive. Now, that has changed. Apple has decided to condense the iMac, as though “thin” is now the new “cool”. I.e. Mindless Minimalism. This is leading to machines that, when they break, have to go straight into a landfill. Reminds me of the planned obsolescence in the auto industry that became rampant in the 1950s. Perhaps Apple should add tail fins and four headlights to the new iMacs.

MPG: thin trumps the ability to easily add or change a hard drive or SSD internally (it is quite a delicate and involved task).

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