Alan Marsden

@AlanMarsden

A Foolish Attraction to the 2015 MacBook Pro?

Proof I’m Only Slightly Mad

decisions, decisions

My next buying spree might be body protection as worn by American footballers or ice hockey players.

The only way I can go home without wearing protection is to avoid the Apple Store because if I buy more from Apple, I’m a goner. My wife is a compassionate person, but like my credit card, she has a limit.

My weakness for Apple is not because of an aluminium addiction. I could buy cheaper bathroom products for that. I love writing and am always on the search for gadgets and apps that help make it easier to practice my art.

With a collection including an iPhone 7 plus, Apple Watch 2, iPad Air and iMac, what more do I need other than to kill procrastination and write?

I know, a MacBook Pro, the ultimate writing machine.

Don’t real writers use MacBook Pros?

The Limits of iOS

You can use the iPhone to write but the virtual keyboard is limited and unless you’re a teenager, whose second language is SMS Text, then the iPhone is better left for editing drafts.

The 9.7 inch iPad is a worthy writing machine but to avoid hardened fingertips from glass tapping, I paired it with the Belkin QODE bluetooth keyboard. That got me near to a laptop experience, and that’s a problem. I felt inadequate, an aspiring laptop user, not a real one. The keyboard was too small and forced spelling errors.

iOS devices can handle workflows but for image processing or access to full web services (not the mobile equivalents) you need desktop software.

The iMac is superb but confines you to one place.

If you want to work on the move, even if it’s only different rooms at home, and access to desktop packages, you need a laptop.

But wait. There’s the iPad Pro 12.9 inch — that’s a laptop killer isn’t it?

If you consider accessories (the ‘must-have’ Apple pencil and keyboard case) you’re verging on the cost of a premium laptop.

Long term typing on glass won’t appeal, so you’ll need the iPad Pro’s keyboard case. The texture of the Apple keyboard is questionable. I found it like typing on an ultra-thin keyboard wrapped in a pair of grey pantyhose.

After a bottle of wine I convinced myself a MacBook Pro is the way to go.

Which MacBook?

You can’t assume technology improves every year. As a cautious buyer, before I parted with a significant sum of cash (I mean credit) for a new MacBook, I researched.

The web was awash with disappointment about 2016 MacBook Pros (MBPs), from programmers and developers with heavy duty needs and who know more than me.

On-line reviews critcised the processors used (Skylake instead of Kaby Lake) placing Apple behind the competition in terms of speed and ability.

For more opinion, check out Owen Williamspost on MacBook confusion.

The 2015 MBP is the most expensive writing device money can buy, and desperate to find justification, I convinced myself it’s not much more expensive than the giant iPad Pro.

The 2016 MBP is light. You’ll not notice the weight between a 2016 model and the iPad Pro once you add a keyboard case. The physical attributes are impressive.

The new touch bar, a subject of derision amongst professional users, offers iOS functionality and is fun to use. Having washed my finger before entering the Apple Store, I spent time stroking the bar. But it’s not worth an extra £250.

The touch bar is customisable meaning you can ignore complaints about the lost Escape button.

For someone looking for a second home computer a price tag of £1750 is ridiculous. You might also say that for a £1250 laptop, but please, I feel bad enough already.

The MBP without a touch bar is one alternative, but that’s like buying a car without spending money on options. You’ll see your new dashboard and find blank plastic squares instead of the options you were too stingy to buy. Every time you look at your new £1500 MBP you’ll see the old function buttons instead of the touch bar you could have had.

MacBook Pro 2015 v 2016

With decent specs and cheaper by £250 to £500, the 2015 model won me over.

Screen — Unlike the Air, 2015 MBP has an HD screen with beautifully rendered colours. The 2016 model has a wider colour gamut but you’ll only notice if two models are side by side.

Keyboard — Full size keys make typing comfortable for long periods. The 2016 model boasts individually LED lit keys, and the updated butterfly mechanism but these don’t compensate for a lack of comfort.

Portability — Users prefer the new MacBook or MacBook Pro 2016 because they’re lighter and more portable. I found a 10-year-old MacBook in our church hall (in the UK ministers of religion are poor) and I could lift it with one hand. NB: All models are portable.

Apple Logo — On the 2015 the logo lights up — err what can I say?

MagSafe Charger — I didn’t understand why the MagSafe’s removal in 2016 was lamented by so many but I do now. There’s security with an insecure charging port.

Ports — I’ve seen ugly adapters for sale since HDMI, USB2, headphone and other ports were removed. The only benefactors are the third party accessory manufacturers.

Build Quality — No short cuts are evident because the 2015 model is on the way out. New and older models are equal in build.

Touch Pad — The pad uses 3D touch / haptics i.e. no mechanical movement, and it gives iOS-type functionality. You can swipe, pinch and double tab without greasing up your screen. Add a magic mouse and you’ll never miss a touch screen.

Did Apple dumb down the MBP for people like me?

Perhaps, but I’m not dumb. Would you judge me dumb if I paid as much for an iPad and a velvet keyboard?

The 2015 MacBook Pro is a high quality laptop and costs hundreds of $ / £ less than the latest models.

There’s the new ultra slim MacBook. Its weight is beyond belief (0.92 kg) and should have been enough for my needs in terms of ability and processing power. But it’s too light and too expensive.

When I spend £1200, I want something to feel substantial. As with the 2016 MBP, the new MacBook keyboard is shallow. For the same money the 2015 MBP offers more power and a child can still lift it.

When buying tech, you need to resist the inner monster that insists on owning the latest model. New models come and go. Not long ago the 2015 model was the latest. Now, the 2016 model is so last year.

In summer 2017 Apple fans will hope for a truly pro version of the MacBook. For me, 2015 was a good year.

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