In defense of the USB-C future now past

I recently upgraded my nearly-five-year-old MacBook Pro with one of the shiny new M2-based ones. (I do work with these, so the company I work for contributes toward their cost.)

Prior to that, I had the 2018 MacBook Pro. That was the one that had the best version of the worst keyboard. Not content with that, it had another controversy swirling around it—apart from a headphone jack, it only had USB-C ports.

Before the super-thin 2016-2018 MacBook Pros came around, we had machines with the headphone jack, multiple USB-A ports, multiple Thunderbolt 3 ports, a MagSafe magnetic charger (no, not that MagSafe), HDMI, and a card reader. None of these ports did the same things.

When Apple made the move to all USB-C, all the time, it was a big deal. And, to be fair, in 2016, it still was. We had all these things on our desks and in conference rooms that needed that assortment of sockets.

Thing is, it didn't take long for USB-C to really take over. I nabbed the CalDigit TS3 Plus and settled in for several years of just sitting down at a desk and plugging a single wire that had everything.

It wasn't perfect. The docks would occasionally just… reset, which wasn't a huge deal except that I had backup drives connected that now were uncleanly ejected. I got in the habit of plugging my backup drives directly into another port on my MacBook, which made everything perfectly stable.

And that's the thing—my MacBook had four ports which were all the same. Power, a monitor, a drive, a dock, a phone—I could plug whatever into whatever and it would Just Work.

Now we've got this new model. And look, I love it. I am not at all bothered by the increased thickness or the much-maligned notch.

But now there's only one USB-C port on the right that I can plug my dock into. In darkened rooms I keep trying to shove its cable into the HDMI port. (Frankly, I'll be shocked the day I actually use HDMI—even for conference TVs, we've just got little USB-C docks with cameras and speakerphones already plugged into them. Who wants to plug in 3+ things?)

I've barely used MagSafe or the gigantic power brick, because the slightly lower wattage from the dock is just fine. And now I have this power cable that can only charge a MagSafe MacBook and nothing else—not my iPad, not my Orba, not my portable battery, not my eventual USB-C iPhone. It's really kind of pointless.

But what really bugs me is that, with all this, there's only three USB-C ports now—not four. It's assumed, apparently, that I would give one up for the choice of MagSafe or HDMI or SD. I lost a useful port on the right side of my computer for this.

Having said all that… I feel a bit sheepish and am thinking myself a bit whiny. But I really do wish we would have kept the all-USB-C future. I think this is a step back.

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