New MacBook Pros - The Good, Bad and Ugly

It happens about every 4 years for most of Apple’s Mac computer lineup: an all-new design replaces the previous one.  A couple of weeks ago it was the MacBook Pro’s turn to be updated.

The previous generation started in 2013.  The one before that started in 2008.  This one will likely last until 2020.

Of course, with every new design there are a few Good things and a few Bad things.  This time there is also an Ugly thing.

The Good

The 13” and 15” models are very handsome and are available in the traditional silver as well as dark gray.  They are noticeably thinner and lighter than the models they replace.  Their screens are brighter and more colorful.  And they are faster.

They also have a gigantic trackpad - about 2x larger than the previous model.  This is a very welcome change and will allow for easier dragging and finger gestures.  The keyboard design is all new, with keys that are more stable and take about half the vertical travel distance to operate, allowing your fingers to dance while typing.

The big Good, however, is a new feature that replaces the top row of keys on the previous traditional keyboard.  It is called Touch Bar and it is a color touch display much like that on the iPhone (only much longer and thinner).  The “buttons” on the bar change depending on what app you are using.  It even has TouchID (fingerprint sensor) so that you can get into your Mac, authorize changes and purchase items online with a touch of your fingerprint!  Awesome.

The Bad

It all sounds really good, right?  Well, the Bad is the price.  These things are pricey.  The cheapest 13” is $200 more than the one it replaced.  A well equipped 13” will cost you about $1800 - 2000!

The more expensive 15” models are $400 more than the one it replaced.  And the previous generation was not cheap.  A well equipped 15” will run about $2600 - 3000!  Ouch.

The Ugly

This is where everything goes south in my opinion.  The ports.  Apple has removed all of the ports of the previous MacBook Pro except the headphone jack.  USB, SD card, Thunderbolt, HDMI, and, yes, the beloved MagSafe battery charger port are all gone.  In their place you will find 4 tiny USB-C ports:

You charge your battery using one of these ports (any of the 4).  You also connect other things via the USB-C ports such as external drives, camera cards, your TV or a monitor (via HDMI or Thunderbolt) and a projector among other devices.  However, you have to by adapters to connect these devices - and probably a few of them.  And you have to carry them around with you.  And they are not cheap, averaging about $30 each.

So, overall, these are good computers.  There is no doubt.  I just think the previous generation was more affordable and practical.  Apple is still selling the previous model, both new and as refurbished models (my favorite).  If you are in the market for a new MacBook Pro, this would be a good time to order the previous model.  Contact me, I can help.

See Apple's site about the new models:


PS - on a related note, a quick discussion about the other Mac laptops:

  • Apple has dropped the 11” MacBook Air model, but has kept the 13” MacBook Air in the lineup.  Honestly, I have no idea why a person would buy either one of these models.  The current 12” MacBook is a much better machine than the 11” Air and the previous generation 13” MacBook Pro is a much better machine than the 13” Air.  It is more powerful with a retina screen and only ½ lb. heavier for about $100 more.  Don’t buy a MacBook Air.
  • The 12” MacBook, released in 2015, is really a great computer for not much money.  Yes, it has just one USB-C port (for charging and connecting other devices) and a headphone jack, but for many people it is not that big of deal.  It comes in 4 colors, is ultra thin, has a Retina display and only weighs about 2 lbs (less than an iPad with a keyboard).