The 2016 model Macbook Pro with the Touch Bar was said to be a revolutionary item hitting the market last year. Apple has consistently led the market in software design. The Touch Bar was supposed to be their crack at infiltrating the subversive hardware market. Despite being an Apple fan, here’s an unbiased review. Sigh.
Is it useful?
The new Macbook Pro’s specs are off the charts. Starting from the quad-core i7 processor, the SSD, to the Radeon Pro 460 GPU, the fully-spec’d out 15 inch model is easily one of the most powerful machines out there. The screen is large but the laptop is still portable, weighing in just at 4 pounds.
Jonathan Morrison, famous tech Youtuber, demonstrates how it’s made strides from the performance of the prior generations. He also shows how useful the new Touch Bar can be, especially when it comes to programs like Final Cut Pro, Safari, Mail, and other native Mac OS apps. There is expectation for expansion into other third party apps to make the AMOLED strip more useful, but so far it’s limited to a few set of controls for specific programs. It has a lot of potential, but all the reviews I’ve seen have summarized the Touch Bar as “not revolutionary.”
The Verge described it as “too complicated or fails to make itself useful,” “not better or worse than physical keys,” and “shooting for a future it can’t quite reach.” Morrison mentioned other nuisances: the need for infinite adaptors for the 4 USB-C cables (yup, you really get nothing else), the lack of an SD card slot, which is a headache for content creators, and the soldered-in hardware that makes it impossible to upgrade. It just seems like Apple avoiding ever actually making a full touch screen by throwing us this bone. A $2700 bone. Touch bar aside, the Macbook itself hasn’t improved tremendously enough to warrant a $700 price increase from the previous year’s.
I say that Apple has big shoes to fill because of all the actually groundbreaking tech that’s flooding the markets these days. From fully waterproof phones, to collapsable desktop PC’s, developers are taking big risks in order to create the next product that will define the next generation of tech. One product that really caught my eyes was Microsoft’s Surface Studio.
I’ll give you a minute to pick up your jaw.
When I saw this ad, my mind was screaming “This is the future! This is the future!” While Apple has been branded as the creatives’ essential tech, it’s never really made a product dedicated to content creators. It’s attempted to target digital artists through the iPad Pro and it’s $99 companion, the Apple Pen. While the stylus was praised for its accuracy and smoothness, overall, the iPad Pro was defined as a complementary product to a laptop or desktop. Basically, a luxury item that you can live without. The Surface Studio is supposed to be everything an artist needs.
Microsoft’s goal with this desktop was to create a “smooth transition from drawing, drafting, to typing.” The drawing experience is supposed to be “better than real life.” With an over 4k, 28-inch screen pushing 13.5 million pixels, I doubt they’re exaggerating. The Verge describes the sleek, metal screen reminiscent of Apple’s signature aesthetic as an “engineering marvel of a monitor”. Majority of the artist reviews I’ve read, praised the screen real estate, graphics, vibrant colors, and the ease of use given the mobility of the screen. Moreover, the Surface Dial is like a menu bar on steroids. It’s a round knob that you attach to the screen to gain access to multiple commands such as a color wheel, zooming, changing brush sizes, and more. It’s truly one of the most unique and unheard of pieces of tech. One that can proudly carry the title of “revolutionary.”
…engineering marvel of a monitor
CNET claims that “Microsoft is making a serious play for the creative class that Apple used to dominate.” Tested, a Youtube tech channel, claims that the iMac straight up doesn’t compete at all. However, it’s not flawless. There have been complaints about the dial slipping off the monitor, the pen registering before it touches the screen, and the awkward positioning of all the ports on the back. On the whole, despite the flaws the first generation Surface Studio comes with, it is still a much more promising product than the current line of Macs.
Apple really needs to stop playing it safe.
We’d really like to see Apple listening to its audience and bringing us more products that cater to our needs. We don’t want the thinnest laptop. We don’t want to make a statement by getting rid of all useful ports. And, we definitely don’t want to make minor tweaks as an excuse to churn out new products with marked up prices. We want products that actually cater to our needs as users.
Apple needs a refresher course on its own founding philosophy of innovation and subversiveness. We hope that 2017 is a more creative year for Apple, because if they follow their current trend, even their carefully curated brand name won’t keep up their profits for long.