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Much like the dilution of today's meanings for the terms "craft" and "organic", the term "pro" as it pertains to computers and other electronic devices is basically ubiquitous and mostly meaningless. What is "Pro?" Are the current lineup of MacBook Pros really professional laptops or what professionals are looking for in such a device? What is unique about the current MacBook Pros that the MacBook does not have?

Perhaps a professional laptop might have additional features that would separate them from their less expensive brethren, other than price. For example:
Linus Tech Tips said:
 


What is "Pro?" Are the current lineup of MacBook Pros really professional laptops or what professionals are looking for in such a device?
It's all marketing. Remember the four-quadrant diagram Steve Jobs describe years ago? Today, Apple's still working (more or less) according to that model and "Pro" is simply the buzzword to mean the higher-power variation of that category:

CategoryLower-endHigher-end
LaptopMacBookMacBook Pro
Headless desktopMac MiniMac Pro
Integrated desktopiMaciMac Pro
TabletiPadiPad Pro
PhoneiPhoneiPhone Pro/Pro Max

There really is nothing further than that implied in the name. There really is no implication about suitability for professional use, which itself is very fuzzy and subjective.
 


Ric Ford

MacInTouch
Memory, drives and the battery are easily replaced by the user. Not so much anymore, I'm afraid.
Not for Macs, but those things are easily accessed and replaced in many Windows/Linux laptops (e.g. Dell Inspirons).
Unlike Apple, Microsoft seems to be getting it...
CNBC said:
Microsoft is taking big strides to make Surface devices easier to repair
At Microsoft’s annual hardware event in October, product chief Panos Panay wanted to show the audience just how easy it is to repair the company’s new laptop. Pacing the stage while holding a Surface Laptop 3, Panay lifted the keyboard case right off the device, revealing removable storage and internal parts held together with simple magnets instead of unwieldy adhesive.

The audience cheered. It was a big moment for Microsoft, whose Surface devices have been panned for years for being difficult for consumers and service providers to fix, relative to rival devices from Dell and HP.

“Being able to repair and service a product without at all impacting any of the beauty of that, and the elegance, is critical,” Panay told the crowd of Microsoft enthusiasts and employees.
 



We often focus on comparisons between high-end Macs and high-end PCs, but sometimes it's interesting to look at the lower end. Today I came across a nicely equipped Dell Vostro 15 3590 laptop on sale for $659. At 4.8 pounds, it's no lightweight, but it weighs about the same as a traditional 15" unibody MacBook Pro, it is easily disassembled and upgradeable (with a detailed service manual), and it has quite a selection of ports:
  • Quad Core i7-10510U
  • 15.6" display with AMD Radeon 610 with 2G GDDR5 graphics
  • 8 GB RAM (officially upgradeable to 16 GB)
  • 256GB M.2 PCIe NVMe (upgradeable)
  • Micro SD Card Reader
  • 1 USB 2.0 port
  • 2 USB 3.1 Gen 1 Type-A ports
  • HDMI and VGA ports
  • Optical Drive
  • Headphone/Microphone Jack
  • Power Jack
  • Gigabit Ethernet port
  • 802.11ac
  • Bluetooth 4.1
It would have been nice if the machine had a USB C or Thunderbolt port, but this is a lot of dongle-free capability and a very solid CPU packed into a rather inexpensive package. No one would call this machine "sexy," but it looks like it would be an excellent workhorse for many business use cases.
 


Ric Ford

MacInTouch
We often focus on comparisons between high-end Macs and high-end PCs, but sometimes it's interesting to look at the lower end. Today I came across a nicely equipped Dell Vostro 15 3590 laptop on sale for $659. At 4.8 pounds, it's no lightweight, but it weighs about the same as a traditional 15" unibody MacBook Pro, it is easily disassembled and upgradeable (with a detailed service manual), and it has quite a selection of ports...
Perhaps even better ($650 just after Christmas) is this Dell 5491 2n1 (Inspiron 14" 5000):

https://www.costco.com/dell-inspiro...-intel-core-i7---1080p.product.100513828.html

Undo a few screws for full access to dual RAM slots, M.2, plus 2.5" SATA bay, removable battery, WiFi card. Great (backlit) keyboard, nice screen (1080p), 2-in-1 touchscreen design works as a (heavy) tablet too, HDMI 4K/60Hz external support, good trackpad, SD card slot, runs Linux, feels pretty quick (faster with two RAM cards than with just one), usually silent.

Dell Inc. Inspiron 5491 2n1 - Geekbench Browser

It doesn't have Thunderbolt 3, GPU, Ethernet jack, or great built-in speakers, and the USB-C port is limited to 5 Gbps.
 


Ric Ford

MacInTouch
Here's a Geekbench 4 comparison of two Dell systems, where the Inspiron 14 5000 has a 10th-generation Intel Core i7 while the XPS 15 has a 9th-generation Core i7 with two more cores – 6 vs. 4 - and a higher base frequency.


Here's a comparison of the $650 Inspiron 14" 2-in-1 vs. a 2018 MacBook Pro 13" that cost four times as much (but offers only a touch bar instead of a touch screen). This MacBook Pro 13" uses an 8th-generation quad-core i7 with a higher base clock rate.

 


I recently purchased a "business" edition Surface Laptop 3 with 10th gen i7/16GB/512GB and I can confirm that taking it apart is quite easy. I will wait until someone releases a 1TB M.2 2230 form-factor SSD which I will replace the current 512GB SSD with. But having looked at the internals, the swap out will be quite readily performed.
 


Ric Ford

MacInTouch
I recently purchased a "business" edition Surface Laptop 3 with 10th gen i7/16GB/512GB and I can confirm that taking it apart is quite easy. I will wait until someone releases a 1TB M.2 2230 form-factor SSD which I will replace the current 512GB SSD with.
There's the 1TB Toshiba BG4 but I can't find any place that's selling it.
 


There's the 1TB Toshiba BG4 but I can't find any place that's selling it.
If you can find a used Dell Latitude 7480 that has 1TB M.2, it's likely the SSD is KBG40ZNS1T02, which is the Toshiba BG4 part number. However, the BG4 series is for OEM sales only; that is why you can't find it for sale to consumers.
 



Ric Ford

MacInTouch
Something very interesting just happened with cloud computing, highlighted by the Mac's gaming limitations vs. this cloud-based alternative from Nvidia:
Macworld said:
GeForce Now is probably as good as Mac gaming is going to get
Here’s something I never thought I’d say: I’m playing Blizzard’s Overwatch on macOS Catalina on a 13-inch MacBook Air from 2012. I’ve got the graphics cranked up as high as they can go, and I’m still getting 60 frames per second. And even though I’m playing on a relic from the halcyon days when you could find USB-A ports on a Mac, my team is winning—and I think it’s safe to say it’s largely because of me.

All of this isn’t happening because Mac gaming suddenly went from “sucky” to “super” overnight, and it sure as heck isn’t because Blizzard finally released a Mac port of its popular team shooter. Instead, I’m playing with a new Founder’s Edition account of Nvidia’s GeForce Now game streaming service, which has at last made its way to the public after a couple of years in beta.

With only a few reservations, I love it. You’re never going to catch me saying it’s good enough to replace a gaming PC, but I’d say it’s about as close to that experience as you can get on a Mac, especially on one as old as this one. And I think it’s time to face the music: This is probably what the future of Mac gaming looks like. This is as good as it’s going to get. (Our sister site, PCWorld, has a news article on GeForce Now you can also check out.)
 


I was never able to get Linux working on a 2018 MacBook Pro, but it apparently works very nicely on Dell's XPS 13 competitor, which is getting Intel's latest processors to go with excellent screen options, long battery life, etc.
I've deployed some XPS 13 and XPS 15 laptops here at work...they're very nice machines and certainly excellent alternatives to Apple's current laptops. I'm also a fan of the Inspiron series of laptops as good budget-minded systems. They're not quite as swanky as an Apple laptop, but they're offered in a multitude of different configurations, have all the ports you need built-in, they're fully upgradeable, and they cost half of what an Apple laptop costs. I've deployed several of these as well. For my Linux users, I usually buy System76 laptops with Linux pre-installed, but a Dell with Ubuntu is a totally acceptable choice as well.
 


Ric Ford

MacInTouch
The latest example...
Motherboard has details about Apple's secret demands on independent repair shops...
Apple really doesn't seem to be the kind of company you'd want to have as a business partner...
The Verge said:
Developer suing Apple for stealing idea calls on others to join the fight
Blix is not the first company to be “Sherlocked” by Apple, which is when Apple integrates functionality that was previously offered by third-party software directly into its operating systems. The name dates back to 2002 when Apple updated its Sherlock desktop search tool with features that had previously appeared in the third-party Watson app. There are numerous other examples of Apple’s iOS and macOS borrowing functionality, which critics claim can happen at the expense of apps on its platform.

What’s changed this year is at least one big company is trying to push back against Apple. Last month, a Tile executive testified before a congressional antitrust committee that Apple is making the company’s Bluetooth trackers less usable at a time when Apple is rumored to be preparing to launch a competitor.
Reuters said:
iPhone app makers questioned in U.S. antitrust probe of Apple
The U.S. Justice Department has reached out to app developers as part of its investigation into Apple Inc., one of the four big tech companies being probed for alleged anti-competitive behavior, according one of the developers and another person familiar with the investigation.
#appleabuse
 



More of the same regarding Apple's business practices.
iMore said:
The former Apple exec being sued for poaching talent is now suing Apple for poaching talent
Gerard Williams III is the former Apple chip exec that the company accuses of poaching talent for his new chip design firm. The matter is working its way through the courts now, but Williams is fighting back. He's accusing Apple of poaching his people in a counter-suit.
"Gerard Williams III, who last year left his job as lead chip architect at Apple and co-founded Nuvia Inc., fired back with counter-claims against his former employer over its breach-of-contract lawsuit. He claims Apple tried to stop his firm from hiring its engineers while simultaneously recruiting staff from Nuvia."
Williams is also going out all guns blazing, saying that Apple's lawsuit is designed to suffocate creation in the chip industry, according to a new Bloomberg report.
 



Ric Ford

MacInTouch
Another Mac developer gives up, thanks to Apple's changes and lack of support (e.g. APFS documentation):
Coriolis Systems
Changes to the Mac, beginning with the adoption of SSDs, saw sales of the company's core products, iDefrag in particular, enter a slow decline. The final nails in the coffin were the decision of Apple to switch to its new filesystem, APFS, the volume format for which was totally undocumented until the week before macOS Mojave shipped, and the increasingly draconian security controls that made it harder for third-party utility software to function in a manner end users would find acceptable. In early 2019, Alastair finally took the decision to shut down the company he'd founded nearly 15 years previously.

Below you can find copies of Coriolis Systems' software, together with working license keys. Hopefully this will prevent the work we did at Coriolis from disappearing altogether.
 


Another Mac developer gives up, thanks to Apple's changes and lack of support (e.g. APFS documentation):
If you are Mac only and you work close to the bone with Apple, your situation is always on the knife's edge. Back in the day of when I worked for Now Software, Now Utilities was an extremely popular product, but most of it literally patched the OS. Any update to the OS always brought with it significant worries. Depending on who was in control at the time at Apple, we'd go back and forth between being considered indispensable to being an annoyance. You don't survive long being an annoyance.
 


If you are Mac only and you work close to the bone with Apple, your situation is always on the knife's edge. Back in the day of when I worked for Now Software, Now Utilities was an extremely popular product, but most of it literally patched the OS. Any update to the OS always brought with it significant worries. Depending on who was in control at the time at Apple, we'd go back and forth between being considered indispensable to being an annoyance. You don't survive long being an annoyance.
I loved Now Utilities, had it on every system I used.
 


I loved Now Utilities, had it on every system I used.
What is funny also is that some had parts of it but didn't realize it. When Apple shipped a bunch of consumer Macs (like the much maligned Performas), they had a subset of NU that was pre-installed. When some customers did a system restore, they were surprised when some of their special menu items strangely disappeared.

But then Apple copied several of the key bits of coolness from NU and put them into Mac OS 8.5. Very strange times, along with publish & subscribe, OpenDoc and the like.
 


When Apple shipped a bunch of consumer Macs (like the much maligned Performas), they had a subset of NU that was pre-installed. When some customers did a system restore, they were surprised when some of their special menu items strangely disappeared.
And that wasn't the only time. When I got my Power Mac (a Quicksilver 2002 model), Apple pre-loaded several things, including Graphic Converter and ten songs (in the iTunes library).

This bonus content is not part of the system software installers that came with the computer (Mac OS 9.22 and Mac OS X 10.2) but is only on the set of system-restore CDs (containing the hard drive's original image).
 



According to Linus Tech Tips, WalMart has released a surprisingly upgradeable, port-rich, capable Ryzen 3 laptop at a $250 price point. (It was at $279 when I checked a few minutes ago.)
I guess it depends on what you are expecting to do with a laptop of those specifications. It is only a Ryzen 3, but it does compare with a 2015 or 2016 dual-core 13" MacBook Pro in multi-core performance according to Geekbench 5. So it is not totally lacking. The screen seems to be the biggest trade-off.

For comparison, that is the price of a 10" iPad at Best Buy at the moment, which would likely outperform the Walmart laptop in many tasks, and it comes with some useful software. I might also be more interested in a three- or four-year-old laptop with a better display and specifications. You can find many grade "A"-quality units for a fraction of the price of something new. Or, I might even consider spending a few dollars more to get the Ryzen 5 model of the same laptop.

While I would not rule out purchasing a laptop for so little money, I guess I am just a bit concerned about the reliability for something costing so little and from a company with little history in this market, though I am a bit intrigued about the true relationship with THX, based on their web site. And while the device uses many common parts, I would be a bit concerned about the ability to replace the battery, which I consider almost a consumable part these days.
 


I guess it depends on what you are expecting to do with a laptop of those specifications. It is only a Ryzen 3, but it does compare with a 2015 or 2016 dual-core 13" MacBook Pro in multi-core performance according to Geekbench 5. So it is not totally lacking. The screen seems to be the biggest trade-off.
Fair points. Walmart's Motile M-141 laptop is not a good fit if you do heavy duty video processing, gaming, and so on. I think the larger point is that the model demonstrates what is possible to achieve at a $250 price point: a very reasonable CPU (perfectly adequate for general purpose business tasks), easily upgradeable RAM and SSD, two USB 3 ports, a USB 2.0 port, a USB-C port, HDMI, an Ethernet port, a headphone jack, apparently good quality construction, and a one-year warranty, with the only major compromise being a relatively dim display.

Compare that with a more expensive, out-of-warranty 2015/2016 MacBook Pro that has a keyboard with a significant probability of becoming maddeningly flaky if it sees dust or a breadcrumb, and the ~$250 Walmart/Motile laptop is an impressive accomplishment. Worried about the M-141's reliability? You can buy two of them and still spend less than you would for a used 2015 MacBook Pro with a 90-day warranty from a reputable reseller.

Again, I think your points are quite valid and appropriate, but I also think there is a lot to be said for the value that seems to be packed into this machine, especially compared with other machines at entry-level price points.
 


DFG

According to Linus Tech Tips, WalMart has released a surprisingly upgradeable, port-rich, capable Ryzen 3 laptop at a $250 price point. (It was at $279 when I checked a few minutes ago.)
I saw this around the beginning of the year, having generated a few favorable blog posts after going on sale before the end of last year. I am referring here to the Ryzen 5 model, which early buyers could snatch for an incredible $299 with rebates. The combination of slick design, a modern CPU, and Radeon Vega 8 GPU makes it attractive when compared to low-price offerings from the likes of Acer, Lenovo, HP, etc., which often come with Core i3 (in the best of cases) and integrated Intel graphics. You can checkout detailed specs at notebookcheck.com.

Alas, the price is now $420 (and the black color has been unavailable since I first looked it up). And after reading the online reviews at walmart.com, it became apparent that many buyers had serious hardware issues. What's worse, support appears to be non-existent. At least, you can order one online and pick it up at a local brick-and-mortar store, where you could presumably return it should it have any serious issue (not sure what the return policy is). In the end, I decided against it.
 


Apple buys Dark Sky...
Apple/Dark Sky said:
Figures...my favourite iOS app for weather (second runner up is windy.com website) is Dark Sky. According to their blog, Dark Sky was purchased by Apple. I am sure many NDAs were signed (both prior as an Apple developer, and then as seller). The good thing is that I purchased it, so if Apple integrates this into their iOS, that would be great. The bad news is I paid for this, and it's unclear about future support.
 


Ric Ford

MacInTouch
Apple hasn't come out with a Mini LED display yet, but MSI's latest laptop has one, 4K and 17.3 inches in size (which is really appealing).
MSI said:
MSI Creator 17
The True Pixel Mini LED display provides brilliant visuals, with 1000 nits of brightness to emphasize the brightest whites and deepest blacks. True Color Technology and CalMAN verification insures your needs are met with a standard. And the 100% DCI-P3 wide color gamut with 4K and precise calibrated Delta-E < 2 accuracy...
Specifications include up to Core i9 10th-generation CPUs, GeForce RTX2080 with 8GB GDDR6, two slots of DDR4-2666 RAM (64GB max), dual M.2 combo SSD slots, 802.11 ax Wi-Fi 6 + Bluetooth v5.1, Thunderbolt 3, plus 10GHz USB-C/DisplayPort, along with HDMI, Micro SD, three USB 3 ports, and a "space gray" finish. It's heavy, though, at 2.5 Kg.

Pricing varies by configuration, $2,999 for:
MSI Creator 17​
UHD HDR1000 Mini LED​
i7-10875H​
RTX2070Super​
32GB​
1TB SSD​
Windows 10 Pro​
 


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