I paid $3,000 for my MacBook Pro and got emotional whiplash

Yes, I know, I’ve already reviewed Apple’s new laptop line, the MacBook Pro.

But that was when they first came out. When I had a review unit supplied by Apple (AAPL). Before I spent $3,000 on my own, suped-up, top-of-the-line 13-inch MacBook Pro.

I know: That’s an obscene amount of money. But this is my main machine, my livelihood. If you add up the hours, I spend more time with my laptop than I do with my bed, car, or home. I figured it would be worth the splurge.

As it turns out, that’s a big Yes and a big No.

Life with this thing has been a roller coaster: one emotional whiplash after another. “Cool!” “Oh, NO!” “Cool!” “Oh, NO!”

Looking good on paper

Four things attracted me to this new laptop. First, you can get it with a 1-terabyte “hard drive” (actually a giant flash drive). I’m a big photos-and-videos guy. I’ve spent the last five years struggling against the storage limitations of MacBook Airs. I’m ready.

Second, the size. This thing is at least an inch smaller than the MacBook Air all the way around. Apple shaved away most of the margin around the screen. I’ve wrestled with my laptop on an airplane tray for the last time.

Third, the screen. I’m finally ready for Retina resolution on my main machine—and having enough brightness to light up a runway doesn’t hurt, either.

Fourth, being able to log in with a touch, thanks to the fingerprint reader. (You can read about the Touch Bar here. It’s super handy to be able to adjust the volume or brightness with one quick swipe, and navigating a video is super quick—but otherwise, I don’t use it much.)

I knew I was also getting far better speakers; a much bigger trackpad; the Touch Bar above the keyboard; and four USB-C jacks instead of the usual USB, video, and power jacks. I didn’t think any of those things would affect me.

At the time.

Up: The power thing

I know everybody bellyaches about the loss of the standard jacks. But USB-C is awesome, man. You can’t plug this cable upside-down. There’s no right end or wrong end. A single cable carries audio, video, power, and data.

The whole industry is going to USB-C—phones, tablets, laptops, desktops—so get used to it.

Right off the bat, I love that you can plug the MacBook Pro’s power cord into either side, since any of its four USB-C jacks can accommodate it. Useful more often than you’d think.

 

Yeah, it’s sad that we’ve lost Apple’s MagSafe magnetic power-cord connector. But the fact that we don’t have to buy Apple’s power cords anymore easily makes up for it.

For example, I like to have a spare charger next to my bed, and another one in my laptop bag for travel. But I don’t like paying $70 or $80 to Apple for spare cords.

Now, I don’t have to. Any old USB-C charging cord will work. You can get power from the wall, from your car’s cigarette jack, from one of those backup batteries, or even from another USB-C laptop! Like mouth-to-mouth resuscitation for laptops.

I bought a $27 Dell charger and a Udoli one for $35. The Dell one lights up to show that it’s getting power, which the new Apple cord doesn’t. The Udoli one has a regular USB jack on the side for charging your phone or Fitbit (FIT), which the Apple cord also doesn’t.

Now, in theory, any USB-C device can charge from any USB-C charger; the voltage and whatnot is adjusted automatically. You can even charge the MacBook Pro from a phone charger. It’ll take forever, but it’ll charge.

My cheapo Dell charger supplies 27 watts; the Udoli offes 45 watts. Neither, in other words, charges as fast as the Apple charger (61 watts). And the Dell charger does a weird thing when the laptop is closed: It chimes every couple of minutes, as though the power is being unplugged and replugged.

I don’t care. I got away with price murder on these spare chargers, and they’re smaller and handier than Apple’s.

Oh! And I also bought, for $15, a charger that plugs into my car cigarette lighter. It juices up the laptop great (I’m frequently the passenger on long drives to the airport), and has an extra USB jack for charging something else.

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