Everyone in my family uses a Mac, most of them on laptops. That includes my two sons, one in university and one in high school, both of whom are doing school from home these days.
So I didn’t think when I ordered a new MacBook Pro recently I’d have to return it almost immediately. And I didn’t think Apple would completely and utterly ignore the meaning of the word “Pro.”
But both are true.
Let me just spit it right out: two of the three allegedly “Pro” 13” MacBook models that Apple just updated have a grand total of two ports. You read that right: two ports. But it gets even better: one of them is for power. Which basically means that Apple’s new MacBook “Pro” has essentially one port.
On a “Pro” machine!
If you want to use your laptop at your desk, you’re generally plugged into power. That’s port number one. And if you happen to have an external monitor, which many do, that’s port number two. Need to connect a microphone for better audio? Forget about it. What about an external webcam because Apple is still shipping the default 720P webcam it debuted years ago? Sorry! Need plug-in ethernet internet because you’re live on Zoom and want better quality video? Sucks to be you. Need to connect an external drive? Forget about it.
I get it: most things are going wireless right now.
You can use Sidecar to connect your Mac and your iPad. You can print wirelessly. You can — as most do — exclusively use WiFi to connect to the internet.
But if you want top quality video and audio in streaming or recording applications, if you want speed in transferring data, if you want high-quality connections to large screens — in short, if you want to do “Pro” tasks — you still need wired connections.
The entry-level $1,299 13” MacBook Pro has two USB-C ports.
The mid-grade $1,499 13” MacBook Pro has two USB-C ports.
Only the top-of-the-line $1,799 13” MacBook Pro gets four USB-C ports. And bear in mind, if you’re doing Pro-level tasks with video and audio, one of those is still dedicated to power, so you’re limited to three ports. One is almost certainly going to an external monitor, so you’re down to one.
I currently use a 13” 2017 MacBook Pro. It has four USB-C ports, and even with that number, I have to plug in a hub with more connectors — including standard USB, which most peripherals still come with as a default.
Offering fewer while calling a machine “Pro” is cynical at best, and predatory at worst. Comparisons with Windows laptops aren’t apples-to-apples, I know, but a sub-$400 Dell Inspiron has the following:
- 1 SD Card Reader
- 1 USB 2.0
- 1 USB Type C (available with discrete graphics only)
- 1 HDMI 1.4b
- 1 RJ45 (ethernet)
- 2 USB 3.1
- Headphone and microphone audio jack
At 33% of the price, you get almost 4X the ports (I’m not counting the headphone jack, which Apple’s MacBook Pros have as well). That’s just plain egregious.
To be fully straightforward, there’s definitely a mea culpa here: I didn’t check the machine we were buying for ports. I just assumed that it would have four, like my 3-year-old not-top-of-the-line MacBook Pro from 2017.
That’s my bad.
Apple’s failure: not providing nearly enough ports for the very users the MacBook Pro is — by name — targeted to.
That’s Apple’s bad.