Here's a roundup of opinions on Apple's latest notebook.
Everywhere I look, it feels like this incarnation of the MacBook Pro is shooting for a future it can’t quite reach. One where it can be impressively thin and powerful enough for the pros. Where it can be super light and have all-day battery life. Where its ports and keyboard morph and adapt perfectly to the needs of every user.
I have little doubt that in a couple years, the technology Apple has been waiting for will arrive and this vision, or something closer to it, will be complete. Apple just released this machine too soon, or was too aggressive in the decisions it made. That future is almost certainly out there. But it’s not in this machine. Not yet.
The new 13-inch MacBooks — even the base model without the Touch Bar — are costly. And they may make pros unhappy. But, for everyday Mac lovers — users of the Air or maybe the older low-end Pro — they are now your only thin, modern, option with a full-fledged processor. The Touch Bar has potential, but it’s not magic. The battery isn’t likely to deliver on Apple’s claims. You can’t count on liking the keyboard. But, if you’re a Mac devotee ready to move past the Air — not back to a lower-powered MacBook — this is what Apple is offering. Take it or leave it.
Ultimately a lot to like about the new MacBook Pro. But it's designed for someone who I'm not sure exists outside Apple's fantasies of how professionals use computers. The MacBook Pro I want to see is built around real people's work habits. I still recommend it, and I imagine many of you who have been waiting patiently will indeed buy this. But I'd enjoy it more if it were designed for people like us.
Compared with my rotting MacBook Air and the old MacBook Pro, the new Pros look like they’ve been on a serious juice cleanse. Thinner edges and cleaner lines can almost—almost—make you see why Apple thinks specialized ports are the devil’s work. Anyone stepping up from a MacBook Air will, surprisingly, not notice a weight difference. The 13- and 15-inch Pros are about a half-pound lighter than their predecessors.
For those who have been holding out on buying a new MacBook, the time is right, with an upgrade that should be sufficiently future-proof to take on the next few years — or however long it takes for the next major upgrade. Hopefully you’ve been saving up in the meantime.
In the end, your decision may come down to something much more practical -- ports. Are you ready to move into the USB-C only future, where connecting a USB key, HDMI output, Ethernet cable, or nearly any other accessory will require a special cable or dongle?
In the end, real story with the MacBook Pro is the Touch Bar. It’s somewhat useful, but it’s still so undersupported for apps beyond Apple’s that, at least for right now, the Touch Bar is not reason enough to get a new MacBook Pro. Particularly if you’re already satisfied with the performance of your existing machine. If you need a new MacBook Pro and you can’t wait for the Kaby Lake refreshes already rumored, the benefits of the internal specs matched with the cool-factor of the Touch Bar make this a good Mac. For everyone else this is a gimmick on a very good, way too expensive laptop.
Apple will never win awards for affordability. This 256GB of storage, 8GB of RAM, Core i5 system starts at $1,799 — $300 more than the entry-level, traditional function-key sporting MacBook Pro. There are cheaper Windows 10 systems out there that offer better specs and full touchscreens. A 13-inch Core i7 HP Spectre x360, for instance, lists for $1,149.99 (the Mac offers slightly better graphics, an Intel HD Graphics 550 as opposed to the 520). If, however, you are a Mac fan, this is an excellent upgrade with a fascinating and highly extensible new Touch Bar.