The MacBook Pro 13-inch 2017 base model review

Over the past couple of months, I got a MacBook Pro 13-inch 2017 base model to use at work. It came with 256Gb of storage space and sports 8Gb of 2133MHz DDR3 RAM and two Thunderbolt ports. Recently Apple has discontinued this model by giving all MacBook Pro models their touch bar which sort of makes this model unique.

Coming from a view of an office worker, that means I use simple applications such as Office 365, Chrome and simple UI/UX design tools such as InVision Studio and a little bit of Photoshop and Lightroom, the MacBook Pro feels just perfect. In Malaysia, the Mac is seen as something premium but recently I have been answering a number of queries on Quora and realised that I have a bunch of Apple devices which still serve me well.

I have a Mac Mini 2012 model which runs as my home media server, I have a 2011 MacBook Air which my wife uses and I have a 2011 Macbook Pro as well with the HDD upgraded to an SSD and sporting 16Gb of RAM, that laptop has been used by a graphics designer until I recently purchased a newer MacBook Pro for him. That saying I am constantly cursing my old 2015 HP laptop which constantly crashes and freezes up even with just basic MS Office use.

So what makes this MacBook Pro so great? Firstly, I don’t think it is absolutely great and the best. I don’t like the butterfly keyboard, that is my biggest bane. I brought my external keyboard from home to be used at my office because I just can’t bear typing long documents and emails with the butterfly keyboard. Another headache that I face is the lack of ports which I have set up at my workplace. Unfortunately not every place has fantastic equipment such as nice monitors with USB-C connectors and trying to request for one is not an easy task.

The Dongle Life

So it is definitely the dongle life that is required, and it isn’t just one dongle I have to carry. At work, I have to be flexible enough to be able to connect to a plethora of devices, from a display TV with an HDMI port to a projector with a VGA port and of course, an ethernet LAN port. I have two of Apple’s original dongles and now, I am lacking one to connect to the LAN port. After scouring through the internet, I came upon Satechi’s V2 USB-C dongle which actually offers all of the above. Priced at RM400 including delivery, it is definitely a large sum to pay. Once it arrives and if it works very well, I will probably sell off my other USB-C dongles.

Another issue I am currently facing is that my Apple Airpods are at the service centre so I am back to using a standard Apple EarPods for calls, listening to media and also for conference calls. Thanks to Apple’s new strategy, those EarPods which sport a 3.5mm adapter can fit perfectly to the MacBook Pro. I have issues with it for my iPhone XR (uses a lightning port) and for my iPad Pro 11-inch (which uses a USB-C port). That means I am carrying another two more dongles just to use my EarPods.

Photo by Liam Martens on Unsplash

Office Productivity

Whilst I have dealt with many folks in the tech community such as the likes of startups and tech companies, I see GSuite as becoming the defacto choice of an office productivity tool. I definitely see the appeal, things are saved on the cloud and in the event you have a crash, your data is safe. It is easy to collaborate and convenient for everyone. Not unless you come from an organisation extremely ingrained within Microsoft. Whilst Microsoft is pushing for Office 365, most organisations find a move or a switch in products extremely expensive and also difficult. Using MS Office on a Mac is not easy, not everything is where it usually is especially when you are so used to it on a PC. Previously the software seems to feel slow on the Mac but lately thanks to Office 365, it has been bearable.

Office Collaboration

When you think collaboration in this era of tech, you would think Slack, Dropbox or Google Drive or OneDrive across the company. Cloud technologies are a godsend but when it comes to legacy systems, it is always a trying endeavour to assimilate the new with the old. What am I talking about? I am talking about old shared network drives, old versions of Sharepoint and legacy internal systems which finds it hard to render on anything but Internet Explorer. This is where the Mac user has to constantly innovate themselves. Me, in truth, I spent many years trying to work around those in my previous organisation. These days, as my workload has grown, I just have a spare PC just to work on those items.

What do I enjoy about the MacBook Pro?

  • Weight – I love that it is light to carry around. Of course, this is an unfair comparison as there are Windows laptops which are equally
  • Storage speed – I love the speed of the hard disk. It isn’t the fastest SSD around but anything is better than spinning spindle hard disks to get things to load up fast.
  • Screen – The screen is gorgeous and having to deal with monitors that are with resolutions that are lower than HD, having a retina display is like night and day. 

What I wish could be better?

  • Keyboard – Definitely the keyboard. Hopefully, with the next up and coming model, we might just see the end of the butterfly keyboard. 
  • Office 365 – I wish that the entire software suite is even more optimised for macOS. 
  • Mouse scrolling – Logitech Mice just feels weird on the Mac especially the scroll wheel. I wished I didn’t need to purchase software just to make that scrolling smooth. 

Photo Credit: Photo by Oliur on Unsplash

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