New MacBook Pro — hit or miss?

So, I’ve had my new MacBook Pro (13inch with TouchBar) for a few weeks now. There’s been quite a lot of discussion about this new model and opinions in the early days seemed quite strong. So, how have I found it? I’ll mention my thoughts in ten categories.

  1. Keyboard. It’s quite different in feel, but totally good. I can’t get excited about different keyboards — I rapidly get used to whatever I use. There’s nothing wrong with the new keyboard — I could argue the shorter key travel is nicer, but I really can’t get that excited about it.
  2. Battery. It’s also fine. I’ve not benchmarked it, but subjectively it seems to last at least as well as my previous 2016-era MacBook Pro. I certainly have no complaints.
  3. Touch-ID. Awesome! In particular, Touch-ID support with 1Password is a game changer. I no longer need to type my password in all the time. Touch-ID unlocking is faster than using Apple Watch, which I used previously, but it’s the use with 1Password that really makes a big difference.
  4. TouchBar. It depends. In general day-to-day use in Finder, etc, it’s a bit “meh”. But in apps that have thoughtfully integrated support, it can be pretty cool. Sketch, Photoshop, Keynote, etc — apps like these make TouchBar come alive. But there’s also a muscle memory thing — it’s easy to forget it’s there and fall back on previous interaction methods. But I’m increasingly liking TouchBar when I use an app that has great support. I still need to really get used to it, but it’s growing on me.
  5. Physical Design. Awesome! The new model is noticably lighter — placing the old/new models side-by-side makes the old one feel like a real clunker. Picking up the old one makes my muscles ache — did I really use this ridiculously heavy machine every day? My back certainly respects less weight in my back-pack. This improvement in form-factor is a big deal.
  6. Colour. OK, I know this is superficial, but I love the new space-gray colour!
  7. Ports. I like the move to USB-C — it’s definitely the future. The lack of USB-A doesn’t bother me — the only thing I ever used USB-A for was to charge my iPhone, so I just bought a USB-C to Lightening cable. My printer is wireless and I’ve used cloud services to transfer files for several years now — so have little need to plug anything else in. Job done and goodbye to USB-A. However, the lack of HDMI and SD-Card ports is a little irritating. I got adapters for both, but it would be nice not to have to carry them. Looking at the height of the new machine, though, I suspect HDMI is just too big a physical connection to fit in the new profile. SD-Card support would have been nice.
  8. Performance. Awesome! I got the stock 8mb of RAM…and I can’t tell when the machine is swapping to SSD, because the SSD is now so fast. I can run Sketch, Photoshop, Lightroom, Keynote, Xcode all at the same time — and flit between apps easily. This is pretty amazing.
  9. Sound. The new speakers have a real punch to them — crank up the volume and you’d be amazed at the sound that comes out.
  10. Cost. OK, this isn’t a cheap machine. I had sticker shock for sure. I live in the UK and the Brexit impact on exchange rates means the whole Apple lineup has had price increases — which certainly didn't help.

So in summary, am I happy? You bet. I *love* this new MacBook Pro. The old model now feels very antiquated and incredibly heavy. I couldn’t go back. Performance, physical weight and Touch-ID are big leaps forward…and I’m already USB-C native. Definitely a “hit” with me.

Eclectic tastes, amateur at most things. Learning how to build a new startup. Former CTO for IBM Watson Europe.

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