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The black sheep of the family: why the new MacBook Pro IS the perfect MacBook Air upgrade

For anyone that has used the 11″ MacBook Air as their daily driver, the new MacBook Pro (less the experimental Touch Bar) is a brilliant upgrade.

There. I said it.

I loved my 11″ Air. I still believe it’s something of a cult classic in the making, but there’s no escaping the fact it is starting to age, somewhat. The once perfectly-acceptable screen now sits among a sea of super-sharp panels looking fuzzy and washed-out by comparison. Its diminutive size and weightlessness is countered by equally featherlight tablets and Windows laptops.

The Air is, unfortunately, on the way out.

In it’s place, Apple have launched a MacBook Pro that has received a fair bit of stick from the tech press, and I was unsure at first, too. When put up against its Touch Bar-equipped big brother, it looks like the lost sheep of the lineup. What’s it for, exactly? Why would you buy one?

I’ll tell you why – it costs around £300 less than the Touch Bar MacBook. And that’s quite a lot of money. Enough to deliver me something of a wakeup call.

As I sat there, digesting all of the furious commentary surrounding Apple’s latest notebook update and the suggestions that they are abandoning everyone but the most causal of ‘pro’ users, I realised that the Black Sheep MacBook Pro (as I’ll now refer to it), was exactly the machine I needed. It had a retina screen, was plenty powerful for my needs and was light enough to be as portable as my beloved Air.

On receiving it, my hopes were confirmed: it’s great. Not drop-down-dead breathtaking, but an absolutely perfect professional laptop for someone running a small business on their own. It’s also built like a tank, looks rather nice and will doubtless hold its value.

So, clearly, the new Black Sheep MacBook has a place. If, like me, you’re still running an Air, don’t discount it. You don’t need the Touch Bar (I’m not convinced anyone does), and you certainly don’t need to spend the extra £300 Apple is asking for the addition of it and a few more ports.

Oh, and on the subject of ports, I’m one of the few professional users who can absolutely get away without SD card slots, direct HDMI connections and legacy USB. But I appreciate not everyone is that fortunate.

So, a mild upgrade, if truth be told, but a worthwhile one, I suspect, for a great many people.

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