Apple’s MacBook Pro Design Flaws

Last week, I finally got a new laptop, a shiny new MacBook Pro. (Thanks, boss!) It replaces my 44-month old one which is well past its glory days.

The new one has some nice upgrades too:

  • 2.53 Ghz i5 processor
  • 256MB SSD Drive
  • High-res, non-glossy screen

The screen upgrade is great – the 1680 by 1050 resolution gives another 468,000 pixels which means a lot less scrolling.

Apple has redesigned the MacBook Pro since I bought mine 4 years ago and it’s interesting to see how their changes address my old machine’s current maladies.

The Screen

My current LCD screen seems to have a yellow tint to it and there are some smudgy-type blemishes in various parts of the screen.

The new ones have LED, which is hopefully less susceptible to this kind of thing.

The Case

My old case is dented around all the corners. The plastic edging is broken off in places. A few screws are missing. Three of the four feet on the bottom have fallen off. I’ve got big wear marks where my palms apparently rest.

The latest model has a case which is almost entirely one piece. It will be hard to dent or break off pieces. That said, I already have a few hairline scratches on the top. The case seems to be made of a solid piece of material and does not appear painted, so I probably won’t be able to wear through the top of this one. 🙂

The Trackpad

While my old trackpad was definitely worn, the most annoying part of the old trackpad design was that things could get under the button and make the button sticky.

Well, they fixed that one by removing the button! The whole trackpad is one big button. Nice.

The Latch

The lid latch on my old machine is uh, a little broken. To actually open mine, you need to push the top lid right a bit, then hit the button to pop it out. Anne can’t open it. I call it a security feature.

Once again, Apple’s solution to this problem was to remove the component altogether. It’s just held together magnetically like the MacBooks are.

The Power Cable

Apple’s magsafe connector was pretty cool when it came out. It solved the problem of people tripping on the power cord and throwing your computer to the ground. It works a little too well on mine – my cat often pulls mine walking by. The big problem with these was that the wire would become frayed as it pulled out of the connector. Eventually, they stop charging at all. I had this happen to a bunch of mine. With some persistence, I was able to get the Apple Store to replace all of them for free.

The new cables have the wires come out perpendicular to the old ones so there’s less pressure on it. Hopefully this helps.

The Battery

I’m on my fourth battery for my trusty old MacBook pro. I found that after about 6 monts or less, I could get less than an hour out of it.

Apple claims 8-9 hours of life with the new built-in batteries. I’m skeptical. I’m not thrilled that the battery is neither swappable nor intended to be replaced by users. We’ll see how that goes.

Some other stuff

My old machine can’t burn CDs anymore. The C key doesn’t pop up anymore after the rubber piece under it broke. I had to lubricate my fan after it started making horrible noises.

It’s unclear if these problems have been addressed in the new machines. I guess I’ll see in a couple years.

Now, one could argue that these are not improvements, but fixes to Apple’s poor design choices. That might be fair, but it’s hard to argue that the current MacBook Pros aren’t very nicely built, small, powerful and efficient machines.

I should also note that I’m pretty hard on my laptops. I literally never turn them off. They only reboot for system updates. I probably use them 10 hours a day on average, so I’m probably pushing them to the extreme.

I do like my new machine though, so here’s to hoping it survives my abuse for the next few years.

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