My New MacBook

My New MacBook

2018, Jan 11    

Background

My primary machine is a Mid 2015 MacBook Pro with all the upgrades (except the 1TB SSD) but it’s quite cumbersome to carry around (along with my ever increasing in size EDC) not to mention impossible to use on cramped London public transport. Initially when I decided to get a smaller laptop I had assumed I would have to wait until I could afford £2399 to full spec out the Touch Bar edition with Core i7 processor but on a Christmas road trip from Texas to Tennessee I had about 7 hours in the back seat of the car to really do some in-depth research into the 13-Inch MacBook Pro line up and here’s what happened.

Why I need Another Laptop

My time is fairly evenly split between consulting and technical support. I spend a lot of time on trains and therefore need something with a reasonable amount of oompf but ultimately portability is key. Realistically I need a desktop and a laptop but as I have this high spec laptop it’s now sits in a Henge Dock in the office and only comes out if I am travelling for more than a few days. I have considered Surface Books (as I have a client with an office full of them) as well as ZenBooks but I want to stick with Mac for now.

Escape Edition

What is the “Escape Edition”? I found the term on iFixit’s website who also did not really seem sure what to call the non touch bar version. Escape Edition sounds way cooler than MacBook Pro Without Touch Bar? MacBook Pro With Function Keys? MacBook Pro With Two Thunderbolt 3 Ports.

Escape Edition vs Touch Bar Edition

First let’s consider that the base specifications for these models are the same. Both models have a 13.3 Inch, Retina, capable of 2560x1600 pixels, both models have the same hard drive options (256GB, 512GB and 1TB). I’ve ignored the 128Gb hard drive as I don’t think it suitable (even for those on a budget). The memory options are the same as are video, WiFi, bluetooth and the webcam. The only differences are the processor, the graphics, the battery size, number of USB ports and obviously the Touch Bar

The TouchBar is worth mentioning here because having decided I didn’t want it, not having having one the Escape Edition actually had an unanticipated bonus…. a slightly bigger battery (54.5 WPH vs 49.2 WPH).

The graphics are the Intel Iris 640. There’s very little difference between the 640 and the 650 so it’s not going to make any difference to most users from, also interesting to note the Iris 650 has slightly better performance but comes at the cost of considerable increase in power consumption. Additionally you only get the Iris 650 graphics if you buy the Touch Bar Edition.

The Escape Edition has 2 Thunderbolt Ports where as all other models have 4. I felt that two was more than enough because I can easily connect external Displays via a choice of USB C dongles providing up to 4 additional screens if I needed. What I find most curious is that as a long time MacBook Pro user and before that a PowerBook user where the power connector has always been on the left I find myself wishing that Apple had to put the two thunderbolt ports on the right instead.

In terms of connectivity I use a Thunderbolt 3 Media Hub that has has power pass thru, HDMI, ethernet, SD and 2 x USB. I’ve often thought that Macs needed a good docking solution and even though I’ve got a vertical henge dock for my other laptop being able to expand the MacBook capabilities as easily as plugging in a dongle is by far a better solution. Also at the time of writing Henge don’t have a horizontal dock for the 2015 that would allow me to use my laptop as a second “email” screen.

I’ve had one or two issues with the keyboard but every time I book a genius bar appointment the issue goes away. My carriage return key periodically won’t work properly unless I use a considerable amount of force when pressing it.

Overall I am really pleased with this MacBook Pro. I’ve barely used my 15-Inch since I got this one. With the USB docking capabilities I may even sell the bigger machine and go back to my mobile setup as my primary setup.

One Last Thing

Should this be called a MacBook Pro? Considering it’s smaller than the MacBook Air and bigger than the MacBook I don’t think so. If you had the option of a Quad Core Processor and a dedicated graphics in then yes this would be a “Pro” Machine but I would recommend this for anyone considering buying the Air with the budget to spend a little bit more money.