The 2011 MacBook Pros are amazing machines. Fast processors, awesome graphics, new thunder-and-lightning connectivity. If you are a professional-on-the-go dealing with high definition video in Final Cut Pro, print-resolution images in Photoshop or 3D animation in Maya, Apple's new laptops will make you very happy. But if you are just a regular user, the new MacBook Pros are not for you.
They are not for you because bigger and faster and more impressive benchmarks are not always the best thing for consumers. Now, more than ever, the MacBook Pro really is for Pros.
Fast is already fast enough
The fact is that most people don't need that warp speed. Sure, faster is always nice, but people can't type any faster. They can't go through their DSLR photos and instagrams any faster. They can't edit their home videos or surf web pages any faster.
For consumers—the core of Apple's market now—the current fast is already fast enough.
Instead of meaningless power, consumers should pick smarter, more convenient machines for them. A fast-enough machine with the lightest weight possible, ultra-thin, with a ridiculously long battery life. The convenience trifecta. Consumer computer nirvana.
That's why machines like the MacBook Air are so successful among both the general public and industry types, who are loving the MacBook Air because of its combination of convenience and not-the-fastest-but-plenty-fast speed. One example is Gizmodo's Joel Johnson—who does plenty of great video editing. "I'm so happy with [the MacBook Air 11], it's so light! And it's plenty fast for all I do" he says, while demonstrating how it boots up in a couple seconds. Tom Plunkett, Gawker's own Chief Technological Officer and a software engineer, also uses the MacBook Air 13 because it hits the sweet spot between convenience and speed. These are people who, previously, would previously have only used a MacBook Pro.
Where's the laptop of the future?
As a regular user—who also does plenty of Photoshop, illustration and video editing—my biggest disappointment about the 2011 MacBook Pros is that they are not the MacBooks of the future that I imagined, as suggested by Tim Cook's words. The MacBook Air is "the MacBook of the future shipping today," he said.
To me, that meant that today I was going to see a MacBook Pro 15 with the same thinness of the MacBook Air. Ultra-light and beautiful, with plenty of real estate to accommodate an SSD drive, an even larger gallery, some more memory and faster processor and graphics. Not much faster—just fast enough to make the 15-inch HD screen swoosh along. Technologically, it's entirely possible at an acceptable price, just like the 11 and 13-inch models are possible at their size and price.
That, to me, is the MacBook of the future for consumers who need a larger screen. And clearly, that's where the Apple market is right now: In the consumer camp, which is why there's so much emphasis on iOS and the iPadized Mac OS X Lion.
I have no doubt that we will have that machine soon enough. It's worth waiting for.