MacBook Pro: Is Apple too futuristic with its new products?

Apple's new MacBook Pro does away with SD card slots and has new USB ports, leaving some critics wondering if it is putting too much hope in a wireless world.

Andy Wong/AP/File
A man walks into an Apple store in Beijing. Apple has just released its updated version of the MacBook Pro.

Apple has always often been seen as the leader in consumer technology, running ahead of its competitors in combining function and industrial design into its products.

Its new MacBook Pro run along the same lines by eliminating familiar features such as function buttons and the SD card slot. A version of the MacBook Pro will boast a touch bar in place of the usual function keys on top of keyboards that supports scrolling and a fingerprint sensor for purchasing. The iPhone 7 released in September got rid of headphone jacks.

But the futuristic designs have left some users and critics wondering if Apple has leaped too far ahead of user habits.

"Apple is trying to return to its old habit of dragging us forward into the future like a wild-eyed inventor, but this time it might have cut a little too deep into present-day functionality while trying to promote tomorrow’s technology," Vlad Savov wrote about the new MacBook Pro for The Verge. "If its future is going to be characterized by such hostile decisions as the removal of the headphone jack from the iPhone or the scything off of the beloved MagSafe and SD card slot from laptops, maybe Apple isn’t your best friend anymore. Can this company continue to claim it’s looking out for its users’ best interests while discarding some of their most necessary tools?"

As Mr. Savov points out, the new MacBook Pro has no SD card slot, leaving professional photographers – a loyal Apple product audience – stuck between forking out up to $50 to buy a cable to connect cameras to the laptop or relying on faulty wireless transfer apps. The new USB port also demands the purchase of USB adapter and specific dongles to connect the laptop to projectors, Ethernet ports, and iPhones. Only two USB-C ports are available for charging, data and video output, with higher-end models getting four ports.

However, there will still be headphone jacks in this computer.

"The new MacBook Pro is as beautiful and desirable as ever, but using it is alienating to anyone living in the present. I agree with Apple’s vision of the future. I’m just not buying it today," Savov wrote.

Another reviewer at CNet calls the new MacBook Pro a "want, not a need," while PC Magazine Lab lead analyst Joel Santo Domingo wrote that with a nearly all-new system installed in the laptop, "you'll have to either update all of your old peripherals or carry a handful of adapters with you."

The same complaints over having to buy new wireless headphones or inconvenience over limited ports were heard over the iPhone 7 that did away with headphone jacks in favor of "ushering in what it hopes is a tangle-free era of wireless listening," as The Guardian wrote.

Being a pioneer, however, means causing disruption – an approach familiar to Apple.  Phil Schiller, Apple senior vice president of worldwide marketing, is confident of their products, saying that early orders for the pro notebook has exceeded previous models, as reported by Apple Insider.

"We know we made good decisions about what to build into the new MacBook Pro and that the result is the best notebook ever made, but it might not be right for everyone on day one," Mr. Schiller told The Independent. "That's okay, some people felt that way about the first iMac and that turned out pretty good."

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