Notebook Rumor Roundup

There are a bunch of Mac notebook rumors flying around today, so I thought it’d be fun looking at them individually.

RIP, 11-inch MacBook Air

TIL the 11-inch Air is still around.

I’m joking. Mostly. I know it has some big fans, but this machine feels redundant in a world where the 13-inch Air is just $100 more and the MacBook is just as portable:

11-inch Air:$899
13-inch Air: $999
12-inch MacBook: $1,299

If the 11-inch Air goes away, I wonder what will happen to that $899 price point. I can see Apple abandoning it.

13-inch Air to be updated

The new Air is to come with USB-C and Thunderbolt 3 support. Coupled with the processors Apple uses in the Air, this machine would continue to be more powerful and flexible than the 12-inch MacBook.

I think that makes a lot of sense. I think the MacBook is still a little too much in the future for most users. The Air is almost as light and thin, but a lot more useful for some users.

Ports? Where we’re going, we don’t need ports.

It sure seems like the OLED Touchbar is a lock for these new MacBook Pros, as is the inclusion of USB-C/Thunderbolt 3.

There’s part of that MacRumors report that still hurts, though:

Previous rumors and part leaks have suggested the upcoming MacBook Pro will include four USB-C ports, doing away with an SD card slot, an HDMI port, USB-A ports, and a MagSafe connection.

I understand why the MacBook has a single USB-C port. I can even see the Air moving to all USB-C/Thunderbolt ports. On the MacBook Pro, it seems like a bridge too far.

Apple has often included I/O in the MacBook Pro (and even PowerBook) not found on other machines. MacBooks had mini-DVI ports, while pre-unibody MacBook Pros got full-sized DVI connections. The MacBook Pro is the only Apple portable to ship with HDMI. The Pro and the 13-inch Air sport very helpful SD card slots while the 11-inch Air doesn’t.

I/O is important to professionals. Pros often have a lot of things plugged in, from hard drives to SD cards to external displays. I’m not in love with the idea of using adaptors for almost everything I need to plug in to a notebook. 

(Of course, I own Thunderbolt adaptors to access Ethernet, FireWire 800, DVI and VGA. It can be annoying, but adapting to USB just makes my head hurt.)

Having 4 USB-C/Thunderbolt ports may make for a nice, neat MacBook Pro, but it’s a machine that may prove more difficult to use in the short term. One day we’ll be in a USB-C world, but we aren’t today. The industry of boutique MacBook dongles show it. Going all in with a new MacBook Pro will make the future show up faster, but I’d argue that in a professional machine, leaving some “legacy” I/O for those who need it is the right call.

That said, I think we’re headed into a future with far fewer ports on our MacBook Pros. We’ll get used to it, and one day laugh and laugh at how we used to use things like HDMI and SD card readers on our notebooks.