Apple’s new MacBook Pro looks the same, but inside it’s much improved – Dallas News (blog)
In the flurry of announcements at Apple’s Worldwide Developer’s Conference, Apple CEO Tim Cook and his colleagues showed off new versions of the operating systems for Macs, iOS, Apple TV and Apple Watch.
There was also a bit of updated hardware, including new versions of the MacBook Pro laptops.
I’ve been using the latest 15-inch MacBook Pro with Touch Bar, which looks exactly like last year’s MacBook Pro.
Since I didn’t do a review of last year’s model, this was a great opportunity for me to get to know the Touch Bar, which is a small LED touchscreen that takes the place of the top row of keys on the laptop’s keyboard.
Bold design choices
The current MacBook Pro designers have done a good job making the computer smaller and lighter than the 2015 version I use at work.
A big part of being able to make the MacBook Pro thinner (it’s a 10th of an inch thinner than the previous model) has to do with the ports.
Or perhaps I should say it’s the lack of ports that should get the credit.
Last year, Apple introduced the redesigned MacBook Pro with only the USB-C connector for all external peripherals.
Actually the ports are Thunderbolt 3, but they use the USB-C connector.
It was not a change that was universally loved.
In my daily work, I pull my MacBook Pro out of the bag, set it on a small stand and connect it to power, a Thunderbolt dock and an external monitor via HDMI.
I do this every day without even thinking about it, but after unboxing the 2017 MacBook Pro, I had to stop, because none of my peripherals use USB-C connectors, so I was out of luck unless I made a trip to the store for some dongles.
Apple has pushed MacBook Pro users into becoming collectors of dongles, which are small adapters that convert those USB-C connectors to more traditional ports.
This is great for making a smaller laptop but not so great for users who now need to go buy half a dozen dongles that cost between $20 and $70.
Or you can go buy a Thunderbolt dock, but make sure it’s compatible with the 2017 MacBook Pro models — not all are just yet.
The ports (two on each side) can be used to connect any peripheral, such as Ethernet, monitors, and USB devices such as external hard drives. They’re even used for power. The nice thing is that you can plug in any peripheral or the power cord into any of the four ports.
Touch Bar and keyboard
So besides the size and the ports, to me one of the biggest changes is to the keyboard, which was redesigned to be flatter, with much less travel to the keys as you type.
A lot of reviewers were vocal about hating the new-style keys, but I was able to type comfortably at my usual speed, which isn’t exactly lightning fast.
The Touch Bar grew on me.
I have to admit that when I saw the Touch Bar for the first time, I thought it was a gimmick that wouldn’t have much real use for me, but the tiny screen does more than just provide soft buttons for different functions.
The layout of the Touch Bar changes depending on the app you are using, provided the app has been optimized for the Touch Bar.
I found the best Touch Bar integration with Apple’s own apps like Safari.