As we continue to load greenhouse gases into the atmosphere and race toward certain destruction, I’m pleased to have a new 13″ Macbook Pro with Touch Bar. I offer some personal thoughts.
I have no doubt that this is the best available notebook computer for my needs right now. I depend on Apple’s culture, one that works to provide a user experience by combining hardware and software. The screen is incredibly bright, high resolution and has extended color range that surpass anything else I can buy. As a portable device it is light, provides great battery life and performs what I need to do fast enough that it never gets in the way. As far as I’m concerned, as long as I’m not waiting for my computer to complete a task, the process is seamless.
For now, the tools I use require a Mac. There's Eastgate's Tinderbox, Devonthink Pro, R Studio, and Mendeley (my reference manager of choice even though I’m forced to use Endnote with collaborators). I was sorry to see Aperture go, but Lightroom won that war and Adobe has prospered. I don't use Pages and the suite, because Office 365 is fully interoperable across Windows, MacOS and iOS. The iPad acts as a more portable, more personal extension for selected activities, but can’t provide the seamless workflow yet.
This isn’t my first Mac of course. In fact, I collected recordings from neurons deep in the brain for my PhD in 1980 with an Apple IIe using an analog to digital expansion card. I bought a 512K Mac as a Neurology resident and used it to write my first grants. These were expensive and not mainstream choices at the time, but they provided an experience that was worth it. I stayed with the Mac through my academic career, even buying a Mac clone for my lab at one point.
As a mature product now, the Mac is on a long product cycle. The current technology improvements are incremental and still involve tradeoffs between speed and battery life. This new notebook is not much different from the last, but overall improved. Good enough for me and those using Macs in science, art and photography. If you need more power for simulation and AI research, you tend to move back to centralized big iron available on the network easily enough if you’re working in that environment. The last time I had to run long simulations in R, I offloaded it to a Mac Mini I use as a server.
The truth is, I’ve felt funny as Apple has become the default choice among my peers for mobile, tablet and notebook. In academic settings, most of the computers at the conference table are Macs. It seems no longer cool, just smart. Maybe I’ll even admit to a little comfort from the price rise as Apple has moved to Retina screens across all the notebooks. These are great tools and worth a bit extra to ensure their continued development.