In March I bought a 16" MacBook Pro, reasonably well tricked out: 2.3GHz 8-core Intel i9, 32G RAM, Radeon 5500M with 8G, 4T of disk. I hate it. It is slow and buggy enough that I wonder if maybe it’s a lemon? Herewith the gripes, for no particular reason other than it makes me feel like shouting at the world.
Bluetooth · It’s lame. I tried to broadcast music to the audio system in my boat and it sounds like dogshit and disconnects all the time. The car/boat audio guy said “Oh yeah, everyone knows the Mac Bluetooth is useless.” At this price it’s not OK to be useless.
Also my bluetooth mouse (Logitech) and keyboard (Apple) randomly unpair and have to be re-paired. I went and dug out an old Apple USB keyboard which has better keyfeel than the current “Magic” board anyhow, and doesn’t lose its mind.
Performance · It just doesn’t feel any faster than the 2014 15" MBP it replaced. The place this is killing me is Lightroom. Maybe the single most important keystrokes in Lightroom are “R”, which means “Bring up the tilt/crop control” and “D”, which says “Switch to Develop mode.”
When I hit either, sometimes it switches right away. Other times, the screen goes black for multiple seconds first. My images are either from my Pixel 4 or my Fuji X, both of which are twenty-something megapixels, i.e. not that damn big by the standards of modern cameras. I totally can’t spot a pattern of what makes them slow or fast.
The other irritant is when I make a change in the code that underlies this Web site, and republish the whole thing, that is the local version here on the Mac. This takes minutes, which is acceptable since as of this moment there are 5,112 entries. It’s a Perl script that reads and writes a whole lot of files and updates a Mysql instance.
It runs about as fast as it used to in 2014. Except for Perl and Mysql and Linux filesystems should all be faster in 2020 than they were then. The unremarkable Linux virt that runs tbray.org in 2020 is sure as hell faster at this than the 2014 incarnation was. Bah.
Video and browsers · I am afflicted with the well-known Chrome/Mac video glitching, which apparently Apple and Google are blaming each other for. BTW it also affects Microsoft Edge. Which means that for lots of pages I have to use Safari or Firefox. So far I’ve been trying Safari, which is alleged to be a fine demonstration of Cupertino engineering prowess. And while it’s got some nice features (CMD-Shift-\, followed by CMD-F), there’s a lot to hate. Time after time, it just locks up or goes unresponsive on some multimedia-intense site or another (especially Twitter) so I sigh and switch back to Chrome, where it Just Works. Except when the video goes haywire.
Plus when I hit a previously-unvisited URL I get horrible initial latency that smells like DNS to me. Plus I get really annoying spurious refreshes; after Safari has laboriously loaded a big complex image it’ll refresh it just to make sure.
I’ve started poking around Firefox, maybe it’ll be better.
Interfaces · To make professional use of a MacBook Pro, you need a CalDigit TS3+ or equivalent Thunderbolt hub. It’s not exactly exotic to want an outboard screen and some USBs for keyboards and mice, and to look at SD cards, and to talk S/PDIF or line-level for high-quality music. You might get lucky and have them all be USB-C and there be 4 or less of them, but I’m not.
Most of us work from our sofa or a café sometimes, but much professional time happens at a desk that has a keyboard and mouse and screen and audio and so on waiting to go. With the CalDigit, you plug one wire into your Mac and you’re good to go.
Apple should bloody well buy CalDigit and ship one of these with every high-end MacBook because it’s just not a complete product otherwise.
MacOS · I’d like Apple to gather all the Product Managers for this software and put them on paid leave for a couple of years with no network access, to stop them pissing in the swimming pool. In particular the ones who work on Finder. It’s still the best general-purpose computer user experience available from anyone, but I see little evidence that anyone with their hands on the steering wheel understands why the good parts are good. I can’t think of any really great Mac apps aside from Preview and Keynote.
Meh · Yep, the screen has loads of resolution (not sure if there are more bits than the 2014 model) but the brightness could be way better, this is not a thing you can hope to use anywhere near sunlight. You still can’t play any meaningful games on it.
The keyboard is neither better nor worse than my 2014 machine. Shouldn’t I expect progress in five years?
The case is an ostentatiously neutral gunmetal grey. By the time I bought this I was on the way out of Amazon and thus it is unadorned by any stickers. It’s certainly not offensive but I can’t imagine anyone looking at it and thinking “that’s cool.”
Good stuff · The speakers are remarkable. They are not terribly accurate — that would be too much to expect from this form factor — but they include the important parts of speech and music and omit things that are omissable, while generating remarkable volume when that’s what you need.
The thing that’s called a “Touch Bar” at apple.com but “Control Strip” in the System Prefs (a little amateurish, that) is pretty brilliant. Lots of people have apparently not customized its system area. I have and you should; mine shows Sleep, Mute, Volume, and Brightness. It could be a touch more responsive, I have to tap a little harder than I’d like. And quite a few of the apps haven’t figured out how to make good use of it.
I could forgive all this shit · Yep, if only it were faster. Is it possible I have a lemon?