If hardcore Mac fans have been disappointed to see the MacBook Pro take a backseat as the iPhone has become Apple's premier product, it's likely they're going to dismayed with this latest upgrade. Apple unveiled its 2016 MacBook Pro range last week, and while it's still a very good laptop, it lacks the major changes and innovation we've become accustomed to over the years.
The most exciting new feature is undoubtedly the Touch Bar, a touchscreen strip which replaces the function keys and instead gives the user a range of options, like playback controls, screen brightness, keyboard brightness, etc., depending on the app that’s being used. That aside, though, there's fairly little else to get tongues wagging.
That, as well as the fact that it appears that Apple is now merely treading water rather than pushing boundaries, has led to some rather muted reviews of the laptop among critics. Many publications are still waiting to get their hands on the 15-inch model, but here's what they've had to say about it so far.
"Any doubts about why this new MacBook Pro exists while being so similar to the MacBook should really be extinguished by its performance. The Pro has a much more powerful processor and smoother graphics to go along with a significantly improved keyboard and a titanic trackpad. The MacBook is still the better computer to take on a flight with you, but the MacBook Pro approaches its level of portability while offering vastly more power and a longer-lasting battery." Read more.
“The 13-inch MacBook Pro improves upon its predecessor in nearly every way. It’s faster, lighter and more compact, and it offers a brighter display and considerably longer battery life than most Windows machines. I also like the rich and powerful stereo speakers. However, while I’m glad Apple included 2 fast Thunderbolt 3 ports, I wish it kept a traditional USB 3.0 port around for charging the iPhone and connecting other peripherals, as well as an SD card slot.” Read more.
“Putting aside larger concerns about Apple’s stewardship of the Mac as a hardware and software platform, the new MacBook Pro is a very solid design that should serve Apple well over the next few years. Some pros will claim that it isn’t “pro” enough, but the 13-inch models have always served as more of a bridge between the consumer MacBooks and MacBook Airs on the low end and the 15-inch Pros and the desktop lineup on the high end. They’ve never been particularly “pro.”” Read more.
"Personally, I’m still sold. I might have to sell an organ or two to get one, but the MacBook Pro still represents the pinnacle of laptop design, and I see no reason to change back to a Windows machine just yet. No, it’s not quite as good value as it has been recently, and it’s a shame Apple is pricing the Touch Bar model quite so high, but given the choice I’d still opt for the MacBook Pro." Read more.
"The revamped Pro range is aimed squarely at the fairly-intensive user – if you’re after a computer purely for browsing and tinkering around online, you’re probably best to save your money and go for something more affordable. But if you’re after a fast, reliable and brilliantly-specced machine, this is money well-spent." Read more.
“Overall, the entry-level 13-inch MacBook is a satisfying and still sexy system with myriad improvements, but no signature innovation. It should attract budget-conscious MacBook Pro users (those who aren’t willing to switch to Windows where they can get a similarly appointed system for under $900) who think $1,799 is too much for a Core i5 MacBook Pro, even if it does feature that unusual new Touch Bar.” Read more.
“If you’re looking for a new laptop for multimedia work, it should be on your short list, yes. But if you have a lot of legacy peripherals, we can’t help but think that you’re probably better off with a system with more versatile connectivity, like the Dell XPS 13 Touch, our Editors’ Choice for high-end ultraportable laptops. If you don’t want to make the move to Windows, however, last year’s 13-inch MacBook Air and MacBook Pro are still available at their 2015 prices; you’ll just have to scroll a little further down on Apple’s website to find them.” Read more.
"My one real gripe with the new MacBook Pro is its price. This is a good laptop with a lot of big upgrades, especially for anyone coming from an old MacBook Air. And it is definitely a better computer for the average person than the MacBook (which starts at $1,300)—especially when you consider how much more speed (and more ports) you get for an additional $200.The problem is that the MacBook Air had a starting price of just $1,000. A hefty $500 more for speed, a better monitor, and a nicer track pad feels like a bit much. It would feel less like a barely worth it necessity for Mac users if it were the same price as a MacBook. Right now, starting at $1,500, the new MacBook Pro is worth it. But just barely." Read more.
At least for now, there aren't any. Apple was never going to drop a product which just didn't work, but the sense that the Cupertino company is perhaps resting on its laurels, or has been for years and it's only just catching up to them, is palpable.
In other tech news, the founders of Vine have already released a new video app called HYPE.