New 2016 Macbook Thoughts!

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About 4 days ago, Apple unveiled the anticipated Macbook. Not to my surprise it came packed with faster processors, memory and a sharper display, but it also left out a lot more than what I expected. What I first thought could be my next mobile computing device is now making me reconsider and possibly shoot for the iMac instead.

The Good

Touch Bar

In the newest iteration of the Macbook, Apple introduced the Touch Bar which runs on a modified version of iOS and allows users to interact with apps in different ways. Whereas there would usually be traditional function keys up top, Apple replaced it with a thin touch sensitive strip across the top of the device. Some of the apps that this can be used with the Touch Bar are when playing music where you can change the volume of the song or skip to the next track; however it can also be used for apps that might require you to scrub between different colors for editing photos. Either way, it’s definitely a unique step towards changing the functionality of common practices.

Touch ID

Another new addition to the 2016 Macbook is Touch ID. Although we’ve seen this since the iPhone 5s and iPad Air 2nd generations and onward, it’s great to see Apple implement the techonology to it’s Macbook lineup. I think it makes perfect sense as companies are leaning towards fingerprint security and keeping confidential information stored on devices rather than the cloud. This will also be useful when making purchases online where Apple Pay is starting to have an increase in presence around the world and various companies are utilizing company’s unique payment system. Touch ID is obviously a convenience factor rather than a necessity, but this one does make sense and I’m glad Apple added it to the lineup.

Display

I guess my favorite feature from the announcement was the display. I fully acknowledge that the Touch Bar and Touch ID are welcome additions, but for me I’m more concerned about the picture quality because that’s ultimately one of the main things I consider when purchasing any tech related product. In this years refresh, Apple has increased the brightness and contrast ratio by 67 percent and brings in 25 percent more colors all jammed into a 2560 X 1600 resolution screen which comes down to 227 pixels per inch. Leave no doubt, if a quality display is what you’re looking for in a laptop, the new Macbook should definitely be on your list.

The Bad

Goodbye HDMI, USB 3, USB 2, SDXHC Reader

Everything was going relatively well for me until this happened. Apple got rid of the HDMI, USB 3.0, USB 2.0 and SDXHC ports. We saw a similar thing happen to the iPhone 7 when Apple removed the headphone jack and as disappointed as I was, that was a little more understandable because Bluetooth is still a viable option and one that many people use anyways.

For the Macbook though, removing the HDMI port was huge. HDMI is still considered to be the best and most common way to connect two devices together. Even though the world is gradually shifting to wireless only options such as the Chromecast, I still believe the HDMI port is one that is highly used. It’s still relevant. That goes the same for the USB 3 and 2 ports. A lot of us own flash drives and external hard drives/dvd drives. With the absence of the USB ports, we are now left with buying another adapter and thus lugging around more peripherals. Perhaps the loss of the SDXHC reader isn’t as big of a deal unless you’re a photograher or videographer, but then again many professionals use Macbooks to edit and create media, so I guess it actually is kind of a big deal.

I understand that Apple wants to innovate and push the industry to let go of cables and gravitate towards digital, but by removing many of the key ports people usem Apple actually created more adapters which means more cables. I’m really not sure where Apple went with this one.

Price

This one wasn’t so shocking. Yes, the price is steep. The entry level Macbook without the Touch Bar now starts at $1,499 and $1,799 with the Touch Bar, but considering all the new additions it obviously wouldn’t come at a cheap price. I always thought the Macbook Pro lineup was fairly priced. Of course you can get a cheaper Windows alternative with an even faster processor, but the Macbook still delivered great speeds, reliability and security for a price that consumers were willing to pay. With this years refresh, people may be leaning towards the Air lineup or the cheaper Pro option without the Touch Bar. Either route they choose, they’ll also be sacrificing processor and memory speed for the sake of a cheaper price. Basically, I think the Pro lineup is getting too expense and I think it will be gradually harder for consumers to make the decision between Macbook Pro and Windows alternatives.

Wrap-Up

Overall, I’m not pleased with the newest generation Macbook Pros. The Touch Bar and Touch ID will probably be useful and are pleasant additions to an already amazing laptop, but they’re not necessary. Coupled with the fact that Apple stripped all the ports except for the inclusion of 2-4 USB-C ports (depending on your model), the new Pro lineup is basically meant for users who do everything online and hardly rely on physical additions like flash drives and external hard drives. I think the absence of such ports may become a much bigger issue than Apple may have imagined. Yes, the tech industry is moving at an incredible rate, but there also needs to be a balance between moving too fast and moving with the wave. Right now, the Cupertino-based company is moving too fast and I’m not sure if other companies will want to follow suit. We’ll have to see in the coming weeks how well the new Macbooks do in the market.

 

*Image Source: The Verge

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