Five things wrong with the new MacBook Pro

Apple's coveted new notebook rocks a super-thin redesign and an eye-opening Retina display. But here are some warnings before you pull the trigger

By Jun 14, 2012 1:44PM
Apple's (AAPL) new MacBook Pro is inspiring a noisy chorus of superlatives: Apple's Phil Schiller called it the "most beautiful MacBook Pro" ever made. Sam Biddle at Gizmodo one-upped that with "[it's] the most amazing laptop we've ever seen." And over at Slate, Farhad Manjoo says it's "the greatest, and perhaps final, version of the personal computer."

With a host of new features like a super-lean chassis, dazzling innards, and a startlingly crisp Retina display, the new MacBook Pro sparkles brightly enough to give even curmudgeonly anti-Apple folks gadget-lust. But the groundbreaking laptop does have its share of downsides. 

Here, five things you should know before you hit your local Apple Store (and endure a four-week waiting period for the in-demand machine).

1. It's difficult to repair
The editors of do-it-yourself website iFixit tested the new MacBook Pro for "repairability" and gave it the lowest score possible: 1 out of 10. A teardown revealed proprietary screws nearly exclusive to Apple, liberal use of glue, and expensive parts that will be vexing to replace — especially the costly new Retina display. "The new MacBook Pro is virtually non-upgradeable," Kyle Wiens, CEO of iFixit, tells Computerworld. It's the first MacBook Pro that won't be unable to adapt to future advances in memory and storage technology. "This is, to date, the least-repairable laptop we've taken apart."

2. It's expensive
A $2,199 price tag for the entry-level model is more than "the typical American mortgage," says CNET. (Tack on hundreds for taxes and a basic AppleCare package.) And for most people, it's just not a very "practical" investment, says Chris Maxcer at TechNewsWorld. Apple design guru Jony Ive has gone to painstaking lengths to create what truly is a "work of art." But I decided not to buy it since I'm not a professional filmmaker or video editor. The beautiful new MacBook Pro "appeals to your heart, not your head." 

3. Websites and apps aren't yet optimized for its Retina display
It's "more or less a certainty that laptops all over are about to make a strong push for high-resolution displays," says Ross Miller at The Verge. The more HD screens that hit on the market, "the more websites and applications... will be optimized for [them]." But right now that isn't the case. If you decide to purchase the new MacBook Pro, "you'll be waiting on the world to change."

4. Laptops may become obsolete
Apple is schizophrenic, says Farhad Manjoo at Slate. On one hand it's trying to kill the PC with the iPad, but it also keeps "extending the life of the personal computer with notebooks like the Air." It's as if Henry Ford released the Model-T, but "was also working on a way to breed faster, less smelly horses." There will eventually be a convergence as MacBooks pick up more of the iPad's features. "In three years' time, what will be the difference between a $499 iPad and a $999 MacBook?"

5. Cheaper Retina displays may be coming soon
For now the new MacBook is "the best all-around" notebook that Apple makes, says CNET. But "it feels like a rest stop on the road to... a not-too-distant future when all laptops are paper-thin and feather light." Don't be shocked when Retina displays filter down to less expensive laptops — like the $999 MacBook Air — sometime soon. And that might be worth holding out for.

Tags: AAPL
Jun 14, 2012 2:44PM
While I appreciate the view of looking at the bad parts of this new Macbook Pro, it seems that #4 and #5 don't fit the list at all.

It should most certainly not be viewed as something wrong with a device when they are the first to implement something like the Retina Display. Of course it will cost more. Of course other products will mimic it down the line. Of course its value will drop allowing it to be placed in lower end models. But being first on the block is NOT a bad thing. 

Specifically on #4, three years time is a long time in tech, and you'd be half done with your projected Macbook lifespan at that point. Especially regarding the Pro lineup of Macbooks, there will be a need for something like this for creatives out there for a long time to come. It will be quite a while before there is a viable professional touch interface to an iPad. Creatives deal at a pixelated level for detail, not at the level of a fingertip.

Regardless, the first 3 points are very valid and worth noting to those rushing out to try to find one of these new machines. It's a scary world when a Pro computer can't be easily upgraded to continually meet the changing needs of the creative world.
Jun 14, 2012 6:36PM
I think 3 and 4 are really not relevant. Apple has never said PCs will go away, it has only said that post-PC devices will be used by more people eventually, for certain tasks. As for number 3, I think sharper text, getting full sized photos on screen with far more detail and having more space to work all over-ride the issue of websites not being optimized for hi-rez displays.

More and more web content is becoming resolution independent (my iPad 3rd generation is higer resolution than my laptop) so it's less and less of an issue.

As for cheaper displays, well that's always going to be the case and always has been where Macs are concerned.

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