Updated: Apple’s Troubled Laptop Line – WWDC Sealed the fate of the 15 inch MacBook Pro

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The MacBook Pro has suffered serious setbacks since its 2008 redesign. The combined insult of a glossy glass screen and removal of the firewire 400 port was reason enough to skip the 15 inch model in favour of the cheaper plastic MacBook. But the new 15-inch line as updated at WWDC is the worst line of laptops from the Cupertino company in a long time. Below is the spec list from the new 15-inch machines.

  • 1699$. 2.53 GHz, 4 GB RAM – NVIDIA GeForce 9400M, 250GB HD, Firewire 800, Glossy Screen, SD Card Port, 2 USB, Optical line in/Out
  • 1999$. 2.66 GHz, 4 GB RAM – NVIDIA GeForce GT, 320GB HD. Firewire 800, Glossy Screen, SD Card Port, 2 USB, Optical line in/Out
  • 2299$. 2.8 GHz, 4 GB RAM – NVIDIA GeForce GT, 500 GB HD. Firewire 800, Glossy Screen, SD Card Port, 2 USB, Optical line in/Out

Built to Order (BTO) options:

  • Upgrade to 3.06 GHz Core 2 Duo
  • Upgrade to 8 GB RAM
  • Upgrade to 500 GB HDD or 256 GB SSD

This information was covered in the first section of Apple’ WWDC Keynote.

The 15-inch model (which has been the most popular in the MacBook Pro/PowerBook line) is now situated between a rock (the 17 inch which suffers nothing except the lack of Firewire 400) and a hard place (the cheaper and much more attractively sized MacBook Pro 13 inch). First impressions will reveal a cheaper price-tag. In the same breath, it has lost dual nVidia graphics and an Express Card slot. In other words, Apple are not ready to reduce pricing without reducing their overall profit margin. Users who want the extra connectivity will have to reach for the expensive and unwieldy 17 inch model that is neither portable, nor travel friendly and with a premium of 50$ charged for a non-glossy display, cost-ineffective.

Let me explain why removal of these items is a mistake. The Express Card slot was an extra bay that MacBook Pro users could employ to add extra storage, peripheral and connectivity to their laptops. In other words, they could use an SD card via the Express Card expansion. Or, the more often professionally-used Compact Flash cards. e-Sata drives, high end music peripherals – anything, even internal high-speed SSD drivers were a possibility. But, in a sloppy move, Apple swept these options away with the introduction of an SD card reader which has only one function. The glossy screen introduced in late 2008 has destroyed pragmatic use of the laptop in all but the best indoor environments for editing where professionals may be apt to use an external monitor anyway; I am tempted to ask, ‘what have Apple been smoking’? and, ‘May I have some of the same’?

In a word, the 15″ MacBook Pro is aloof. All the pro options are gone and the ‘Pro’ moniker should be stricken from the sub 17-inch line. Both the 13 and 15 inch models is stuck similarly without real expansion and with a glossy screen. The 17 remains the only non-hamstringed laptop in Apple’s ‘Pro’ laptop line up.

If you are considering a new laptop, buying the 15 inch model is something to consider if you need louder speakers than the more effective 13 inch. However, the product you get for the price is without a doubt, a much downgraded model when compared with any in the 15 inch range from the last three years and a waste of time if you really need to work from your laptop in conditions where a laptop is apt to go.

For more articles on the MacBook line, check below:
Apple’s MacBook Pro’s SATA interface Downgraded

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