Nimish SawantNov 03, 2016 12:11:04 IST
Apple announced its new lineup of MacBook Pro computers after a really long wait. The addition of the Touch Bar, that strip of touch sensitive OLED panel just above the keyboard, is something innovative for sure. But then, Apple went ahead and did a typically Apple thing – dumped all standardised ports in favour of four USB Type C Thunderbolt 3.0 ports. This has certainly not gone down well with a lot of professionals.
Like someone joked on Twitter, Apple's fastest growing product category are its 17 adapters. Sure, the USB Type C port keeps future proofing in mind, but the dropping of USB Type A ports and an SD card slot are just ridiculous moves. Professional photographers who shoot a lot and want to quickly transfer images onto their MacBook Pro computers will have to get another adapter to transfer content from SD cards now. And yes, even though a lot of cameras support Wi-Fi image transfer, we all know how terribly annoying that process is.
Dropping of ports aside, the entry barrier to the new MacBook Pros is quite high. The 13-inch base model, with Touch Bar, will start at Rs 1,55,900. Add in the cost of the adapters, you would need to go with these new MacBook Pros and you are looking at quite a high cost of ownership. And as we well know, Apple adapter don't really come cheap.
Investing in a 2015 MBP
For those on the fence regarding investing in a brand new MacBook Pro, at their current price points, it is understandable. Not everyone is a Photoshop expert, a DJ or an FCP meister. A lot of MacBook Pro users are people who just want a powerful macOS based laptop. If you have a functioning older MacBook Pro, it just make sense to wait it out. As analyst Ming-Chi Kuo has pointed out, Apple MacBook Pro prices are expected to drop in 2017. And there are expected to be upgrades in the form of 32GB RAM and 7th generation Intel Core series processor.
If your current Mac is over 3-4 years old and you are keen on just investing in a new MacBook Pro, then it makes more sense to go for the 2015 MBPs rather than the new ones. The top end 15-inch MacBook Pro with Retina display comes with a 4th gen Intel Core i7 processor, 16GB RAM, 512GB SSD and you get an optional AMD card variant as well. It costs almost Rs 40,000 cheaper and it has all the ports you will need, so you save up on adapter costs.
If you are looking for Windows based alternatives to the MacBook Pro, then here is a list of laptops you should be looking at. Sure, none of these come with something like a Touch Bar. Many may not even have a dedicated graphics processor. But they certainly offer a better value proposition than the new MacBook Pros. More importantly, you will not have to invest separately in multiple adapter accessories.
Microsoft Surface Pro 4
Although this a generation old, the Surface Pro 4 along with the Surface Type cover and Surface Pen, makes for a great alternative to the MacBook Pro. It features an excellent build quality, responsive keyboard, along with all the ports you may need to get work done.
The 12.3-inch IPS LCD PixelSense display has a high resolution 2736 x 1824 pixel resolution with a 3:2 aspect ratio. This works out to a pixel density of around 267 ppi. We reviewed the base model that is selling in India, which houses the 6th generation Intel Core i5 6300U and is a dual-core, hyper-threaded part clocked at 2.5GHz. It comes with an Intel HD 520 graphics solution. The processor is paired with 4GB RAM and 128GB SSD storage. You can go for the higher end Core i7 variant as well.
Other alternative to the Surface Pro 4 is the Surface Book, which has been refreshed now with longer battery life and more powerful specs. Only issue is that it doesn't officially sell in India.
Dell XPS 13
This was one of the best looking laptops we tested this year. Coming in a compact size despite its 13-inch form factor, the Dell XPS 13 packs in quite a punch. It houses a 6th gen Intel Core i7 6500U with Intel HD 520 graphics, 8GB RAM, 256GB NVMe SSD.
In terms of ports and slots, you get two USB 3.0 ports, a mini displayport (USB Type-C based thunderbolt also available), an SD card reader, a 3.5mm combo jack and a Kensington lock port. There is also soft button on the left edge to check the battery status without having to open the lid. One of the USB ports is always on, which means you can charge USB based devices like a smartphone.
Lenovo Yoga 900
Lenovo has been innovating on its Yoga series of products to an extent where event the ThinkPad lineup has a Yoga notebook. The Yoga 900 is Lenovo's current flagship in its consumer segment of laptops. Yoga means the laptop can be used in a multi-mode arrangement. The Yoga 900 ultrabook measures just around 15mm thick when the lid is closed and weighs a mere 1.27kg.
The Yoga 900 is powered by an Intel Core i7 6500U, a dual-core hyper-threaded CPU which has a base clock speed of 2.5GHz and a turbo boost frequency of 3.1GHz. It comes with 8GB RAM and 512GB of SSD storage. The 13.3-inch display has a 3200 x 1800 pixel QuadHD+ resolution. There are downward firing JBL Stereo speakers with Home Theatre certification.
Coming to the ports, on the right hand side you have the USB 3.0 port at the top, followed by the 3.5mm audio jack, rotation lock key, reset button and the power button which has an inbuilt LED indicator. On the left hand side there the power port at the top followed by another USB 3.0 port, a USB Type C port with video out and finally an SD card reader.
Acer Aspire S13
Acer's Aspire S13 was easily one of the surprises this year. In our testing, we found it to be one of the best Windows ultrabooks out there. The hardware choice for the Acer Aspire is very sensible. You get a 15W Intel Core i7 6500U processor clocked at 2.5GHz (dual-core with HT), 8GB LPDDR3 RAM and a 512GB SSD. The screen resolution is a bit low at 1920×1080, but it’s enough for a 13.3-inch screen.
You get two USB 3.0 ports, one on each side, a USB Type-C 3.1 port and HDMI output. You also get an SD card reader and 802.11ac Wi-Fi with MU-MIMO support, which is to be expected in this day and age. It is light-weight and high performance laptop, which can be your daily driver.
This is one the most gorgeous looking laptops out there. HP claims that it's the world's thinnest laptop and at 10mm thickness, it is difficult to argue. But despite the slim profile it packs in some high end goodies such as an Intel Core i7 6500U processor with 8GB RAM, 512GB SSD storage and Windows 10 Pro out of the box.
There are two USB Type C Thunderbolt 3.0 ports and one USB Type C port for charging. But unlike the new MacBook Pros, HP bundles in the necessary adapters for USB, HDMI and Ethernet port.
Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon
For a business user who does not have much need for the Touch Bar on the new MacBook Pro, the ThinkPad X1 Carbon makes for a great alternative. ThinkPad X1 Carbon comes with an Intel Core i5 6300U with vPro features and Intel HD520 graphics. It clocked at 2.4GHz and is paired with 8GB of RAM. It also supports security features that are important in an IT setup, such as the Trusted Platform Module (TPM) encryption. It comes with 192GB Samsung M.2 SSD storage.
In terms of connectivity, you get Wi-Fi 802.11ac, Bluetooth 4.0, NFC, 3x USB 3.0 port, 1x HDMI port, 1x miniDP, a microSIM card and more. It has an impressive battery life and really good standby time for a Windows laptop.
So there you have it, some Windows laptops you can consider if you are not really convinced about the new MacBook Pros. Do let us know if you think we missed out on any.
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