back to article Why I just bought a MacBook Air instead of the new Pro

For the past few weeks, this tech reporter has been tussling with a complex issue: which new laptop to buy. Just a month ago, this seemed like an exciting proposition: not only was Apple going to update its MacBook Pro line (at last), but Microsoft had gone all Apple on us and come out with some genuinely innovative products. …

jelabarre59
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Wheel

Apple are getting closer and closer to the Macbook Wheel...

http://www.theonion.com/video/apple-introduces-revolutionary-new-laptop-with-no--14299

William 3
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"All White Execs"

This hatred of white people is simply racism.

It has to stop, seriously.

Uncle Slacky
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Mushroom

Re: "All White Execs"

Ah diddums - were you triggered? Do you need a safe space?

Anonymous Coward
Anonymous Coward

Re: "All White Execs"

"This hatred of white people is simply racism.

It has to stop, seriously."

In the scheme of things "All White Execs" (I speak as one) get it easy, bigger battles to be won out there. You're not hard done by, really, genuinely, you're not.

Updraft102
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Re: "All White Execs"

The people that get triggered and need safe spaces are the ones making comments like "all white execs."

Doctor Syntax
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Re: "All White Execs"

"Do you need a safe space?"

A civilised society is one where it doesn't matter what colour the execs are. Although if the board member is turning green and hasn't moved from one meeting to the next maybe it's time they retired.

rsole

The MacBook Pro has moved on from what it was.

I am a little confused by this article. It is complaining about the lack of upgrade options with the latest MacBook Pro models but using the Surface Pro as a comparison which is just about as hard to upgrade.

I would also like to point out that the mid 2012 MacBook Pro is also quite capable of being upgraded.

Although I can see much benefit in making a computer upgradeable there comes a point where it is just not needed. In the past the main drivers were CPU and graphics upgrades but these have essentially stabilised with only small incremental improvements. Disc drives have reached a state where it is reasonable to store most long term data in the cloud or on external drives and for most users the RAM is really not an issue. In addition the need for a replaceable battery is much less than years ago when you can get 10 hours instead of 2.

So we are left with a minority of users that need the fastest possible and this is not really an area where portability is essential.

I have been one of those users that would upgrade everything that it was possible to upgrade but I have been finding this less important with the current models. Also, it is not essential to use an Apple product for all my computer needs and I can actually achieve quite a bit with just a Raspberry Pi. In the end I have to make a decision about what I am getting for my money and I still find that for most of my work a MacBook Pro is ideal.

Marshalltown

"In addition the need for a replaceable battery is much less than years ago ..."

Really? Consider how non-replaceable batteries recently affected Samsung. Think back to the trouble they have repeatedly caused other makers in the past - including Apple. Non-replaceablle batteries consumerize the electronics and maximize cash flow. Battery bad - you need a whole new phone/lap/tablet. Had stuff stored on there? Sorry, it's gone. You should have come in and bought a new one when you first saw signs or trouble. They don't benefit anyone but the maker - unless of course they are designed so they catch fire.

Richard 12
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Re: The MacBook Pro has moved on from what it was.

If you expect to use the laptop on battery more than say 20% of the time, and hope to use it for more than two years, you will need to replace the battery.

It does not take long for the capacity to drop below 70%, turning your "all day" into a "half day".

A bit later it'll be 50% and getting quite annoying, and within a few months it'll only be a UPS long enough to find a wall socket.

On my laptop, I phone Dell and a new battery appears on my desk the next day.

On a modern Apple, you back it up, take it in, they take it away. A week later you go in to pick it up - and hope that it's actually the same machine with your data on it.

If you're a business then you also needed to secure-erase everything as you had sensitive data on there, and take a week holiday because you couldn't do any work.

Rainer

Re: "In addition the need for a replaceable battery is much less than years ago ..."

> Really? Consider how non-replaceable batteries recently affected Samsung.

They'd have had to have the phones replaced anyway.

Also, Samsung did suffer because they don't have "Stores" the way Apple has, where you can actually talk to a human being.

Samsung has "repair centers" and resellers that are mainly doing just that: re-selling. The "repair centers" are 3rd-parties that have no connection to Samsung other than a contract.

sjb2016reg

FanBoi

I used to be a fanboi. Indeed, have been a Mac user since my dad bought a used Mac 512K back in 1986. In the early 2000s I bought stock at less than $20 a share and I have done very nicely from that, however, I can't take this anymore!

I write this on a 2012 Lenovo Thinkpad T430 that I bought on eBay for less than £250 and still has on-site warranty until January next year (already used it once). I still have a Macbook Late 2007, but it's dying so needed a replacement and there was no way I was buying any Macbook from later than 2012 as I like having the option to upgrade RAM, HD and replace the battery. None of which is possible now, and I wasn't going to pay north of £400 for a used 2012 Macbook. I still prefer the MacOS or whatever they're calling it now, but if I really need to use a recent version of OSX, I fire up my Hackintosh desktop.

It's such a shame. All my family use Macs because I said I wouldn't offer tech support if they bought a Windows PC, but I can't make that recommendation due to a shocking lack of value for money and the inability to fix anything yourself; leaving aside the fact that the tech is old, which for all of our use cases, isn't a huge issue, just the icing on the sh!tcake.

Scoobydoobry

Re: FanBoi

I too think Apple need to get rid of the "you need to return it to the Apple store for a diagnostic" which involves a trip to - drop off, return trip and collect. Also the need to create an advanced appointment is a bit of a joke. I couldn't get one for at least 10 days for a recently troubled MacBook. So the crApple device was useless for over 2 weeks. This left our company having to buy another one to use in the meantime as well as the associated software etc.

I don't suppose with the newer fully integrated devices this is going to improve. Don't get me wrong, I'm not jumping on the Microsoft bandwagon (they too have similar devices) but a bit of upgradability would be nice.

Doctor Syntax
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Re: FanBoi

"a bit of upgradability would be nice."

You're not even talking about upgradability just basic serviceablilty. Imagine the car analogy: how long to fix a puncture?

Yet Another Anonymous coward
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Re: FanBoi

We used to buy macbooks for salesdroids because of the service.

If it breaks down in just about any major city in the world go into the Apple store, get them to fix/replace it and connect back to our sharepoint site and you are working again in an hour.

Now it takes longer to get a macbook fixed than it does for us to get a replacement Lenovo delivered to them and with Windows10 we don't need an IT guy to spend a day configuring it.

Anonymous Coward
Anonymous Coward

It's not about the hardware - purely about working on macOS. No way would I ever go back to Windows

Pompous Git
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At this point...

...it dawned on me that Apple may have completely lost its mind.
You never read Infinite Loop: How the World's Most Insanely Great Computer Company Went Insane published 16 years ago then.

Pompous Git
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an Apple Genius told me...

...how much the company would charge for a new keyboard that it became apparent it was time to retire this old workhorse.
At least they are available! An Apple "Genius" told me that a replacement optical drive and keyboard were not available for a 5 year-old Macbook. It was obsolete. Works fine with a Logitech USB keyboard and there's a USB optical drive on the shelf if needed.

razorfishsl
Bronze badge

You should see one of these things in a business presentation.....

Absolutely fucking ridiculous......

Once you get all the shit attached for external storage, monitor, power, network.

hmmm should I carry an HDMI attachment or a VGA attachment and then i need the dongle to allow multiple connections..... and god forbid if I should want to use it with an external KB & mouse.

Updraft102
Silver badge

ExtremeTech had it as "Apple is officially a dongle company that sells computers and phones."

Steve Todd
Stop

When was the last time

That a business presentation needed 10 or more hours of power, more than 1TB of data and a hard wired network connection? Worst case you need a video cable, and maybe a VGA adapter in the unlikely event your client is really behind the times.

Jim-234

In the PC world you can still make things better if you don't need bling

If you want to use Apple OSes then you are kind of stuck and you are being forced down the path of never being able to upgrade which seems to be the name of the game these days.

If you are able to go to the PC side and use Linux or Microsoft, then you can still have fun, for example in a workstation get a Dell Precision 7710, 7510 or 5510 (or pretty much anybody else who uses the same Foxconn chassis), and proceed to pull it apart and rebuild it with the memory & drives you want.

64 GB memory if you want to.. 2x 2TB NVMe SSDs + 2TB SATA SSD, or 1+1 etc, Xeon or i7 CPUs etc.

It's getting harder to find upgradable systems, but if you skip the really flashy ultra cool looking stuff, you can have nice power houses that will last a long time and not get swiped as quickly.

Turk

Tools not toys...

I also just refreshed my old and trusty laptop and went through a similar analysis.

After much fussing (do I get a Mac and run Windows in a VM, Surface Pro, or another Lenovo...) and gasping at what things cost, I ended up getting another Lenovo but this time the sleek X1 Carbon totally kitted out with a 5 year accidental damage protection warranty.

So C$3500 later I have a new thin and dependable notebook, docking station and it basically does the same thing as my 3 year old T440s that my wife now uses. Some may say that I could have purchased a new sexy MacBook Pro for that cost but then there's the added cost of new software or VM bits and that's the point of my reply...

This is a business tool and I use it to make money much as a carpenter has a tool belt and tools. I don't want a top row of softkeys to select different emojis (btw - Lenovo tried this a few years ago on the X1 and swiftly got rid of it a year later), I want a dependable notebook that I can use and abuse and if anything goes wrong an onsite technician is there the next day fixing it.

For the cost of a Starbucks drink with a few adjectives each workday I have this and it gives me more pleasure and utility than an over priced coffee.

psychonaut

Re: Tools not toys...

X1 carbons are superb. You can pick up a second hand 8gb 256gb ssd one for about 400 quid. They aren't upgradeable though but they do run win 7 very nicely indeed

Blotto

interesting

its interesting that those with older portable Macs are looking for something that'll last as long as their current machines and deciding that the current crop just don't cut the mustard.

Given the length of time for this upgrade and the choice of cpu & gpu it seems that Apple struggled equipping this machine too.

i wouldn't be too surprised if apple jump ship to their own ARM chips in the near future in order to get the complete package they seem to be aiming at. Small form factor, stunning design & performance, 2 out of 3 is a compromise apple are currently struggling with.

Can anyone state the price of a competing system to the £1949 13" and £2699 15" Macbook pro's with similar cpu's and ssd speed?

David Shaw
Flame

Re: interesting

Well, for a £700 saving there's this on UK refurb today: Refurbished 15.4-inch (May2015) MacBook Pro 2.2GHz quad-core Intel i7 with Retina display_£1,609.00 16GB_RAM/256GB_SSD

you'd have to crayon in the emojis on the Function Keys tho'

A tale of caution tho' if people are *really* after 'raw power' faster CPU etc, well - ever since I melted my Early2011 MBP mobo doing maths, I cautiously bought an IBM server with a very large number of Xeon cores & 100GB of RAM, then progressed to crates with multiple K series GPUs , (lots of 1080s on order now) to do the math without melting! (and I can remote access it easily through multi factor auth)

I think buying an MBA , whether today's /uk/shop/product/FMGG2B/A/refurbished-133-inch-macbook-air-16ghz-dual-core-intel-core-i5 (March 2015 model)@£929 or one of the new ones is probably the best path. . .

2+2=5
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Happy

Dongles

That dongles 'interview', again, just in case you haven't seen it yet.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OMKURBg0pyo

cd

Send it to me and I'll put a keyboard in. Get one off a scrapper that works or find a leftover OEM, iFixit or whomever. I bet you could do it. I have a China-copy ebay trackpad in mine that works better than the Apple original.

FWIW, a 2011 iMac and it will still run 10.6 although it came with 10.7. Easy to do a HD swap or add and extra as well, and lots of room for RAM.

Cook is their Ballmer figure, product guy who surfs on momentum until the numbers turn. Next will come Apple's SatNad if they catch on in time.

ShelLuser
Windows

Lock in = less freedom

I think there's one thing we all really need to understand: companies need revenue to survive, and in order to create that revenue some will take this to extremes in order to make that happen. And that usually goes at the expense of your freedom. The less options you have the more depending you'll become on the supplier and that means... A good chance that the supplier created its own returning customer.

Updraft102
Silver badge

Are you sure it's hardware?

Are you sure the glitches the 2009 Macbook has are really hardware-related? I haven't used a Mac since the SE/30 back in college, but with my PCs, I'd definitely nail down the problem as hardware before even thinking about buying new (unless I was using it as an excuse to justify something shiny and new, of course). While I am not one of the Windows guys who believes that reinstalling Windows is a normal and expected part of maintenance (I haven't done a maintenance reinstall of Windows since 95), installing a fresh copy on a spare HD and seeing if I can reproduce the crash/glitch/whatever is always a possibility. Is that sort of thing possible with OSX/MacOS?

I have a 2008 Core 2 Duo laptop (Asus) that is still running strong, and while I have had a few glitches (namely Nvidia drivers that are supposed to be for my Tesla GPU, but cause bluescreens with any version later than 258, which is dated July 2010), it's rock stable now with Windows 7 x64 and Mint 18 x64. I know laptops are not thought of as being upgradeable the way desktops are (and they're not), but this little guy was working so well (and the Core 2 Duo platform still good enough for what I need a laptop for) that I was compelled to upgrade it rather than replace it. Something about having a computer that old holding its own in 2016 just speaks to me... perhaps it is my contempt for the "planned obsolescence" economy and the scourge of throwaway items that are too expensive to really be treated as disposable.

My Vista-era laptop, which came with 3GB RAM, now has 8GB (max of 4 specified by Intel and Asus-- complete nonsense; you just need to put in the right type of SoDIMMs), a significant CPU upgrade (2GHz T5750 to 2.60 GHz T7800), an upgraded GPU (GTX 220M on the flipped Asus MXM), a 1TB SSD, and a new Mini PCIE wireless card (the Intel one never did get a stable driver before Intel EOL'd it).

Like the Macbook in question, it had several keys on the keyboard that refused to work, but I got a brand new keyboard for it for $15 US, shipping included, and it works perfectly. That's one thing I have never liked about Macs-- the price of replacement parts (though I am certain that if I'd called Asus for a price, it would also have been far higher). Maybe you can find a new or good used one on eBay that won't cost a small fortune.

It's a shame that Apple seems to be adrift. I've never cared for their products personally, but having competition is important, and with MS determined to destroy the Windows franchise with the unusable Windows 10, this is the first time I'd ever actually recommend a Mac to anyone who wanted a laptop or desktop and just wanted it to work out of the box. I can't recommend Windows anymore in good conscience, and I know that most people would not do like I would and slap an older version of Windows on a new PC (as I did with my Asus laptop the day I bought it-- Vista came off, XP went on, and it would remain so until about a year or so ago).

I keep hearing about how Microsoft is innovating now, but you have to overlook so much bad stuff to even get to the point of appreciating the relatively meager selection of positive things Windows 10 has to offer (in terms of software; there's no way I'd go near any of their locked-down hardware, innovative or not) that I can't see it as a viable option. A lot of the innovation seems to be in Microsoft thinking up new, innovative ways to annoy and alienate their long-time customers. I hope Apple can turn it around and give MS a run for the money.

psychonaut

Keyboard / battery replacement

Just take it to a local it shop. They'll replace keyboard and battery for you. As it's an apple they'll probably charge you extra but you'll get the whole thing done for less than 150 quid and probably the same day

toffer99

For years I was puzzled as to why so many people were suckered into buying a pretty computer costing about twice as much as its plain Jane equivalent. Then Brexit won and Trump got elected and all became clear. People are stupid.

Doctor Syntax
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"Apple Past, when all the hype around product launches was real"

Now there's a statement to reflect on.

allthecoolshortnamesweretaken
Silver badge

Re: "Apple Past, when all the hype around product launches was real"

It looks like they are running out of ideas and are starting to make up shit to compensate.

See also: Far-Speaking.

David Lawton

I think its just a case of the general rule, don't get a 1st Gen Apple product. I do like the look of the new Macbook Pro but, i don't like the massive price increase, i'm not ready for USB C yet, and removing the MacBooks best feature MagSafe is just bonkers.

Hopefully we will see a refresh next year with Kaby Lake, 32GB RAM option and by the maybe USB C might be around a bit more. Plus they might reduce the price a bit.

I'm glad Apple have kept the older Pro and Air around still so you can still get a Mac with USB A.

I don't need a new Macbook as my 2012 Air and 2013 Pro are still working as good as the day i got them, so i can go ages yet before i need to start parting with cash. I just know i don't want a Windows based device again, spent 20 years of my life with that OS before my eyes were opened and i tried OS X. I'm not spending my life babysitting badly made Microsoft OS's anymore.

llaryllama

Back around 2008/2009 MacBook Pros were my default choice when I wanted a reasonably priced, reasonably specced, lightweight machine. There was no other real competition for a 13" laptop.

When I broke my last MBP I saw the non-upgradeable, overpriced, under specced and almost portless machines I would be looking at for an "upgrade" and abandoned Apple altogether.

I got a 13" Asus zenbook for barely over US$1000 with a core i7 processor, 255GB SSD, 16GB RAM. The build quality is as good as a MBP, screen is superb, battery life, keyboard etc. are faultless. Comes with a 3 year global warranty. You could get one with a touchscreen as well if that floats your boat.

Yes, there are other options outside Surface and Apple these days.

Mage
Silver badge

Alternately

Buy a nice Lenovo, look at E460, they offer Win7 Pro.

Download Linux Mint + mate 64 bit to a USB stick, boot and install. It lets you drag space for Windows vs Linux on GUI.

Then you have Linux for all the serious work and Windows 7 for games.

Apple has no commitment to OSX, only to iOS.

dalethorn

The attitude at Apple is far worse than most people are aware of. After they force-downloaded iOS updates to my iPad and iPhone a dozen times, chewing up multiple gigabytes of bandwidth on my DSL, I had the local Apple store people verify that indeed they do that, regardless of any settings I have to block it. So I called support, and got a supervisor who kept telling me 1) We don't do that. and 2) You're wrong, the store is wrong etc. Then she hung up on me.

Apple is the nastiest most fascistic company I've ever dealt with. Well, there is another biggie that's nearly as bad, but they always are agreeable, then they do the bad anyway.

Anonymous Coward
Anonymous Coward

The paragraph in the article that says Apple need to come up with a better laptop and not bother with AppleTV, iPad, or even iPhone highlights the problem .... you used to get your MacBooks from a computer company... you're now hoping to get a laptop from a phone company - they;re look to cross sell laptops to iphone owners and not vice versa

Marcus Fil

Let me..

FTFY:

"they;are looking to cross sell laptops and the essential alternative cables to iphone owners and not vice versa."

I am a long time high end Apple laptop user - best portable UNIX (+VM LInux and Windoze) platform there is. I am also an iPhone user (always a generation behind). Apple will not be selling the new MBP to me unless the next refresh sees a return to sanity. Some, or all, of the following required in order of sheer bloody utility: at least one USB 3.0/A socket, SD socket, magsafe power. A bigger battery and more RAM would also be nice.

Anonymous Coward
Anonymous Coward

Re: Let me..

"Apple laptop ... best portable UNIX ... platform there is"

Really?

I've got a rather nice Asus laptop here. It runs Linux (which is rather like UNIX) rather well. It looks rather nice too. I'll bet it pisses all over your Macintosh (which at least might be waterproof). Oh yes, and I can upgrade the memory and storage. Rather a nice little unit.

Rather happy, am I. Rather suckered, were you?

Rainer

Re: Let me..

> Some, or all, of the following required in order of sheer bloody utility:

> at least one USB 3.0/A socket, SD socket, magsafe power

Next iteration, the whole market will have switched to USB-C. You won't find a decent laptop from any manufacturer with legacy USB.

It's not an Apple-thing, it's an Intel-thing. It comes with their reference-chipsets etc.

Magsafe had to go because of that. But no-one else has it either - so what's the point?

SD-card readers - who has them these days?

The new Apple laptops are a long bet, for a future that is all wireless.

Marcus Fil

Re: Let me..

UNIX - that runs Microsoft Office, Adobe Creative Suite, Mathematica, Maxwell, Modo, Rhino etc. and still has a bash terminal. FYI Linux is not UNIX - looks like it, but it isn't - ask a grown-up to explain the fundamental differences. This is the MacOS advantage that Apple seem to ignore in moving their platforms towards the exclusive use of coffee shop poseurs (I am using a nice term here, but I don't know why).

Apple was never cheap, but a lot of people commenting are talking about Apple laptops 6 or 7 years old and still going strong. Apple, it seems, don't like that - you need to get into a 3 year refresh mentality - except serious users are not going to accept that cycle at Apple prices (or anything close). They are also not going to accept a reduction in utility in exchange for a price hike and a need to to buy a load more bits.

Maybe USB-C is the future, but it is stuff all use if you want to use your laptop in the present (you know connecting to real world things like 3D printers, iPhones, datasticks etc.). Carrying up to 17 adapters about makes you look like the fanboi twat you obviously are; adding an adapter hub is also a) not an answer if you are out and about and not chained to a desk b) adding back all the weight saving, and then some, that Apple kindly introduced when you did not ask for it. The Macbook 'lite' platform was the bloody Air for those poor souls who could not lift more than a laptop and a skinny latte; the Pro is supposed to be the workhouse platform - the clue was in the name. The 2016 MBP is a cluster fuck and Apple has been called on it - does it listen or does it drive itself to the mortuary?

Anonymous Coward
Anonymous Coward

Re: Let me..

That there bash terminal you speak of, is that a GUI-enabled bash shell, or a terminal emulator application that provides a standard IO interface that may be used to provide access to a bash shell. Perhaps you might want to ask a grown-up about the fundamental differences.

Anonymous Coward
Anonymous Coward

I just switched from a Lenovo to a Macbook Pro before the new ones came out (work is paying). Would not have done so if I had seen the lack of a decent replacement path in the future. Plus Sierra is unstable - it has hard-crashed 3 times in 2 weeks.

Disappointed - I had a couple of Macs back when OS X came out and was very happy. Apple's quality control and attention to detail is broken.

Anonymous Coward
Anonymous Coward

Refreshing to see a real world user and some real world comments. XP was stable after a couple of service packs, slow nowadays, because of no multi threading and we have to take Microsofts word that it would never have touchscreen, VR and the rest of todays / tomorrows tech. That leaves win 10 for the Microsoft future, designing your business plans around win 7 is ridiculous. For Apple your business plans are definitely maybe in the future, the no diy upgrade is not good for home / small business use ( not sure how upgradeable surface's are though). Only issue is waiting for better tech, if so neither Microsoft nor Apple will be cheap so better save up whilst waiting. At least with MS there are other hardware companies around.

Pompous Git
Silver badge

XP was stable after a couple of service packs, slow nowadays, because of no multi threading
No multithreading? Really? Win95 and NT4 both supported multithreading... It was MacOS prior to X that persisted with co-operative multitasking.

Disk0
Happy

Funny how everybody has their own reasons, and they rarely carry over to the next person.

I still have a PowerBook G3 with a cpu socket, two removable drive/battery bays, a card slot, and a dozen ports. I maxed it out right away, because that's almost always worth it.

That meant two batteries, a ZIP drive, a DVD drive, and an external harddisk, Total playtime about 5 hours. By the time I needed to upgrade any of it, the combined cost versus the gains did not compare to replacing it. It would not be able to take a G4 or G5 processor, faster memory or newer storage - simply because the slots and ports for these were not around when the laptop was built.

A new laptop will almost invariable have 2 - 3x performance, a better screen, longer battery life, less bulk. faster ports, you name it - but that even with all the upgrade options that one could possibly desire or imagine, none of these will extend the practical life of your laptop beyond those magical 7 years.

NB you can buy a complete (used) top panel for your old MacBook Pro for about 50 currency units, replacing it is very possible.

gfx

2011 macbook pro's are update-able Put 8GB RAM, a SSD, a new keyboard, a new battery and a new SATA cable in one over the years.

Got a Surface Pro 4 but it's also glued together like the new macs. Hope it will last.

The Onymous Coward

I agree with the author's sentiment.

2011 MacBook Air user here. SSD failed a few months ago - replaced it with a 960GB SSD. Other than that, it has been flawless. The battery may be next on the list as it currently only lasts about three hours. I hook it up to a Thunderbolt display for Photoshop, the odd bit of GoPro editing and Garageband. I for the top CPU at the time, a 1.8GHz i7, so the only thing that holds it back is the lowly 4GB RAM.

I would love a speed bump and a retina display on both the laptop and external display, but Apple simply don't offer it, so when the machine dies, I'll have no choice but to go elsewhere for a replacement.

Speaka2Bica

I have been there

Your article is kind of like a deja vu for me. I have been through this in the late 80's and again in the late 2000's. It is such a pain in the neck. I have to say, your assessments are spot on.

Best of luck to you as you go through the transition period!

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