Apple finally announced a refresh to their Macbook Pro line of laptops, the first major redesign of the product in more than four and a half years.
In traditional Apple fashion it is often more about what’s missing from the new laptops versus what has been added. Apple removed the USB 3.0 ports, SD card reader, HDMI, and even the power port on the prior model and replaced them all with four USB-C connectors. The new connectors provide greater versatility over the prior USB standard, allowing any of the four to work as power, display output, or regular USB data ports. That added functionality will require additional cables and/or adapters, of course. All four ports will also support the upgraded Thunderbolt standard for high speed devices.
But greater versatility doesn’t mean there will be less confusion for consumers moving to this standard. I talk more about it in this Lon.TV opinion snippet
Ports aren’t the only thing missing from the new MacBook Pro – on most models they also removed the function keys, replacing them with a small touch screen called the “Touch Bar.” The Touch Bar will work in conjunction with applications running on the main display for one touch access to features and navigation. Microsoft Word will add buttons for adjusting text styles for example, and will give users the ability to customize what shortcuts will be displayed. Apple also integrated a fingerprint reader, similar to the reader on Apple’s iPads and iPhones, for one touch unlocking and purchases via Apple Pay.
The new Macbooks will offer improved displays but will run at the same resolution as the prior retina editions of the MacBook Pro. The new devices are thinner and lighter, with the 13 inch model weighing in at just 3 pounds, and at about the same thickness as the Macbook Air.
And that’s where things may get confusing for customers this holiday season. The Macbook Air will remain in the lineup as the low cost option, starting at $999 with a lower resolution 13 inch display. Apple is releasing a version of the new MaBook Pro without the Touch Bar for $1499 that comes with faster graphics, the retina high resolution display, a slightly faster processor, and two hours of less battery life over the lower cost option. The Touch Bar adds an additional $300 to the price, starting at $1799. A 15 inch version with a more powerful processor and discrete graphics processor starts at $2399.
Apple interestingly is not releasing the new computers with the latest Intel processors, opting to install Intel’s 6th generation chips that were released last year to PC makers. Many Windows laptops will soon have the seventh generation chips that will bring slightly better performance and battery life in comparison.
CTTechJunkie will have a 15 inch MacBook Pro video review in mid November once it’s released.