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By any other name: Counting ports on the MacBook Pro

By any other name: Counting ports on the MacBook Pro

Not everyone defines “pro” the same way.



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Apple has a terrible secret that it’s hiding from you.

Writing for the Forbes contributor network and open mic night at the Theater of Performative Outrage, John Koetsier makes a startling discovery about the MacBook Pro.

“The Unforgivable Sin Apple Committed with The 2020 MacBook Pro.” (Tip o’ the antlers to Shawn King.)

It turns out this is an original sin. As in “This was the way this laptop was designed and advertised. Did you not read the list of features?”

…I didn’t think when I ordered a new MacBook Pro recently I’d have to return it almost immediately.

It’s weird what happens when you don’t take even the slightest amount of time to check into the thing you’re paying $1,300 for.

…I didn’t think Apple would completely and utterly ignore the meaning of the word “Pro.”

I didn’t think it could happen to me, a simple farm boy on his first day spending more than a thousand dollars in the big city. But that smart-talkin’ Apple got me to buy a laptop without really looking at the configuration.

Let me just spit it right out…

In the fourth paragraph.

…two of the three allegedly “Pro” 13” MacBook models that Apple just updated have a grand total of two ports.

Apple also added a fourth model at the high end that also has four ports. And, of course, both of the 16-inch models have four ports. Both of the MacBook Air configurations have just two ports. This has been your port update. Hopefully there will be no surprises from here on out because apparently none of this is noted anywhere on Apple’s website—haha, no, of course, it’s all right there.

Koetsier goes on to detail all the wonderful things that professionals might want to connect to their laptops that they can’t because — and he doesn’t know if you knew this or not because it certainly isn’t written down anywhere — there are only two ports. Pros, you see, might want to connect a monitor, a microphone, a webcam, ethernet, an external drive, a large-array dingus, a small-array dingus, a Phellenfooper scrambler, two or more Benson-Fellini shlempers, and no fewer than 20 SCSI terminators for no reason at all.

Pros also love to connect them each independently and famously eschew any kind of hub that might connect multiple devices to one port. If your laptop doesn’t look like a Swiss Army knife, how will you show how pro you are?

To be fully straightforward, there’s definitely a mea culpa here: I didn’t check the machine we were buying for ports. I just assumed that it would have four, like my 3-year-old not-top-of-the-line MacBook Pro from 2017.

But in 2017, it was the same. Apple sold an entry-level MacBook Pro with two ports, just like now. Indeed, they’ve sold a two-port low end model since 2016 when the current form factor was introduced, adding the Touch Bar to it in 2019.

Koetsier lists all the ports you get with a sub-$400 Dell Inspiron, noting it’s not an “apples-to-apples” comparison. But those unmentioned apples are kind of the whole point. “I don’t want to make a comparison, but check out this comparison.”

Should a “pro” laptop have more than two ports? Maybe. That’s an argument we can have. The Macalope has a 2016 MacBook Pro and he’s very rarely used more than two ports at the same time. The next time he buys a MacBook, he’ll almost certainly get one with two ports, whatever it’s named. Apple defines “pro” as having a faster processor and more RAM and storage. The low-end MacBook Pro can be configured with an Core i7 CPU, 16GB of RAM and 2TB of storage. That seems pretty professional to The Macalope, but maybe ports are your thing.

Remember that this is the same Apple that for years sold a MacBook with only one port. So, if you think they’d never sell a MacBook Pro with two, you probably haven’t been paying attention.

Well, clearly, because they are and you bought one without knowing it.

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In addition to being a mythical beast, the Macalope is not an employee of Macworld. As a result, the Macalope is always free to criticize any media organization. Even ours.


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