Comment: OWC’s ‘DEC’ attachment highlights the portability progress Apple has made with the MacBook Pro

Amid protests from some professional users of the MacBook Pro that they need the ports Apple dropped from the 2016 models, OWC has announced a solution in the form of a tailor-made accessory called the DEC.

Attaching to the underside of the 2016 MacBook Pro, and said to exactly match both the footprint and the aluminum finish of the machine itself, the DEC adds 4TB of storage, an SD card slot, a Gigabit Ethernet port and an unspecified number of USB-A ports.

One thing really stands out about the DEC …

When you look at the render of the device fitted to a MacBook Pro, the combined unit looks almost comically bulky. I saw a tweet yesterday from one wag who said that OWC had reinvented the PowerBook.

Yet the reality is that what OWC has reinvented is a machine a little over four years old. The total thickness is, says the company, exactly the same as ‘the 2012 MacBook Pro.’

Now, that comparison is rather naughty, as it refers not to the Retina model Apple launched in 2012, but rather to the last version of the old classic model, with optical drive.

But all the same, it does provide an indication of the portability progress Apple has made in the four years since the pre-Retina model was its top-of-the-range MacBook Pro. Apple has effectively sliced off more than half of the base of the classic model to create the sleek new 2016 version.

As someone who made the switch directly from a pre-Retina model, it’s what has struck me most: I’m getting a lot more power in something which is so sleek and portable it has made my 11-inch MacBook Air redundant. Anywhere I used to take the Air I’m now taking my Pro.

What will be interesting to see is how many of those pro users upset at the loss of what Apple now considers legacy ports will actually buy the DEC. It doesn’t quite give them what they wanted – surprisingly, there’s no battery-pack in the DEC to extend battery-life, and it lacks HDMI – but with SD slot, Ethernet and USB-A ports, it addresses many of the complaints.

Of course, we don’t yet know what the DEC costs. With 4TB of SSD, it’s certainly not going to be cheap. Just a 4TB SSD on its own puts it well into four figures. Pro users can justifiably complain that adding the cost of a very expensive accessory to an already expensive Mac makes for a total outlay way beyond what they wanted to pay.

Let’s say it costs something in the $1500-2000 range – would you be tempted? Or will you instead just lay out a few bucks on a small number of dongles? Take our poll, and share your thoughts about the device in the comments.

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