Published on November 15th, 2016 | by The TechView Team1
TechView goes Laptop Shopping
At Techview, we have a diverse set of geeks – everyone’s profession is in different sectors. We thought it would be a great idea for us to hypothetically select our own new laptop from the breed of new offerings that have suddenly flooded the market.
Broadly, we can profile our writers as
Shiva Singh & Bhavishya Kanjhan = General business + personal computing + lots of travel
Yasser Masood = Creative Suites + general business + personal computing
Varuna Singh = Coding + creative suites + business/ personal computing
Mohit Jivani & Jugal Parekh = CAD engineering softwares + business/ personal computing
Nakul Gupta = General business + personal computing + high on photo and video editing.
MacBook Pro 13 Retina (2013) + iPhone 6
- Mostly MS Office and Browser based work
- Frequent use of photo and video editing applications for content on Techview.me
- A lot of use while traveling. MBP offers a good mix of portability and battery life
- Use large displays at home and office, so HDMI connectivity is very useful.
I was waiting for the new MacBook Pro machines to upgrade but they don’t seem like that much of an upgrade. I’m increasingly enamoured by the flexible form factor and touch capabilities that are available in the new Windows-based machines. The ability to do pull out the screen and read PDFs while taking notes via pen is something that the Apple products don’t offer with a desktop based OS. The iPad Pro will offer those capabilities but with a OS that still offers a limited multi-tasking experience.
On the other hand, the longevity on a Macbook Pro is excellent. My 2.5+ year MBP runs really fast and a major contributor is MacOS. Windows tends to slow down over a period of time and requires a reformat to bring it back to speed. The MacBooks also have an excellent sleep capability that not only wakes up almost instantly, but also preserve battery life. I’m yet to find this matched in any Windows machine.
My choice this year is to not upgrade. The funny part is that Apple made such a good machine that I don’t need to buy another machine for a while. The new MBPs aren’t a compelling upgrade. I’m going to wait until next year to evaluate my use case and decide whether to stick with the MacOS ecosystem or switch back over to Windows.
My Choice (Ideal)
My idea choice would be a Surface Book style laptop that runs MacOS. It should allow me to detach the screen and use a pen input. I’m looking for 3 USB Type-C ports (including charging), one USB Type A, one HDMI, a 3.5MM port, and an SD Card Reader.
I realize this is further than wishful thinking, but one can hope.
MacBook Pro 15” Retina (Late 2013) + Microsoft Surface Pro 4 + MacBook 12” + iPhone 7 Plus + Samsung S7
Currently loving my MacBook Pro 15” (Late 2013 model), I couldn’t be happier to have gone for a fully spec’d out machine. Looking at the current MacBook Pros, BEST. DECISION. EVER.
I use my MacBook 12” for travel, I use my Surface Pro 4 for a mix of work + using legacy Windows apps, and my MacBook Pro 15 for just about everything else. It is my go-to machine, almost always with me. As I did get it about 2 years ago, I was waiting for this refresh, just like everyone else. Was I disappointed? Yes. Not because of the lack of ports, because of the lack of innovation.
Apple had a good few years to come up with a bold refresh for the MacBook Pro line, but the end result was a bit disappointing. While the lightness is great, adding a touch bar but removing a lot of the necessary ports is hardly going to add to my productivity. Don’t get me wrong though, I’m a fan of USB-C, but a 2xUSB-C + 1xUSB + 1xSD Card reader would have been the perfect combination of ports. The other thing is, I (and I’m sure most other Pro users) don’t look at my keyboard while typing. Adding a touch bar, which changes functions depending on the app you’re using, is just distracting.
And then there’s MagSafe – it was perfect. It was genius. It was unique. Gone.
That said (#RantOver), I’ll probably continue using my current MacBook Pro 15 as my primary machine for as long as possible, it’s perfect. The new Surface Book looks like a great option too, not because of a touchscreen, but because of the insane 16-hour battery life, with amazing specs. Too bad it’s not yet available in the Middle East.
Current Gear : Sony VAIO 14″ + iPhone 6
What do I do with my laptop:
- A billion Chrome and Edge tabs open
- IDEs, Code editors, emulators
- Devices sometimes connected
- Working between Windows and Ubuntu (thanks to Ubuntu on Windows)
- External monitor connected at times
- Write, write, edit
- Make videos! (Check our YouTube channel)
What laptop do I have currently:
The old one still works right?
Currently, I have a quite old Sony VAIO laptop dual booted (Windows and Ubuntu Linux). I’ve upgraded the RAM to about 12-14GB, and I’m ashamed to even looking at the generation of i5 it is. It’s pretty old. However, my usage of laptops prove a point on many people’s mind: The old one still works right? So I’m not letting go until this month everyone got a refresh and PCs are cool again!
What’s wrong with the laptop I have:
Its old, getting slow, doesn’t have an SSD, the screen is very last gen and has no graphics power what so ever. I reviewed some recent laptops, and the graphics performance really got me into PC gaming again. I don’t want to miss out on that. Surprisingly the keyboard and trackpad in the VAIO are amazing for a Windows laptop. But my laptop does have some physical defects and cracks so Its high time to upgrade.
PCs are cool again!
I’ve kept delaying an upgrade mostly because its such a pain moving from laptop to laptop. It isn’t as simple as moving from phones to phones. When you’re working the last thing you want is to mess up something. The next one needs to be properly planned and be worth it.
What do I want:
Here’s the thing. I spend most of my time with this device. It has to be flexible I don’t want to buy another tablet or writing pad. I’m a big fan of pen, and I take notes on a Dell Venue 8 Pro. I’d also like some form of graphics power. Windows Hello is a great addition. But above all it has to have a decent battery life.
I need to have ports – for sanity
I also don’t want to give up on USB Type A. I get it its courage and forward thinking – but I’m going to be working and spending most of my time I need it to have one – for sanity sake. That being said the problem with the Surface Book is it doesn’t even have a single type C port. I think it makes sense for me to wait a bit on the Surface. Whatever decision you make you may want to wait for it to be future proof and USB Type C is future proof in ways that expand and increase the performance of your laptop. You really want your next laptop to have a Type C preferably Thunderbolt 3 featured one.
All the talk about missing Kabby Lake – I don’t think it matters so much. 16GB should be enough for most people including me. The expected battery life today is real life performance should give you at least 8 hours (a full day work).
I’m also a big fan of the ThinkPad series of devices – ergonomically minimal and extremely well built. The top few laptops today: Surface Book, Lenovo Yoga 910, HP Spectre x360 (2016), ThinkPad X1 Carbon, Dell XPS 13, MacBook Pro (2016).
15-inch MacBook Pro (Late 2011) + iPad Air 2 + iPhone 6 + Samsung Galaxy S6 Edge
- Productivity apps (e.g. MS Office, Google Drive, etc.)
- Frequent use of photo and video editing applications (e.g. Adobe Creative Suite, GIMP, etc.)
- HD entertainment and DLNA streaming to other devices
- Connecting to larger displays and using wireless peripherals for work
My Current Kit’s Perspective
I’ve been using my MacBook Pro for almost 5 years, and I maxed out the specs when my father bought it for me in the US (they’re cheaper even with the taxes than buying them in the Middle East). I didn’t jump onto the Retina bandwagon like the rest of the team, until after I upgraded my iPhone 4S to the 6 and my iPad 2 to the Air 2. I clung to my MacBook Pro as it was my longer-term investment. I had never even used an Android device on a day-to-day basis until I got a Samsung Galaxy S6 Edge (courtesy of my wife) and I’ve been juggling it as much as my iPhone 6.
It’s always been my go-to machine to get crunch-work done wherever I’ve traveled. Whether it’s editing videos in Premiere or transcoding other media using open-source apps, this 15-inch machine has never broken a sweat (although it did suffer the purported GPU issue, which was fixed for FREE out of warranty). It may be heavier than the Air and MacBook, but that hasn’t stopped me from carrying it around. It’s got me covered with ports that I need (USB, SD Card, headphone jack, etc.) and the trusty MagSafe charger that snaps off without an issue.
When it comes to doing smartphone photography, my Galaxy S6 Edge easily beats out my iPhone 6 for some great shots (these photos from my recent work trips are a testament to it: Windhoek and Helsinki). Transferring stuff between the multitude of devices without any cables is a breeze, courtesy of my favourite cloud storage apps Dropbox/Box/OneDrive.
My Choice for an upgrade
As much as I wanted a reason to upgrade my MacBook Pro to a newer model, I think I’ll sit this cycle out until the next refresh. I’m sure that I’ll easily get the next MacOS upgrade as well before they exclude my model. I don’t upgrade my smartphone very often, but 2017 will mark a decade since the iPhone was first unveiled. My expectations are high for the next model. I’m not seeing the hybrid laptops being my ultimate replacement to the MacBook Pro, but I look to them as a supplement.
MacBook Pro Retina (2012) + iPhone 6 Plus
- Processor and RAM intensive Windows-based engineering applications
- Google Apps for Business
- Microsoft Office
- A lot of use while traveling
- Utilize large display, and ergonomic keyboard and mouse when at desk
My Choice (Realistic)
I have, to be honest – I was desperately waiting to upgrade my MacBook Pro, and was consistently disappointed post every Apple event since 2015 that they didn’t launch a new one. Now they did, and I am unsure! I love my MBP – people in my industry are surprised that I use a Mac for Windows applications, but with Parallels, it runs circles around most Windows machines out there! It is 4 years old this month, and I have yet never really complained about a single thing. This MBP was my initiation into the Apple eco-system, and it engulfed my entire family and every electronic device from iPhones to Apple TV to Airport Extreme to AirPrint enabled printers.
However, now I am torn between the new MBP 15 and Microsoft Surface Book and the Dell XPS 15. The reason is simple – MBP 15 has made a few choices that baffle the current me but would resonate with 2018 me – only USB-C support, no 32 GB RAM support, and man, look at those prices!
Anyway, from the current selection, and judging by my long term buys, I would still go for the new MBP 15.
My Choice (Ideal)
Unlike 4 years ago, eco-system does not matter. All devices are powerful enough to run independently whether it is the Apple TV or the router. Considering my professional requirements and finally a good software/ hardware combo available, ideally, I would go for Microsoft Surface Book i7 quad core, if it had two USB-C ports.
Omitting those from the upgrade right now reduces the future proof-ness of that machine, and I would rather wait till they incorporate that in their upgrade next year.
Surface Pro 2 + S7 Edge
- Personal use outside of work hours for casual, creative tasks
- 3D CAD Software
- Microsoft Office Suite
When I bought the Surface Pro 2 originally, I had high hopes for a super portable device that could do tasks a full-fledged computer could do. At home, I could setup a dock with the external monitor, mouse and keyboard; and every so often when you need to get out, just grab and go. The SP2 was good at that, but it wasn’t great. It was slightly heavier than expected, the battery left me wanting more, and the lapability was abysmal, to say the least.
The Surface Pro 4 would be my go to choice now. I love the portability, and I love the in-built kickstand for reading and browsing time where the keyboard can just disappear. I am so used to grabbing the Surface Pro like a book, I don’t think any other laptop out there feels as natural as the Surface Pro does. There are some thin and light ultra-portables out there that come close, but most of them seem to have underpowered processors that will not like my CAD applications. The Lenovo Yoga with the i7 processor would be a close contender, but then again, the weight of the Pro 4 would always be lighter due to the extremely light keyboard.
The next refresh of the Surface Pro will be highly desirable for me. The cycle of waiting to get a new setup is never ending, but your setup will last the longest if you buy the latest. At this stage, the Surface Pro 4 will not be the latest in terms of specs.
Considering the fact that Windows 10 has breathed a new life into my Pro 2 improving the battery life and usability, I’ll be waiting it out for the next Surface Pro refresh.
MacBook Pro Retina 13” (Late 2013) + iPad Air 2 + Blackberry Q10 + iPhone 7 Plus
What do I do with my laptop?
I try to get most out of my gadget, starting with the laptop I usually do my office work on that which mainly consists of using lot of Microsoft office services. Attending video and audio conferences. To-do apps and Evernote to get my stuff done. The MacBook shines when it comes to personal leisures like internet surfing, Youtube videos, endless hours of Netflix, photo editing, serious video editing. I always carry a 1TB hard drive with me at all time as all my pictures are stored in it, which are nearly 80,000. The best thing about a MacBook is that it just works, every single time with almost no hiccups. My MacBook starts getting little weird on me when editing videos maybe because I edit them using external hard drive memory.
Am I looking for an upgrade?
As much as the new Macbook is tempting. I will pass it for this year. I am planning to get a full spec’d MacBook next year. Holding nothing back. The two best features I am looking forward to in the new MacBook is the display – I just love good quality display screens and the second feature is the speed.
Why not Windows?
I had been a Windows user for a decade before switching to Apple MacOS. The fundamental reason is same as iPhone, hardware and software are synced together to give the user an experience which cannot be achieved with the same spec’d Windows machine. And one more thing, I adore all aluminum industrial design.
Disclaimer – Although we were desperately waiting for Q4 2016 to upgrade our old setup, we have all decided to wait until the middle of next year to actually update our gear. We feel that there is a small puzzle piece missing in each of the offerings that would be addressed by all manufacturers in 2017.