The new MacBook Pro is here — literally available for preorder today — and I’ve just tried it. The best thing I can say about is simple: everything about it looks and feels so good I almost didn’t believe it.
We’ll start with the marquee feature, the Touch Bar. What you might not have gathered from the keynote is that it has a matte finish, which makes the buttons on it somehow feel a little more physical. It’s bright, but not so bright that it distracts — it seems to be about on par with the brightness of the backlit keyboard.
The Touch Bar looks really good, the screen looks incredible
I have questions about whether or not all these changing function buttons will be comprehensible, but in my brief time with them they all made sense to me. There’s no haptic feedback on them, unfortunately, but obviously they all worked perfectly. That included quickly applying filters in Photos and sorting emails in Mail.
I also rearranged buttons (you can find the option in a menu) and it worked, well, as advertised. What’s neat about dragging buttons down from the screen to the Touch Bar is that you can keep moving them with the mouse on the second screen.
The most important button when you’ve got music playing is the “Play/Pause” button, at least in my humble opinion. And when the Touch Bar is busy being used for application-specific stuff, it’s stone-cold not there. But Apple added a more permanent music options button over on the right, so you can always tap it to get to your music transport controls.
One last neat thing on the Touch Bar: you can tap-and-hold on a bunch of buttons to get to functions faster. Long-press on Reply and you can slide over to Reply-All. Same for other buttons like volume control.
TouchID worked — though of course I couldn’t try it myself. I’m told the MacBook Pro now automatically powers on when you open it and that holding down the TouchID button will turn the computer off (the Apple rep here didn’t want to show me that, though).
You might not like the keyboard, but I do
The keyboard is almost identical to the Butterfly keyboard found on the tiny MacBook. That’s going to cause some people to grind their teeth, but I think it’s great and easy to type on — and I do think the keys might have sightly better travel, but don’t hold me to that. In any case, I expect that this will be a sore spot for some people, but my level of sympathy isn’t as high as it ought to be, because I think this keyboard is great.
The Trackpad is absolutely massive, so much so that Apple had better make sure it has its palm-rejection software perfect, because your palms are going to be resting on this thing all the time. The screen is, of course, beautiful — and it’s funny to note that a beautiful Retina Display is basically table stakes now.
As for weight, well, it feels like a three-pound laptop. It’s certainly not impossibly light like the MacBook, but it feels a fair bit lighter than any previous MacBook Pro. I makes me realize that a lot of what makes a laptop feel lighter than it is is the wedge shape, which this device obviously doesn’t have. What it does seem to have are vents on both the left and right on the bottom — they’re part of Apple’s new thermal management system.
Yes, there is a regular 3.5mm headphone jack.
You’ll also find 4 Thunderbolt / USB-C ports. This is another thing that’s likely to cause people some consternation — but I’m here to tell you that everything is going to be fine. Now that Apple is selling a whole series of laptops that only use USB-C, the number of cables and accessories is going to skyrocket. Those dongles are going to be annoying, yes, but way less annoying than they are with the iPhone 7 — most people I know carry a laptop around in a bag, after all, and bags have pockets.
Getting down to hard numbers, the 13-inch model starts at $1,499 for basic model with no Touch Bar, two USB-C ports, a 2.0GHz dual-core Intel Core i5 processor, and a 256GB SSD. Go up to $1,799, and you add in the Touch Bar, two more USB-C ports, and a 2.9GHz Core i5 processor, with the 13-inch model topping out at $2,899 for a maximum spec of a 3.3GHz dual-core i7, 1TB SSD, and 16GB of RAM.
All of the 15-inch models include the Touch Bar, and start at $2,399 for the base 2.6GHz quad-core i7 processor, 16GB of RAM, a 256GB SSD, and an 2GB AMD Radeon Pro 450 graphics card. Prices max out at a whopping $4,299 for the most powerful MacBook Pro that Apple will sell you, with a 2.9GHz quad-core i7, 2TB SSD for storage, 4GB Radeon Pro 460, and 16GB of RAM.
The budget 13-inch model is available for purchase today to ship sometime next week, while the Touch Bar models can be ordered now but won’t ship until later in November.
This story was originally published at 3:10PM ET and has been updated to include video.
Apple introduces new Touch Bar feature