I finally understand the 2016 MacBook Pro

Apple has made a radical change to a laptop which had been regarded as a benchmark in the computer industry. The MacBook Pro with Retina display. But the latest generation is fully redesigned, employing some “controversial” choices. Will it cost them the position?

#1: USB-C

Let’s get the most criticized point out of the way. There are no other ports than Thunderbolt 3 (via a USB-C connector), and the headphone jack.

Apple had enough “courage” to remove the 3.5 mm jack from the iPhone, but why not the MacBook?

To be honest, even though I am a huge fan of wireless audio, I still do want a dedicated headphone jack on a laptop. No matter how portable. Mostly because cord-free headphone solutions make most sense with devices, which we do not use by having them directly in front of us, but rather in a pocket, underneath a jacket, etc. Wireless headphones can be extremely convenient, and you don’t realize that until you try switching back to wired after having used the wireless day-in day-out, but that’s for a different blogpost.

Now the USB-C part. It’s good. Everything should be USB-C. It’s a much better port compared to both, micro USB, and regular USB A. And the only way you convince everybody to start using USB-C is by all ports on a relatively good selling device to be USB-C.

It might be painful now, but it will get better.

By the way, making fun of dongles is just ridiculous. Why? Because most of the devices you own have removable cables, so instead of buying a dongle, you can just get a cable, making basically no difference in how your setup works / looks. The lack of an SD card slot is sad, but considering you only use it occasionally (for one purpose), and it takes up a lot of space, I can see why Apple decided to scrap it.

However, the iPhone 7 comes with a 3.5 mm jack adapter, so should the MacBook with USB A to USB-C one.

I can already see the comments, that only a fool would defend Apple for such an underwhelming product. And I am not defending Apple.

#2: Performance

The highest spec of the 15” MacBook comes with “only” 16 GB of RAM. I will give you that some people might be able to utilize more than that, but even most professionals will be fine with 16 gigs in 2016. It most definitely will not be enough two years down the road. It also doesn’t have the top-of-the-line graphics card, but that is kind of fine. Depending on what you want to do, you will probably upgrade to a new machine before the GPU becomes unusable anyway. Processors are fine, but do not stand out from the rest of the computer, by not being the latest architecture.

#3: Keyboard

The new keyboard builds on top of the design of the one implemented in the smaller, 12” MacBook. Whether you prefer it or not is very subjective, so the only thing I can mention is that the overall feel of the keyboard is a tweaked compared to the original and I don’t really mind it.

#4: Battery life

This is the problem I have with the new MacBooks. Instead of keeping the thickness the same as the previous generation, Apple could have comfortably achieved 10 hours of real-world usage per charge. Now, users are reporting below 8 hours, with 4 not being unusual.

Why is Apple claiming 10 hours if they know it’s an unreal estimate?

Because it would sound too bad to go from 10 hours to 5 hours. At the same time, Apple knows at least more efficient Kaby Lake processors will be available next year, which will bump up the endurance closer to the promised 10 hours.

Why hadn’t Apple hasn’t sacrificed thickness for battery then?

Because Apple only occasionally fully redesigns the lineup, not every year, so they wouldn’t ruin their strategy by releasing redesigned MacBooks 2 years in a row, but not different enough.

#5: Price

There are sacrifices to be made. I usually justify these by an acceptable price or by a set of unique features. This year, the only special feature is the Touch Bar, which is nice in terms of functionality, but surprisingly enough, the form is far from perfect. It creates this weird disconnect, because it is located right above the keyboard, yet it acts more like a touchscreen, given it doesn’t provide any haptic feedback.

Just after two taps of the Touch Bar in the Calculator app I reached up and poked to screen, just to realize that nothing happens.

mbp13rd-tb-2016-spgry-blueburst_pr_00-0008-048-print

Basically

All of that means one thing. Wait for the 2017 model. It will have better specs, better battery life, more USB-C accessories will have been released by then, and if we take the history as an indicator, the price should come down quite a bit. Remember when the Retina MacBook Pros came out? They dropped by at least $300 in a year.

 

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