The new Apple MacBook I want and the new MacBook I can afford

New Apple MacBook. The Touch Bar is a brilliant idea, but the technology comes at a price.

We have waited for a very long time for an update to the Apple MacBook and now it is here at last. There are some brilliant new models and if my lottery ticket comes up this week I’m definitely getting one.

It really will take a lottery win for some people to be able to afford the new Apple MacBooks because they are very expensive. In fact, you could buy three very good Windows laptops for one MacBook and it makes you think twice before putting in your order for the new machines.

The new MacBooks look great and I think they are among the best laptops available and that includes Windows laptops too. I love many features in the new Macs, but when I look at the specifications and prices, my heart sinks because they cost so much for the spec I need and  they have also abandoned technologies that were useful to myself and many other people.

For example, there is no SD card slot and so you cannot put memory cards in to read digital camera photos or use on to expand the Mac’s memory.

The MagSafe power connector has been removed. This was one of Apple’s best inventions ever and the power plug was magnetically attached to the Mac. If you accidentally pulled the cable, such as when someone tripped over it, it would simply detach from the Mac. Brilliant! But now it is gone. Which kill off such a great idea?

Thunderbolt 3 (USB-C sockets) sockets are the future, but they aren’t compatible with most external devices you have. This includes the iPhone 7. You can’t plug an iPhone 7 into your Mac for backup, update, restore and other tasks.

You can’t even plug in your iPhone 7 earphones without using an adapter because the MacBook has an old-style earphone jack.

You might need extra adapters and cables for your devices like a camera, USB disk drive and so on. USB 2/3 to Thunderbolt 3 (USB-C) adapters are required.

Oddly, not all Thunderbolt 3 are equal. On the 13in MacBook Pro only the left two Thunderbolt 3 ports run at maximum speed, those on the right run at reduced speed. (See Apple Support.)

Touch Bar genius

The Touch Bar on the new MacBooks is pure genius smiley. I have never liked touch screen laptop computers and it just doesn’t work. I have a touch screen Windows laptop and the one thing I never do is touch the screen. It might as well not have one.

The MacBook’s Touch Bar is both brilliant and simple. It looks useful in ways in which a touch screen isn’t and the potential for it is enormous. I can’t wait to see what apps do with this.

Yes it is an amazing feature, but it is not available on the cheapest of the new MacBook Pros. To get the Touch Bar you need to pay a dollar short of $1800 for the 13in model.

Limited storage

It gets worse. The lowest priced MacBook with a Touch Bar only has a 256 GB disk. That is not enough for some people and so the best MacBook is the next model up. Many people will need to specify a 512 GB disk and this adds another $200 to the price making it a shade under $2000.

That's the MacBook I want, but it's not the one I can afford! It has the specifications I need, but the price is beyond my budget. sad

The price of the cheapest 15in model is near enough $2400. And it only comes with a 256 GB disk! I had to look at the calendar and check it was 2016 and not 2006. By the time you have put movies, music, photos and apps on the disk, it will be full.

Many people will need the $2800 MacBook model because it has a 512 GB disk, which is a much more useful size. I could live with that. I would be broke, but it has the right spec.

macOS Sierra lets you store the Desktop and Documents folders on iCloud to free up disk space, but it is a pain working with large online files. You need a very fast and very reliable internet connection or it slows down file access. It's not an ideal solution to the 256 GB disk.

Will you buy one?

There are some great features in the the new MacBook Pros, but there are drawbacks too, like no MagSafe, no SD card, no USB sockets, adapters required, and the high price for a decent specification.

There is still the old 13in MacBook Air. It doesn’t have the latest specifications and technology, but it is cheap (relatively speaking) and was once the thinnest, lightest and most compact laptop in the world. It looks attractive to people on a budget, but Apple focuses on new technology and doesn't support old hardware. (There are half a dozen macOS features that don't work on my 2012 MacBook Pro see Continuity features.)

In Apple's MacBook Pro lineup there is an old-style MacBook Pro with USB sockets, MagSafe power adapter, and SD card slot. It costs $1299 and looks attractive except for the tiny 128 GB disk. That is so small I'm not sure I could cope. I might regret buying it sooner or later. There is no point specifying a bigger disk because it ends up being the same price as the new MacBook Pro, which has better technology and a bigger disk.

For anyone with lots of cash to put down on a new MacBook, there are some great models. For anyone on a budget, things look a bit grim.

I’m learning towards that old-style MacBook Pro and adding a 128 GB SD card to boost the storage. It’s not the latest tech and it doesn’t have Thunderbolt 3 or the Touch Bar, but it is reasonably priced. I'm off to buy another lottery ticket!



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