I Just Returned My Late 2013 13" Macbook Pro. Here's Why.
This is a quick post about my 6 days with the new 13" Macbook Pro. It includes a couple of thoughts that mirror what The Verge's Review said about it, a couple of things it missed and the ultimate reason as to why I returned it.
I should have known something was wrong when I picked up the new laptop and all I could think of was of my first experience with the original Macbook Air. As to anyone that has unfortunately owned a 1st gen Macbook Air knows, looks are only skin deep. When I saw the 13" Macbook I repeated, "this time is different," to myself nonstop and after putting the laptop through it's paces I kept on being reassured that this would be the case. However, it was on day 6 that I discovered the much talked about Keyboard and Mouse sporadic shutdown issue.
Why does this remind me of my Macbook Air? Well, the Macbook Air was the most expensive Apple laptop I have ever bought at $1700 + tax. I figured I would only need 80 GB of space because I would also buy a 500 GB Time Capsule which cost $300. Oh - and don't forget - the $100 external Super Drive. I could not have been more wrong. Shortly after the return period, I discovered that the 1.8 GHz processor could not play a YouTube video without freezing and heating up to over 100 degrees. I actually had to install an App to keep track of the heat and put it in a fridge when it got too hot. Shortly after, I discovered my Time Capsule used a desktop grade (not server grade - as promised) HD with no cooling which made the drives fail after 9 months. I was forced to sell my MacBook Air 9 months later for $900 on eBay.
For the first 5 days, my new Retina MacBook Pro "13 showed me that this time was different. First off, this thing was actually only 0.46 pounds heavier than the MacBook Air and in every dimension smaller! Next was the SSD. I actually use about 1 TB of space on my iMac. However, I found that with over 240 GB of usable space, I had more than enough space to carry my "important files" (music, synced cloud drives and code). These drives read and write at a ridiculous 700 +MB/s while never running hot! The Thunderbolt 2 connections make it easy and fast to transfer huge files with my 4 TB external Thunderbolt drive. Add on the fact that the arrival of digital distribution via the App Store removes the need for a DVD drive and this purchase was really making sense.
Then came the big test: how well can it handle an external 1080p display? It both passed with flying colors and failed miserably. After hooking up my 13" Pro to my HDTV, I used the default screen settings (display mirroring) and played every Small Empires and Detours I had missed over the last month. Two hours later, the fans still hadn't come on! Does this computer even have fans? I still don't know! But then, I decided to try a new Mavericks feature: display independence (1 screen watching video, 1 screen web browser).
That's when I discovered that It's true: the new Macbook Pro suffers from sporadic Keyboard and Mouse disconnection issues. I hit my usual command + space key to open spotlight. I tried hitting escape. I tried hitting volume up and down. Still nothing. Then I remembered glancing over a blog post. The first thing I thought to myself was: Return this now!
Why? Well because I was screwed by Apple way too many times before. My 1st gen MacBook Air couldn't play a YouTube video because it was over heating. Apple couldn't fix the problem (they replaced the motherboard, but the fans couldn't keep the temp in regulation so the CPU would throttle down). My MacBook Air's hinge was so weak it couldn't hold the display up in a comfortable viewing angle. Apple refused to fix it. My Time Capsule completely died. Apple refused to fix it. Sure, Apple is "fixing the issue." However, I don't trust them.
Unless your problem can be reproduced in front of an "Apple Genius," chances are it won't be fixed. You could already see Apple hedging the complaints as users need to "reset this and that" on a NEW laptop. The keyboard glitch happened to me 2 times last night. The second time, I wasn't even trying to use a fancy new Mavericks feature. When I returned the Laptop, I also tried to return my new iPhone 5S because of battery issues and a sticky / wobbly touch ID sensor. In less than the 30 mins I was there, the phone's battery lost 10% of it's charge and all I did was send a couple of text messages. They seriously told me it was T-Mobile's fault because it has bad service. Now I know that this is a valid answer, but I had the iPhone 5 on T-Mobile for 6 months. Then, because I couldn't reproduce the annoying stickiness / wobbliness of the sensor, they told me they couldn't help me.
Long story short: I will buy this laptop again. However, don't risk you $1500 on this laptop yet. Wait until the issue is confirmed to be a software bug. Then, when you do, buy the made to order $1500 version ($1400 with the education discount) with an upgraded 2.6 GHz processor for $100 ($90 more with the education discount). Benchmarks show that this version is about 11.51% faster vs the 3.79% faster processor of the base version compared to the early 2013 model. For only $100 bucks, it's almost a no brainer. The $200 bucks for extra RAM is harder to justify since Mavericks does such a good job with RAM. I truly don't see why the 2.6 GHz / 8 GB of RAM version couldn't last several years given the advancements in OS X.
I hope this helps and happy shopping (in a few weeks/months)!