Our quest for the “ultimate computing device” continues. Most of us will agree the MacBook range comes close when you are looking for a really dependable computer, which can fulfil your requirements. This is why Apple’s laptops have been the go-to device for many high-end users. Now, the MacBook Pro has been upgraded, and Apple has added much more than sheer power and muscle.
Specifications: 13.3-inch IPS display (2560x1600p, ~ 227ppi) | 2.9GHz dual-core Intel Core i5, Turbo Boost up to 3.3GHz, with 4MB shared L3 cache | 8GB of 2133MHz LPDDR3 RAM | 512GB internal storage | Intel Iris Graphics 550 | 4 x Thunderbolt 3 (USB-C) ports | 802.11ac, Bluetooth 4.2 | 49.2wh lithium-polymer battery | 1.37 kg | macOS Sierra
Apple MacBook Pro 2016
The new MacBook Pro is no regular upgrade. It ushers in some radical design changes, making it the thinnest and smallest of the kind. In fact, the 13-inch version is smaller than the 2015 MacBook Air of the same size.
Now, the MacBook Pro has four Thunderbolt 3 ports, all of which can help charge the device and transfer data. But there is no space for the Magsafe charger, nor are there regular USB ports. You will not waste a second figuring out where to plug the charger; the USB Type-C cables can plug into any of the four ports to charge the Mac, transfer data or power a 4K monitor with video output.
The one thing that sets the new MacBook Pro apart from any other computing device in the market is the Touch Bar with TouchID. This strip of multi-touch sensitive display replaces the functions keys above the keyboard. I initially thought this works only with specific apps, but the truth is that as you can use the strip to access additional functions on anything you are doing on the Mac; right from frame by frame search on Final Cut Pro to just multi-tab browsing on Safari.
What is good?
Sending out my first tweet from the new Mac, I was startled by a whoosh sound that swept across from the right to left across the device. Yes, Apple has brought in the kind of audio quality that makes the iPad Pro sound stunning, to the Mac as well. So this one is louder than any other Mac, and the sound is richer and deeper too.
Macs have traditionally had great, vibrant displays that have tried to make images look as natural as possible. Now, the new MacBook Pro takes it a notch up by making it brighter, richer and sharper. At 500 nits it is really bright, and you might not need to keep the brightness up unless you are working under the sunlight.
My perception of the TouchBar turned on its head the moment I started using it. I initially thought it works only on Final Cut Pro or Adobe Photoshop. I was wrong. It does a good job of replacing the function keys and integrates amazingly well with whatever you are doing, whichever software you are working on.
On desktop mode, you will turn to the strip to adjust brightness or volume or even turn on Siri, while on notes it will give you predictive text or help change fonts. You can swish through tabs or photos with a swipe on this bar. It is unlike anything we have seen before. Then the TouchID at the end of the strip makes it easy to log back in from sleep. Plus, the trackpad has become really big and easy to work with.
In the end, if someone puts their hard earned moolah behind a Macbook it is because of its performance, which they expect to be better than any other device. In fact, the TouchBar is a good place to test the processing power of the new MacBook Pro. Tabbed browsing is a very basic requirement for most of us, but still it is very resource intensive. But using the TouchBar you can cycle through dozens of open tabs without so much as a protest.
In the photos, it can fly through hundreds of images of varying quality; open one of these and you will be able to change its colour mode from normal to sepia with a swipe and not a second of lag. Also, I could easily crop and trim 4K videos I had shot on the iPhone over a period of time.
There seems to be some concern over the battery of the MacBook Pro and so far I have not had any issues, except for one time when the battery seemed to have drained inexplicably. Since then the battery has been stable. In fact, a full screen-on test with 100 per cent brightness, music streaming and playing at full volume and me working on Safari, Notes and Chrome gave me 4 hours and 20 minutes of juice, which is not bad in my books.
What is not that good?
The keyboard now has a new butterfly mechanism, which feels different from my MacBook Air, not really in a good way. The keys seem to hit a flat at the end of its travel, and send a small kick up the fingers, which will take some getting used to.
The new MacBook Pro has four Thunderbolt 3 ports based on the USB-C standard. No Magsafe, no regular USB ports. While you can use any of the four ports to charge your device or transfer data, you will need to invest in adapters to connect with old world devices and accessories like hard drives. Till the rest of the world catches up, it is going to be a struggle.
I am not sure there will be widespread adoption for the TouchBar right away. What it does show is that a lot of stuff you hope to achieve on a laptop with a touchscreen can actually be executed well, and maybe better, with a feature like the TouchBar.
Should you buy?
Yes, if you are a power user for whom the TouchBar and extra processing power will mean time saved and money made. For others, all this is a bit too expensive now to make sense.
The Apple MacBook Pro is undoubtedly the most powerful computing device you can rest on your laps, you will get used to the TouchBar and the lack of more traditional ports. There aren’t many other laptops that excel at so many different aspects.