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article imageApple solves MacBook Pro's port problem by making dongles cheaper

By James Walker     Nov 7, 2016 in Technology
Apple has cut the price of its MacBook dongles in response to growing customer frustration at the lack of built-in ports on the company's new MacBook Pro. Apple has done away with "legacy" connectors, even though most are still modern standards.
The MacBook Pro, launched two weeks ago, relies solely on USB-C for wired connectivity with other devices. There's also a 3.5mm audio jack, contrasting with Apple's removal of analogue audio from the iPhone 7. You won't find a standard USB port, SD card slot or HDMI port anywhere on Apple's latest laptops though. Apple views all these connectors as "legacy" standards that aren't worth supporting, ignoring how many of the professionals the MacBook Pro targets still rely on them.
Apple sells a range of dongles that allow you to convert older connectors to USB-C. The typical MacBook buyer will probably need at least the $19 USB to USB-C adapter. The $19 Lightning to USB adapter may also prove useful, since it allows an iPhone to be connected to the Mac. Out of the box, there's no longer a way of connecting Apple's two most important products together.
Apple's dongle range now includes a total of 17 different items. Purchasing them all would cost hundreds of dollars. The company has been widely mocked for claiming to create an all-inclusive ecosystem and then releasing a laptop that doesn't connect with its existing products and comes without key functionality built-in.
In response to the complaints from customers and the press, Apple slashed its dongle prices at the end of last week. The USB to USB-C adapter and Lightning to USB-C adapter are now $9 each. Similar price cuts are available across the range, although they don't solve the inconvenience of using a dongle in the first place.
For a company that prides itself on quality and user experience, Apple appears to have lost its way. The MacBook Pro targets creative and professional users who use their Macs for graphic design, music creation, video editing and gaming every day. Apple's seemingly never-ending quest to make its products slimmer sacrifices the functionality that makes these tasks possible though. The MacBook Pro needs a dongle to transfer photos from a camera, connect to an external monitor or just work with a traditional mouse.
Last week, Phil Schiller, Apple's vice president of marketing, defended the removal of the SD card slot from the MacBook Pro. He said the company decided to drop support for memory cards because "it's a bit of a cumbersome slot" that leaves the card overhanging the edge of the keyboard. Whether creatives would rather have an SD card extend a few millimetres or use a separate cable to connect a bulky dongle remains to be seen.
With its price cut, Apple is attempting to move away from the criticism and convince people to progress into the future. The company said it wants to "accelerate" the growth of next-generation peripherals which look set to be dominated by USB-C.
"We recognize that many users, especially pros, rely on legacy connectors to get work done today and they face a transition," Apple commented to the BBC. "We want to help them move to the latest technology and peripherals, as well as accelerate the growth of this new ecosystem."
The dongle price cuts will remain live for the rest of the year, cutting down the cost of MacBook Pro adoption and making it a little easier to get "legacy" devices like the iPhone, professional cameras and televisions working with the MacBook Pro. The new laptop starts at $1,499 for the 13-inch model without Apple's new Touch Bar.
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