Michael Fujiyama, '23
Writing this on a Dell laptop from the company’s flagship XPS line, I can say that I am a fan of Windows. I chose to use this laptop when looking for a new laptop in eighth grade for its marketed portability, build quality, and battery life to use daily for both schoolwork and gaming. While it has served me well for over three years of use, there are some aspects about its hardware that irritates me. Firstly, while proprietary ports individually shaped for power delivery, USB, video output, Ethernet, and more were condensed into three versatile USB-C ports, dongles are now always required to access these otherwise standard features. In addition, the designers had to sacrifice the performance and the cooling capabilities of the laptop’s internals to fit within its slim profile, which resulted in a product that is severely underpowered for its price.
Now, who’s to blame? Because I must live up to my role as a Windows fan, I will now place the accusation upon Apple. Being the largest company in the world, Apple’s products and philosophy influence what appeals to the consumer and model the products companies should create to compete with their products. Sometimes, Apple’s design choices do not reflect what the consumer wants. Take the Apple Magic Mouse 2, for instance. Released in 2015, it is a somewhat welcome upgrade to the previous model with the addition of a rechargeable battery. But wait! Why is the charging port on the bottom? With this, consumers are unable to use their eighty-dollar mice while charging it at the same time. This design choice must be a fluke, but while the product has received several updates since then, the port has not been moved. This suggests that Apple intentionally infringed upon the consumer’s convenience by forcing them to use their products as Apple intended, which is without any wires for a visually appealing setup.
Some other examples are present on Apple’s MacBooks. Also in 2015, Apple released their new MacBooks with a new generation of “butterfly keyboards,” which used slimmer key switches that differentiated the laptops from the previous ones with its elegant design. However, consumers complained about the new keyboards for unintentional double-presses or, in cases like Henry Brown’s MacBook, unresponsiveness. These problems occurred when dust or debris enters between the keys. Apple has since addressed the issue in 2019 with a public apology, warranty program, and introduction of their “new” scissor switch keyboards, which are just a slimmer, updated version of their keyboards that were made before 2015.
Finally, another design issue that came out of those 2015 MacBooks was addressed earlier by me with my Dell XPS from 2019. That is, the introduction of USB-C ports. Because Apple has such an influence over the market, and the introduction of USB-C is very welcome towards the movement of standardized ports, the consumers were not ready for such sudden change. While the ports provided the same versatility with the unification of video-out, USB interface, and even the ability to charge non-Apple products with the new USB-C charger, dongles became a necessity to use wired peripherals on these devices. Thankfully, with the upcoming 2021 New MacBook Pro fourteen- and sixteen-inch models, Apple has reintroduced the HDMI port and SD card slot. It is interesting to point out that Apple declares that the new MacBook is now “more plugged in than ever,” but they are taking a step back from the slimmer laptop designs from the past couple years.
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