One of the oldest conventional wisdom aphorisms in IT is “never buy version 1 of anything.” With rumour mills lately predicting that the new MacBook Pros released last October are in line for a substantial upgrade within a year of their introduction, some early adopters may be wishing they’d heeded the version 1 caveat.
According to a new research note from KGI Securities analyst and highly-regarded Apple hardware forecaster Ming-Chi Kuo , cited by MacRumors, the 2017 15-inch MacBook Pro will get Intel’s 7th-generation “Kaby Lake” processors that much of the Windows PC competition is already using, and support 32GB of desktop-class RAM, with mass production to begin early in the fourth quarter, probably for late October or November release.
Kuo also predicts that the 12-inch MacBook will get an upgrade to the 7th-gen Kaby Lake silicon as well, and that the 13-inch MacBook Air will be gradually end-of-lifed and replaced as Apple’s entry-level laptop with the non Touch Bar base 13-inch MacBook Pro, which will get a price cut. It’s probably too much to hope it will get a 33 percent discount to match the MacBook Air’s $999 price tag, I’m guessing he that Apple thinks the iPad Pro can adequately cover the sub-$1,000 personal computer category. I beg to differ, but Apple will be Apple on such matters
Meanwhile, a software fix for the 2016 MacBook Pro’s now infamous battery life woes is reportedly coming with the next macOS Sierra update, but in the meantime early adopters are still struggling with erratic and unpredictable runtime performance. The Daily Express’s David Snelling last week revisited the paper’s review of the Touch Bar 15 inch Pro after three months use, including taking it along to CES. He says they generally like the computer — the Touch Bar and butterfly action keyboard included, but reports:
“Our MacBook Pro still suffers from widely indifferent battery life and it means you never quite trust what is going to happen when you’re out on the road. At best we got over six hours out of one charge but at worst it can be under four – not great when you’re in a convention centre and struggling to find a power socket.”
Even six hours is well short of Apple’s 10 hour claim, pretty shabby performance in a machine as expensive as this one is. We’ll have to see if the software tweaking actually will satisfactorily address the problem, but in any case the upgraded 2017 version with its more power efficient silicon and likely a constellation of bugfixes will almost certainly prove worth waiting for. Small wonder that the current versions are reportedly being significantly discounted already.
Hopefully another problem that will be addressed is reported instances of dirt or food fragments getting trapped under the ultra short travel butterfly keyboards in 12-inch MacBooks and literally gumming up the works. Another sort of issue that particularly should not afflict premium priced machines like Apple laptops, and another reason to dislike that misbegotten (IMHO) keyboard design, which is also used in a second generation version in the late-2016 MacBook Pros. With reports of the same issue afflicting Pro models as well, it seems that the second-gen keyboard revision hasn’t been the remedy, so hopefully a third revision is in the works to be used in both the Kaby Lake upgraded MacBook and MacBook Pro models.
Personally, I’ve found that being a late adopter more often than not has been a successful formula for me. Waiting to buy the second or third version of a product allows early production bugs and issues to be identified and hopefully addressed before you make a cash commitment. The only time I’ve been at the cutting edge is when I bought my iPad Air 2 a month after its introduction in October, 2014, and it remained the state of the iPad art until the iPad Pro was introduced nearly a year
later. However, the Air 2 is arguably the second version of the original iPad Air and not a groundbreaking new design.
I did slip up in buying an Apple Certified Refurbished late 2008 13- inch aluminum MacBook in 2009, just a couple of weeks before Apple released a major revision, promoting the machine to full MacBook Pro status with a speed bump and a Firewire port. The MacBook was and is a decent computer that served me well, but the early 2009 13-inch MacBook Pro is a more desirable machine that would’ve been a better value.
Lesson relearned,, I bided my time with my next laptop upgrade, choosing a mid-2013 Haswell 13-inch MacBook Air, a mature design that had originally been unveiled in October, 2010. The Air has been an excellent computer, so much so that I bought another one — the current and almost certainly last iteration of this great design with a Broadwell Core CPU. My two MacBook Airs are strong candidates for being my favorites of all the Macs I’ve owned over the past 26 years.
Buying a six-year old computer design, even a multi times upgraded one like the 2016 MacBook Air may seem like extreme late adoption, and I don’t disagree, but I’m pleased with my purchase, especially given that I’m less than enchanted with the direction Apple seems resolved to take with its laptop family’s evolution.