WWDC depression - iPodification of the Macbook
Its like going downstairs on Christmas Day only to find Santa gave you socks. Or that hot girl you have pined after telling you she 'just wants to be friends." Or worse, she says yes and you find out she is totally vapid.
Its that letdown we have all felt in our lives, and unfortunately, something Apple fans feel in varying degrees at WWDC time.
Look, WWDC has been great over the years. It is where great things have been brought for the masses to see. It has been, in many ways, the optimistic Christmas in June we all want, the one where we get the sold-out, awesomest (need to trademark that before they steal it like resolutionary).
But lately, its becoming the Christmas I talked about before, the one you sort of dread because it never lives up to the hype you created in your mind. And now, with the iPhone announcement moving to fall, WWDC lost its luster.
I say the first disappointment goes with the big boy, the Mac Pro. Now they do not sell that well anymore, and I think its because their price have more than doubled from the old Power Mac G5 (just turned my old G5 into a server [tear]) so only the real hard core user gets one. Still, getting into FCPX and Motion and Compressor, I found myself looking at getting one cuz' they are built like tanks, and (sigh) all those drive bays. They make me melancholy thinking of my 8600 missing the chance to get a 9600 motherboard.
SO what does Apple do for its resident beast? Processor speed bump. The professional workstation, which should be the display of bleeding-edge design does not get Thunderbolt, does not even get USB3. What? How difficult would have been to really replace the USB ports, or replace one of the FW 800 ports? Or even just package it with a PCI card with them?
I understand not updating the iMac - you can't announce everything at the same time - as well as the Mac Mini (Sandy Bridge is fine, but a price drop would be nice) but to let the Mac Pro not have Thunderbolt one year after the Mac Mini? That is some kind of nerve, Apple!
But the biggest disappointment to me is the "Next Generation Macbook Pro with Retina Display" a name that is so cumbersome (oh, and that handwriting font on the screen) that the computer better make up for it. And it does, what with that 220ppi screen, those Thunderbolt and USB3 ports, that SSD drive, and so much more.
But after the bloom on the rose wears off of this impressively thin product, reality starts to set in. I really do not have a problem with it eliminating the optical drive - after all, those external ones are so thin and so cheap you can throw one in your bag easily (and since there is no BluRay support, optical drives are not what we watch movies on much anyway). And while the Magsafe2 port bugs me (there is no reason to make that, all it does is penalize older Macbook owners who have multiple power supplies), nothing bothers me on the outside of this computer.
What bugs me is the inside, or rather how the Macbook is assembled.
I am a bit of tinkerer. Part of it is I am cheap and do not want to pay retail for a fix, and part of it is its what my family does. My grandfather worked on appliances in his free-time, and taught my dad how to rebuild everything on a car. My dad passed a bunch of knowledge on to me, and I have relayed that onto fixing computers, both for fun and at work.
I reviewed the iFixIt teardown, and the thing broken my heart. All that glue, all those solders - in essence they have attempted to limit any layperson doing serious work on their computer.
And I am sorry Jony Ive, I don't care about your breakthrough asymmetrical fan blades, when large portions of a $2,200 computer are held together by glue, it is not the best computer you have engineered.
I just got a 2011 Macbook Air. It was broken, would not start. Picked it up for $250. I thought I would take a chance on the thing, as after I saw the 11" model I just fell in love with its size. I had to wait three days after I got it as I did not have a pentalobe screwdriver, but once I opened it up, unhooked the battery and connected a power supply, it fired right up.
Looking inside this beauty, I was amazed at the level of detail. How every nook and cranny of space was used. After looking at the Next Gen teardown, I have even more of a love for the design of the air. Ive & Co. did not need glue on the air, no they used screws to install the battery. Except for the RAM (which is frustrating as it only has the min 2 gigs) everything is replaceable.
I look at the new Macbook Pro what I see is the iPod Touch, or new Nano of computers. Computers that while expensive are getting to the point that they will be too expensive for mere mortals to repair. Too locked down. Devices designed to make the most hated thing I hear from "Geniuses" at the Apple Store true - that the logic board is the problem because, well, everything is soldered to it. Nine times out of 10 it has not been the logic board, its been the keyboard, bad memory, or the dang NvIdia GPU that was recalled but-now-you-do-want-to-cover-the-recall.
I look at the wonderful G3 powerbooks for inspiration. Remember the Wallstreet? They started it all, and they were beautiful. And what did Apple do to follow them up?Pismo, Bronze, etc - slimmer, but the same design. They did not have to use glue to make top for where screws used to be.