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Colin Devroe

Photographer. Podcaster. Blogger. Reverse Engineer.

The 16-inch MacBook Pro

June 11, 2020

I was going to wait a little bit longer before writing my review of this new computer, but Michael Tsai recently published some of his thoughts on it and – after writing a post in response to his experiences I realized it was turning into a bit of a review – so now this post is a review.

If you read Michael’s post you might come away thinking he doesn’t like the computer. I don’t think that’s the case. I just think he is pointing out the things that stuck out to him the most and usually the things we don’t like are the ones we remember more readily.

To cut right to the chase, I really like this computer. It has the potential of surpassing the 2012 13-inch MacBook Pro Retina as my favorite Mac of all time. But I need a bit more time with it before I’ll know that.

The great things about this new computer are the speed and memory, the larger screen, and the sound.

The good things about this computer are Touch ID (makes using things like 1Password so much better), the large trackpad, and the hopefully reliable keyboard.

The bad things are the fact that it is all USB-C and the rather useless Touch Bar (more on this later).

Now, to Michael’s experience.

Michael on Touch ID:

I’ve always had great experiences with Touch ID on iPhones, but the Touch ID key on the MacBook Pro barely works.

I don’t have this experience at all. I’ve added two fingers to Touch ID (since my laptop is on my left at home and on my right at work) and I’ve never once had it error. Yet.

I’d suggest Michael consider re-entering his fingers again (or perhaps adding the same fingers he already has) or consider returning the computer. 50% is just not good enough. Something must be wrong.

Michael on the included power cable:

The included charging cable is gross, sticky, and leaves a film on my hands, like the AirPods Pro.

I have never had this issue with a cable from Apple. It makes me wonder if some people’s natural skin oils or whatever react to Apple’s cables and some do not? This may sound odd but I had a music teacher that couldn’t use brass instruments because brass was allergic to him. The trumpets would have holes in them if he used them.

I do appreciate his links to USB-C cables and chargers that he uses as I will likely buy both of those products through his links for my travel bag.

Michael on the aluminum case:

The bottom front, where you lift the display, still has very sharp corners, which once caught on my hand and drew blood.

I cannot find where he’s speaking about. There is no area of this case that I find “sharp” at all and certainly not one that could draw blood. Unless I threw it at someone! I’d love to poll 10 owners of this laptop to see if anyone else has thought the case was sharp?

Michael on the Touch bar:

The Touch Bar is more annoying than I expected, and I plan not to buy another Mac that includes one.

I don’t know if Michael remembers or not, but 4 years ago we agreed on the Touch bar’s potential. We both felt that it was underwhelming but perhaps, in the future, it’d be useful.

We are now in that future. And the Touch Bar, for me, isn’t particularly useful except in very specific apps. First, I use an external keyboard for about 90% of my computing. Second, the Touch Bar isn’t ingrained in my brain to reach for. I wonder if I learned to type on a keyboard that had a Touch Bar would I find it indispensable? A quick search of YouTube shows a lot of people that get use out of it.

Where I have found the Touch Bar useful though is in Adobe apps. Using Premier for a project yesterday, a few common tasks I have while editing a video were available on the Touch Bar. So I switched to the built-in keyboard for a bit and it really did save me a lot of mousing. Photoshop, Lightroom, etc. are similar. So perhaps for apps that have an enormous number of features and menu items the Touch Bar can really be put to good use. It becomes buttons that replace keyboard shortcuts.

Anyway, I thought it’d be interesting to contrast some of his comments with my experiences. It shows you that two people can buy the same product and have a different time of it.

Lastly, here are a few things that Apple could have done to make this the best Mac of all time (for me). A USB-A port, a card reader, added MagSafe to USB-C, and made the built-in camera just a bit better. That’s about it.

Oh, one last thing. The price. Mine was over $4,000. That is not a trivial amount of money and the most expensive Mac I’ve owned. However, most of my Macs have lasted at least 5 years. I use my Macs for both professional and personal use. Paying far less than $1,000 per year of use for how much I use the computer is a no-brainer. This laptop would be worth it at double the price. Don’t tell Apple that.

Comments

manton says:

@cdevroe Thanks for writing that review. I’ve been pretty sure the 16-inch should be my next computer, but I’ve been dragging my feet because of the price, and a little uncertainty that it will match how much I love the 2014-era MacBook Pros.

cdevroe says:

@manton I feel as though I need to use it in a few more contexts, especially coworking which isn’t happening at all right now, before I know for sure that I like it as much or better than that era of MBPs. I’ll keep you posted. But, it is a screamer of a computer.

fgtech says:

@cdevroe Thank you for the hopeful perspective. I think I will use my 2012 MBP as gently as possible until it dies. I am holding out in the (vain) hope that we eventually get ports back and an option without the Touch Bar. The loss of MagSafe is totally bizarre to me as well.

ronguest says:

@cdevroe That one has been tempting me since it came out. But with a processor transition looming I’m holding off until we hear more about the timing, hopefully at WWDC this month. However if I needed a new MBP I’d definitely go with the 16″.

cdevroe says:

@fgtech My guess is that the 16-inch MBP ARM-edition won’t be ready until at least late 2021 if not 2022. So I didn’t hesitate to buy one when I needed one.

cdevroe says:

@ronguest Forgot to include you in the other reply… but I doubt we’ll see a 16-inch Mac for 18-24 months. So I had no hesitation to buy this one now. I’m glad I did.

ronguest says:

@cdevroe I imagine the transition will take some time, especially at the high end. Still I’m curious to hear the roadmap first.

fgtech says:

@cdevroe Right. Given recent experience with Apple’s efforts at releasing products, I wouldn’t buy the first generation of any ARM Mac anyway. 😰

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