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Jeff Rowe
Jeff Rowe
Jeffrey Rowe has more than 40 years of experience in all aspects of industrial design, mechanical engineering, and manufacturing. On the publishing side, he has written well over 1,000 articles for CAD, CAM, CAE, and other technical publications, as well as consulting in many capacities in the … More »

Apple Adding To Computer Product Line Minus Ports

October 20th, 2016 by Jeff Rowe

According to an article this week in Engadget, Apple reportedly plans to eliminate the USB 3.0 and Magsafe ports on its next-gen MacBook, and kill the 11-inch MacBook Air altogether. That’s according to Macotakara, the Japanese rumor site that was among the first to predict that the company would kill the traditional headphone jack on the iPhone 7. It also claims that Apple will unveil a 15.4- and 13.3-inch MacBook Pro at a new product launch event next week.

If the report is accurate, MacBook Pros will only have USB Type C and Thunderbolt 3 ports. As with the new MacBook, you’d presumably charge it through the USB-C port and connect peripherals via Thunderbolt 3. That means you’d need some kind of USB 3.0 adapter, since the majority of storage and other peripherals still use the traditional standard. For the MacBook, Apple sells a $79 USB-C dock that gives you USB 3.0, USB-C for power and an HDMI connection.

Mac USB Ports

Are These Ports Gone In The New MacBook Pros?

The company will also release a new 13.3-inch MacBook Air, but discontinue the 11-inch model, according to the report. That squares with previous rumors that Apple would kill the smaller Air model, since it has been made effectively redundant by the 12-inch MacBook. However, it also shows that it isn’t discontinuing the MacBook Air completely, as some feared (including me).

The MacBook Pro will allegedly have an OLED touch bar and go on sale shortly after the new Mac unveiling event to be held October 27 (this date is “reportedly,” since I haven’t seen anything “official”). That would be good news to MacBook Pro lovers who’ve been waiting a long time for a new model, assuming the report (based on a “reliable Chinese supplier”) is accurate. However, Macotakara said exactly the same thing in June, and the August launch it predicted didn’t happen.

Apple Launch Live Event 2016

Even before Apple’s September event where the Apple Watch 2 and iPhone 7s were launched, rumors swirled that the company would save any Mac-related updates for an October presentation. As the month has gone on, however, fans have wondered whether or not anything would happen. Isn’t it a little late to send out press invitations? Supposedly, you can relax. Recode sources claim that Apple will introduce new Macs at an event on October 27th. This would be a smaller-scale affair than the iPhone 7 introduction (possibly to be held on Apple’s campus), but that doesn’t mean that it would without a number of interesting products. If you believe the rumors, just the opposite is probably true.

While the leak doesn’t give any hints as to what we can expect, there have already been plenty of rumors. Of course, nearly every other computer in Apple’s lineup is due for an upgrade of some kind — you could see a slew of revisions, even if some of them never get mentioned on stage. The purported unveiling is just a week away, so you won’t have long to find out whether or not the story is true.

Next week is going to be a busy week in computing hardware. Microsoft is holding a Windows 10 hardware event in New York on Wednesday and then the new Macs will debut on Thursday.

Until about a year ago I was exclusively a Windows PC user. That all changed, though, when I purchased a MacBook Air. I got it for the following reasons:

  1. I wanted a new computing experience that was more reliable and not subject to perpetual updating or having to fix something every time I turned the thing on
  2. I wanted portability (light weight and small footprint), but with a real keyboard with good key action and not typing on a glass screen or a compromised keyboard with mushy keys
  3. I wanted great battery life without having to carry a power brick with me everywhere
  4. I wanted a good design and materials beyond black or gray plastic
  5. I wanted to be able to use a lot of the familiar office software tools I was comfortable with and compatible with the millions of text and graphics files I have created over the years
  6. I wanted something that was affordable and wouldn’t lose its value as soon as it was delivered, so potential resale down the road was a consideration
  7. I wanted a technology ecosystem where everything was compatible and synchronized – computer, phone, tablet, etc.

After a lot of research and discussion, I decided that the MacBook Air was the way to go as my introduction into the Apple computing world.

Has my experience with Apple been good? Generally, yes. Has it been perfect? Not exactly, but much better with a smoother transition than I had expected.

On the down side, I have had to get used to a new OS and technology, but that has been relatively minor. Overall, though, it’s been very positive. I’m still not able to completely cut ties with Microsoft because of the engineering software I still use and evaluate, but that dependency is decreasing all the time. However, if and when it comes time to spring for a new Windows hardware platform, I’ll probably go for a mid-range to high-end Microsoft Surface Pro or Surface Book. No more 12-pound laptops with 5-pound AC adapters for me.

As it is, I realize that I am subject to the whims of Apple and their tendency to add and subtract technologies, such as interconnects, but that has been the case since the dawn of the PC age. For example, how many old and obsolete printer, monitor, and modem cables and connectors do you have lying around in a box or boxes in the basement? I know, me too, or at least did. I gave away a bunch of computers and accessories this week to a non-profit organization called PCs For People. I guess I could have sold them online, but my shipping costs would have about equaled my selling price, so I decided to donate them to those who could really use them.

Is all this constant technology change a racket? Sure it is, and everybody know it is, but I’ve been very pleased with how things have progressed with regard to reliability, availability, and compatibility. We’re 30+ years in to the personal computing age, but it’s a good “start.”

Would Steve Jobs approve of all the recent technology changes and subtractions at Apple? Unfortunately, that is something we will never know.

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