MacBook Pro Reviews fly in while Apostle Schiller continues to Warn us of the Evils of a Touch Display on Macs
The MacBook Pro reviews are coming in fast and furious and most generally like the new MacBook Pro, some not, and the new Touch Bar gets mixed reviews. Beyond the reviews, Phil Schiller or Phil the Philosopher is back on his stump preaching the Gospel of Apple about how touch displays are a temptation of the devil. It reminds me of the line in the movie Poltergeist, just don't look into the light! I've always liked Phil Schiller and was glad that Steve Jobs kept him on board as he cleaned house back in 1997. But at times I'd prefer if Phil just focused on what Apple does best without having to preach to me that what I may like is wrong. Apple sometimes reminds me of Hillary Clinton and the Democrats saying that if I'm not for open borders and allowing all illegals to flood into the country and stay, then I must be a racist xenophobe or at best a deplorable. It's what turned off many independents. She should have stayed on message of why to vote for her rather then telling me that I represented the dark side if I happened to disagree with her point of view. Sometimes Apple gets a little too preachy. Many Apple pros are still seething that the new MacBook Pro limits ports and forces them to use dongles. And Apple just decided they no longer wanted to support an SD Slot. Apple's apostles tell us that an SD slot is a tool of the devil and if we wanted it, then we'd surely turn into pillars of salt. So repent and go there no more.
A Few Quick Review Flashes on the Touch Bar
In Mossberg's review he notes that "I have reservations, and you should too. Many pro users are already vocally complaining about issues particular to them. But, even for mainstream Mac users, there are questions about price, ports, the Touch Bar feature, the keyboard and — surprisingly, for a Mac — battery life. Mossberg really slams Apple on battery life. On the Touch Bar, Mossberg notes that "I don't think the Touch Bar is a gimmick, but I don't think it changes much, at least yet, for everyday Mac users. The Touch Bar has potential, but it's not magic." Mossberg finally says that "if you're a Mac devotee ready to move past the Air — not back to a lower-powered MacBook — this is what Apple is offering. Take it or leave it." It's certainly a mixed review that you could fully check out here.
The Wall Street Journal's review by Joanna Stern starts off in your face: "We've been conditioned: Every new Apple Product is the best Apple Product ever… until, of course, the next best Apple Product ever. The exception? The new MacBook Pro laptops.
Even if you have enough spare cash to buy a Tesla for your kitten, it isn't abundantly clear that you should choose one of the new $1,500-and-up models over their predecessors. The new models even defy our expectations on power and pricing. Not only are they missing the newest Intel chipset, they don't even fit in the standard Apple-nomics model where hot new products slot in at last year's pricing.
On the Touch Bar Stern noted that "I can accomplish many shortcuts faster with the keyboard or trackpad. (Example: Cmd-B bolds words quicker than I can lift a finger to hit the Touch Bar's little "B.") Plus, you always have to look up since the controls keep changing and your sense of touch doesn't help at all."
The Bottom Line for Stern is one not to offend. Stern notes "So how do you decide? Do you invest in the present—the "old" MacBook Pro with performance, good-enough portability, a keyboard to cherish and lots of ports? Or do you invest in the future—a beautiful, highly portable machine with new tricks? Or maybe you do what I'm doing: Stare down at your three-year-old laptop and wonder if you can tough it out another year or two while this sorts itself out." Click here For more on the WSJ review.
Engadget's review by Dana Wollman was brutally honest. Dana notes that "I'm one of many Mac owners out there who has been waiting for Apple to upgrade the MacBook Pro line. Now that it finally has, I find the new laptop isn't quite what I wanted.
For me, this is both a step forward and a step backward. I'm sure Apple disagrees, and not just because its job is to sell lots of computers. Apple seems to earnestly believe it knows how people should be getting work done -- so much so that it has the chutzpah to ask loyal customers to unlearn old habits. Get used to using dongles to attach your existing accessories. Say goodbye to your memory card slot, creatives. Resign yourself to adjusting the brightness or volume with taps and swipes, instead of a simple button press. Accept the risk that your existing Thunderbolt 3 peripherals might not work.
On the Touch Bar, Wollman notes that "What's annoying about this whole setup is that either way, some of the most important system controls are now buried in Touch Bar menus. Want to lower the volume? You can either hit the volume icon and hit the slider, or hit the arrow key and tap the volume up or down key. That's less efficient than just pressing a dedicated volume button in the function row. It's inconvenient enough that I eventually started using my mouse to do things like pause Spotify or raise the volume on a track. Apple made me change my way of doing things, and not necessarily for the better. That pisses me off."
Although Wollman complains, she knows that die-hard Apple will flock to it and it gives it a decent 8 out of 10 score.
On the Touch Bar, the review by The Verge was mixed. "I've been using the new MacBook Pro with Touch Bar for more than a week now, and I have mixed feelings about what it brings to the MacBook experience. In some cases, the Touch Bar's usefulness is obvious and immediate. But in many others, it's overly complicated or just plain unnecessary. It's an addition that very much can improve every MacBook — but it's going to take some time to get there, if it ever does."
Phil the Philosopher
Back in 2012 Samsung's Phablet had been out for about a year and Apple's VP of Worldwide Marketing Phil Schiller wanted to downplay what many consumers were running to, the Phablet. So Schiller put on his preacher's robe and went into Phil the Philosopher mode. Patently Apple's report at the time noted that "In Describing the new iPhone, Phil Schiller stated that "It is really easy to make a new product that's bigger. Everyone does that. The challenge is to make it better and smaller."
Schiller went on to make an obvious point that Samsung forgot: "What is the design center for a Phone? It's this: it's your hand. A phone should feel great in your hand and more importantly it should be easy to use with a magical device we all carry called the horizontally opposed thumb. It does most of the hard work for us. So when you carry your phone it should feel beautiful in your hand."
As one who liked the phablet idea right out of the gate, I found it funny to listen to Phil having to defend Apple's position. More more importantly, Phil basically tried to convey the message that we just didn't get it, and if we happened to like a phablet, then surely we had lost our way.
According to Phil, my thumb had to be satisfied and that could only happen on a tiny iPhone display. Keep in mind that this isn't me conveniently looking back with 20/20 hindsight. I reported on this back in 2013 after Apple had missed delivering a phablet for a second year in a row in a report titled "Apple Passing on a larger iPhone Display still a Head Scratcher."
Well, Apple is back at it again and Phil the Philosopher is there to just lay down the law and to set us all straight. When it came to dropping ports and the SD slot that Pro users loved, Phil was there to slap them on that back and make it very clear that Apple cares "about what they love and what they are worried about. And it's our job to help people through these changes." Yes, true, at a cost and inconvenience of having multiple dongs on our desks like our cover graphic illustrates. That's helping us through the changes? Ka-ching for Apple.
It's not what Apple fans or pros wanted from a new MacBook Pro, but hey, Phil will help us through these changes because we're all just morons who just don't get it. We just don't see the light of genius in changing every port so that they look alike and are more importantly, nice and neat in a row! You know, it's just so condescending and yet I'm sure it's done with a smile. Thanks Phil.
Of course the biggest in our face position that Apple won't budge on is giving us a MacBook or iMac with a touch display. That argument should be dead by now but the tech community of writers never let it go. It's obvious that these writers and Apple fans would still like to see that come to be. But Apple continues to say that god handed them down the law on stone tablets like Moses. Phil, it's doable because Windows 10 proved it's doable so it just comes down to ideology and not because it's absurd as you claim it to be.
You know, it reminds me of people who have to eat each thing on their plate in a particular order never mixing a damn thing. Their brain isn't wired to enjoy peas and potatoes together in one scoop. It just isn't the order of things in their universe.
In a new report today Phil told Backchannel that "We think of the whole platform. If we were to do Multi-Touch on the screen of the notebook, that wouldn't be enough — then the desktop wouldn't work that way." And touch on the desktop, he says, would be a disaster. Can you imagine a 27-inch iMac where you have to reach over the air to try to touch and do things? That becomes absurd."
How many times have I been at my kitchen table in the evening and just leaned over to touch the Safari or iTunes icon on my iMac like I do on my iPad to launch an app, just to laugh at what I was doing because my iMac was of course just too stupid to do that. What was I thinking, that we could have it both ways like on Windows devices?
Yet at the end of the day, most Apple fans will appreciate Apple's MacBook Pro with its new Touch Bar. On the other hand, many reviewers and fans couldn't care less about the Touch Bar, and some like me would still prefer a hybrid notebook-tablet like the invention that Apple's engineers came up with; their intelligent engineers that had their idea stolen from them by Microsoft's Surface Book. But when I get a Surface Book someday in the future, I'll always think of those Apple engineers and say thanks guys, too bad Apple didn't listen to you because it was a great idea.
Roundup of More In-Depth MacBook Pro Reviews
Philosophy aside, if you're trying to decide on whether to pass or buy that shiny new MacBook Pro for Christmas and need a nudge either way, below are a few more interesting and more in-depth reviews that might help you decide:
Ars Technica: Touch Bar MacBook Pros give an expensive glimpse at the Mac's future
USA Today: MacBook Pro review: Touch Bar comes at high cost
AppleInsider: Review: Apple's late-2016 15" MacBook Pro with Touch Bar
Gizmodo: The MacBook Pro's Touch Bar Is a Gimmick That's Not Worth the Money (Yet)
Mashable: Apple's MacBook Pro with Touch Bar is worth the wait
Macworld: MacBook Pro with Touch Bar review: The best bits of iOS in a really great Mac --- They love the new Touch Bar as noted below in their overview video.