2021 MacBook Pro: How many ports do we need?

Ben Lovejoy, 9to5Mac:

We today got a more detailed report about what to expect in terms of 2021 MacBook Pro ports, with noted Apple analyst Ming-Chi Kuo saying we should expect both an HDMI port and an SD card slot. Coupled to his earlier report of a new MagSafe power port, that’s a pretty dramatic change to the current models, which have just USB-C ports and a headphone socket.

If Apple adds any/all of MagSafe, SD Card slot, HDMI to the rumored 2021 MacBook Pros, I can imagine they’ll sell more units (rumor mill says 25%-30% expected sales increase). And I can’t imagine someone turning away from the new MacBook Pros because they have too many ports.

Back to Ben:

But whether that’s an IO dream or nightmare depends on how Apple plans to implement the change.

Where’s the down side?

So one very real possibility, as raised by my colleague Benjamin Mayo earlier, is that the new ports come at the cost of reducing the number of USB-C ones. In which case I and others like me will be unhappy, as we’d be swapping out one or more multifunction ports – whose abilities include power and video connections – for single-function ones.

That’s a fair concern. But I think that ship has already sailed. I’ve been living with a 2020 MacBook Air with only two Thunderbolt / USB 4 ports. While I would like more ports, I’ve gotten used to living with two. I’ve got a hub that adds more ports that I rarely touch (mostly comes up when I want a peek at an SD card or flash drive). When I plug in my external display, I use the display’s built-in ports instead of a hub.

I can live with two USB-C ports. As long as Apple doesn’t go lower than two, but adds in extra ports, I’ve got no complaints. Though that does add more places for spilled coffee to go where it shouldn’t, but that’s on me.

Would I pay more for four USB-C ports, plus the extra ports? Not sure. An embarrassment of riches, that.