The new trend of thin and light isn’t new but the killing of ports in the name of thin and light computers is just getting silly. I watched a YouTube video last night where they were showing off the latest Surface Laptop and the one thing almost none of the videos I saw addressed except one was ports. The new Surface Laptop comes with a single USB 3 port, no USB C (not that I have any device that uses it) and some external display port that I have no use for. That’s it! The Dell XPS 13 and any MacBook save the Air likewise has almost no ports for me to use. This is part of some grand push into the wireless world where all your shit is in a cloud that you pay for on a monthly basis. I admit that I have stuff in the cloud but my subscriptions are all free. I don’t put a lot on the cloud because I don’t have documents, I have pictures and lots of external hard drives and I have a need to attach multiple drives to my computer for file transfers. Having no ports to use sucks and buying a dongle or something is not appealing when older computers had plenty of ports so you just needed a cable.
Here’s my example, I have lots of iOS devices and they all are 128GB models. iTunes in its infinite wisdom likes to save backups to the local hard drive and hard drive space these days is scarce. A 256GB SSD will get full after doing a backup of only 3 devices with no room to spare. I know “what about backing up to iCloud??” Umm I have 7000 music tracks, 2000 photos, and about 200 apps on my iPhone and iCloud doesn’t restore all that in the event of a crash. It only really saves your apps and setting but not everything else. Also I’m not paying for storage monthly just for iPhone backups, that’s just silly. After doing some research I was able to enable NTFS read/write on my MacBook Pro and also moved my iPhone and iPad backups to a 2TB external drive. So what does that mean? I need 2 USB ports to sync and backup a single iPhone or iPad to keep my computer SSD clutter free. Most companies have also removed the SD Card reader to a large extent, hello morons in industrial design a ton of us use action cams, DSLR’s and regular old point and shoots that use SD cards, what insanity would compel you to remove that port? I think this is the argument that a lot of “Pro” users currently have about hardware makers not making the computers they need. I’m not really a pro user, I just have a lot of shit to connect to my computer and I so happen want my computer to be portable.
When I first saw the Surface Laptop I thought “cool a windows device worth owning that would fit my needs!” But then I went “ahh crap another laptop with no ports”. That means my current predicament hasn’t really changed since I know a new computer will probably be purchased this year when my MacBook Pro finally dies. My choices aren’t great, maybe there will be a MacBook Pro refresh that will compel me to get one or someone out there will figure out “hey ports are still necessary and dongles are crap let’s not make out users buy those things.”
My computer upgrade cycle so far is something fairly new every 5 years, I’m at about the 6 year mark but there isn’t anything that I want to spend money on. If the MacBook Pro logic board was cheap (under $200) I’d just fix the MacBook Pro, I don’t need any of the newer capabilities like Air Drop or the next MacOS. My real requirement is ports, or that someone at Apple let us install iTunes on a NAS/Server so we can sync and backup to a central location somewhere other than our laptops. Only then would I accept a computer with only a single port, maybe just for charging.