MacBook Pro first look: Apple fixes the keyboard on powerful pricey new 16-inch laptop
Apple has released upgrades and features on the new 16-inch MacBook Pro including bigger battery, larger internal drive and a 'Magic Keyboard.' USA TODAY Handout
Consider this if you're looking at the new 16-inch MacBook Pro: When Apple says "pro," it means it.
These pricey ($2,399 on up) and muscular machines that went on sale Wednesday are, indeed, aimed at pro-type customers – video editors, game developers, scientists, Hollywood creators and the like.
But consumers seeking more power than they get from Apple’s MacBook Airs buy them, too, even as some Pro features, notably a Retina display, have trickled down to the Airs of recent vintage. Typically, such folks edit pictures and videos as well, and produce pro-sounding podcasts.
The first thing you'll likely notice is the brilliant-looking 16-inch Retina display (nearly 6 million pixels), which, thanks to narrower bezels, fits into a 4.3-pound overall package that’s roughly the same size as the 15-inch MacBook Pro that this new model replaces.
Apple fixes the keyboard
But the first thing you’ll likely want to try is the newly designed “Magic Keyboard,” modeled off the keyboard on the iMac Pro.
If you’ve been following the saga around MacBook keyboards, you know that the “butterfly” type mechanism on prior MacBook Pros generated so-so reviews at best, and at worse resulted in class-action filings around defective or faulty keyboards. There were complaints, for example, around keys that tended to stick.
Apple acknowledged the problems and even issued an apology earlier this year, while working to remedy butterfly keyboards.
The butterfly flew away on the new Pros. Apple says it focused on “human factors” in coming up with a refined “scissor mechanism” that delivers 1mm of key travel and results in more stable and responsive keys.
Alexa, I'm lonely: Can a robot with AI or your voice assistant help you feel less lonely?
It sure felt that way to me, at least judging by my limited time banging away on the new keyboard. I compared it, quite favorably, to the butterfly keyboard on a 13-inch MacBook Pro I bought only a few weeks ago.
While on the subject, users will also appreciate the return of a physical escape key on the MacBook Pro that had disappeared on models with a virtual Touch Bar above the physical keys.
And yes, the new models have a Touch Bar, too, along with a Touch ID fingerprint sensor.
Power comes with a high price
Harder to gauge without running benchmark tests or putting the new computer through its paces over time is the (up to) 80% performance boost Apple is claiming, but there seems little doubt these laptops can handle heavy lifting.
Apple plugs the computer’s thermal design, 6- and 8-core 9th-generation processors, next-generation graphics with up to 8GB of VRAM and memory that maxes out at 64GB. You can also get it with a whopping 8TB of storage, (The base model comes with 512GB of storage and 16GB of RAM).
Keep in mind that, fully configured, the price exceeds $6,000. Ouch!
Better battery life and sound
The new laptop has a bigger battery, too, with Apple claiming 11 hours of wireless web browsing between charges, or about an hour longer than its predecessor.
If you are into podcasting, or creating your own music, you’ll appreciate the minimal hiss built-in microphone-array that I briefly got to check out.
Let me also praise the six-speaker high-fidelity sound system with what Apple describes as “force-canceling” woofers. In another brief test, they sounded great.
Or put another way, very professional.
Email: firstname.lastname@example.org; Follow @edbaig on Twitter