No recourse even from Tim Cook, so Looking hard at HP, Dell and Lenovo

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Well the fragility of MacBook Pros has me looking for new laptop recommendations. I by the way did tweet to #tim_cook and apples executive support tram responded awesomely fast. 
The main news is that there is no recourse from what level 2 tech support says through that channel. Warranty decisions are made at the descretion of the local Apple Store manager is nothing that they are allowed to do. Net, net, better make sure to send Christmas cookies to your local Apple Store manager early and often if you’ve got a bunch of these. And make sure your purchases are aggregated in an Apple business account etc. 
In addition, short battery life and shallow keyboard, what’s a person to do who wants. Here’s a quick sweep of current thin and light notebooks that can work for a software developer. I used the same criteria as last years MacBook Pro 2015 with one exception (USB C). PC Magazine had a list. 

  1. Reliable and some sort of decent three year service plan (and with reasonable handling of accidental damage more along the lines of iPhone Applecare not MacBook policies)
  2. 4.5 pounds and not a gigantic brick of an adapter so overall
  3. Thin at 7-12mm or so not these big thick gaming notebooks that are 25mm
  4. At least 2.5k screen at 15 inches as 13 inches is too small for multiple windows imho. IPS bright screen. 
  5. 512TB SSD NVMe as disk is the big issue
  6. 16GB ram (ok 33GB is better but no current thin and light has it due to intel availability problems)
  7. At least 6-7 real hours of battery life (hopefully without the careful babying the mbp2016 needs)
  8. USB C charger. I admit it I’m kind of addicted to the idea that you don’t have to buy a proprietary charger (the one good idea from mbp16)
  9. High speed offboard. At least 10Gbps USB 3.1 supported ASP for fast attached SSD access and ideally future proofed to Thunderbolt 3  40Gbps

So here is what I’ve found. I think Mike will be happy. As an aside I think all these vendors should emulate what Mike Sievert et al at T-Mobile are doing. Have a friends and family discount and executive support team to go after influencers and flip them. Super impressive what they’ve done if yin watch Facebook et al. 
HP Laptops
Ok they definitely have reliability issues and you need a massive decoder ring. 
First you need to understand their fairly random (at least to me brand names). This is way more complicated than MacBook vs MacBook Pro. The net is

  1. Spectre. Their premium line. Most expensive. Latest technology. I guess you could call them MacBook Pro killers. 
  2. Envy. Their MacBook killer so thin and light with dedicated GPUs. 
  3. Elitebook. For big companies. They have biometrics etc. 
  4. ProBook. Small business and cheaper
  5. ZBook. For creatives. And no I don’t really understand what that means. But they are. If and heavy at 5.5 pounds plus with Nvidia GPUs 
  6. Notebook. Budget consumer machines. 
  7. Pavillion. Cheap spectres (wait I thought that is what an Envy is)
  8. Omen. Big loud and low battery life. In other words perfect for gamers. 
  9. Chromebooks. Even Cheap laptops running chrome. The so called student market. 
  10. Stream. Cheap laptops running windows. 

The model number of it has it has this decoder. If it says 440 this means

  1. The hundred digit is the series the higher the better so a 640 is better than a 440
  2. The tens digit is the size of the screen. So 14 is 4, 15 is 5
  3. Last digit is 0 for Intel and 5 for AMD

Then there is a modifier which is mainly features a developer doesn’t use too much:

  1. x360 means convertible notebook. The screen flips all the way around so u can use way. Not super useful for devs
  2. x2. A detachable screen like a SurfacePro and a iPad Pro competitor usually 
  3. t means a touch screen notebook

Finally to distinguish model Years the can be a G followed by the generation. Higher is better so a G5 means fifth generation. 
And really finally you want to look at their Applecare equivalents. Given the many reliability issues reported having a good warranty is crucial. They have 2 and 3 year warranties. And also have a accident policy. The $200 accident policy includes a feature. If you don’t use it you get your money back. How cool so that?
Best choices instead of MacBook Pro 15
Whew with that is a lot to know so here are the machines that meet the spec going ordered by newest units. So here are MacBook Pro competitors:

Best choices for MacBook Pro 13
The criteria here is a 13 inch screen with integrated graphics. Best for browsing and general web use

  • Lenovo Thinkpad Carbon X1. This is a 14″ laptop with integrated graphics and 22 hour battery life?!
  • Razer Blade (early 2017). Also 14″ but with gtx 1050. $2400 with 4K display. .7 x 25.6mm or 19mm. TB3 and USB 3.0. 10 hour battery. This is actually a great choice but has reliability and support problems. 

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