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Why the new MacBook's single port is all you really need

Glenn Fleishman | March 19, 2015
The MacBook is designed for those who rarely plug in.

But do these folks never plug anything in to a laptop, except an iOS device to charge it? David Brennan responded to a query about "no port" users, by noting that he uses a Mac mini for more intensive tasks, but carries around a MacBook Air of my vintage for everything else. "I could live quite happily with no ports," he writes, and a MacBook is on his list for when his current MBA battery is past its prime.

Chris Brennan, a colleague from across the pond in the UK, noted that in his personal use he's gradually become almost entirely untethered already. Even when he's at work, "My printer is wireless, as are the keyboard and mouse in the office." Between ubiquitous Wi-Fi, wireless peripherals, cloud storage, and the long battery life of a MBP, he can see living off one dual-purpose port.

And James in the UK noted similarly that all the purposes to which he used to need a USB port, such as a flash drive, he now relies on Dropbox and other cloud services. He writes, "I'd bet that there's a middle ground between people who've worn the gold off their USB contacts and me, who think they use the ports most months, but actually only use it once or twice a year, and would cope just fine if it wasn't there."

Add to this picture that USB-C will allow bidirectional charging: you'll be able to get third-party batteries inexpensively with multiple ports that can be both power source and hubs. This will make the rarely pluggers even more able to live away from the grid.

Painting a rainbow
The new MacBook is polarizing, because it reveals some of our fears about the direction Apple seems to be taking. I mean, by all that's holy, they took our floppy drive! Our optical drive! Our FireWire! What...will they take next?!

Veteran Mac users feel this most of all, because events of the last 15 years have whipsawed us with changes every two or three. For the right user, the one-port MacBook is a fine compromise, even if there could have been two. For the wrong user, Apple still has a whole line-up of other computers, many aimed at us nomads.


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