I’m writing this post with my Apple MacBook Pro. This is a big deal in Nikkyland.
My first laptop was a trusty 15.4″ Acer acquired right before going to college. It was big, powerful, and was about as portable as a large water yak. It quickly got a permanent side living by my desktop computer screens in the dorm, and was only ported around when I felt it was worth the effort. It was stolen in 2011, and the replacement was a generic HP Ultrabook that I was still (sparsely) using until fairly recently.
These systems almost immediately had their Windows operating systems replaced with Ubuntu Linux, and were my main Linux systems over the past decade. As such, I tended to classify these as better to be productive on because of the Unix-y functionality and better software package management. Windows is for photos and games, you see.
As the Ultrabook turned 5, I started looking for replacements.
Simultaneously, I’ve been running on Apple-based laptops for the past three years at work. First a 15″ super powerful MacBook Pro, and now a 13″ MacBook Pro Retina. Learning how to be productive on the pseudo-Unixy Apple systems was frustratingly annoying as they lack many of the essential tools developers really do need, and instead we have to rely on 3rd party package managers and hacked-up solutions in order to get things done.
Yet after a few years I found myself not exactly hating working on them. Once I realized that it’s basically a system to use a browser and run a code editor on, it didn’t require a lot of maintenance or thinking about. It just worked in its own weird frankenstein way, the hardware was reliable, and it was well constructed.
The announcement of the late-2016 MacBook Pros with the touchbar seemed like a good time to jump ship onto the Apple side of the aisle. A few weeks after their release, I plopped down for the 13″ MacBook Pro with TouchBar. And that hurt a little, even with work paying for half of the system.
A month or so of waiting, it arrived! These models have received a lot of press attention, so here are my impressions after using it for a few weeks.
It’s not hard to regard the touchbar as anything other than a gimmick, and at launch a precious few applications support the touchbar besides Apple-made programs. However, it does show a surprisingly amount of utility once some sort of effort is made to integrate it with daily use.
I went through a lot of thought before eventually landing on the smaller 13″ model. Although I could certainly use the extra power, it’d immediately land where my other larger laptops are: left at home. I don’t miss the larger size at all, especially with my desktop providing most of my computing power.
Much wailing and gnashing of teeth was had over the announcement that this model would only have 4 USB-C ports and 1 3.5mm headphone jack. As an Android user who has a Nexus 6p, this was absolutely wonderful news.
I can charge my phone using a native USB-C cable from my laptop, and I can even use my fairly highly rated USB-C phone chargers to provide ~15W of power into the laptop. It’s not enough to replenish the battery when under heavy load, but it’s a handy trickle charger that can either fill your battery up overnight, or significantly decrease your battery usage.
This means I can use any of the Monoprice Obsidian chargers I already have around the house and work for sustaining my battery without toting around the larger 61W Apple charger, and that’s a real handy thing. With new USB-PD chargers coming on the market, it’s not too far away where you could get a replacement charger that’s just as good as the Apple one, but cheaper, can also charge your phone, and has 4 or so USB ports for charging other devices as well. This is a huge travel win if I can bring less chargers.