Our quest for the “ultimate computing device” continues. Most of us will agree that the MacBook range comes really close when you are looking for a really dependable computer which can fulfill most of your needs. Now, the MacBook Pro has been upgraded, and Apple has added much more than sheer power and muscle.
The new MacBook Pro 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. The MacBook Pro has four Thunderbolt 3 ports, they can help charge the device and transfer data. But there is no space for the Magsafe, nor are there regular USB ports.
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 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.
My perception of the TouchBar turned on its head the moment I started using it. It does a good job of replacing the function keys and integrates amazingly well with whatever you are doing. 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. Plus, the trackpad has become really big and easy to work with.
In the end if someone puts his hard-earned moolah behind a Macbook it is because of its performance, which is expected 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. Using the TouchBar you can cycle through dozens of open tabs without so much as a whimper of protest.
There seems to be some concern over the battery of the MacBook Pro, though so far I have not had any issues except for the 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% brightness, music streaming and playing at full volume and simultaneously 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 these 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.
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 are not many other laptops that excel at so many different aspects.
n Estimated street price: R1,72,000