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Size REALLY does matter – my MacBook problem

my 16” MacBook conundrum

I get it, honestly, I get it. If this title appeared on one of my YouTube videos, more than likely, I’d be accused of clickbait. It’s a habit we get in to, but, as you are here now, and I have your attention, let’s get in to it, shall we, and why I felt it apt to dream up that title? It all started last year…my next MacBook odyssey.

Is a laptop ever big enough?

At the last Apple event of 2021, Apple unleashed two all new MacBook Pros, namely, the 14-inch & 16-inch models. These MacBooks had the all new, at that time, Apple Silicone M1 Max & M1 Pro chips whirring away at the heart of them. For a creative like myself, this was Nirvana. But, and here was the stumbling block as far as I was concerned, (cost intentionally put to one side)…the screen size.

Bigger than they seem

Looking online or at reviews, it is super hard to appreciate the sheer size of the monitor or screen that this largest MacBook comes with. For a laptop, it is supersized, but that is my point, for a laptop. At the end of the day, it is still a mobile computer, and for that mobility, you will always sacrifice in certain areas. To be up-front with you, I have no great need for mobility. My work is nearly all done within the confines of an office or studio. I live in this creator’s bubble, with the romantic thought of writing these blogs from a coffee shop, but rarely, if ever, does that materialise. Hardly ever do I visit clients and work creatively with them, on site. So given I don’t need a laptop in the sense of making my job function, left me with this unedifying question, of should I seriously look to invest in one of these new MacBooks. I have two regular daily drivers, a 2019 15-inch MacBook Pro, and the machine I am writing this on now, a highly spec’d 2015 27-inch iMac. Both have limitations and I think I am in the market to make a move, but I am finding the current offerings lacking in one way or another.

MacBook

Buyer remorse

Yup, it’s a real thing. If you are new to the term, in essence, it means regretting, within a heartbeat, the purchase you have just made. Nothing with the Apple badge come cheaply, so it is not a mistake I want to make.

What’s on offer, and what’s wrong with them?

Looking at the current lineup, here is what I am faced with. Firstly, we have the 2021 24-inch iMac with the M1 chip. A great machine and almost undoubtedly quicker than anything I currently work on. Two problems here though, the first of which being it being only a 24-inch screen and not a match for the beloved 27-inch display model. I know, I know, smaller bezels and all that, but in real terms, it is still smaller. The other concern I face with this model is that it is already an old chip, as it seems likely the M2 chip is now just around the corner. Summary – an old chip with a smaller screen.

Next is the Mac Mini. I wrote about this here. I have nothing but praise for this Mac. Anyone I know that has ever owned one raves about and cherishes it. The chip issue is not a concern as we are about to be served the new chip options for the Mac Mini. The issue for me with the Mini, is the lack of a great, Retina display equivalent monitor. The displays on Mac’s really do spoil the party for you when looking at other monitors. They simply pale by comparison. Yes, quite likely this year, Apple once again are about to dip their profit laden toes in to the monitor market. Technically, I know, they already do have a monitor for sale, but when I last checked the back of the sofa, I couldn’t find a spare £6000. If we get realistically priced monitors from Apple this year, then the Mac Mini could certainly be a possibility. I have trackpads, mouse, and keyboards a-plenty, so all I’d really need is the Mini and a monitor. Summary – watch this space, I guess.

The next option then were the MacBook Pro’s. The 14-inch is not for me, but let’s take a close look at its big brother, shall we, the 16-inch. Even in its base configuration, it has more ‘oomph’ than I will probably ever require. Begin looking at the M1 Pro and Max options and honestly, I’d have headroom on those machines for years to come. Speed, storage and as productive as I could ever wish for. But….by my standards, still small. Summary – nearly perfect.

Seeing is believing

Although I don’t have an actual Apple Store particularly nearby to where I live, I do have a branch of an official re-seller close to hand, where, over the years, I have bought many, many of my Mac’s. Pretty soon after release, I went by and put myself in front of the MBP. The quality of the display blew me away, but at the back of my mind was still the size. Since then, I have gone back in and looked at it so many times, that is finely ridiculous! Last weekend, was almost an inevitability for my journey, as I wound in London and went in to an Apple Store and spent an absolute age with the 16-inch. The Apple staff could not have been more generous with their time, and we talked through all options. Although none of their store machines were running Adobe Audition or Premiere Pro, I opened and ran some projects on the native Apple equivalents, those, of course, being Final Cut Pro and Logic Pro. Make no mistake, from a productivity standpoint, the 16-inch MacBook would save me so much time. It was important, however, that I took a step back into reality. At the showroom, just over my right shoulder loomed a 27-inch, and every time I looked over at it, in my heart, I knew that is where I had to be. Given the work that I carry out day to day, screen real-estate is of considerable importance, and as much as the MacBook impresses me, for now at least, I know I need to wait just a little while longer.

It’s a fickle old world

When these latest MacBooks came out at the tail-end of last year, all the tech channels on YouTube were falling over themselves with superlative praise. Over the past few months, though, a number of them have started to mention that they are struggling with the display size. Some, have even gone out and bought the ProDisplay XDR to run with it as it was bugging them so much. Part of me thought that it was just the number of times I had been around the sun in comparison to them! But if the younger, just as creative guys were saying it too, then I knew I was on to something. See, size really does matter. Told you so!

I’m going to be all grown-up about it

Yup, I have decided to wait. The two daily Macs I have, whilst both having limitations, are doing the job for me; blogs are still getting written and videos uploaded, so in the truest sense of the word, I don’t need another new Mac. So, I am going to wait this one out, for just a wee bit longer. The product release season is about to start within weeks now, as I write this blog. The rumour mills seem bloated with expectation. Experience has taught me not to take too much notice of the tech leakers. Only Tim and the Apple high-up’s really know what we will be gifted this year. But if, if we get a new 27-inch iMac or some Apple displays, well then, my troubles will really start!

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Originally published at https://www.talkingtechandaudio.com/blog on February 16, 2022.

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