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New MacBooks featuring USB3 – where now for Thunderbolt?

As widely anticipated, Apple have released updated MacBooks and MacBook Pros. Price points have generally stayed the same as before, but we’ve got some nice speed bumps and new features. Foremost among these is the introduction of USB3…

Where now for Thunderbolt?

It’s nearly 18 months since Apple first introduced Thunderbolt to the great unwashed, with the promise of unheard of data transfer rates and simplified cable managemen. I was one of those who upgraded to a Thunderbolt MacBook Pro and was positively salivating at the prospect of ultra fast backups, Thunderbolt Target Disk Mode and a slew of Thunderbolt adapters to work with E-SATA, USB3 and other devices. And what have we got? Precisely sod all in the consumer space (if you ignore a few hugely overpriced external Thunderbolt drives and lots of “vapourware”).

USB3 might not be technically as clever as Thunderbolt, but there are already cheap and widely available devices – you can get a 500GB external backup drive for around the same cost as a Thunderbolt cable! – which I think pretty much consigns Thunderbolt to the dustbin of “useful but too pricey technologies.” Sure it’ll find a niche in high-end video, but that niche will keep prices beyond the reach of mere mortals.

Which MacBook should I buy?

To be perfectly honest, I don’t think the landscape has changed that much. I still think the 13″ MacBook Pro is the sweet spot. The MacBook Air is very light, very thin, and very sexy. But if you want something light and thin, get an iPad for half the cost. The extra 1.5lbs the MacBook  Pro weighs gives you get a more robust, faster and more expandable laptop.

The MacBook Pro with Retina Display leaves me something in a quandary. My instinctively reaction is “that must look awesome” followed shortly by “will my Apps look rubbish until I upgrade to Retina ready graphics”. Not have seen the screen yet, I can’t give an informed view.

Cheap MacBooks if you’re at school or higher education

Just remember if you’re at school or studying in higher education, you can save a reasonable amount of money by visiting the Apple Store for Education. The MacBook Pro’s have some quite decent discounts, with the 13″ model starting at £940 inc VAT and the 15″ model starting at £1409…

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