There's a photo circulating the web of the new MacBook Pro (MBP) being unveiled at the World Wide Developer Conference hosted by Apple last week. It depicts the 15-inch laptop in a circular glass case, surrounded by roughly 200 photographers with very serious, completely awed looks on their faces.
If nothing else, the photo shows that the Cult of Mac is still very much alive since the passing of Steve Jobs, and how everything the Apple does is important, international news. Even the introduction of a new asymetrical fan — basically a normal fan with different shaped blades placed irregularly to cut noise — got rave reviews, even if it's nothing special and not entirely original.
Like everything Apple does, the technology news media went ape over the new device, which is on sale now.
In a way the media circus is understandable. It's an impressive machine and the first laptop with a full retina display — 2880 by 1880 pixels packed into a 15-inch screen. It's extremely light, at about two kilos (4.5 pounds), and boasts a fast, energy-efficient Intel 2.4 GHz Core i7 and a dedicated Nvidia GeForce GT 650M graphics processor. It uses flash (solid state drive) SSD storage, which makes it faster and cuts down on power consumption.
It's understandable if that glass case at WWDC got a little drool on it. The truth is, there's never been a laptop like this.
But should you care?
My own early assessment is no, unless you're a wealthy gearhead and a card-carrying Apple cult member. First of all, it's extremely expensive. The most basic 15-inch model weighs in at $2,200 — enough to buy three relatively high-end 17-inch laptops from another company. If you max out the specs for memory, storage, etc. then you're looking at $3,750 for a model with a 2.7GHz processor, 16GB RAM, 768GB of SSD storage.
The basic model comes with 8GB of memory, which is not expandable as the memory chip is soldered directly to the motherboard. That's important: you can never repair or upgrade the RAM in this machine. If you think you'll ever need more than 8GB you have to make that investment at the time of purchase, or forever hold your peace.
As well, the battery is glued into the case. Given that batteries do die or lose their charge after time, it was a strange decision on Apple's part.
As was the fact that the screen cannot be repaired or swapped out if it's cracked or damaged. The 256GB SSD hard drive — seriously, that's all you get with the basic model — also can't be expanded. It maybe possible to swap out storage in the future with aftermarket parts that fit the space, but right now it's an all-or-nothing decision.