MacBook Pro with Touch Bar Hands On

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The 2016 MacBook Pro saw the biggest shake-up within Apple’s laptop in years, taking what was already a premium laptop and taking it up a notch. The end result? one of the best laptops you can buy today but also one of the most expensive.

Design and build quality

As pointed out by Apple’s Phil Schiller the new MacBook Pro’s are thinner and lighter than the previous generation (the 13” MacBook Pro being 14.9mm and 15” being 15.5mm) but it is the design itself that’s impressive, looking at the MacBook Pro you will be hard pressed to find a single design flaw, everything looks as if it’s where it should be and very Apple-like in that not one key or a single pixel is out of place. A new addition to the MacBook Pro is the space grey colour and it looks great! It still feels sturdy even tho it’s lighter and thinner than any previous MacBook Pro. Nothing about this machine feels flimsy or cheap.

Touch Bar

One of the very first (if not the first) things you will notice about the new MacBook Pro is the Touch Bar, yes that strip at the top of the keyboard that has replaced the function keys (altho they are still available on the Touch Bar itself) it is a touch strip that adapts to the apps you are using, for example if you open up Safari your favourite pages will appear, open up iMovie and you can import clips, start a new project, trim clips and so on all using the Touch Bar.

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Before using the Touch Bar itself i have to admit that i thought it would be very gimmicky (I’m not sold on Touch Screen laptops at all and that includes the terrible Surface machines) But as soon as i saw what it could do and how it is implemented i was sold on it instantly, the only downfall is the lack of apps that are built for it, but over time developers will build more apps that support it (the list that does support the Touch Bar is growing by the day). At first it feels weird to have a touch strip on a laptop but as soon as you start opening up apps and seeing what it can do (and how well it has been implemented into Apple’s own apps for example) you start to realise how it can affect your work flow.

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Display

The 13.3 inch MacBook Pro packs a 2,560 by 1600 retina display and for anyone coming from an older Mac (myself included) you will notice the difference. It’s very clear and very bright (500 nits) Watching HD video and zooming in and out on high quality photo’s is great with no distortion or inaccurate colours. On side note photo’s taken with the iPhone 7 and 7 Plus will look great on this display along with any 4K footage that is shot on an iPhone.

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Keyboard and trackpad

The keyboard does resemble the very shallow one on the 12 inch MacBook and for people who like myself are use to the old style keys it will take some getting use to, one thing that i did notice while typing on the new Macbook Pro is just how more accurate it is for example hitting a key is more easy as they keys themselves seem bigger also i noted that i didn’t have to hit any of the keys directly, for example hitting the side of the key was fine, when doing so on my 2011 MacBook Pro it would probably miss and hit another letter instead. The keyboard also feels more comfortable to type on. Unlike many other laptops the new MacBook Pro has a backlight that lights up every individual key evenly. The trackpad is definitely huge, which is a good thing when using gestures, the best thing about it is the palm rejection which i’ve noticed works very well when typing.

Performance

This computer can handle heavy work loads and is a lot more powerful than the 12” MacBook. I tried opening multiple applications (iMovie, Pages, iTunes, Photo’s and so on) and Safari within which i opened up multiple tabs and websites, it was very responsive with applications opening up almost instantly, all the time i never noticed a single stutter. This was on the standard spec model (2.9 GHz intel core i5, 8GB Ram DDR3 Intel Iris graphics 550) If you are someone who needs multiple applications and Safari web browsing open at the same time this machine will do that with ease.

Battery Life

Apple advertises up to 10 hours of battery life for wireless web browsing on all of the new MacBook Pro’s, however when the machines were first released there was a small bug in the operating system that caused the new MacBook Pro’s to have lower batter life (it was widely reported) which Apple quickly solved with a software update as of now (April 2017) the MacBook Pro’s are getting the advertised battery life with some sites and reviews suggesting they are getting even more with UK testing publication Which having found that the 13inch MacBook Pro while claiming 10 hours in fact got around 12 hours, easily beating other brands such as Dell, HP, Toshiba, Asus, Acer.

Ports

The new MacBook Pro’s have four USB-C ports which should be enough for anyone. The cool thing here is that while the much loved Mag safe connector (which was used for charging) has now gone, the MacBook Pro can be charged using any one of the 4 USB-C ports which is very handy if you are for example sitting on the left but have a plug socket on the right or vice versa.

Overall

all in all i feel very positive about the new MacBook Pro, it’s usual responsiveness is great and after using the keyboard for a few minutes it feels more natural to type on. The only downside is it’s price tag (starting at £1749) it may be hard for some people to justify it’s price tag, however it is likely to get a price drop with the next update later this year (2017). Apple is very likely to enhance the MacBook Pro over the coming years and the feature to watch is the Touch Bar, it is very useful and with time i think it will get even more useful the more it is used by developers and thousands of apps support it.

Anyone who is looking for a Pro laptop that has a great design, bright and flawless display and a new Touch Bar feature that doesn’t require you to touch the screen (which feels so unnatural not to mention the amount of fingerprints you attract) adapts to the apps you are using and is actually very helpful i would highly recommend the new MacBook Pro’s.

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