Monday, March 11, 2019

The State of Mac Hardware in Early 2019

Wojtek Pietrusiewicz:

Macs, like many other computers, have always had their share of problems. These past few years feel particularly bad though, so here’s my quick take on the current state of the Mac lineup.

Maybe things will turn around later this year, with the Mac Pro and rumored new pro notebooks, but right now we’re in quite a dark period for the Mac—both hardware and software.

Lewis Hilsenteger (via Damien Petrilli):

After many years using MacBook variants I’ve made the switch to Windows. I’ve used every version of MacBook Pro and MacBook Air that have been released. My current laptop of choice is the Lenovo Thinkpad X1 Carbon / Lenovo Thinkpad X1 Extreme. Turns out switching from Mac to Windows isn’t as painful as I expected.

See also: Accidental Tech Podcast.


Update (2019-03-12): Colin Cornaby:

I’ve seen from time to time people suggest, that even with a Mac’s decline in quality, it’s not like people are going to switch to Windows. Yet I know people who’ve happily switched over. I worry that if Marzipan leads to another decline in quality there will be more switchers.

The Mac’s main competitor is still Windows. That’s what’s so frustrating about the pro app conversation around Marzipan. Unless the big packages port over from Windows, nothing is going to change. And those guys aren’t upset about AppKit, they’re upset over Metal and Nvidia.

Most pro app vendors already have their own UI libraries (which is already frustrating if you care about the Mac experience.) AppKit vs UIKit isn’t really going to move the needle much for these app vendors in porting over from Windows.


The next MBP refresh feels personally pivotal to me, be it this year or later; even aside from the state of macOS. I’m not buying another first-generation design after the experience with 2016 model. And I won’t be able to convince myself to buy another MBP with a TouchBar.

Nick Fugitt:

I’ve said this repeatedly but Apple has spent 2015-2019 (half the decade) executing and then recovering from horrible decision-making around 2012-14. It’s truly a dark age for the Mac and there’s no guarantee we’re about to be done

John Gordon:

The iMac dust problem hit me. Rare that gets a mention.

16 Comments RSS · Twitter

Recently switched to a Mac Mini 2018 to replace my touchbar 2016 13” MBP, because of keyboard problems, screen problems and the MBP only hsving 16gigs of RAM. Added 32gig of ram to the mini and it flies: no longer swapping all the time due to xcode using 24gb of memory, typing no longer lags behind several seconds and compilng my projects is near 8 tims faster. Not missing the macbook at all. It did help that 99% of the time my laptop was docked to a monitor st home our st the office: I just bring the mini with me now.

Apple’s Mac line up currently is horrible, apart fom the mini: either they have known defects, are expensive to upgrade or even impossible (still no 32gb mbp 13”) to get modern hardware in it. Some stuff really lags behind several generations of hardware. The mini is currently the only thing not suffering from those problems.

Was going to say it's not all bad... we're in the middle of a mini Renaissance... but A best me to it. With the i7, that really is a nice box.

That's such a role reversal! Remember when the Mac mini went years without updates?

As to the subject matter itself, I've already seen this phenomenon play out the other way. For years people wrung their hands and gnashed their teeth at the thought of using anything but Windows computers. Slowly people realized that these are just tools and all of them are pretty dang similar. Now I'm watching the exodus go the other way and it's ridiculous that people should keep buying products that simply don't meet their needs. More people should draw a line in the sand and say enough is enough. Windows to Mac, Mac to Windows, just use what's the best bang for the buck and has all the tools you need.

As I've mentioned many times in comments here and elsewhere online, my own personal switch from Mac OS to Linux has been fulfilling. For those few things that are missing on Linux, I do have a single Windows device to meet those needs. Otherwise, it's Linux for my personal computing needs. I am far more invested in Linux at this point then I was ever in the Mac platform, which is strange to me since I used the Mac far longer.

Yeah! I just can't believe how much the script has flipped! I still think the Mac mini is still a little expensive, but that's quibbling compared to where we were just a short time ago.

I badly hope they return at least some sort of port flexibility. I really need the sd card slot, as do a lot of creatives. Nothing beats that. Dongles can only go so far until they break.

> these are just tools and all of them are pretty dang similar

Bingo. There use to be a big difference in the 80s and 90s, but with OS X and Windows 10 and Linux, we've all kinda ended up in the same place.

> my own personal switch from Mac OS to Linux has been fulfilling

Which distro do you use?

@Lukas I agree that the differences are smaller and fewer than they've ever been. Still, there are some little UX things I miss on a daily basis when using Windows:

- Proxy icons for documents in the title bar (and right-clicking to reveal the document path)

- Dragging a folder to an Open/Save dialog to select that folder

- Quick drag-and-drop without shifting focus from the active window

- No column view or disclosure triangles in Explorer

- No spring-loaded folders when dragging (though this has become increasingly unreliable in macOS lately)

Despite all that, keyboard shortcuts and text editing are the largest sources of friction: Using ⌘← and ⌘→ for navigating text on the Mac is subconscious for me at this point, so I'd have to do some remapping on my keyboard — and my brain — to start using Home and End on Windows.

Mostly Antergos these days. I have it on my laptop, and three family members' laptops as well. They don't miss a beat, they are such simple users really. Web, email, photos, videos, and some music. Arch and Arch based distros like Antergos aren't perfect, but I've only managed to break my computer once in the last few years. :) My family hasn't had much of a problem either (they were fine on Ubuntu MATE as well prior to the switch to Antergos). I still have Ubuntu of all things on my little Intel NUC home server, but servers just need to kind of sit there and work. Stability is fine on LTS Ubuntu and I only use a few services, Calibre, Plex, and Rsync mostly.

> Still, there are some little UX things I miss on a daily basis when using Windows

That's true, but it also goes the other way. There are lots of things I really love in Windows that I miss on my Mac. Better window management, being able to map network drives, uninstalling apps from one central place, the navigation bar where I can mount network drives by just typing their names, and so on. And then there's the constant software quality and performance problems on my Macs, whereas Windows 10 seems to be much more responsive, and less buggy.

> Mostly Antergos these days

Thanks! I've never used Antergos, I'll install it somewhere and give it a test drive. It looks pretty nice!

Indeed, having a central uninstaller is quite nice. I should try mapping network drives again; last year I gave it a go but the mapping process always failed on login, so I just made a shortcut to the network shares on the desktop and left it at that.

I agree that — for me at least — Windows is starting to win the 'perception of reliability' battle. The recurring stream of Finder bugs regarding file copying and folder contents getting out of sync with the reality on disk is really shaking my foundation on that front.

Oh, and to add one more Mac thing I miss: This is mostly aesthetic, but... non-modal sheets for dialogs! Seeing sheets in action in 2002 was one of the 'woah' moments that got me interested in OS X (that and drawers, may they rest in peace). I hope the UWP/Fluent toolkit gets something similar down the line.

Lukas: “uninstalling apps from one central place”—are you joking? Is dragging an icon from the Applications folder to the trash too complicated?

@Ben Kennedy: My thoughts exactly. Mac apps don't need to be "uninstalled" (unless it's something system-level like Little Snitch, which is not common)

I tried Windows 10. It's still crap. Better than it was in many ways, but still awful. The worst is the "Settings" -- it's extremely confusing and labyrinthine now, and the entire design aesthetic looks like a text-based webpage.

Seriously, WTF is this?

It doesn't take much time at all to realize that all they did is polish a turd. Just go into any of the network adapter settings or the trackpad driver settings and you'll easily see the old Windows XP interface again.

And oh my god, the typefaces / text in Windows 10 are absolutely atrocious and hard to read.

I was really, really hoping that when I installed Windows 10 on my wife's PC laptop that I would like it, just so I'd feel like I had a legit option in case I finally get fed up with Apple's neglect of the Mac. But oh hell no, Windows 10 might be a big "upgrade" for Windows users, but it's still many years behind the Mac. And that's from the perspective of my main Mac being a lowly mid-2014 MBP that still kicks ass and does everything I ask of it. And until mid-2017 I was using a 2009 MBP and even THAT was better than Windows 10.

> are you joking? Is dragging an icon from the Applications folder to the trash too complicated?

Either *you* are joking, or you haven't used a Mac since System 7 was all the rage.

> are you joking? Is dragging an icon from the Applications folder to the trash too complicated?

Dragging an icon from Applications → Trash does not get rid of related files in Preferences, Application Support, Containers, SavedState, etc. In some cases — notably some of Apple's own apps like Final Cut — the files left behind in these folders can be quite substantial.

> the typefaces / text in Windows 10 are absolutely atrocious and hard to read.

It's worth mentioning that Windows has user adjustments for ClearType. In Mojave, Apple just decided to get rid of subpixel anti-aliasing and — for me at least — made readability on non-retina displays much worse as a result.

And speaking of readability, PDFKit's new two-stage text rendering whenever you change pages is distracting and blurry. I find myself reading PDFs on Windows instead of the Mac because the text is so much clearer. The difference was striking enough I ended up documenting it:

It's a shame, because Preview's PDF rendering was a joy to behold when I switched from XP over 14 years ago.

@remmah Yeah, somehow Preview’s rendering seems slower and lower quality than on much older Macs with much older software.

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