MacBook Pro 2016: First Impressions

MacBook Pro 2016
Apple has just launched its flagship MacBook Pro 2016 at the highly anticipated October 27 event. Photo : Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

On Thursday, Oct. 27, Apple hosted the first live event since March 2015, focused on introducing the new flagship MacBook Pro 2016 lineup.

Introducing MacBook Pro 2016

Apple's event focused on the Mac Pro followed months of rumors and speculations by tech experts. The company introduced its reworked notebook line featuring the adaptable touch bar above the top row of keys.

The highly anticipated event came after a long stretch since the last Apple hardware refresh. According to market analysts the lack of a major update in company's laptop lineup had been the main cause of a four-quarter sales drop.

According to Apple's MacBook Pro product page, the replacement for the row of function keys is called "Touch Bar," rather than "Magic Toolbar." The long rumored feature is an OLED-display strip for touch commands that are context-sensitive. The Touch Bar just 2,170 pixels wide and 60 pixels high can change itself on the fly to work across various apps, imitating control sliders, touch buttons and jog dials.

The company launched one new 15-inch model and two new 13-inch MacBook Pro models. Schiller and Federighi walked me through the laptops' striking evolution. CNET reports that these new laptops are lighter and thinner. The 13-inch model weighs 3 pounds (around 1.36 kg) and is 14.9 mm thick, while the 15-inch model weights 4 pounds (1.81 kg) and is 15.5 mm thick.

For comparison, the previous 13- and 15-inch MacBook Pros were 18 mm and each about a half-pound (0.23 kg) heavier than the new replacements. According to Apple Insider, this year's 13- and 15-inch MacBook Pro models are a respective 17 percent and 14 percent thinner and come with 23 percent and 20 percent less volume, respectively, than their predecessors.. 

In terms of hardware, the 13-inch Pro is powered by a dual-core Intel Core i5 processor and comes with 256 GB of storage and 8 GB of RAM. The 13-inch MacBook Pro model comes with a price tag of $1,799. The 15-inch mode is powered by a quad-core Intel Skylake Core i7 sixth-generation processor and features 256 GB of storage and 16 GB of RAM. The model costs $2,399.

The 15-inch model also includes discrete AMD Radeon graphics in order to boost visual performance. Both sized models provide 10 hours of work time, in terms of battery life. That is exactly the same as the old 13-inch MacBook Pro and a small increase versus the old 15-incher.

According to Computerworld, with the new hardware came higher prices. Apple raises prices as much as 39 percent for its MacBook Pro 2016 laptops that feature the customizable, contextual Touch Bar. The entry-level prices of the new 13- and 15-inch iterations are higher with $500 and $400, respectively.

First Impressions On MacBook Pro 2016

Most tech analysts received well the new MacBook Pro 2016 lineup. For instance, Ross Rubin, principal analyst at Reticule Research said that rather than being just a refresh, "this is very much a redesign." The new flagship Apple laptop models went far beyond just replacing a few components.

Carolina Milanesi, an analyst with Creative Strategies, stated that Apple is reinventing its MacBook Pro, repositioning the product. She also noted that price hikes are unusual for Apple. Traditionally, the company kept the price the same, but now it's trying to find a different place in the market for its Pro laptop lineup.

Both the 13- and 15-inch MacBook Pros 2016 feature a keyboard with underlying technology similar to the MacBook 2015 and a trackpad double than the previous size. However, the star feature of the new Pro lineup is clearly the Touch Bar and the Touch ID imbedded in that bar.

This is the very first time when Apple is bringing the Touch ID feature to the Mac. The integrated fingerprint scanner allows users to log in without the need for password typing, just like on iPhones. Just by pressing a finger or thumb to the bar, the Touch ID can also be used to validate online transactions using Apple Pay.

Like the MacBook, the new MacBook Pros have discontinued the traditional USB ports, replacing them with multiple duty ports, including charging, Thunderbolt and USB-C. For most of the users, a MacBook Pro upgrade will require new adapters to fit existing peripherals such as external displays, printers and keyboards. This can be a minor inconvenient, but overall the new MacBook Pro 2016 seems to bring solid and useful changes.

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