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9 Ways Apple Could Improve the MacBook Pro

Posted 16 years, 6 months ago by Tim    10 comments

The 17" MacBook Pro
The 17" MacBook Pro
Amazingly, the very latest MacBook Pro case design has changed very little in almost 5 years, since Apple introduced the Aluminium PowerBook G4, back in January 2003. Apple will probably produce a new MacBook Pro soon, but how can they improve an already great machine?

Even though the original Aluminium PowerBook G4 looks almost identical to the MacBook Pro of today, there have a been a lot of changes including:

  • Wireless antennae moved from the screen sides, to the hinge
  • FireWire 800 port was added
  • USB ports upgraded from 2 to 3
  • TouchPad changed from ADB to a USB touchpad, allowing multi finger scrolling
  • The keyboard backlight was made a lot brighter
  • The sound inputs and outputs changed from Analog to Analog and digital
  • A Sudden Motion Sensor was added
  • Increased screen resolution
  • Glossy screen option
  • MagSafe adaptor replaces the easily bent power plugs of the past
  • Infrared makes a comeback with the remote control
  • Built in SVideo was replaced by a DVI adaptor
  • DialUp modem port was replaced by a USB modem adaptor
  • A camera was added

So with a likely design refresh approaching, how can Apple improve the MacBook Pro any further? Here's our wish list.

  1. Screen Tilt

    If you've ever tried to use a MacBook pro while lying on the couch with your knees up, you'll quickly discover the MacBook Pro screen simply doesn't tilt very far back. Somehow it manages to tilt back a few degrees less than the PowerBook that preceded it. If you're using the laptop on a steep angle, it's not possible to make the screen stand vertical, and thanks to the way the hinge is weighted, the screen flops down very easily. While on a flat surface the hinge is very good, and is miles easier to open and close than many laptops, especially with one hand. It would however be nice if it was tighter when vertical, or if it could bend back further, preferably completely flat.

  2. Microphone Input

    For some reason the PowerBooks and MacBook Pros have always had a line in port, but not a microphone port. A line in port does not provide power, meaning all the unpowered microphones and headsets you can commonly buy won't work. While the built in microphone is often adequate, being able to plug in a microphone would be very handy. This is especially true now that VOIP applications such as iChat and Skype are so popular. If you want a microphone input, you have to buy a USB or Bluetooth microphone, or invest in an iMic from Griffin.
    Ideally this port would be software switchable, so it can be used as either.
  3. New Keyboard

    With the recent release of the stunning new Apple keyboards, it's obvious Apple will update the MacBook Pro keyboards to match, probably with the next major revision. From all accounts, they are great to use, and it will be good to have consistency with the function key placements. Here's hoping they also bring out a full wireless keyboard with number pad soon.

  4. Second Trackpad Button

    For a long time people have wanted a second trackpad button, and Apple seem adamant not to let it happen. The two finger tap is certainly a step towards the right direction, however it would be nice if the button worked like a mighty mouse, where the trackpad button could be divided into left and right. With many users running Windows and other OS's on their Macs, this would be even more handy.

  5. The Titanium PowerBook
    The Titanium PowerBook

    Improved Visual Design

    While visual design is very subjective, I've always felt the monotonous silver design never looked as 'stunning' as it should. When the Titanium PowerBook was released it blew everyone away with it's super slim design and the dual grey scheme and black keyboard. When the Aluminium PowerBooks were introduced, it was more like a safe, lacklustre step sideways. While not a bad design as such, it just wasn't the boundary pushing works of art like the various iMacs, the UFO style Airport Extreme basestations, or even the new keyboards. On the positive, the fact the MacBook Pro still looks good is a testament to the timeless design, it's just not as amazing as it could be. It's also proved to be pretty durable which is probably more important than looks. Hopefully Apple can produce that wow factor with the next version, and keep it functionally as good.

  6. Dual Hard Drives

    Imagine having 2 hard drives in your MacBook Pro. There could be two great reasons to do this. Firstly you could simply opt for 2 large hard drives. This would be handy for video editing work, storing all your stuff, or for running Windows and MacOS, each with it's own drive. The other idea is to run a Flash drive in conjunction with a normal hard drive. This would be good for boot up and virtual memory, and could be faster, quieter, and use less battery power. The only problem with flash is it's expensive and has smaller storage capacity. A flash drive combined with a typical hard drive would give the best of both worlds.

  7. Better Airport Reception

    One disadvantage to using a metal case is a wireless reception that's not as good as plastic laptops. What would people prefer? An aluminium case, or better WiFi reception?

  8. Bring Back the Built-in Dial-up Modem?

    Not having a built in dial up modem is a bit of a pain, especially for those that travel around. The one time you want a dial up modem is while travelling, now you have to buy and carry around a USB dongle, or an older Airport Extreme base station with built in modem (which are getting harder to find now). I guess Apple thought a modem is a device only a certain percentage of people will use, and thus it doesn't need to be built in. Also you have to carry around a cable anyway, so why not a cable and dongle. Do other people miss the built in modem?

  9. MacBook Pro in Black

    The black iPod nano really looks great, why not make a black MacBook Pro? Even better, being able to choose your colour.

Well that's our wishlist for the next MacBook Pros, if you have any other ideas feel free to leave a comment below.


16 years, 6 months ago
Hear Hear on item #8: Bring back the built in modem. I use the modem for it's faxing function and hate to carry around *another* adapter. The external dongle clutters up my main desktop, and is 'just one more thing to lose' with my iBook.

16 years, 6 months ago
Great ideas all of them! For myself I'd just like a display screen that never changes to black unexpectedly while I'm working and won't come back without a reboot. And a battery on a 22 month MBP that lasts longer than one hour.
16 years, 6 months ago
I would agree with the entire list. The most important feature I would like to see is the separate number pad added along side the keyboard.
16 years, 4 months ago
I really hope they don't change the visuals. I'm afraid It just going to look like all the others multi colored robo-cop lap-tops out there. No, keep the current design, its outstanding.
16 years, 3 months ago
I think the current design is great. Next to every other laptop out there (even other Apple laptops!) the MacBook Pro still looks the most advanced and modern to me. The aluminium looks great and I don't think they'll switch to plastic, thinking of recycling.

At the moment I'm sitting in front of my Cinema Display (aluminium), hooked up to my MacBook Pro (aluminium) and typing on the latest wired (aluminium) Apple keyboard. I have to say, typing on it is really great. I had to get used to the distance between the keys but know my fingers fly over the keyboard without a hassle. I wouldn't cry if they put this type of keyboard in the next MacBook Pro but I think that a case redesign is a must when they do so. I'm not a fan of the black keys, white keys (like on the new keyboard) may look weird and out of place; aluminium would look ugly.
I love both keyboards but I think the current MacBook Pro keyboard looks best.

Dual harddrives would be great but maybe a bit expensive at the moment. When the SSD's become cheaper it would be a great option.

Personally I'm not interested in a dial-up modem and I can't see the use of putting one in either. It's true that some people still use it but I think that group is far to small to "waste" the precious space they now use to keep the machine small.

About the color and the tilt thing I can be short: don't need that either. If you want to give it a color, go to Colorware. I've seen some of their work in real life and it looks great. And by letting the screen tilt further than it does now, they'll be making it more easy to break. But maybe I'm thinking to "Doom"-like now..

If there will be a resdesign I have no idea how they could make it better looking than the current MacBook Pro. But it's Apple so you'll never know.
16 years, 3 months ago
I agree with many of your points.

I just hope they sort the damn keyboard out - for the UK the Enter key is a tiny slither of plastic down the right hand side. I can't count the number of times I've thwacked they alu casing instead of the key and it's not like my fingers are sausages!

It's possible the MacBook Air keyboard is better because the recess around the edge of the keyboard would at least mean I would hit half the key and not the case.

It's enough to put me off buying my own (non work) MBP. External keyboards really aren't a solution. C'mon Apple!
13 years, 5 months ago
I must be lucky, I have had mine since April 2010 with zero problems. I even put in new RAM I picked up off of amazon and it still works perfectly, blazes through anything I throw at it.
13 years, 5 months ago
This review might be most useful to very old Macbook owners, potential first-time Mac Buyers who wonder which Macbook Pro they should get (13, 15 or 17). We have not forgotten Windows users who could be lured by the great aluminum industrial design, so we will tell you how it behaves under Windows 7 and what's in it for you. In this review, we will use the Macbook Pro 15.4" with Core i7 and we will compare it with its peers.

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