Surprise: The New MacBook's Single Port is Divisive
Exactly one month ago today, I wrote a post about Apple’s befuddling decision to only include one port on its MacBook. Not just one single type of port, but one port for everything.
This port, which is USB type-C, is the only port on the machine, period. Below is an excerpt of what you’ll use it for.
“Need to recharge your battery? The USB-C port acts as the charging port for the MacBook. Want to use an external monitor? You’ll need to use the lone USB-C port. Really, anything you need to plug in will have to go through this port. Printers. Game controllers. Etc. There aren’t even slots for SD cards anymore. You’ll have to find some kind of accessory that plugs into that USB-C port and lets you connect your storage cards that way.”
Reviews started rolling in today for the new MacBook, which gets a retail release on Friday. And wouldn’t you know it — a lot of reviewers are torn on Apple’s single-port approach.
Here’s WSJ’s Joanna Stern:
“But as ahead of its time as the MacBook is, there’s a slight problem: You have to use it right now. Here in 2015, the majority of us still require two or three ports for connecting our hard drives, displays, phones and other devices to our computer—not to mention a dedicated power plug.”
Ars Technica’s Andrew Cunningham shared a similar sentiment, but argues that those complaining aren’t the target customers:
“No matter if Apple is proven right in the long haul, today there’s no question that living life with one port is inconvenient. The biggest question is the degree to which you are inconvenienced. Obviously those of you who have multiple Thunderbolt Displays and external hard drives hooked into your MacBooks will be the most affected, but they’re the people to whom the MacBook will appeal the least. Don’t get a MacBook and expect it to do a MacBook Pro’s job.”
Re/code’s Katherine Boehret had probably my favorite description of the USB-C port:
“But I think this MacBook is too extreme — and too expensive — for a lot of people right now. It goes on sale Friday, starting at $1,299, which is $100 more than the high-end MacBook Air with a standard configuration. It eliminates all standard USB ports and the SD card slot, replacing them with a single, smaller USB-C port, which must also be used to charge your laptop.
To make the USB-C work with other device plugs, you’ll need an adapter. Putting one of these on the MacBook is like getting a supermodel to wear headgear.”
“Like getting a supermodel to wear headgear” — there is really no better way to explain what Apple is encouraging with this single USB-C port, at least at the present time (Katherine is, of course referring to the $79 dongle Apple is selling for the USB-C port that adds power, USB, and HDMI ports).
The world can handle gimped smartphones and tablets. Users can do without USB ports and, in some cases, even SD card ports on these. But I can’t agree that a laptop with a full desktop operating system is ready to have the same number of ports as an iPhone.
Apple might have gotten ahead of itself on this one. Will the new MacBook sell like crazy? It’s entirely possible.
Should it? That’s debatable.