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Down with the dongles! Apple brings back MacBook ports

WIRED has not been a magazine on cables for a long time. But even if he were, I would always have a job. I have a home recording studio and spend my days testing televisions, sound bars, and other audiovisual equipment for our Gear section. There are so many copper cables in my garage that the French government could have me erect a statue of Steve Jobs in San Francisco Bay.

From 2005 to 2015, you could buy an Apple laptop with a wonderful assortment of ports to fit all those cables: HDMI, an SD card slot, standard USB ports, a Thunderbolt DisplayPort. If you could name it, you could probably plug it into your MacBook without an adapter. I could take my little Apple laptop anywhere (originally a 2008 model, now a still buzzing 2013). I didn’t have to mess with wireless protocols or make sure I had an adapter that actually worked.

Since 2016 I have watched with frustration MacBooks got thinner, faster, and better looking, while slowly getting rid of everything except a few USB-C ports. Their usefulness diminished with each port that disappeared, a fact that the notoriously meticulous Mr. Jobs maybe noticed.

While a global pandemic who has seen millions of people leave their desks to Work at home, the portless problem has become more pronounced than ever. I was unable to quickly extract the video from my camera’s SD card and plug in my audio interface. Others, including my own frustrated colleagues, had more basic issues, like how to hook up a keyboard, monitor, and Mouse. If an additional monitor does not work, is the problem with the monitor, cable, or dongle? How come you can’t even charge your computer with a microphone plugged in?

I’m excited to hear that Apple’s latest MacBook is finally adding rear ports. For the first time in a long time, I may be one of the first buyers.

Stop the madness

Apple is known to shape the future, but its visionaries sometimes jump on the present. When he boldly removed the headphone jack from the iPhone, there weren’t a ton of great wireless headphones. This bet paid off. The market adjusted and Apple invented the most popular pair of wireless headphones in history. With the exception of a few audiophile models, wireless headphones are now the only headphones worth buying.

But screens, cameras, audio interfaces, keyboards, and mice aren’t all wireless, and they haven’t gone wireless just to appease Apple’s hatred for cables. The same cannot be said of other accessories, like SD cards. Apple shouldn’t expect every industry to abandon universal standards because the ports are unsightly.

In its attempt to clear up and declutter MacBooks, Apple has manifested a terrible and boring world in which everyone spends hundreds of dollars on multiple USB-C dongles to any one and fixes issues between the Mac, the cable, dongle or combo. of the tree. The setup even makes tech-savvy people look dumb. A lot of my friends have better looking and newer Macs, but my 2013 model is the only one that can plug directly into a TV’s HDMI port to stream Formula 1.

Return to form

Apple designers have clearly listened to the cries of the tired masses. Today’s announcement brought a whole host of welcome rearrangements. Apple ditched the bulky Touch Bar and introduced a whole new set of ports for more connectivity than ever before, all without an adapter.

The most amazing development is that you can now connect up to four displays to the MacBook—and charge it at the same time. It has an HDMI port for displays and three Thunderbolt 4 ports in total. It has an SD card slot. Adding a better headphone jack that works with high impedance headphones means music producers can plug in more power-hungry models without adding a headphone amp. MagSafe refill is back.

It all feels like a throwback to a MacBook that people can actually use, rather than looking good in your hand or in an advertisement.

Apple should keep pushing the boundaries, but it should recognize when it has hit them. Function should not be overshadowed by form. By adding back ports that we can all actually use, the Cupertino giant is admitting what we already knew: Sometimes the customer is right.


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Down with the dongles! Apple brings back MacBook ports

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