Wednesday, November 15, 2017 [Tweets] [Favorites]

The Best Laptop Ever Made

Marco Arment (tweet, Hacker News, MacRumors):

Apple has made many great laptops, but the 15-inch Retina MacBook Pro (2012–2015) is the epitome of usefulness, elegance, practicality, and power for an overall package that still hasn’t been (and may never be) surpassed.

[…]

At its introduction, it was criticized only for ditching the optical drive and Ethernet port, but these were defensible, well-timed removals: neither could’ve even come close to physically fitting in the new design, very few MacBook Pro users were still using either on a regular basis, and almost none of us needed to buy external optical drives or Ethernet adapters to fit the new laptop into our lives. In exchange for those removals, we got substantial reductions in thickness and weight, and a huge new battery.

There were no other downsides. Everything else about this machine was an upgrade: thinner, lighter, faster, better battery life, quieter fans, better speakers, better microphones, a second Thunderbolt port, and a convenient new HDMI port.

Two years ago, I called my 2012 MacBook Pro “possibly the best Mac I’ve owned,” and I’m even more sure of that now. I just wish there had been a 17-inch model. I hope it continues to work, not least because I think I’d be less happy with any of the models in the current lineup, despite advances in some areas.

Marco Arment:

Apple still sells them new (MBP, Buy, 15”, scroll down) with all options except dGPU. $2000–$2900.

B&H sells them new for a bit less.

I got mine on eBay, 2.2/512 with low battery cycles and AppleCare through 2019, for $1600.

Heard from people who got them on Swappa as well.

Update (2017-11-16): Friedrich Markgraf:

I completely agree. I have a Touch Bar 15″ from work now, had a 2012 15″ before. It was the best computer I ever had.

Marco Arment:

Tons of great 2015 MBPs in Apple’s refurbished inventory right now, including some with the dGPU if you need it.

Greg Hurrell:

Yep. That’s why I bought a refurbished mid-2015 MacBook Pro in late 2017. Hoping Apple gets their shit together by the time it expires.

Marco Arment:

It’s almost as if port bandwidth isn’t always as important as practicality and ubiquity for real-world utility, a lesson we apparently didn’t learn with FireWire, FireWire 800, Thunderbolt, or Thunderbolt 2.

(But nobody ever made a computer that had only those ports.)

Josh Centers:

It doesn’t matter how great the port bandwidth is if you can’t reliably plug things into them. Some things don’t work correctly even with adapters.

Jason Snell:

I love Apple’s tendency to make bold design decisions, but as the single hardware vendor on the Mac platform, Apple’s designers have a responsibility to create features that don’t leave users with nowhere to turn. Better to make a keyboard that nobody loves (but everyone can use) than something loved by a quarter of users, met with indifference by half, and despised by the remaining quarter.

[…]

When I look at Mac laptop users today, they seem cornered by Apple’s design decisions. I hope that the next generation of MacBook and MacBook Pro models show a little more diversity—designs with their own personalities and strengths and weaknesses. The more diversity in design, the more opportunity Apple has to make bold product-design decisions without cornering its most loyal users.

Update (2017-11-27): Marco Arment (tweet, Hacker News):

If a third-party hub or dongle is flaky, the owner doesn’t blame it — they blame their expensive new Apple computer for needing it.

Apple needs to step up with its own solid offerings to offer more ports for people who need them.

[…]

Re-adding HDMI and at least one USB-A port would reduce or eliminate many people’s dongle needs, which I bet would dramatically improve their satisfaction.

[…]

The Touch Bar should either be discontinued or made optional for all MacBook Pro sizes and configurations.

Michael Love:

This. Also, at least 32GB RAM, and better thermals even at the cost of making it a tad bit bigger; current version gets too hot too fast.

See also: Accidental Tech Podcast.

Update (2017-11-29): Wojtek Pietrusiewicz:

Make the Touch Bar optional, then everyone can order the one they want.

Rob Griffiths (tweet):

The Touch Bar, despite its name, is actually an Eye Bar: It forces your eyes off the screen, down to the Touch Bar, back up to the screen, repeat ad infinitum. There’s nothing physical about interacting with the Touch Bar, aside from using your finger: There are no defined button areas, and there’s no haptic feedback when you tap something. So you absolutely must look at the Touch Bar to interact with it.

Update (2017-11-30): Timothy Buck:

I don’t think Apple will do much of what Marco wants, and here is why.

Zac Cichy:

Timothy does a good job of going through @marcoarment’s grievances with the state of the MacBook and thinking through Apple’s possible justifications.

My issue is this: their possible justifications are not good enough. Particularly on the issue of killing MagSafe.

Apple may have “changed its view” on how it sees charging, but when the reality is that professionals live on their laptops, it’s really hard to swallow the notion that they are just supposed to completely alter the way they use their laptops on Apple’s design whim.

Eric_WVGG:

The lack of just one good USB-C hub on the market is infuriating.

Update (2018-01-26): Tim Bray:

At work, those of us who have “classic” MacBook Pros are hanging on fiercely even when we’re entitled to an upgrade. Don’t want a port-starved flimsy-keyboarded device, however thin & light.

Update (2018-04-04): Stephen Hackett (tweet):

The 2015 MacBook Pro is more flexible, more reliable and costs less than its newer Touch Bar siblings. It’s the one to buy.

Update (2018-04-05): Rebecca Slatkin:

not sayin’ there’s a problem with Apple’s product pipeline but seems a littttttttle bizarre that I’m clinging onto a 5 y/o machine because anything on the market right now is a downgrade

Troy Gaul:

When my sister-in-law was looking for a new laptop recently, I found myself in the unusual (uncomfortable?) position based on her needs/desires of having to recommend that she seek out a 2015 model from B&H Photo rather than a current one at an Apple Store.

Update (2018-04-29): Roustem Karimov:

After trying 5 different machines, I just got a refurbished 13" MacBook Pro 2015 from Apple. OMG, I can’t believe how much I love this laptop.

Luc Vandal:

Got rid of my late 2016 MacBook Pro and now rely on a late 2013 MBP when I need one. Great machine.

Update (2018-07-04): Joe Rossignol:

Just over six years after Apple released the Mid 2012 model 15-inch MacBook Pro with Retina display, which is more than a fair amount of time, Apple has officially classified it as “vintage” or “obsolete” depending on the region.

What this means is that at least five years have passed since the model was last manufactured, meaning that Apple and Apple Authorized Service Providers are no longer obligated to provide hardware service or replacement parts, except in the state of California and Turkey, where required by law.

Update (2018-07-06): Dan Frakes:

My “new” laptop is the 2015 15” MacBook Pro that @marcoarment praised here: https://marco.org/2017/11/14/best-laptop-ever … After using it for a couple weeks, really happy with it, and I paid only $200 more than an entry-level 13” with Touch Bar.

6 Comments

Adrian O'Connor

When I saw Marco's post earlier today I knew I'd end up seeing something here too :)

For what it's worth, I still like the wedge shaped MacBook Air more than any other laptop I've ever owned. I just wish they'd added a retina screen. It's the perfect weight, shape and size for me.

Wonder if we'll get a MBP apology model. The old case and large battery but perhaps with the TouchBar only with a real escape key. (Confession I don't mind the virtual escape key since I'm not a VI or Emacs guy - BBEdit all the way)

@Clark I don’t usually use vi or Emacs, either, but I seem to use the Esc key all the time.

FWIW I think the 12" MacBook is the best Mac (Book) I've ever owned. And I say that as someone who still owns a 2013 15" MBP.

For me size, weight and the wedge shape profile mean more than all the ports in the world. Horses for courses.

Having said that, an additional USB-C port would make the world of difference and avoid (occasionally) juggling power and other devices.

> Wonder if we'll get a MBP apology model. The old case and large battery

Probably not, but while we're discussing things that won't happen, I hope the apology lineup includes a 17" model, and brings back the "cable out the back" magsafe connector.

Oh, and a trackpad with an actual button.

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