It is not very often that I find it hard to say goodbye to a device. But yesterday, I was sad when I packed up the MacBook Pro 13 powered by the Apple M1 chip and shipped it back to Cupertino. The loaner was heading home. As I mentioned before, the 8GB base model had become such a favorite that I ignored both my more expensive and supposedly powerful machines. The killer features of this laptop are its whisper-quiet performance, which is backed by great battery life. It barely gets warm: so in a way, M1 has put the “lap” back in the “laptop.”
It did most of the things very well. Microsoft Office software work without a hitch, though I am no spreadsheet jockey. I live in the browser — and Safari on M1 is like Tesla in ludicrous mode. Other apps that I use (and you are most likely to use) are already “universal” and, as such, perform better than their x86 counterparts. These days, the most used app is Zoom, and it works just fine, without a hitch, and without causing the machine to heat.
That said, Apple has missed a trick with the webcam – it just is not good. I often plugged in an external webcam — Logitech StreamCam, which is expensive but damn good. With my gigabit connection and a high-quality camera, I am quite pleased by the video quality on my Zoom calls. For my headphones, I use the AirPods Pro, and they work quite well with the laptop: obviously!
The external webcam exposed the other big shortcoming of the M1 MacBook: lack of ports. It only has two USB-C ports. And that, to me, is a terrible decision on the part of Apple. So, I ended up using the Hyperdrive Duo (2020) hub, s it gave me some extra ports to make do. I understand that 13-inch MacBooks are mainstream devices, but I can’t help but be disappointed by two ports and a ho-hum webcam.
Back to what I love — the power and performance. The most recent update to Lightroom CC made it even harder to use non-M1 machines. Adobe has really done a good job of leveraging the M1’s capabilities in tandem with the Big Sur operating system. It worked so well with Apple’s XDR Display, and for a few weeks, I enjoyed editing photos on that wonderful screen.
If you are looking to buy a new laptop, don’t look any further. It is light, has great battery life, and is well priced for what it offers. So why am I not buying one? Frankly, as I mentioned before, I am not going anywhere. That means I have time to wait for a model that is likely to have a bigger screen, more ports, better camera, and better audio capabilities. In other words, MacBook Pro 16 but with M1 or one of its siblings. That would replace my current laptop and my desktop and be available to go on my next photo adventure: whenever, wherever that might be.