Monday, 21 November 2016

2016 MacBook Pro Hands-On


The new MacBook Pro has landed in New Zealand and I had an opportunity to get hands on with the entry-level 13" model this weekend.

Here's a laptop that manages to disappoint in so many ways that it's hard to believe that Apple really launched it on loyal customers.

Worst thing about this machine? The keyboard. I mean seriously, side by side with its predecessor, it isn't pleasant to use at all. Apparently its an improvement over the MacBook's original version, but it felt just as nasty to type on to me. I gave the machine to a colleague who is an existing MacBook Pro owner and his response was that the keyboard was a deal breaker all on its own.

Then there are the ports. On this model two Type-C USB ports, guaranteeing the need to purchase a whole heap of adapters. For me personally it wouldn't be a deal breaker, but my colleague felt otherwise.

The new MacBook Pro is smaller than the outgoing model, but the reduction in mass and volume is just not enough to compensate for the pain of the keyboard or ports. This laptop is going to end up in a bag and shaving off a millimetre here or there, removing a gram or two, they aren't really key considerations for the target user.

I thought the changes to the MBP's body were positive, whilst the lid was closed anyway. However the new screen hinge is a bit of a mess when the lid is open. The new screen is good to look at and it is possible to see how the new colour space improves the display, it isn't so different as to demand that you upgrade for the new display alone.

The final question mark has to be the price. Here in New Zealand the entry-level MBP starts at $2,499. A comparable machine from HP, Dell or Lenovo is significantly cheaper. For example the Dell XPS 13 - packing the newer seventh gen i5 processor and new HD620 GPU, is lighter than the MBP, packs a better array of ports (and retains its SD Card slot) and costs $300 less. That makes no sense.

There are customers who will buy Apple for no other reason than unshakeable loyalty to the brand. For others, who are able to take a step back and consider the new machines on their merits, the MBP has limited appeal.

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