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New MacBook Pro With Touch Bar Reviews Are Mixed

Some like it, some not so much
All Things Mac
November 14, 2016

Reviews of Apple’s MacBook Pro with Touch Bar have hit the web and it appears that many people are having mixed thoughts on Apple’s latest professional-grade laptop.

Andrew Cunningham writing for Ars Technica said that he “liked the Touch Bar a lot,” saying what many of us suspected: that the Touch Bar is more convenient to use than the standard row of function keys that have existed there for many decades. He also said that depending on the application, the Touch Bar could seem sort of useless.

When I went out of my way to use Apple’s apps, I liked the Touch Bar a lot. It just takes one or two useful buttons—creating a new tab in Safari, looking up a main page in Terminal, changing font sizes or creating checklists in Notes—to make you glad the Touch Bar is there. However, a typical day for me is spent mostly in Word, Outlook, Slack, Tweetbot, and Chrome. Microsoft is bringing Touch Bar support to Office, but if other app makers don’t start adding in support, a big chunk of that bar is going to end up sitting empty most of the time.

Interestingly, Cunningham says that the Touch Bar actually works when running Windows on Boot Camp, saying that it displays a standard row of function keys. Pretty neat if you’re a Windows user.

Christina Warren at Gizmodo called the Touch Bar a “gimmick” and said that it’s not worth the money right now.

In the end, real story with the MacBook Pro is the Touch Bar. It’s somewhat useful, but it’s still so undersupported for apps beyond Apple’s that, at least for right now, the Touch Bar is not reason enough to get a new MacBook Pro. Particularly if you’re already satisfied with the performance of your existing machine. If you need a new MacBook Pro and you can’t wait for the Kaby Lake refreshes already rumored, the benefits of the internal specs matched with the cool-factor of the Touch Bar make this a good Mac. For everyone else this is a gimmick on a very good, way too expensive laptop.

Jacob Kastrenakes writing for the Verge believes that the new MacBook Pro is shooting for “a future it can’t quite reach yet,” saying that Apple is doing the right thing, but not at the right time.

It may come off sounding quite critical of the new MacBook Pro, but the truth is that I really do like it. The hardware is incredible, macOS is a joy to use, and I don’t want to give up this screen and keyboard. It’s a fantastic laptop on build alone.

But everywhere I look, it feels like this incarnation of the MacBook Pro is shooting for a future it can’t quite reach. One where it can be impressively thin and powerful enough for the pros. Where it can be super light and have all-day battery life. Where its ports and keyboard morph and adapt perfectly to the needs of every user.

There are plenty of other reviews out there and most of them are overall positive. In general, the complaints are that the new MacBook Pro is expensive and requires lots of dongles for the time being. I agree with both those opinions, but as I stated before, I believe Apple’s goal is to kill dongles. It won’t happen overnight, but it will happen.

And when it does, I think we can attribute much of the push forward to Apple.