Peasants, rejoice! It’s possible that your proletarian gadgets will live another year!
Of course, I’m referring to Apple’s recently announced Mac Studio, which will be available on March 18th. The manufacturer made a number of high promises regarding the device’s power and efficiency, using a variety of charts that were not labeled in any way that was particularly helpful. Until we get our hands on a unit, those are simply claims; we’ll have to verify the stats ourselves.
Apple, on the other hand, provided us with images of the device. We’ve seen it before. And there are two things we can say with certainty that it possesses. Enhance on the computer:
Sure, there are Thunderbolt, Ethernet, and other interfaces. However, notice the two small rectangles to the left of the HDMI. Those two lovely rectangles
My friends, this is a brand-new invention known as “USB-A.” I’ve heard that these may be used to connect mice and keyboards to your computer, but I’ve always used the PS/2 port. The plugs only appear to go in one direction, which appears to be a design flaw. But, in general, I’m looking forward to seeing where this standard will lead us.
Just joking. In all seriousness, I let out a genuine sigh of relief as soon as I saw that image; I was worried for a moment that Apple would ship this device without USB-A.
Apple has been messing with the connectivity on several of its MacBook versions for the past few years. I’m typing this on a 2019 Pro that only has USB-C ports, and it’s making me unhappy. A lot of connectors have been added to the newer MacBook Pro models, however USB-A is still missing.
While the experience with desktop systems has not been as traumatic for me personally, it has been concerning over the last few years. Despite having two USB-A ports, the 2020 Mac Mini was a substantial I/O decrease from prior Mac Mini models. As Macs continued to lose ports, I became increasingly concerned. I persuaded myself that laptops are one thing, but Apple would never, ever remove USB-A from its desktops.
Then there was the iMac 2021. Only USB-C is supported. And I worried that might be the final straw. Maybe we’d never see it again if Apple started delivering USB-C-only PCs — I repeat, desktops.
Anyway. There are numerous reasons to choose USB-C over USB-A, as my colleague Chaim Gartenberg recently pointed out. It’s smaller, reversible, and can be used to charge your phone. I can see why businesses like Apple and Dell want to force the industry to adopt that standard. I’ll be leading the march when every good SSD, webcam, mouse, keyboard, and other current accessory abandons USB-A.
However, as someone who frequently uses a MacBook Pro and an iMac 2021 as daily drivers, here’s a list of the things I can’t connect without a dongle: my mouse (sue me, I don’t like Apple’s mice), my mechanical keyboard, my external webcam, my podcast microphone, my camera, four drives that I keep various things on, and my CD player (yes, I use one occasionally). This is the reality for many people.
And, I’m sorry to say it, but dongles are a pain to keep track of. I rely on my small USB-C to USB-A converter. I need an adaptor for my life, and I’m not sure where it is half of the time. I discovered it under my couch the other day. I’m not sure how it ended up there.
The industry isn’t lining up to follow Apple off the cliff like it did with the headphone jack. I’m delighted the company realized that, despite USB-advantages, C’s professionals may still require this port. In reality, there are several of this port.
All I can hope for now is that Apple’s consumer devices (hello, iMac) will follow suit. Because I believe this demand exists in the consumer area as well. Indeed, this demographic is more likely to own outdated peripherals and be less eager to upgrade them.
So join me in rejoicing: USB-A is here to stay, at least for the time being. I’ll be fighting for VGA on the next MacBook Air if you need me. Just joking! (In a way.)
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