Out with the Old – in with the New

This is going to get a little nerdy … I recently retired an almost 7 year old digital companion, a Macbook Pro 17″, pictured above. It wasn’t broken and there wasn’t really anything disastrously wrong with it. Still, it deserved to be replaced with a new, albeit smaller Macbook Pro 15” with a Retina display.

Unfortunately, Apple discontinued the 17 inch model shortly after mine had left the Chinese factory back in 2010. The 15 inch is now the largest laptop they make. Thanks to a vastly improved display resolution on the new MBPs, Apple’s marketing schtick insists you can now fit much more stuff on their new 15 than you ever could on an old 17.

Mostly, I miss the huge wide screen – particularly when watching a film or editing an image or compositing a video. While the new screen’s colors are vibrant and bright, it’s also extremely reflective. The old screen, on the other hand, was matte – some would argue it was dull and couldn’t display colors representatively. I don’t know.

I didn’t replace my old laptop for a new one based on the screen, though. It was the processor’s inability to cope – at a reasonable pace – with the new and larger RAW file sizes I threw at it after I started shooting with Canon’s EOS 5Ds. And though Final Cut Pro X worked reasonably well – at least when chewing low resolution footage, cutting anything filmed in 4k was completely out of the question.

I took my old wide-screen Macbook Pro 17”, aptly nicknamed, “The Lunch Tray”, on innumerable assignments to Asia, America, Africa and throughout Europe. It was a heavy piece of gear, for sure. And my chronically aching shoulders are a testament of how much I lugged it around in a poorly padded pack back over the course of many years. But these last two or three, I pretty much just stuffed it into my checked in luggage and hoped it would survive the inevitably rough and tough handling as it passed through the innards of airports and airplanes.

Apple recently launched a new series of Macbook Pro models. Some of which have a so-called, Touch Bar – a thin, wide display where the keyboard’s top row keys used to go.

I initially ordered one. But after reading several less-than-positive reviews, I got cold feet and cancelled my online purchase. Not just because I think the Touch Bar is a neat but probably useless gimmick.

Apple’s chief industrial designer, Sir Jony Ive and his team have certainly created a new shiny, symmetrical, aerodynamic laptop that is both beautiful and resourceful. As far as I can tell, there’s plenty of power under the hood, too.

No, it’s the lack of ports on the new Macbook Pro that got me worried. The new machine only has four USB-C ports, which means that in order for me to connect my current gear to it, I’ll also have to buy a bag of dongles. Which is definitely something I hate being forced to do. Dongles not only get in the way when you’re working on the go, I also tend to forget them at home, at the gallery, in the studio or just plain lose them whilst travelling.

So, after canceling my order, I started checking out if Apple still sold one of their older models – thinking that perhaps I could instead buy last year’s Macbook Pro 15” with all it’s glorious ports, the handy slot with an SD card reader and a Magsafe, Apples ingenious magnetic power cord.

Turns out that several other professionals had the same exact thought as I. And so when I got to our local Apple Store here in Malmö, there were indeed only a few of the year old models left in stock. Unceremoniously and without any buyer’s remorse or hesitation whatsoever, I whipped out my credit card and bought one on the spot.

In just a few hours, I’ll be taking my new digital companion on its maiden journey to the Far East where it will hopefully do as good a job as its stoic predecessor did for more than half a decade.