My Late 2016 MacBook Pro

So since it is all the rage the past couple of months I figured I would also review my experience with the late-2016 MBP (you know TOUCHBAR!). Just to give you an idea I've had a Mac all the way back since the G2 Mac Pros existed and the colored iMacs in class rooms. Ever since thing I was an Apple supporter. I have always liked Apple because they were Unix, truly lasted forever, and looked awesome. Sure they might be a little more expensive that most laptops but I had my last 3 laptops for a combined total of 12 years. That's an amazing record when you think about it.

Still in my opinion one of the best things about Apple is I have a Terminal! The only Windows device we have in the house is an Xbox One and I am so happy wth that. I use a CentOS 7 Desktop at home and at work for when I need a desktop (Gaming, some programming but most programming can be done or test on my laptop). The way that I can very easily transition from one computer to the other is awesome. I even have my .bashrc profiles and the environment setup script detect if I am on Darwin or a version of linux.

The Form and Looks

I really do LOVE the way MacBook Pros have looked for a long time. At one point I had a white iBook right before they switched to the MacBooks I had a 15" first Generation MacBook Pro a long time ago (and I'll never go back to a laptop that big again) and it was ALL the envy when I was in my senior year of high school and college. I then had the black MacBook and my brother has been using that same exact computer for 6 years! I'll also throw in the fact that he's not the most computer literal person (one of those people that store ALL their files on the Desktop). The MacBook has nobly held on for dear life until December 2015. That's when I upgraded to the MacBook Pro and sent him my 2011 MacBook Air. I really loved my MacBook Air and was disappointed, that is until I received this model.

This model is the thinest, lightest, blah blah blah... What's it like in real life? It's actually really great. The screen is the perfect size (13") for me. The MacBook Air I had was a 11.5: and that was just far too small. It was difficult to browse the web, let alone try to code anything at all. The laptop (even when compared to the previous generation 13", which my wife has) is much lighter and more solid feeling than I thought it would be. It also sits nicely on your legs or on the coffee table while you type. I've been fairly uncomfortable when typing or browsing with the MacBooks I have had previous but this one is pretty awesome.

The Keyboard and Trackpad

Keyboard

I'm the guy at work using the custom built PC with the old (or chiclet) Apple keyboards. To me they usually hit the nail on the head for what I like out of keyboard. I'm not huge fan of the mechanical keyboards with their loud noise, but I do love a gaming keyboard for it's uses and comfort (I have a Logitech G510 at home for my Linux workhorse). This keyboard is amazing, hands down. I had no idea I was going to love it as much as I did. I feel both the old style chunky dell keyboard and the new style Apple "Chiclet" keyboard in this. It's amazing the feedback you get while typing and the huge keys are welcomed in this world of netbooks and jammed together keyboards to save space. I also love the backlighting there's almost no light leaking and it is very crisp and lights all keys evenly.

Trackpad

The Trackpad is also huge and it's pretty great. The form factor is nice I usually do have enough room to move all around the screen using the space without lifting my finger. I really like this so much more than a touch screen laptop which has me poking in my viewing range. I always turn off the tap-to-click feature on a laptop (I'm a bit heavy handed) so I never had the issue of accidental clicks using my palms I never really even see the mouse jump when my thumb-palms (shut up it's a thing) hit the trackpad (which they will). I also really like the haptic feedback you get from the Trackpad and the multi-press and added gestures they put in. I use multiple work spaces a lot so having those features in are really helpful for the way I (attempt) to multitask.

The Software and Specs and Screen

I am pretty firmly in the camp of having a laptop for fun and travel and a desktop that's the work horse. So I am completely fine with the specs I currently have (3.1GHz i5, 8GB RAM). I do not understand why you would really need more then 16GB in a laptop (especially one that you cannot change the memory on yourself...who would really buy that memory from Apple with their markup?!). This thing is FAST (especially when you factor in the SSD read and write speeds)! I was also coming from a 1.6GHz and 2GB MacBook Air.

The software that came pre-loaded is pretty nice. The best part is that it was fairly light weight and I can now remove more apps without MacOS complaining! I do experience some weird full screen issues when working within Firefox (my preferred browser) in full screen. These took place mostly after the most recent update. I haven't been able to pinpoint if it actually is Firefox in fullscreen or if it is some heat/power issue. See the video below for the example:

testing gif

The screen is so bright. About 99% of the time I'm on half brightness. Even when the auto-adjust kicks in I manually will turn it down because this screen can fry your eyes like the sun. So dear Apple RELEASE NIGHT MODE FOR ALL THE APPLICATIONS! I cannot tell you how many times I went from browsing Reddit (using Stylish and night mode) to check my calendar or email to have my eyes physically hurt from the blinding white I get. There should be a night mode on all the things!

The Touchbar

So the major feature...the touchbar the enemy of the programmer or power user. Not really. In all honestly it really like it isn't even there if you don't want it to be. "BUT no esc key!" you might be thinking. Well, guess what I'm typing this in...Vim! and I reach my pinky up to use the esc key if I need to and find it just fine (real Vim users map esc to Caps lock anyways). Sure it might not have that awesome contour or click feedback the keyboard gives off but it is there and it is fine, pretty much end of story.

The only thing I really use the touchbar for is touchID. I use it for unlocking the computer (maybe I'll have some fun and try to hack it) and the system preferences. I use it on the iPhone 7 as well and I like it a lot. I think it saves a lot of time and it's "secure" enough for me (insert crazy hack article from DEFCON or somewhere). I also downloaded a few Apps (Rocket, Nyan Cat, and TouchPong). So really I have one useful thing with the Touchbar, Rocket. It's a nifty little App that essentially puts Alt-Tab on the touchbar to switch the active Workspace or display to the app you select. I re-mapped the keyboard shortcut to CMD-. because its close together and I can do it quickly with one hand. There's another app called TouchSwitcher that puts the alt-tab like behavior on the touch bar as a standard set. However, if you're in an app like Safari, Calendar, or mail you won't be able to see the switcher and there's no keyboard shortcut at the time of writing this.

I really liked Jonathan Hollin's idea on making the next generation have haptic feedback. Just like the iPhone it would vibrate slightly when you did a keypress, and you can set it to only respond to a hard-press, brush, or touch.

The Battery

So there's probably the biggest feature that's been written about so far. I have not had much of an issue with the battery. I don't use my laptop for work and I'm not on it during the day (aside from the weekends) So I get about 7 hours of batter life normally. I did have a reoccurring issue where there was a stuck process somewhere completely trashing my batter life (~2 hours on a full charge). This issue (I could not figure it out with top or ps aux) was persistent even after putting the laptop to sleep. It wasn't until I shut the laptop down for a night that I returned to my normal battery life.

I also don't do much intensive work while not plugged into a charger. I do some Rust work and compile a few small programs but nothing large like Servo I do plan to put my laptop against my wife's' last generation MBP. As long as I don't get a stuck process I do get great battery life. Even while web browsing, pulling email from 3/4 accounts, chatting, controlling ChromeCasts etc all at once it does last around 7-8 hours.

TL;DR

Thanks again to Jonathan Hollin for the inspiration to write up something about the new MBP.

So far I am REALLY happy with the purchase. Sure it was a bit expensive (thank god for the student discount and a master's degree :D). The screen is amazing and using an old keyboard is just crap now. Sure the TouchBar is a bit gimmick-y and I don't use it, but the best thing is it doesn't get in the way at all. It also makes app switching, brightness, and volume just a little bit quicker to use. I do not use many Apple specific apps (I use Firefox) all the time but I'm trying Mail, Calendar, and Messages to see the features they have been slamming into them. I just wish I had more of a choice what was permanently on the TouchBar (such as my Battery Health 2 app)!