2016 MacBook Pro (Review)

So it’s been 4 years since Apple has redesigned their MacBook Pro line. In 2012 they announced the thinner, lighter and new display “retina MacBook Pro”. What’s was great with that machine is that it was thinner and lighter, all with keeping the ports. Well that has changed with this new revamped MacBook Pro. So let’s dig in.

Like all products Apple updates, they make things thinner and lighter.  These new MacBook Pros are 17% thinner, with the 13” MacBook Pro weighing 3 pounds, and the 15” weighing 4 pounds.  Making the laptops thinner is going to call for Apple to revamp a few things.

KEYBOARD

The new keyboard that Apple is putting in their laptops are the new butterfly designed keyboards that were introduced in the 12” MacBook in 2015.  One thing they did different was fix the travel just a slight bit, which makes feedback from typing quite pleasant.

TRACKPAD

Apple has always had a great trackpad with gesture capabilities, and this time they came through with a trackpad thats twice the size Of course it includes the force touch feature that was implemented in previous models.  Now this trackpad is massive, and it has great real estate to work with.

However, there’s been some reports of users having a hard time while trying to type because their palms are resting on this gigantic trackpad causing interruptions. One thing I wish Apple would is integrate a feature that would let the apple pencil work on the trackpad. Could you imagine artists and people that use the Apple pencil on a daily basis using the pencil on Photoshop and other OS X programs?

TOUCHBAR

The biggest addition that Apple has added, is the new Touchbar.  This thin OLED strip has replaced the function row, giving you customizable options and integration with programs.  For example, while using Safari, you can switch between tabs, select favorites, or if you’re watching a Youtube video scrub through the video.  If you’re using Final Cut Pro X you can use the touchbar to trim clips.  Using the Messages app even lights up your whole touchbar with emojis to chose from!

The touchbar is still in it’s early stages, and more developers and apps are adapting to it, so I think with time the touchbar will get better and better.

Touch ID

On the right side of the touchbar you’ll see a new square looking button, this is the new Touch ID button that Apple has integrated into its laptop line. The new Touch ID button acts as the power button, fingerprint scanner to unlock your device, and you can also make purchases using Apple Pay.

After having a lot of time with the MacBook Pro, I’ve grown to really like using the Touch ID, probably more than the Touch Bar.

USB C/Thunderbolt 3

Now, the most controversial thing that came with this years announcement of these MacBook Pros is the elimination of all the ports, and adding nothing but USB-C/Thunderbolt 3 ports.  On the entry level 13” MacBook Pro without TouchBar there’s 2 usb-c ports, and on the models with touchbar’s there’s 4 usb-c ports.  Each port can charge your device, so even though the MagSafe connector has been removed, this is a cool feature.  Each usb-c port can support up to 40gb of data transfer, but also supports external displays.  The 13” MacBook Pro can support up to (2) 4K monitors at once, and (1) 5K monitor.   While the 15” MacBook Pro can power (2) 5K external monitors and (4) 4K external monitors.

When everyone saw that USB-C was the only port selection on these new MacBook Pro’s, there was a lot criticism because they took away the SD card slot, the usb ports, and the MagSafe connector.  Now like Apple has done things in the past, this is their way of looking into the future.  More and more devices and accessories will be utilizing usb-c, so I can understand how Apple decided to go this route.  I do wish they could of squeezed in an SD card slot though.

One recommendation I can give, is the Satachi USB-C Hub.  This hub has 1 USB-C port that doesn’t support charging, 2 USB-A ports, a micro sd card slot and a SD card slot.  I’ve been using this with my MacBook Pro to transfer files from my cameras’ SD card, and also using it to charge my iPhone 7 Plus when need be.  The hub is slim and sleek, and the color match is spot on. I’ll leave a link for it in the description down below.

Retina Display Update

Some people thought that Apple might throw in a 4K display with this refresh, however we didn’t quite get that, we ended up getting an updated Retina display that has a 67% brighter display, 500 nits brightness, and 25% more colors than a sRGB.  With these updates the contrast ratio gives you deeper blacks and brighter whites, and you also get more vibrant colors that will stand out more because of the wide color gamut.

I’m used to working on a 5K iMac for my editing work, and handling a lot of heavy duty graphics, however this update has made my experience with the new MacBook Pros very satisfying.

Speakers

Apple has even improved the speakers on their Pro line laptops. They’ve been redesigned and have 58% more volume, and 2.5x the bass.  For a laptop thats so slim, the volume and clarity is a big step up from the previous models.  I would of never thought a laptop so small would be able to produce such high clarity and loud volume inside a small body.

Performance

The MacBook Pro line has always been a “Pro” laptop, well there’s a lot of skepticism with that now.  Apple decided to go with the 6th gen Skylake processor chips, which are still an improvement from the previous model, but nothing that stands out and screams to go upgrade right away.

The 13” MBP without touchbar starts with a 2.0GHz dual-core i5 with 8GB of RAM and Intel Iris 540 Graphics Chip, while the 13” with TouchBar starts with a 2.9 dual-core i5, 8GM of RAM, and an Intel Iris 550 Graphics Chip. Both laptops start with a 256 SSD also.

The 15” MacBook Pro starts off with 2.6 and 2.7 i7 processor, 16GB of RAM, 256 and 512 SSD, and a dedicated Radeon Pro 450 or 455 Graphic Card.

When these laptops were first released, there were quite a bit of issues that customers were having.  People were getting red lines on the display, they were getting frozen displays, and displays that weren’t turning on when opening the lid to wake up.

Apple claims that you’ll get 10 hours of battery life while surfing the web, however I’ve got no where close to that number.  The closest I’ve got has been maybe 6 hours of use once or twice.  While using the 15” I was getting about 3 hours consistently, and with the 13” I was getting about 4 hours.  Now since Apple has updated macOS Sierra to 10.12.3, I have seen improvements with my battery life.  I haven’t used it enough to get a good average estimate, but I can tell that it’s improved.

Space Grey

On a better note, Apple finally came out with a Space Grey color option! We kind of saw this coming since they were releasing the 12” MacBook with color options, so it’s great to see them expand that to their Pro lineup.  When will see Gold and Rose Gold move into the mix?

Pricing 

The 13” MacBook Pro without TouchBar starts at $1,499, while the 13” with TouchBar starts at $1,799.  The low end 15” MacBook Pro starts at $2,399, while the higher end starts at $2,799.

I think that for what’s under the hood, regardless of the overall improvements, that the price is steep.  I think they should of started these MacBooks off at what the previous gen was, which was $1,299 for the entry 13”, and $1,499 for the mid level.  While the 15” started at $1,999 and the higher end was $2,499.

Pros:

This laptop is built for the future, which is good! Apple has a reputation of trend setting.  They started removing their disc drives from their iMacs and from their MacBook Pros.  This actually started way back when the MacBook Air was introduced in 2008.

USB-C is the way of the future. More accessories and devices are adopting this, so in a year from now we’ll see much more product that has adapted to this new technology.  A lot of people have gave Apple criticism for only going this route, but give a year or so and we’ll look back at how upset everyone wa that they removed it.

The new TrackPad and keyboard are awesome.  It takes about a day or two to get used to the keyboard with the butterfly switches, but you’ll learn to love it.  The TrackPad has always been a top of line trackpad with gesture support, and continues to wear the crown on this.

Cons:

The price on these laptops I feel are more than what they should be.  Apple increase the price for old technology (except USB-C).  For having a 6th gen processor that’s been our for quite some time, there’s no need to up the price, even if there’s a TouchBar on the laptop.

The battery life was my first major complaint.  I started off using the 15” and was getting around 3 hours of battery with normal use, which is horrible!  When using Final Cut Pro, I was getting about an hour and a half.  I actually went through two 15” MacBook Pro’s because my first one ended up getting a blown speaker due to the BootCamp driver error when loading Windows 10.  Luckily, my local Apple Store was great working with me, and swapped it out right away.  I thought maybe my battery was a fluke, but when I received my second 15”, I had the same experience.  So why spend $2,399 on a brand new laptop that has some older technology in it?

I ended up returning that and going with a 13” with TouchBar.  The battery on that one was slightly better, getting about 3-4 hours of normal use, and 2-3 using Final Cut Pro.  Now Apple has released some updates to Mac OS Sierra, so I’m in the process or still seeing if that’s fixed any bugs that’s caused such horrible battery life.

battery life with being thinner, average 3-4 hours normal use. 1-2 if working in final cut pro. 2-3 emailing, VPN and watching YouTube. Freezes, crashes, have to hard reset sometimes when trying to wake computer, lack of ports, older processors (new ones will come out soon), no magsafe , over priced. Touchbar issues

Final Thoughts

I feel like Apple rushed this to the market.  It was long overdue for a refresh, and Apple had to do something.  The 7th gen  Kaby lake processors weren’t quite ready for production with Apple, so they decided to settle with the 6th gen.  There’s already been reports that the new updated MacBook Pros will be coming in the 2nd quarter of 2017, so why rush it before the 2016 holiday season?

Issues right out of the box, from the poor battery life, to the blown speaker on my first 15” MacBook Pro had be considering switching to a Windows laptop.  I use my laptop every day for work, for editing videos, and for normal use, so to have something with a high cost that was occurring issues I almost pulled the trigger on it.

It’s too soon to tell if the TouchBar will be successful, there’s some cool and unique features with using it, but only time will tell.

As for the USB-C ports? I’m okay with it because I know that’s where things are going, but they could of added an SD card slot!

Finally, I think for the MacBook Pro to carry itself as “Pro” laptop for so many years, and have a great reputation, this announcement was kind of surprised with the price increase, I really don’t think it’s necessary, especially for having older internals.  However, I’m happy and satisfied with using 13” MacBook Pro with TouchBar.  Once I switched from the 15” to 13” and realized I was still getting a great laptop that could handle the same workload I was getting previously, I felt like I made a good decision.

Satechi USB-C Hub: http://amzn.to/2jogcIX

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s