I still wish (with increased futility) for a 13" MacBook Pro

in Current Mac Hardware edited January 2014
The choice between a 13" MacBook and a 15" MacBook Pro is driving me nuts. Featurewise, these new MacBooks are a bit better than I expected in many ways -- but I find that both good news and bad news.

The good news is the if I buy a MacBook non-Pro, I won't feel like I'm "just settling" quite as much as I thought I might have to.

The bad news is that I really still wish there was a 13" MacBook Pro, but it's looking more and more unlikely that such a beast will ever exist.

Pro or non-Pro, I'd intend to upgrade to 120GB hard drive and 1GB RAM. I'm pricing the 2.16GHz Pro vs. the 2.0GHz non-Pro, and that makes the price difference an far-from-insubstantial $950 (slightly less if you throw in $19 for the DVI adapter missing from the non-Pro model).

I like the look of the black MacBook, but I think $150 premium for nothing other than a different color of plastic is ridiculous and I won't pay it.

Either way I go, both the MacBook and MacBook Pro will be an improvement over my current 12" PowerBook in nearly all ways -- faster, nicer display, built-in iSight, IR remote, MagSafe, better optical drive, etc. The few non-improvements: my current PowerBook is a smaller and lighter than either new model would be, the PowerBook has a better keyboard that the MacBook, the PowerBook is aluminum vs. the MacBook being plastic.

Debating the pros and cons, here's what I've come up with:

Where the MacBook non-Pro wins:
  • Price, by a long shot -- nearly $1000 difference.

  • Smaller and...

  • Lighter. I've gotten used to my 12" PowerBook, having owned a couple of 15" Titanium PowerBooks before that, and it's amazing how much difference an inch or two, or even fraction thereof, and a few ounces of weight can make in the feeling of portability.

  • Battery life -- estimated 6 hours vs. 4.5 hours for the Pro.

  • The plastic enclosure is probably more durable than aluminum.

  • User replaceable hard drive.

Where the MacBook Pro wins:
  • Aluminum, not plastic!

  • More screen real estate. As much as I love my 12" PowerBook, I do sometimes crave a bit more room to spread out, and 1440x900 would be very welcome.

  • Non-glossy display option available.

  • Slightly less squinty: 110.3 dpi vs. 113.5 dpi.

  • Dual DVI video output.

  • Much better graphics support: a real GPU vs. cheesy integrated video.

  • Nicer keyboard -- both for ergonomics and illumination. I did get a chance to type very briefly on a new MB tonight -- it's not as bad as I might have thought, but it's not like I spent that much time with it, and I can't shake the feeling that a chiclet style keyboard is a cheesy thing.

  • Ambient light sensor.

  • I haven't done any listening comparisions, but based on size and location alone, the speakers built into the MBP are probably better than in the MB -- not that either are going to sound all that great.

  • ExpressCard/34 slot.

  • A short-term advantage -- if I'm buying now, the MBPs have had longer to shake out manufacturing bugs than the new MBs.

  • 0.16 more GHz! w00t!

While the MBP's win list is a good bit longer than the MB's, the MB's list has some big wins in it -- huge price advantage, portability, 33% more battery life -- whereas many of the MBP wins are fairly minor, especially considering my likely uses (I won't be gaming, won't need to hook up to an external display very often, probably won't ever need to use the ExpressCard slot). I'm beginning to lean towards the 15" MBP... but damn it, I really want the non-existent 13" MBP instead! \

[Edit: had to add "user replaceable hard drive" to the MB advantages.]


  • Reply 1 of 3
    shetlineshetline Posts: 4,695member
    We all know the 12" PowerBook was in many ways really just a 12" iBook with an aluminum enclosure. If Apple followed a similar route to make a 13" MacBook Pro -- a slightly glorified regular 13" MacBook wrapped in aluminum instead of plastic -- I could be pretty happy with that.

    It seems a lot of people are turning out to be willing to pay a $150 premium for black plastic over white plastic. If people will pay that much for just a color change, why not as much as $250 for aluminum, which offers a small size and weight advantage as well as being (to many of us) more aesthetically pleasing? An aluminum-clad 13" MacBook should, for instance, be able to shrink down from 1.08" thick down to the magic 1" thick or a little less.

    Bump the price a little more for a better keyboard (maybe even with backlighting -- although the 12" PowerBook never got this feature) and a real GPU instead of integrated video, and I'd happily pay a $400-$500 premium over the price of a white 13" MacBook for this hypothetical 13" MacBook Pro.

    And of course, offer the choice of a glossy or non-glossy display, like the rest of the MacBook Pro line.

    I'm guessing that the smaller 13" display is a significant factor in the 6 hour battery life of a MacBook non-Pro, vs. 4.5 hours for the 15" MacBook Pro. A real GPU is going to use more power than integrated video, and if we presume a slightly faster CPU (2.16 vs. 2GHz) that could consume a bit more power too. Perhaps this hypothetical 13" MacBook Pro could split the difference on battery life and get between 5 and 5.5 hours?
  • Reply 2 of 3
    I get the feeling there will be another MacBookSomething - but it will be a 'light' laptop. With the low voltage chip - and a high premium. But who knows for sure.
  • Reply 3 of 3
    shetlineshetline Posts: 4,695member
    I finally gave in and went with a 2.16 GHz 15" MacBook Pro, with 1 GB RAM (as 1 SO-DIMM -- I'll pick up another 1 GB cheaper elsewhere) and a 120 GB hard drive. I got $50 off AppleCare by ordering through my local Apple reseller.

    I'm still not completely happy about having to go bigger to get the features I want, but I'll see how it goes living with a 15" laptop again, and if I'm not thrilled, there's always eBay. Maybe in 6-12 months there will be something new that I'll be happier with (not that a 15" MacBook is anything to bitch about ).
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