Despite my slight depression, I felt compelled.
Apple released its new MacBook Pro to vast oohs and aahs, from people who’d never actually seen one or held one.
I took one look at the big event and was disheartened by what seemed like the old MacBook Pro, injected with spec-tacular new innards.
That’s enough for many. But I need a different sort of joy. Spiritual, not just spec-ful. Visual and sensual, not just ritual and factual.
So, on a sunny weekday morning, I wafted to an Apple store to see the thing itself and to hear how Apple store salespeople would try and enchant me.
See Me, Feel Me, Sell Me.
I could tell which table had the new MacBooks. It was the one that enjoyed the crowd.
I nudged my way toward the only one not being fondled — the 16-inch Pro.
It’s inevitable that the first thing you see is the notch. It’s not as proportionately intrusive as on the iPhone but, given that it was on a light background, it certainly stood out.
The next thing that struck me was the all-black keyboard. Yes, it’s different.
But then I had to do something important — pick it up. And goodness, is this thing heavier than any MacBook I can remember.
I simply couldn’t imagine having to carry it around.
Still, as I gently put it back down, an Apple store salesman approached me, together with someone who was either his trainee or his trainer. You just never know.
His enthusiasm was immediate and infectious.
“This notch..” I began. I got no further.
“Yeah, I think Apple’s been really clever with this,” he interrupted. “Look, see how it’s much higher up and doesn’t interfere with the screen. You lose nothing and you get more screen.”
It was then that he uploaded a picture to the screen and the notch entirely disappeared. I sensed a little hey, presto in his soul.
“Yeah, but that picture’s got a really dark background,” I mused.
He proceeded to continue lauding Apple’s cleverness by showing me how the cursor slips under the notch, as if it were magically propelled.
I’m prepared to believe that I could live with the notch. I’ve lived with it on iPhones for a while and it now feels merely like a slightly coarse branding device.
Oddly, the salesman didn’t mention FaceID, which I feel sure is the true purpose of the notch, as yet unrealized.
It’s Not Heavy, It’s My Business.
“It’s really heavy,” I continued.
“Apple’s decided to emphasize the Pro in the Pros,” he countered. “This really is for professionals. I mean, you can’t run a business on an Air, can you?”
I wondered whether to mention that I did, but at that very moment, the customer next to me had overheard my conversation about weight and handed me the 14-inch.
You can feel the difference in weight when compared to an Air instantly. It’s appreciably heavier. This wasn’t always the case with previous Pro/Air comparisons.
But my infectiously enthusiastic salesman had only just begun to enthuse.
“The Pro is for serious business,” he said. “Video editing, really serious stuff. Everything is just so much quicker.”
He wanted, though, to be fair and balanced. “It ramps up its power as you want more power from it. But when you compare it to the Air, it only gets 11 hours of battery and the Air gets 17.”
I’ve used an Air for a long time now. I’ve switched whenever there’s been a new one, though I avoided the M1 Air because it looked the same and I sensed there’d be another, more redesigned, one shortly
My salesman still needed to expound on the difference between the Air and the Pro.
“If you put the Pro power in the Air, it’d be like putting a massive engine into a Honda Civic,” he said. “You wouldn’t want to do that, would you?”
“Wait, did he just suggest my Air is a Honda Civic?” I thought, hurt hurtling through my chest.
“Oh, I don’t know. I think I’d like to see that,” I said.
“Yeah, but it’s not what you’d really want,” he said.
Color Me Sad And Take The Air Out Of My Sails.
So I told him what I really wanted.
“When do you think Apple will release a new Air?” I asked.
“No time soon,” was his confident response. “We just updated it.”
Yes, yes. The new chip. It’s wonderful, but how about a new Air design. How about, dare I mention them, colors?
“We haven’t had colors since, what, 2001,” he insisted.
“Hey, I was alive in 2001,” I mused, wondering if he actually meant 1999 when iMacs were colorful. Or perhaps 2006, when MacBooks came in white or black. Time is confusing when you’re young. Actually, it never stops being confusing.
“What’s wrong with silver and space gray? I really like them,” he said, with marked sincerity.
But then he made a delightful pivot, as they say in the Valley (of Lost Souls).
He invited me to close the 14-inch. And there it was. This MacBook isn’t exactly identical to the previous Pros.
The corners feel simultaneously rounder and more definite. This is, to my surprise, actually identifiable as a different product. If you look quite hard.
He saw my surprise and added: “And look, the Apple logo is bigger and it’s a different color too.”
This was just as his trainee/trainer whispered: “You haven’t talked about the sound.”
But I’d heard enough. The sales experience has been far more delightful than my last visit to an Apple store.
I’d seen enough to appreciate that at least some small nodding had been made toward aesthetics, while a large, constant head-bob had gone toward the pain previously suffered by the (more) professional user.
Of course many will love this laptop. If, that is, the speed promises materialize and if the notch doesn’t mess with too many apps.
I admit I was tempted to buy.
It’s still weighing on my mind.