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Hackernoon logoFirst few days with the 2016 MacBook Pro by@MostlyHarmlessD

First few days with the 2016 MacBook Pro

So the ungainly named ‘15" MacBook Pro Retina with touch bar’ became available on Friday 2nd December and following an unfortunate accident, my 2012 version needed replacing. I therefore became one of the first UK owners of the controversial new machine. I’ve had it a few days now giving me enough time to form some initial opinions.

My use case

My laptop is my everything machine, I’m a software engineer so it’s my livelihood, but I’m a person too, so it’s also a source of entertainment and a life admin tool.

The touch bar

The most new fangled thing going on the machine. It was probable a perfectly respectable display a short time ago but it finds itself right underneath the laptops display, leaving it acutely vulnerable to comparison. It looks a bit blurry frankly, not much, but compare to the super sharp main display, it’s just not as good. In reality, that doesn’t much matter because I’m always looking at whatever I’m doing on the main screen anyway. This left it largely ignored.

A significant source of consternation, amongst software engineers at least was the confiscation of the function and escape keys. Well I didn’t much miss them. Every time I went for the escape key, it’s graphical facsimile was there and did the job. Other things like volume and display brightness were plenty intuitive and didn’t annoy me.

Overall, it’s probably a waste. Pro users have all their QWERTY keyboard shortcuts seared into their brains and won’t get much use out of it. Still, it seems unfair to call it a regression as I have no trouble in doing everything I was doing before. The touchId thing is far better than typing passwords too. My main gripe is that Apple have nobbled the non touch bar version, meaning you have to pay for it even if you don’t want it.

Those ports

The ingenious and much needed (at least in my household) magsafe connector is gone, along with all the USB-A, DisplayPort and SD card ports. It’s pretty annoying having all your other toys becoming hard to use overnight. Thankfully, USB-C is finally a sensible standard to settle on, firewire, thunderbolt etc were never going to catch on ultimately. It’s also really useful being able to use any of the ports for anything. The Magsafe will be missed, but this blog post gives us some hope along with making a range of good observations. #donglegate will be endured for a short time but the USB-C future is good. I found all my needs catered for with the AV adaptor and the USB hub built into my monitor

The keyboard

Is also fine, a bit weird at first, but I quickly got used to and can type every bit as quickly as I could on the old one. I enjoy luxuriating in 1cm of mechanical keyboard travel as much as the next dweeb but the austere device works just fine.

That screen

Is a drastic improvement on the old one, which I didn’t think was necessary or possible. It’s outstandingly bright with inviting colour, all good stuff in something that you’ll be spending a lot of time looking at. It’s so vivid in fact that you can leave it at half brightness for battery saving and it still looks great.

The new case

I got mine in ‘Death Star Black’ and it’s an extremely handsome machine. It’s a little bit thinner and a little bit lighter but it feels a lot sleeker.

The price

Is taking the piss. There’s no doubt about it. What really bothers me is all the dick moves Apple has insisted on making for no real reason. There’s little things, like not bothering to include a microfibre cloth to keep the screen clean and bigger things like not giving us a proper power lead — you only get the smaller travel version.

This is also true of buying a spare power block, you need to buy another power lead and another usb c cable. Given that the new ports have made all our old chargers obsolete, this all feels really cynical. Especially considering how little money is in this for Apple.

I can understand that the pro users might end up a little neglected, after all, Apples main money spinner is the iPhone so it’s rational for them to be focused on that product line. I expect the latest generation of processors didn’t find their way into the machine for this reason.

The relentless and opportunistic penny-pinching is intentional though, and leaves a sour taste.

It’s still an excellent laptop

Overall, I’m very happy with it. It works better than the machine it replaces in all the ways that matter to me. The 2012 model was running just fine until I dropped it so I’m hopeful that this one will last a long time too. It’s a shame the Apple decided to treat it’s most loyal customer base with such contempt — an optional touch bar, proper power brick and a couple of dongles thrown into the box would have been a cheap way of keeping us on side.

That doesn’t alter the fact that it’s an excellent laptop.

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