I’m always rambling on about avoiding buyer’s remorse, aren’t I?
Helping people avoid that hideous feeling after purchasing expensive Apple gear is one of the main reasons I started Mark Ellis Reviews.
Only, I’ve fallen foul of it myself – to the tune of about three and a half grand.
That’s right – I can finally admit that I regret my purchase of the 16-inch M1 Max MacBook Pro. Don’t get me wrong – I don’t lay awake at night ruing the day I placed that order, nor has it been gathering dust since it arrived; that big MacBook Pro has helped me achieve an awful lot with this business.
I just know I should have picked something else.
This is with hindsight and the fortunate position in which I find myself that enables me to try out lots of different Macs regularly. But I think it’s time I explained exactly why the 14-inch MacBook Pro is the one I should have bought.
Being a tech reviewer who operates predominantly in the Apple space is an expensive game, as you might imagine, but occasionally, luck comes knocking and I’m given a helping hand.
That happened recently, which led to me having access to a specced-up 14-inch M2 Max MacBook Pro for a month. And since it arrived, I’ve gone for it; the 16-inch version has been tucked away in its protective case and I’ve moved my entire production workflow (and some other stuff besides) to the 14-inch.
It has changed everything.
1. It’s the PERFECT size
I don’t get to fly first class, and, like most normal people, I have to travel in the squashed, suspiciously stained seating area of train carriages. I also work at coffee shops that don’t possess massive tables (unless you’re the sort of person to take up a table designed for ten people by yourself).
This means I have limited space in which to work and, crucially, on which to place my laptop. If I’m writing or undertaking non-production stuff, that’s not a problem; I just use my MacBook Air or iPad.
When I need to undertake some on-the-go video editing, I have to use the 16-inch MacBook Pro, which doesn’t fit on any surface within the aforementioned venues. Well, it does – if you have nothing else to place on that surface, and if you don’t mind annoying the person next to you.
The 14-inch MacBook Pro solves all of these problems. It’s small enough to fit on pretty much any surface, and far lighter than the beefy 16-inch version. Everything else beyond this point becomes very much moot.
2. The ultimate ‘sling it under the arm’ laptop
Of all the items on the list, this is probably the silliest. But I don’t care – this is an Apple product, after all, and its users (me included) are kings and queens of silly excuses for the justification of ownership.
When I tried a 14-inch MacBook Pro for the first time shortly after its launch in 2021, I immediately marvelled at how satisfying it was to sling the thing under my arm.
It’s easy to spot the people who enjoy doing this with their MacBooks. They swan around coffee shops, office floors, and in between meeting rooms with ultra confidence. They bought the right laptop, it feels satisfyingly chunky but equally cool under their arm. People are looking; those who know, know.
This is akin to the delight that arises from walking around with your MacBook open and clasped by only your thumb and forefinger (something else that’s easily and unfathomably achievable with the 14-inch MacBook Pro).
By comparison, slinging the 16-inch version under your arm is likely to result in a dislocated shoulder.
3. It does do-it-all
As much as I love the MacBook Air and as much as I’m desperately trying to live an iPad-only lifestyle, both of those devices aren’t quite up to the task when it comes to production work.
This is because I need one thing to ensure my video production process can meet the tight demands of my publishing schedule: speed.
My M2 MacBook Air simply can’t offer this, as was shockingly evident during a trip to the capital last year when it failed to deal with the simplest of 4K video edits in Final Cut Pro. And as for the iPad, well… I’d have to switch video editing platforms to even consider making that a true do-it-all device.
The 14-inch MacBook Pro can do everything. It smashes through video edits at the same speed as my 16-inch MacBook Pro and is compact enough to follow me everywhere for on-the-go writing, emailing, and business admin.
It might be a honeymoon period, but I’ve not been able to stop using that 14-inch MacBook Pro since it arrived a couple of weeks ago.
4. A timely reminder about the 16-inch
In my recent comparison between Apple’s two MacBook Pro sizes, I recommended that anyone considering the big one should go and check it out in person.
It’s much, much bigger than you think, you see.
Such an exploratory visit to your Apple Store does present a problem, though. It’s a double-edged sword; you’ll probably be both wowed and put off by its size. That lovely big display will be a real draw (it’s fabulous), and the sheer presence of the thing will impress you. Equally, you may picture yourself carting it around, and squeezing it into your backpack, or attempting to use your future 16-inch MacBook Pro in confined environments.
If those latter thoughts dominate and worry you – listen to them. The presence of the 14-inch MacBook Pro in my life over the last couple of weeks is a timely reminder of how niche a product the 16-inch version is.
5. Compromises are easy to overcome
The 14-inch MacBook Pro isn’t perfect – particularly when you compare it to its big brother.
It has a smaller display, slightly worse performance, and the battery doesn’t last as long.
However, just as it’s incredibly difficult to buy a bad car these days, it’s equally tricky to buy a bad MacBook Pro. Put simply, if you opt for the 14-inch MacBook Pro – in any specification – you’ll be delighted with it.
That’s why those compromises are so easy to overcome. If this is destined to be your only MacBook Pro (which it will be – we reviewers aren’t your atypical Mac owners), you’ll constantly marvel at how lovely the display is, it’ll be the fastest computer you’ve owned, and the battery performance will knock you sideways.
See? Nothing to worry about.
Unfortunately, I don’t get to keep this 14-inch MacBook Pro and I’m going to miss it when it’s gone.
This isn’t always the case with loan units. As lovely as it is to play with new toys and not have the same worries about treating them with kid gloves as comes with ownership (although, I do look after review units, don’t worry) I rarely miss their presence once returned.
When I do miss something, it means I probably need to buy one for myself. That’s what I’ll be doing when the M3 MacBook Pros arrive. I was on the fence before, but I now know, categorically, that the 14-inch MacBook Pro is firmly in my future.