June 16, 2012

The New MacBook Pro: Unfixable, Unhackable, Untenable

Kyle Wien, writing for the Wired.com Gadget Lab:

"Every time we buy a locked down product containing a non-replaceable battery with a finite cycle count, we’re voicing our opinion on how long our things should last. But is it an informed decision? When you buy something, how often do you really step back and ask how long it should last? If we want long-lasting products that retain their value, we have to support products that do so.

redux: Every time we buy a locked down product that doesn't permit side-loading non-App Store software, we're voicing our opinion on how varied its usefulness should be. Is it an informed decision? When you buy something, how often do you really step back and ask how varied its usefulness should be?

Funny how Apple hardware purchasing decisions have begun to mirror Apple software options.

Today, we choose. If we choose the Retina display over the existing MacBook Pro, the next generation of Mac laptops will likely be less repairable still. When that happens, we won’t be able to blame Apple. We’ll have to blame ourselves."

The new Retina display MacBook Pro's high price makes the other Apple laptops an easy choice. Unless you're looking for a 15-inch Pro with memory and SSD storage identical to the new Retina display model's (in which case you'd pay $300 more for the non-Retina model), the other Apple laptop models are a happy alternative.

But what if the Retina Pro were only a few hundred dollars more than the base 15-inch Pro? If the price difference wasn't a deterring factor, would you choose the Retina display Pro, with its permanently mounted SDRAM, proprietary SSD and glued-in battery? It's an admittedly difficult choice, because that big, beautiful Retina display is nothing if not eye candy.

I'd choose the non-Retina display Pro. I've done a couple of hacks on my 13-inch Pro, making it exactly the machine I want it to be, and I'll do one more once the price of 256-GB SSDs comes down from orbit. I want that flexibility.

I'm hoping Kyle's foreshadowing doesn't become fact, that Apple doesn't go the route of non-servicibility for future MacBooks. It seems certain they will though, now that we've been headed that way with two new (or new-ish) laptop lines over the past half-decade. Neither the Air, nor the new Retina Pro permit the sort of tinkering I still enjoy in my computing toys. And that's a shame.

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