There are many ways to say this, so let me look at a couple that are familiar. First, “Those who fail to learn from history are doomed to repeat it.” That explains why, after every Apple product announcement, we hear the same critics go nuts over what Apple didn’t do.
Here’s another. “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.” See? Slightly different words, much the same meaning. Apple introduced a new and long overdue line of MacBook Pros and what happened? Howling critics who never even touched the device. Are there alternatives to Apple’s latest and greatest? Yep.
There is little doubt in my mind that you’ve heard this story before. Apple introduces new products, technology gadget critics crawl out of the woodwork or from tech rag crawl spaces, and deliver a list of alternatives because they’re sure you won’t like what they don’t like, and they don’t like anything Apple (even if they use Apple products themselves).
Adrian Kingsley-Hughes says he uses Macs but disses Apple at every chance, and in light of the expected-and-delivered-on-time critical noise about Apple’s new MacBook Pro line, has a list of Windows 10-powered alternatives. It seems to me, and maybe it’s just me and nobody else in the known technology universe, that today’s crop of personal computers fall into three groups.
Macs – Each Mac comes with hardware and software, and macOS Sierra is the latest version of the latter, so at least half of what we buy a Mac for these days is the software we use on it, and there is no shortage of software because Macs run macOS Sierra, Windows 10, and most flavors of Linux and Unix, and, if you want, all at the same time. Windows can’t do that.
Windows – Not all PCs come with Windows installed, what with the growing trend toward cheap PC knockoffs called Chromebooks, which really are just cheap PCs, running Linux inside but with all of Google’s stolen software goodness, so there’s that. Otherwise, Windows PC hardware ranges from ultra cheap to Mac-like premium end of the spectrum.
Linux-like – This includes the Chromebooks, Unix servers, all the gazillion Linux distros, and anything else that really isn’t a Mac, really isn’t a typical Windows PC, and really wouldn’t fall into the same category as a Mac alternative because Photoshop.
That’s pretty much sums up the PC landscape, so what about specific alternatives to the MacBook Pro that professionals hate but that professional-wannabes are scarfing up faster than free beer at an Oakland Raiders game? Here are a few samples, but beware. These do not always stack up well against Apple’s new MacBook Pro line.
Dell XPS 13 – This one uses anything but Pro stuff; all kinds of ports, but only 4GB RAM, a measly 128GB SSD, and an Intel Core i3 CPU but it’s only $800. How is that a viable alternative to a new MacBook Pro when it’s barely an alternative to a MacBook Air?
HP Spectre X360 – Now we’re getting somewhere. Well, maybe not. A thin and light HP to match a MacBook Pro. Except for the specifications, still with that 4GB RAM, 128GB SSD and an older Intel Core i5 CPU. At $900 it’s hardly competitive with a MacBook Pro. But it’s thin and light.
Microsoft Surface Book – Alright, this time we’re getting somewhere and with some good competition. The MSB is closer to a 13-inch MacBook Pro than the 15-inch model that bristles with GPU power, but it’s the future– if the future for a traditional notebook is touchscreen and pencil. A Core i7 Intel CPU with 8GB of RAM and 256GB SSD and lots of battery life and extra ports is priced at about the same as a not-quite-comparable 15-inch MacBook Pro.
Funny thing. True story, too. Apple and Microsoft have a similar specification for what constitutes a professional notebook.
Lenovo Thinkpad X1 Yoga – Finally, we get a PC notebook that doubles as a contortionist. The Lenovo’s specifications start with a 14-inch CPU, an older Intel Core i5 CPU, 8GB of RAM and 128GB SSD for a mind-boggling $1,549 and somehow the touch-sensitive OLED display makes it a professional PC notebook.
Here’s another funny thing and you would think a technology publication would notice this because I did. Most of what the MacBook Pro critics claimed made it a non-ready-for-professional customers was the lack of upgradeable RAM to at least 32GB, and the lack of legacy ports, and the hefty price tag. Yet, Microsoft’s Surface Book models are priced comparably, and not one of those pushed by a technologist has anything that approaches 32GB of RAM, and nothing that can do 2TB of SSD storage.
Critics moan and groan after every Apple new product announcement, and then customers line up to buy them by the gazillions. For the new MacBook Pro, that line might include a few professional users because I’m sure there’s no line to buy a Surface Book or any of those other crazy alternatives.