MacBook Pro 2016 one month in…

OK, there have been about a million opinions about the new MacBook Pro, here are the tips, tricks and traps:

Unexpectedly cool

  1. Touch Id. I didn’t realize how much time I spent typing my password in and it is super cool that it is integrated into the phone.
  2. The Sound. Ok, this is the biggest surprise, I don’t understand what they put into the thing, but the sound is absolutely incredible. How did they do this? It is like having Adele living in your computer. And watching movies is just awesome!
  3. The thinness. Ok, the negative is that battery life, but wow, the thing is really thin, I hadn’t realized it until I look al my MacBook Pro 2010 (and 2014). Even with a translucent case, it is really nice.
  4. The build quality remains exceptional of course and with AppleCare, this is something that will last. I remain surprised that computers that are 8-10 years old (our iMac 2009 and MacBook Pro 2010) just work.
  5. The keyboard. I know many people dislike the short throw keyboard, but I like it quiteThe a bit. Probably because my first keyboard I really loved was a Sun workstation with the same short throw. It feels precise to me.
  6. Having power that works on either side, I sort of miss the magnetic lock, but I do really like the ability to charge the thing on either side. No more snaking cables.
  7. Really, really, really bright display. Yes some people are jamming 4K displays into 15″ screens, but really you won’t see the difference. What is great about this screen is that it is so bright that at 100%, it feels like you are looking into the sun.
  8. Support for 4K and Thunderbolt 3 is great future proofing. This really opens up what you can do with the monitors and the flip side of the switch to USB C is that you can really use this thing to run multiple monitors and petabyte drive arrays, so the flexibility is awesome. Although I got the model with 1TB of SSD, I’m really thinking that the 512GB SSD with a portable drive for data is better for most people.
  9. Longer term leaving the hegemony of Apple proprietary chargers and cables. I think this is subtle, but while Apple makes the only decent 89 watt charger today that will change, eventually, you will be able to get USB C power from every power outlet and cables will actually really work. In the mean time, it is pretty cool to be able to buy $80 bricks and know they can charge everything in the future from MacBooks, to phones. It is kind of cool that in a pinch you can trickle charge this with any USB C 15 watt charge. I’ve done this with my Nexus 5X charger and it works.
  10. The same goes for docking stations, they are just coming out, but the idea that you can one cable that does power, display and everything else is a reality with this move to USB C.

The traps

Well these are obvious but I’ll mention them:

  1. The battery life. Yes, I actually still have to worry about battery life, when I read the reviews, I kind of expected the thing to die in 45 minutes, but it is about the same as the MacBook Pro 2014 at least for me. At least the fan doesn’t go berserk like the MacBook Pro 2010.
  2. The move to USB C, but fine once you get there. Yes, sigh, this is yet another conversion from cables and it takes quite a bit of research to figure out what you need. Not to mention a zillion label makers to figure out what connectors and the capacity of each cable are.
  3. The price so wait if you can. This thing is really expensive, but it looks like prices are sliding now, so if you can I would wait to buy one. This fall, you should see a 32GB version which is nice and it is not that much of an upgrade over MacBook 2015 or 2014 that you should run out and switch.
  4. Touchbar. Well this was the nifty feature that made me really want the thing, but in practice I haven’t found it super useful for everyday typing and browsing, certainly the autocorrect feature is pretty useless, if they do that, it should just appear on the screen. I do think that applications that use it are really the future. FaceTime for instance does a great job.

The tricks

Since this is probably a computer that you will be using in 2026 (yikes!), it pays to keep it new. There are two reasons, first Apple is more likely to fix the product if it is pristine and second, with the flattening in performance curves, it’s pretty likely that it will still run applications then, so what are the pieces to get:

  1. Translucent case. You want to show off the space grey (it is really beautiful), fortunately, for about The Mosiso case is absolutely awesome for $30, it fits perfectly and looks great. It also comes with a film protector for the screen. I normally don’t like film, but it looks pretty good and protects the screen.
  2. Keyboard cover. UPPERCASE makes a really nice one, completely clear and it fits properly. They do include adhesive because the case is so low pitch. But you really want a cover because there is nothing more depressing that yuck on the keyboard or worse yet a Diet Coke spill
  3. Getting the right cables. This is the biggest way you can torch this thing. I’m testing a bunch, but right now the J5create JUX01 is the best combination charging and data transfer cable. It is 100 watts and 10GBps at 1 meter.

 

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