The Apple experience so far with the MacBook Pro (2017)…

 


I guess sooner or later I had to write about my experiences now that I’ve joined the Apple family. I don’t think I have to make an introduction to who or what is Apple so I’ll try to go straight to the point where I see myself with the products I’ve purchased and give my honest thoughts. Today I’ll be reviewing the:

  • 15-inch MacBook Pro with Retina Display packed with:
    • 512GB PCI-Express
    • 16gb memory
    • and a Radeon Pro 570 4GB

Let’s start with me, the user. I’m a software developer. I have worked mostly on web applications, “traditional applications” aka using winforms/WPF, mobility projects, etc. Most of my experience have gone into web development in general and being a developer, in a way, means sitting in front of a computer for countless hours providing solutions to your assigned client, or company. This means you need a reliable machine to do all the heavy lifting I would need to provide a solution. A solution could range from using tools that would squeeze the “life”, meaning it would be CPU-heavy or memory-heavy.

What does all this means to you, or me? Well, for starters you want a portable machine where you can do all that and doesn’t hold you back. You could argue that I can simply do this on a desktop and call it a day in which you are correct. I could do this from a desktop, sadly sometimes things are too fast paced and we don’t have the time to be transferring things from a desktop to laptop and be prone to missing files, missing presentations, missing important visuals. And no, you don’t need a MacBook on all the points I mentioned. There are artists, engineers, scientists, doctors, and all sort of professionals who uses Apple products, not just development. And what I mean by this is that you are the user don’t need all the hardware to do your thing.

Over the past few days I’ve been using my MacBook Pro. It’s thin, fast, and beautiful. Being all that, however, doesn’t exactly justify dropping the amount of money it requires just to acquire it. If you want to start development you can simply buy a i5 powered laptop with a solid state drive and you’d be on your way to producing code.

So let me categorize my thoughts: the good, the bad, and the worst aspects of the MacBook Pro (2017).

The good

The MacBook Pro (2017) is a beautiful machine, solidly build. In terms of the build quality I have no beef whatsoever. Everything is and feels premium. It doesn’t have any part that feels cheap, or perhaps I haven’t discovered it yet.

The battery life of the MacBook Pro is incredible. I easily get 8-9 hours out of this while using the web browser, talking in WhatsApp, basically doing casual things. While I haven’t experienced what would it be like doing development on battery life, It’d say I still would have a good 6-7 hours to accomplish many tasks; and development doesn’t necessarily mean you’d be compiling sources 24/7 either. I could simply decide to just work on new UI mockups, or simply write/refactor lines of code.

The operative system, OS X, isn’t half bad. At times it feels polished, yet out dated. I can’t describe this feeling of unconformity to be honest. I have for weeks been trying to find the best description of how I feel using OS X. I’ll do my best to break it down into terms we can discuss. Remember, I’ll be listing the good things I’ve found about the system first.

  • The file manager (Finder) feels out dated. As someone that have used Linux and windows for years and seeing the evolution of what they could provide Finder feels like it has stayed true to itself for all the Mac users out there. There is a sense of flow when using Finder, one that I haven’t mastered yet; as a Windows/Linux users for many years I barely know all the shortcuts and gestures to use with most of mac applications.
  • The App Store is a great start to finding and paying applications that can enhance your productivity or simply entertainment (games!).
  • Configuring anything system related is easy with the provided user interface.
  • Multiple Desktops feature is always welcome to anyone who likes to organize themselves per context. A context could be development, anything art related (drawing), or even just simply having a browser in a separate desktop. In my case I always like to maintain my development tools in a separate desktop.
  • An amazing trackpad. Yet a little too big.
  • The main mac applications OS X ships satisfy all basics and perhaps intermediate purposes.
  • It probably packs one of the best speakers I’ve heard from a laptop. It’s loud and proud.
  • One big plus is not being forced to use iCloud and still have a separate “normal account” versus using an iCloud account. This is great if you are a paranoid user, or simply a user that doesn’t want too much clutter and wants to enjoy a good ol’ Unix system.
  • Beautiful text rendering.
  • Amazing out of the box printer support. I’m amazed on how effortless it is to set up a printer with just being connected on the same network.
  • The weight is strangely quite a big plus compared to my Dell Inspiron i7559-5012GRY 15.6″ UHD. It’s so lightweight I fear for it sometimes.

The bad

  • Let me begin by saying what a disappointment iTunes is. For the price you pay you’d expect all main applications of OS X to be polished. iTunes is not polished, it’s slow and slightly broken. If you are scratching your head on what I just mentioned let’s being with the green flashes/flickering you get when watching videos in the MacBook Pro. It doesn’t matter how many times you reinstall the applications and what not, it’s purely Apple’s developer fault that while it’s using the integrated card it doesn’t behave well. But, if I choose to use fully dedicated card it performs as you would expect. I don’t really know if this is normal on MacBook Pro machines with just integrated card. If it works for you, awesome! Sadly, it won’t make my problem go away.
  • On the same line as iTunes. The Mail application needs a real user interface revamp. Like I mentioned above, for the price you pay you’d expect the main applications to be fully polished.
  • Gaming on the Macbook Pro is the biggest joke to the point they should just forget about having Nvidia or AMD GPUs in it. Developers just don’t care about optimizing the games for mac and they always end up just hiring a company that just wraps up the game with a heavily modified version of WINE.

The worst

  • The touch bar is probably one of the most useless additions in the MacBook Pro (2017). It’s not practical, it’s not innovative, and it certainly does not resolve any real world problem. It’s completely useless.
  • The ports. The dongle hell is real and I want no part of it.
  • The keyboard feels like it was an afterthought for Apple. It’s shallow feedback kills it for me.

 

There are some points I want to bring up as I wrap up this review. The first days using the MacBook Pro for the first time in my life has led me to a series of disappointments and maybe, just maybe I’m not seeing what everyone sees in Apple products. I honestly don’t think Tim Cook is leading Apple to the right direction while Microsoft with Sadya Nadella at the helm is catching up; elevating the Windows 10 experience each year.

You may think whatever you want of Windows or Microsoft in general, it doesn’t change the fact that they have put so much work into improving their products to the point that Windows 10 has left a better impression on me than using OS X. And before you call me biased if you notice my old post you can see I adore GNU/Linux and have written quite a few posts on the subject targeted to help Linux users. If that doesn’t dissuade your thinking then I don’t know what else will change it.

Going back to MacBook Pro. There are a few things that I’ve been seeing starting with the headphone jack; followed by the keyboard, trackpad, and the god awful touch bar.

“Just give it a chance, you’ll get used to it. Pinky promise!”

Sure, the same can be said to anything. May I remind you that you are sinking over two thousand dollars over a machine? If you have the disposable income that’s okay with me; do whatever you want with your money. To tell people “you get used to it”, to obvious flaws or faults that should be acknowledged by Apple is just preventing Apple to learn from its mistake. I get that you love Apple, but it’s time to realize that they want your money more than your love because they are a business (yes, I’m wearing my Captain Obvious cape); and by trying to downplay the people’s experience using the MacBook, or whatever product they’ll keep pulling this type of crap and call it innovation.

If you are a score guy I would give this a solid

7.5 out of 10