Dear Apple, please build this Laptop

As more and more people work remotely, from cafes, coworking spaces and on the road, the more important our laptops become to us. For digital nomads, and people who travel a lot for work, it's our career, money maker, photo editor, video creator, podcast producer, blogging tool, and a way for us to watch videos on the road. I've used my laptop to watch movies in bamboo huts while traveling in southeast asia, on long boat rides out to scuba dive in the Komodo national park half a day from land, on buses and trains across Ukraine, and on domestic flights where I'd rather learn something than watch another hollywood blockbuster.

I remember the day the mid 2013 Macbook Air came out. I was impressed and so were millions of others who thought, wow, 12 hours of battery life, a great 720p webcam, and still less than 3lbs for less than $1,000! This is amazing, and it was. In fact it was so good that half of the people I knew who were entrepreneurs and worked online ordered them right away. Unfortunately, I was just starting my first online business at the time and to me, $999 seemed unreachable. Now with the new 13" Macbook Pros coming in at $1,500 and having even less impressive features than four years ago, it leaves me typing away, while money is burning a hole in my pocket, and my mind screaming, "Apple, please take my money" if they could only build something that was good enough to justify upgrading to. Here are drawings and a description of my idea 2018 Macbook. It would the same form factor, size and weight as a Macbook Air, but since it would have thinner bezels, it give you 14" screen size, which is the perfect size just in between the 13" and 15" models, have a 1080p webcam that will allow you to create great videos, and it would have a built in roost type stand that brings the screen up to eye level, while letting you use the built in keyboard and trackpad, while saving you from neck and back strain. Here are all the details.

2021 Macbook Update

I own the new M1 Macbook Air and absolutely love it. Powerwise and battery life it is perfect. The keyboard is great, and it has had no issues. 

The only things I would add to this laptop would be, a good 1080p webcam, as the current grainy 720p one is a piece of crap, and I would love a feature where the keyboard/speakers could be water resistant as I've now destroyed two Macbooks by accidentally spilling a glass of water on it. This could be done by simply sealing the keyboard and moving the vents to the bottom, back or sides of the laptop. 

Aside from that, the only other wishes would be, more USB-ports, with the ability to charge from both the left and right sides, and a 14" model. I would still love one where you can raise the screen closer to eye level, but that's hoping and dreaming for the future.

My Current Macbook

In late 2013 when the Haswell processors were first introduced, my buddy Nic was so excited to buy one, and for good reason, that he gave me his old 2008 Macbook Pro for free. I told him I didn't need it as I had a almost brand new, top of the line gaming laptop, but he insisted I try switching to Mac. Even though my laptop was barely a year old and had top of the line specs, as soon as I switched I realized why the cult of mac is so strong. It was just better, in every way possible, from starting up to shutting down, and especially for video editing. I sold my PC, which had almost zero resale value compared to older macs by the way, and I started using his old Macbook which I loved.

The problem was, had he dropped it in the past and the screen way half falling off. To make things worse, I was living in Chiang Mai, Thailand at the time on a $600 a month bootstrapping budget while trying to start my first ecommerce business and couldn't afford to get it fixed, even when it completely fell off. It's a long story that you can read about in my latest book Life Changes Quick, but the short of it was, I figured out how to build the business from burrowed laptops and tablets, and used the first $1,000 I made to invest in a new Macbook Air. In the past four years, from that very laptop, I've managed to make over half a million dollars online while traveling to over 30 countries. I love this little machine but I've also been waiting for apple to take my money and sell me a decent upgrade for the past two and a half years.

The Basic Updates

I'm not even asking for much, if apple would just make a new Macbook Air with slightly higher specs, a retina screen, and a higher resolution webcam, I'd be happy and I'd buy it. But instead, the decided to make the iPad Pro and 12" Macbook lineup which are glorified tablets that don't' allow me to edit videos or create content. The fact that the 12" Macbook has a 480p webcam, which to put it into perspective, is the same camera in the iPhone 4, which is terrible. Even the current 720p webcams in the latest Macbooks Pros aren't good enough to actually create and record decent content. Adding in a 1080p webcam really isn't that much to ask for as that's only 2.1 megapixels.

Aside from that, I'd be okay with the forced introduction of USB-C everything as eventually it'll go that way anyways, and I can live with connectors or dongles for now. But it's ridiculous that at the $1,299 price point we only get two ports total, especially since one is used for charging, which means, only one port would be available to actually use. The new price points are also ridiculous for what you get and it just feels like you're getting ripped off as upgrading things like SSD memory cost exactly 400% the price as the what it costs retail to just buy a larger SSD harddrive. I don't mind Apple making money from upgrades, but for something as simple as a larger SSD drive, there's really no reason why the need to make a 400%+ margin which even just doubling the price would be fine.

The problem with the 13" Macbook Pro Non-Touch Bar which is the closest thing to a new 13" Macbook Air Retina that apple makes, and that we were all hoping for, is the fact that it's more expensive for less computer. I won't even consider the Touch Bar version as it's a lot more expensive for a feature that I don't want or need. So for the new models, sure processor is slightly faster as every new model year should be, but they've went from having 3 or 4 usable ports total, to just 1 if you don't count the port that is taken up by charging your computer. I like having USB-C as your charger as it'll make it easier in the long run, but Mag-Safe was a huge feature that is now gone. I wonder why they couldn't make a Mag-Safe type USB-C cable/power plug for one of the ports, as that would have been perfect. The non-touch bar version has two less USB ports for no reason except to try to force you to buy the more expensive model, and since it no longer has the SD card port, or the lightning port, assuming your laptop is plugged in for power, you now have just one available port, total.

2017 Macbook Pro Faults

Aside from what I mentioned above, they didn't even bother to upgrade the old grainy 720p webcam, which is the equivalent to something out of an iPhone 4. I would have been happy to buy the new Macbook and pay more for the better screen, and faster processor, better webcam if they made it a decent 1080p. In fact, $1,499 would have been fine if it had those features and didn't delete the extra two USB ports. But the fact that Apple is charging $300 more than the latest Macbook Air, which has more features, and is more usable is ridiculous and it's the reason why people including myself aren't upgrading.

In short, if the new 2018 Macbook Laptops next year came with a retina screen, a decent 1080p webcam, and 4 ports, I'd buy it in a heartbeat. For those looking to buy a laptop, I'd either recomend a $300 Chromebook for 98% of people out there, or if you actually edit videos, produce podcasts, etc, then I'd say either wait to see what Apple comes out with next year, buy a used 2016 13" Retina, or buy a 2017 13" Macbook Air.

Dream Macbook Features

But since we're designing our ideal macbook, here are some dream additions I'd love to see. The best purchase I ever made was buying a Roost Laptop stand as it's saved me from straining my back and my neck while working from my laptop. Ever since I started using it, I can't go back to even looking at a laptop for more than 30 minutes at a time without one, yet along being productive and working a full day. It eliminates the need for bulky external monitors and allows you to quickly setup a home office wherever you are in the world whether it's an airport lounge, coffee shop, airbnb or coworking space.

The downside however, is aside from buying the laptop stand, you also need to buy and carry around an external mouse and keyboard. Total cost, over $300. It's a complete waste as the keyboard and trackpad on apple laptops are amazing. The solution? Have a detachable screen that pulls apart from the main laptop (even if it's still connected by a cable) and built in or optional stand that brings it up to your eye level. The ideal situation would be to have a built in foldable support that simply brings the screen up 6-10". The secondary solution would be to have an optional stand or support. Either way, you could use the existing keyboard and trackpad.

Microsoft Surface Book

It's pretty crazy that out of every tech company in the world, Microsoft was the one to impress everyone with their new innovative designs. If you haven't see it yet, the new surfacebook actually had a detachable screen. The problems however besides the fact that it runs windows which is prone to viruses, is slow, terrible to use, crashes often, and has none of the benefits of a the hardware and software being vertically integrated, more stable, and the multiple other reasons why Macs are so good.

The other problem with the surfacebook is that it's more of a tablet that has an optional plug in keyboard than a laptop with a detachable screen. With the detachable screen macbook concept, you would get a high quality keyboard and trackpad and a light weight screen that pulls out. Lastly, the surface book is fine if you have a stationary stand but there is no way to get them to eye level with portable stands currently.

Final Thoughts

Content creators, editors, and developers alike love Macbooks, but in the past few years it feels like Apple isn't showing us the love in return. They are focused more on consumer items like iPads, iWatches, touch bar laptops and other things than their core customer base that made them as popular as they are today. For us who are not just consumers, but also creators, we need the tools to help us do so. I really doubt that Windows or ChromeOS are going to give us an alternative anytime soon, so we're stuck with subpar apple products for now.

Please Apple, if you are reading this, just make the basics better when it comes to Macbook Pros, we don't need touch bars, or even touch screens. And if you really want to innovate, make us something that helps us work longer, harder and create more with. Maybe a laptop with remote workers or digital nomads in mind.

I'm curious what your thoughts are. What would you want in your ideal Apple laptop?

Warm Regards,

Johnny FD

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  1. I'm with you on the right mix. I feel Apple is putting more emphasis on the "wow" factors and not enough refinement in the everyday use factors. I def did the built in Roost idea. I would buy just based on that alone.

  2. Just bought the Roost Laptop stand. I made to sure to use your affiliate link to support all the free content you publish. Keep up the great work Johnny. I really appreciate it.

    1. Hey thanks Lloyd, I appreciate you using my link! Let me know how you like the Roost when you get it!

  3. I went to Medellin last year, hoping to meet other digital nomads. I was wondering where they might be, but eventually walked into a coffee shop and saw a half dozen people with their Roost laptop stands- and good headsets for Skype calls. The Roost now seems to be one of those marks of a true Digital Nomad. ;)


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