Apple MacBook Pro: A new dawn

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Apple MacBook Pro

In an age of “courage” and Apple moving the industry forward by killing off various features and standards like headphone jacks on iPhones and Function Keys on notebooks, the new MacBook Pro is possibly the most contentious product to come out of Cupertino. The MacBook Pro tells us a lot about the future of Apple in terms of hardware. Even in its computer line, iOS is setting the pace for functionality, and the new devices are as close to iPads and iPhones than they have ever been.

THE NUMBERS

Display
13.3-inch 2560 x 1600-pixel 227ppi LED-backlit with IPS
OS
macOS Sierra
CPU
2.9GHz dual-core Intel Core i5, Intel Iris Graphics 550 GPU
Memory
256GB/512GB/1TB internal storage, 8/16GB RAM
Connectivity
4 x Thunderbolt 3 (USB Type-C), audio jack, Bluetooth 4.0, Wi-Fi
Dimensions
212.4 x 304.1 x 14.9mm, 1.37kg
Price
Starts at P99,990

The new generation of MacBook Pros feels like precision tools. They represent the very distillation of Apple’s design ideals: thin, light, powerful, and empowering hardware that’s designed to dominate in content creation. But it does so at the expense of some personality.

Aside from being the most powerful MacBook ever, the new Pro is also the most portable. Apple shaves half a pound on the new MacBook Pro, which looks like the offspring of the 12-inch MacBook and the previous generation of Pros.

We now get even better Retina displays with the ability to show wide color gamut—something few competitors have. Apple says this is the brightest and most colorful Mac notebook display ever, short of being an OLED panel, and is one of the brightest and most striking displays you’ll see this year. These are even thinner panels now, which means we no longer have backlit Apple logos.

The enclosure of the MacBook Pros has also been redesigned and the result is quite dramatic. We now have sharper lines, fewer gaps, and a larger glass trackpad for improved gestures.

The one area that has taken a bit of a step back is battery life, which peters out at around six hours.

The new keyboard is now like the flatter MacBook 12-inch keyboard, uses a second-generation butterfly mechanism, and offers a ton of possibility with the new Touch Bar, which can change depending on the app or context. My initial reaction was not good as typing felt hollow. After a week with the MacBook Pro, however, I’m starting to come around and can type just fine with it. But I don’t love it.

The new MacBook Pro can’t be upgraded since everything is soldered in, which makes them a beast to repair. Where does this leave users who need more RAM, better GPUs, more expansion, and maybe a more traditional keyboard or who happen to like the row of function keys? Sadly, Apple no longer makes a portable computer for you. Unfortunately, as awesome as they are, the new MacBook Pro has managed to seriously erode the goodwill of the Mac faithful who has stuck with the platform for so long.

I can’t help feeling like the Mac has lost a bit of its soul just because so many aspects of its ‘personality’ are now gone. There’s no power on/off button, there’s no welcome ‘bong’ sound upon start-up, the MagSafe power connector is gone, and the light that tells you if your device is charging or if it is charged has also been extinguished for good.

The new Thunderbolt 3 port is USB Type-C compatible. This is far more versatile than older ports provided you procure the necessary connectors and dongles, which can add up to a small fortune over the MacBook Pro’s already sky-high cost.

Professional users will bemoan the removal of HDMIout, SD card reader, and USB 3.0 ports.

This becomes a bigger issue for content creators and editors who need to easily connect to cameras, scanners, printers, and other peripherals.

This MacBook is like most iPads or iPhones. It boots instantly, and employs more gestures and touch-centric controls thanks to the Touch Bar and the large new trackpad.

In terms of design and sheer engineering, there’s no argument that the Touch Bar brings an added layer of interaction to macOS Sierra’s inherently non-touch interface. Getting rid of the function key strip and replacing it with a seemingly magical array of options does make better use of that space. It also adds extra steps to many key functions. Simple things like volume and brightness controls are suddenly multi-step operations.

Speed says

The Apple MacBook Pro is an ideal portable device if like me, most of what you do is writing, plus some photo and video editing (and you already have the necessary connectors to make it all work). Hopefully, a software update will improve battery life, which feels sorely lacking for a device at this price point. By being a completely re-created product, however, the new MacBook Pro is going to have to work hard to prove that all of Apple’s innovations and deletions make sense in the long run.

Review by Gadjo Cardenas Sevilla
First published Speed January 2017
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