What About Those 2016 MacBook Pros?

power supply for a Macintosh PowerBook
power supply for a Macintosh PowerBook

Magsafe was a good idea. The above depiction of a frayed Mac laptop charger plug did not occur because of tripping over the cable however. It happened because I would leave it plugged in while the laptop was in a backpack and the other end plugged into a dc-to-ac converter while driving. It was replaced of course. There’s Magsafe on this MacBook Air. I like it, though I don’t think I’ll miss it much.

But wait! That power cable, the part that slides into the charger and plugs into ac power – that doesn’t come with the new MacBook Pro. I was about to throw out that old Mac laptop charger when I heard that bit of news. They say the old power cable will fit in the new charger. I’ll keep it around. I’ve already spent around $100.00 on dongles and I don’t have the new MacBook Pro yet. [1]

It was the keyboard that I was most interested in trying on the new MacBook Pros. As you know (if you’ve read my comments on the Butterfly Keyboard that I love the keyboard on the MacBook. I like the keyboard on this MacBook Air, in fact I’d say it was perfect. There is just the slightest thump when pressing the keys and they seem to have a “just right” pressure. When I tried out the keyboard on the MacBook, it was like being in a dream state of an even more perfect keyboard – noiseless, light touch, low travel, and back lit. When Apple released the so-called Magic Keyboard I ordered it sight unseen, untouched, unexamined, on the first day it was available. I think that keyboard is the worst keyboard ever made in the entire history of this planet. Seriously, no keyboard could be worst.

So, I had to try the so-called “Second Generation Butterfly keyboard”. The first time was before the Touch Bar editions were out. I would say it was “Acceptable”. The keys seemed a little firmer to press and they are “fingertip shaped”. I do not use my fingers like jackhammers, as I imagine a particular blogger uses his fingers, and I appreciate the delicate touch of the MacBook keyboard.

When I tried that Second Generation Butterfly keyboard the first time, it was in a busy Apple Store (Diego was cool, and cute too; which I mention only as proof that I was there). Therefore, I did not notice the sounds emanating from the keyboard.

Oh, Please. Dear Steve in heaven, please make it so that noise coming from the keyboard can be turned off. Steve, I know you are busy with other things and probably not paying too much attention to what is happening with Apple, but Apple really needs your help. No, that’s not right. Apple does not need your help, we do. Customers are suffering under the tyranny of inconsiderate Cupertino Kids (engineers, managers, vice-presidents?). The operating systems are falling apart, breaking and crashing every day like the warm and rising tides. We need you. Some kind of intervention? Please. Love you.

The next time I tried out the new keyboard on the new MacBook Pros was last night on a 15-incher in a not very busy non-Apple Store. I listened, I heard, I was incredulous! The keys are noisy. They click and clack like a 1956 Studebaker. They rattle. They sound tinny and make this, one of the planet’s most expensive computer laptops, sound cheap. And it is entirely unnecessary.

I looked everywhere in System Prefences and found nothing to contain the noise emanating from the keyboard. I asked the attending dude who approached after I’d been there about a half an hour, he knew already there was nothing that would alter the noise emanation. And the arrow keys, still! I was thinking of using an Xacto® knife and carving out the upper part of the left and right arrow keys on my next Mac. No one at Apple Inc. is listening, are they?.

I spoke with a fellow customer in the store while I was there. He said he already had the new MacBook Pro. I asked about the noisy keyboard. He said it didn’t bother him – he paired it with the “Magic” keyboard and carried on.

Before the new MacBook Pros were announced I was hoping for a beefed up MacBook. I was hoping that Apple would see the wisdom of two ports even in their lightest Mac laptops. When I tested the new keyboard I was able to try the new MacBook Pro 13-inch side by side a MacBook. The speed difference was more than slightly noticeable. And the tech specs between the 13-inch and the 15-inch MacBook Pros, even at the base level, are vast. The 13-inch MacBook Pros are really a replacement for the MacBook Air. And the 15-inch MacBook Pro, for me, makes sense only at the extreme top end of the line, with the 460 graphics card. So the purchase will have to wait – unless, well we will have to see what comes from Apple’s next release party Special Event.

Where the new MacBook Pros shine is in the display. The display is beautiful. I didn’t think I would want to go with a 15-incher, but the spec difference and the big display makes the 15 more like a desktop replacement, and the present MacBook Air is still excellent as a carry-around computer.

The trackpad on the MacBook Air seems too big to me. I wish for a smaller trackpad on a laptop, with Retina-like resolution. The trackpad on the new MacBook Pros is massive. I am not sure what is gained by this and I’m not sure what the experience in practice will be; the height of the tables for the display units are not ideal for this type of testing.

The Touch Bar was somewhat as I thought it would be. I saw only the usual things on it. Maybe it allows the screen to be more app focussed. Maybe it speeds things up once one is used to it. It was easy to use, but I was underwhelmed by it. Touch ID I would probably not use, based on the number of times a passcode is asked for on iOS with Touch ID. I would not activate something I know almost certainly would be an irritation. I’ll type in a password.

Shall I say anything about operating systems? No, not in this article. Except to say that Mavericks was the last stable, truly stable, operating system Apple has released. Sierra will not touch any of my current Macs

But there is one more thing I might mention while I’m here. The new MacBook Pros are flat, boxy flat. It was at that very same Apple Store where I tested the new 13-incher, when at another time I was in the store with my fingers on the MacBook keyboard for no other reason than I liked touching that keyboard. A sales person came over. I asked if there were other MacBooks on display with other specs, the ones with the faster processor. No there weren’t; He said I would not be able to tell the difference. I thought I would, or at least should be able to detect at least a little difference. But the sales person added that the MacBooks were wedge shaped and that was better for your fingers, ergonomically, as he pointed across the table to the old MacBook Pro to draw my attention to the non-wedge shape. So I had kind of anticipated that the new MacBook Pros would be wedge shaped since the sales person seemed to think it was a selling point. I think I can manage without the wedge shape, yet I think no one (among customers) would have minded a little extra height at the back if it did have the wedge shape.

  1. almost half that amount was for the so-called Camera Connection Kit which I’ll talk about some other time.  ↩