2016 MacBook Pro

Posted by kdow on Oct 31, 2016 2:14:14 PM

Four years, four months & 16 days.

That’s how long it’s been since Apple refreshed it’s MacBook Pro lineup. An astonishingly long period of time given the Mac is the traditional flagship product from Apple. Even more astonishing that Apple, a company who’s reputation tends to skew it towards innovation, power and thoughtfulness, let such a large product line sit idle for so long.

Probably most astonishing is that my 2012 MacBook Pro with Retina Display works just fine in 2016.

Apple’s new MacBook Pro is a curious beast. There’s the obvious upgrades in spec, a better screen, smaller footprint than the previous model and a new Space Grey version. But there’s a lot of questions raised in the decisions Apple took with this. Keep in mind, it took nearly four and a half years to deliver this “milestone product”.

Here’s my good/bad assessment:

The bad

  • No apparent ability to plug lighting earphones into it. Bizarre decision, as an iPhone 7 user. Why skew the market so much after fighting so hard to remove the headphone jack?
  • iPhones no longer have the right cable for this Mac. We need a dongle to convert USB to USB-C.
  • This is a Pro device, why remove HDMI & SD card ports?
  • Where are the other Macs, displays, etc.?
  • Skylake. Why didn’t they go with the latest Intel stuff?
  • The cost. Apple is at the whim of global markets to some extent here, but this is a crazy expensive laptop. And the upgrades are ludicrous and barely justifiable (cost-wise).
  • The Apple logo no longer lights up :(

The good

  • It’s a new Mac!
  • The TouchBar is interesting. Nothing that revolutionary, it’s not a milestone. But it is intriguing.
  • It’s beautiful. Not too surprising, but the gently nudge forward in design has made this the most incredible looking laptop on the market.
  • The screen looks fantastic. The wider colour gamut sounds like a joke, but on iPhone 7 it makes a very serious & genuine difference.
  • Touch ID login is pretty neat, though now I can login with my Apple Watch proximity as well as my finger print.
  • That giant Trackpad is stunning. I recently upgraded my Magic Trackpad at work to the new big, white one. And it’s fantastic. By far the most intuitive input device on a PC.
  • Thunderbolt 3 ports are highly usable, and having four of them is fantastic because that’s four devices that can charge or be charged with high fidelity data transfer.

This event was purely for the MacBook Pro, and it took 90 minutes. I watched it with a colleague and couldn’t believe how Apple blundered through the presso. It didn’t require 90 minutes to launch these three laptops. In fact, the Jony Ive video at the end explained everything so perfectly that the entire piece could have easily been this 3-minute piece.

Given they spent 90 minutes on this keynote, I felt it was a bit odd that the only thing they announced was three new Pro laptops. Where are the iMacs? Why did they spend so much time flaunting an LG display instead of announcing a new Cinema Display?

It was one of the oddest product launches I’ve seen in recent years from Apple. And all of this came a day or two after Microsoft announced a new line of computers that rival the Mac lineup, if not exceed it. They announced a new all-in-one desktop tower (a-la the iMac), notebook & tablet. All of which look lovely. Of course, Microsoft can design the most beautiful hardware in the world but the fact that it still runs Windows hurts it.

Which leads me to the big question I’ve seen from people in the last few days: Is Apple becoming Microsoft? God no. Their attention to detail is still second-to-none, and their philosophy is still incredibly strong. Are they as focused on delivering earth shattering products as they were 10 years ago? No, of course not. They had homerun after homerun. It’s hard to keep that momentum up, Jobs or no Jobs.

This event wasn’t hallmark Apple. It was unremarkable. And the product they launched is good, but not a revolution. I’m not worried, yet. Apple aren’t dropping off a cliff by any means, but they’re being caught up by traditionally awful competitors — like Microsoft, who’s consumer game has always been weak.

I would be remiss if I didn’t answer the big elephant of a question in the room: did I buy one? Yes, of course I did.