John Gruber, on Daring Fireball:
The high-end 13-inch MacBook Pro is the professional model. Faster and more modern processors, double the ports, up to 32 GB of RAM (and the RAM is faster too). The low-end models are something else altogether. They’re not bad MacBooks by any sense — but I genuinely wonder who they’re for.
I bought a Touch Bar MacBook Pro in 2016 and returned it, because of its poor battery life and because I couldn’t accept the Touch Bar. I promptly ordered the MacBook Pro Escape in January 2017. Turns out I didn’t really need the extra horsepower of the more expensive models and preferred the additional hour of battery life.
But why did I go for it?
- It was cheaper and I was glad I could save some money.
- I had a mid 2014 MacBook Pro before this one. I upgraded it for the display, which supports the Display P3 colour gamut. This makes it on par with my iPhone and iPad, making it easier to colour-correct photos.
- I had a 2013 11” MacBook Air before I upgraded to the 2015 Pro. I upgraded because I needed a bigger screen, but I was completely satisfied with the performance of the Air and its 15W CPUs. The same category which is now in the low-end MacBook Pros.
I would have upgraded my late 2016 MacBook Pro to one of these new low-end models, despite them using 8th gen. Intel chips, if it didn’t have the cursed Touch Bar. It does have a physical Esc key now, so I might still change my mind, but the new MacBook Air is out of the question — the screen is sRGB. If it had a P3 screen, I would strongly consider the Core i5 model.
In addition, the entry-level $1,299 13-inch MacBook Pro has been updated with the latest 8th-generation quad-core processors, making it two times more powerful than before. It also now features Touch Bar and Touch ID, a True Tone Retina display and the Apple T2 Security Chip […]
The Touch Bar is just bad design. Not only does it not provide any feedback whatsoever, I cannot use the keyboard without actually taking my hands off of it to look at what I want to touch (I use it primarily on my knees).
If Apple hadn’t added the Touch Bar to the non-Touch Bar model and just upgraded the CPU, I would be ordering one right now — the new CPUs are exactly what I have been waiting for. Unfortunately, they did, so that probably means no more Macs for me, at least until they get rid of the Touch Bar. And no, the Air is not sufficient for my needs — it lacks Display P3 and a proper processor.
Clarified that I’m all for making the Touch Bar optional. I would actually consider paying a small premium not to have it.
Rob Griffiths, on Robservatory:
To sum it up, the extra $300 on the Touch Bar machine gets you:
- An OLED display strip embedded above the keyboard
- A CPU that’s one generation newer—with faster clock speeds and twice the cores
- Faster graphics
- A True Tone display
- Two additional Thunderbolt 3 ports
- Bluetooth 5.0—faster, longer range, lower power draw
- Touch ID
All that for $300—from the same company that charges $600 for a 32GB iMac RAM upgrade that you can buy for under $200. There’s no doubt which machine you’d order—and which machine Apple wants you to order—if you were in the market and didn’t mind the Touch Bar: The non-Touch Bar Mac is clearly inferior to the Touch Bar version.
I have refused to upgrade my MacBook Pro (without TouchBar) to a newer model, and will continue to do so, until Apple decides to (1) make the Touch Bar optional or (2) bring the model without the Touch Bar up-to-date. I will not pay absurd prices for old tech — Apple is insulting its users by even offering that config. I don’t consider the MacBook Air to be a replacement either — it has a 7W CPU while the old Airs had 15W parts (as does the non-Touch Bar MBP). And yes, I tried to live with the Touch Bar. It did not end well — I ended up returning two models.
Apple prides itself on customer loyalty but they’re extremely close to losing me. When the time comes for me to upgrade, if they don’t offer what I need, I’ll just go with another brand.
David Heinemeier Hansson, on Signal v. Noise:
Apple keep insisting that only a “small number of customers have problems” with the MacBook keyboards. That’s bollocks. This is a huge issue, it’s getting worse not better, and Apple is missing the forest for the trees.
The fact is that many people simply do not contact Apple when their MacBook keyboards fail. They just live with an S key that stutters or a spacebar that intermittently gives double. Or they just start using an external keyboard. Apple never sees these cases, so it never counts in their statistics.
So here’s some anecdata for Apple. I sampled the people at Basecamp. Out of the 47 people using MacBooks at the company, a staggering 30% are dealing with keyboard issues right now!! And that’s just the people dealing with current keyboard issues. If you include all the people who used to have issues, but went through a repair or replacement process, the number would be even higher.
Macs, like many other computers, have always had their share of problems. These past few years feel particularly bad though, so here’s my quick take on the current state of the Mac lineup.
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After a week of unexpected Overcast work on vacation, I have as much of a love-hate relationship with my 2018 13″ MBP as ever. I’m so glad I have it. I’m so glad it’s as fast and capable as it is. Still HATE the keyboard. Still make tons of errors due to the spacing and layout.
It’s not the butterfly switches, though they’re still unpleasant, ungraceful, unreliable, and a huge unforced error.
It’s the damn layout. There’s not enough space between the keys. There’s not enough curvature on the keycaps. There’s no inverted-T arrow keys. It’s a bad design.
I know this is beating a dead horse, but time doesn’t solve bad designs.
It was a bad design in 2015, it was a horrible decision to make it the only choice in 2016, and it continues to be a horrendous keyboard in 2018.
I’ll move on when Apple does.
I loved the keyboards on the 2008 MacBook Pros and I was surprised when I found that the ones on my 2013 MacBook Air and 2014 MacBook Pro are even better. I have to agree that the most recent iteration is worse and my biggest complaint is the layout of the arrow keys. I have been typing on this keyboard for over two years now and I still make mistakes when trying to press the arrows without looking at them. Turns out that the empty space above the left and right arrows was really important.
Dieter Bohn, writing for The Verge:
That fan is a weird place to start when talking about the new $1,199 MacBook Air. I’d rather jump into all the many good things there are to talk about: the pixel density on the new display, smaller bezels, Touch ID, the T2 security chip, a larger trackpad, and a smaller design. I’ll get into all that. But I want to hang with this fan noise for another minute because its whirring encapsulates the most important thing to know about this MacBook Air.
Namely: it’s a computer that will let you do whatever you want, even though some of those things are probably beyond its capabilities. It won’t say “no” when you want to open 20 tabs and eight apps and then edit a photo. (Though, sometimes, with a fan and spinning beachball, it will say “uncle.”) Most of all, it’s a computer that is familiar. It does everything you expect in a way that you’re used to.
Sometimes, that’s enough.
I’m still waiting for a 15 W TDP quad-core MacBook, be it a MacBook Air or refreshed MacBook Pro Escape. There’s currently a hole in the line-up and it feels that it’s there so as not to cannibalize MacBook Pro sales — the Air has a 7 W CPU, the Pros have 28 W parts, and the 2017 Escape has dual-core 15 W processors. Where are the quad-core 15 W TDP Intel Core i5s and Core i7s?
And no, no Touch Bar for me, thanks.
Intel today announced additions to the 8th Gen Intel Core processor family: The U-series (formerly code-named Whiskey Lake) and Y-series (formerly code-named Amber Lake) are optimized for connectivity in thin, light laptops and 2 in 1s for the first time, while also providing ultimate mobile performance and long battery life.
Intel showed these parts, which are newer versions of what the 12-inch MacBook uses — this should suggest an update soon:
- m3-8100Y | 1.1 GHz | 3.4 GHz Turbo Boost | 2 cores
- i5-8200Y | 1.3 GHz | 3.9 GHz Turbo Boost | 2 cores
- i7-8500Y | 1.5 GHz | 4.2 GHz Turbo Boost | 2 cores
There are also two possible candidates for the rumoured upcoming MacBook Air if it continues to use 15-watt CPUs:
- i7-8565U | 1.8 GHz | 4.6 GHz Turbo Boost | 4 cores
- i5-8265U | 1.6 GHz | 3.9 GHz Turbo Boost | 4 cores
The MacBook Pros with Touch Bar use 28-watt CPUs and they were updated in July 2018. The MacBook Pro Escape (the model without the Touch Bar) wasn’t — it uses 15-watt CPUs. The i5 and i7 listed above could easily make it into the Escape if Apple chooses to upgrade them.
If the MacBook Pro Escape gets an update, then I think the rumoured Retina MacBook Air will not get Thunderbolt ports at all, to differentiate it further (and keep the price down). If the Escape is left to die off (Apple really should stop this practice and just remove a model from sale as soon as possible), then there’s a chance that the new Air will get Thunderbolt, but my gut feeling says Apple is going to want to keep the price down and not include it either way. The 12-inch MacBook has not filled the gap left by the 13-inch MacBook Air and they’ll have a hard time keeping the 899-999 USD price-point with all these new fancy technologies. While the ”Air” moniker is well known, logically Apple should just release it as a 13-inch MacBook, but that would be troublesome if it were to be cheaper than the 12-inch model.
All the speculation on this subject just go to show how far Apple has strayed from the simplicity of their line-up.
We might be getting that speed bump update (along with USB-C ports), but I would be very surprised if we get a major update with retina displays. I still think the future is just MacBooks and MacBook Pros.
I held the same view as John for quite a while. The MacBook Airs seem to be going the way of the 2012 non-Retina MacBook Pro. But this does create a hole in Apple’s lineup. The MacBooks have the slowest CPUs, which don’t need fans, while the MacBook Pros are getting the faster mobile units. The series of Intel chips used in the Airs would be missing if they were dropped.
What Apple could do:
- leave the 12″ MacBook as is — fanless and ultraportable,
- create new Retina MacBook Airs in 13″ and 15″ sizes, with dual-core fan-needing CPUs of the ULV variety,
- switch both the 13″ and 15″ MacBook Pros over to quad-core CPUs — the 13-inch models have been using the more powerful dual-core Intels exclusively.
While I don’t for a moment imagine this will happen, it would create an extremely versatile lineup of MacBooks, which should fill everyone’s needs, while bringing the ‘Pro’ back to the 13″ MacBook Pro, and making the Airs an extremely versatile machine for people who don’t necessarily need the horsepower, but want nice, big screens.
Apple Inc. is developing new features for the iPad to cater to professional users, along with new Mac laptops and desktops, according to people familiar with the matter.
Upcoming software upgrades for the iPad include wider operating-system support for Apple’s stylus accessory, while hardware performance improvements are also in development, according to the people. The refreshed Mac hardware line includes new versions of the iMac desktop, MacBook Air laptop, and a 5K standalone monitor in collaboration with LG Electronics Inc., in addition to a thinner MacBook Pro laptop.
The one thing that surprised me is that mention of a new MacBook Air. I thought they were basically dead, especially now that there’s a MacBook in the lineup, with a much better screen.
The new MacBook Air is said to take on a slimmer design and arrive in 13-inch and 15-inch sizes, but it is unclear whether an 11-inch model will also be included. The slimmer design will be enabled by “fully redesigned” internal components across the board, and Apple is reportedly currently working with its suppliers to develop these new components.
I full expected the Retina 12″ MacBook to drop in price in the future, replacing the Airs completely, and the MacBook Pros to be redesigned with thinner and lighter cases. If Apple chooses to refresh the Air lineup with a 15″ model in addition to the 13″ one, I would assume they’d both get Retina screens. The differentiation would have to happen predominantly at CPU level. The current 15″ rMBPs are all i7 quads, which leaves room for dual-core i5 and i7 CPUs. I’m assuming that the rumoured 13″ Air would get the ULV CPUs, which are placed between the Core M from the 12″ MacBook and i5/i7 dual-core in the current rMBP 13″, in terms of processing power.
While this wouldn’t simplify their MacBook line-up, it would separate the consumer models from the MacBook Pros. Also, perhaps an updated 13″ rMBP would get quad-core i5 and i7 CPUs, further distancing itself from the Air.
Apple introduced Retina screens in the MacBook Pro a few years ago and I never took the plunge. I had no need for a 13” laptop at the time and bought a 11” MacBook Air a year later. What convinced me was its small size and long battery life, and I needed a mobile typewriter and access to Lightroom when traveling, to be able to offload my memory cards and perform a preliminary selection of the shots I took—this would later turn out to save me hours of work.
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