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The Life and Death of the Touch Bar: Revisiting the MacBook Pro (chuqui.com)
118 points by tolien on Aug 26, 2017 | hide | past | web | favorite | 228 comments



Just got a new MBP with touchbar and am finding it quite annoying for these reasons:

- there seems to be no way to dim it and it's way too bright in the dark.

- the context specific functions appearing and disappearing make it really eye catching and distracting. There also seems to be a slight lag before it updates with the latest context. (I ended up switching it to only show some small subset of default controls).

- I'm hardly using it at all, but sometimes it just stops responding. Hitting the buttons doesn't do anything.

- it's too easy to accidentally tap one of the buttons.

All in all I think it's a gimmick and I'd much rather have a physical escape key.


That's interesting because I expected to hate mine but am rather ambivalent towards the touch bar.

I've never had the touch bar malfunction, nor do I find it distracting or too bright at night, even on a lakeside dock in cottage country.

I agree, though, that occasionally I will switch the input language to French due accidentally hitting the the bar. It's too sensitive.

The biggest surprise for me, though, was that I don't miss the physical F keys nor Escape, even a little bit.


Do either of you use vim?


I use it, and have a mb with touch bar.

Using solely the laptop keyboard was fine. Transitioning between the laptop keyboard and an external was not.

I ended up adding a binding for "jk" to exit editing mode. Very pleased


Is there an issue with ctrl-c that makes jk more convenient?


Tried caps lock as escape?


Caps lock is already taken for ctrl


With Xcape for Linux or other alternatives you can use it for both with escape on Key up if another key isn't pressed


I use Vim with a MBP Touchbar. A half decade or more ago I swapped caps lock and control, I then started using 'ctrl-[' as escape. This is the actual escape code for the 'esc' key. Super easy to press, just uses both pinkies, and it doesn't require stretching for the escape key.


Maybe everybody has stopped using vim, but it's my bread and butter and I cannot imagine using anything else. Even gvim is not good enough. It has to be vim and it has to have my settings in the rc file. Expecting me to pay thousands of dollars and then having to remap ESC is a ridiculous joke.


Touch bar + vim user here. I simply tap the area I usually would and it works. It doesn't bother me. If I was still an IntelliJ user, with default shortcuts using fn keys, it would bother me, but I'm not.

What does annoy me is that there's no way to disable it on the fly. For example I often drag-select the paragraph I'm reading and Preview changes the Touch bar every time I do with highlighting options. It's distracting at the exact moment I'm trying to focus on what I'm reading. I've had to shift reading to a tablet.

Other than that I'm pleased with the Touch bar. I think the sound and brightness controls are easier to use than before. I appreciate the TouchID.


It turns out that the little space to the left of the virtual [esc] is a "ghost key" that also registers as Escape (just like the hidden t/g/v/y/h/b keys on the split iPad keyboard), so I just put blindly put my finger on the left side of the touch bar and every time it does the right thing.


Only for quick edits when I don't want to spin up an emacs instance. I find modal editing to be silly.


> [I] am rather ambivalent towards the touch bar.

Enough of the hard sell, take my money!


I mean it's a good laptop otherwise. I'm not trying to sell anything.


It's just sad that the most positive reaction among professional users to Apple's new, innovative feature is, "I don't mind it too much."


It's fairly obvious by now that nobody wants a Touch Bar.

Pro users that I know want:

- A great keyboard (yes with an actual physical Escape key)

- 32 GB RAM, with 64 GB optional

- Common ports including boring old USB and HDMI, and a headphone jack

- Good battery life at a reasonable weight compromise

I hope Apple realizes the current MacBook Pro is a flop and backtracks on the many poor decisions that went into it.


I have long ranted here (check my posting profile) about the touch bar. I really don't want it, desperately. I literally stopped using my MBP without an external keyboard and mouse/trackpad at every practical opportunity.

Worse, the keyboard is fragile. Mine recently had its left arrow key become stiff in one corner. I couldn't do anything to get it to go back to normal nor pry the key cap off to see if a bit of dirt had got underneath. I went to the Genius Bar which told me the keyboard was unrepairable and the only way to fix it was, literally, to replace the entire top case of the computer. He did say they could try something to fix it in the back with some special tools. The first try it was fixed, but the key cap was only half attached. The second try it was basically entirely broken and only worked with extremely hard presses. At this point the Rep said it had to be sent in for repairs. I said try it one more time. This final time it was better but still terrible and worse than when I brought it in. So I took it home, dd'd the disk to another one (use rdisk!) and dropped it off for repair. Well, a few days later I am told I need to pay $99 and use an AppleCare+ incident to fix the broken keyboard that the Genius broke. I spent hours on the phone with Apple explaining what happened. Well, two weeks later I got the laptop back because their system kept saying it's not ready despite being back at the Apple Store four days after drop off. What a total joke.

I hate the new MBP, keyboard and touch bar. Give me a bit more thickness, a regular keyboard, and high repairability.


The B key had a similar issue on my 2016 MBP with Touch Bar, sometimes it wouldn't register my presses and other times it registered two presses. I took it in for repair, and indeed the whole top case was replaced. Now the B key is working again.

However other keys randomly feel "smushy", "not clicking" as I press them. There can't be any dirt in the keyboard, I'm very strict on keeping my keyboards clean. Until now, the issue was resolved by bashing the keys a few times on all corners. However I'm worried that the keyboard won't last as long as to be expected of a laptop.

Yay on the repairability and reliability of these new keyboards.


This sounds like a ridiculously bad build quality and service for what you presumably paid.


To be fair, whenever they bring out the special tools, it's generally preempted by "if it doesn't work it's on you."


The new Touch Bar MacBooks have apparently been selling like hot cakes, so my fear is that Apple will attribute the success to the Touch Bar and keep it on new models. The fact that they added a feature that "nobody wants" is in itself not promising, but Apple has historically always had an affinity for minor, gimmicky, and ultimately useless features (e.g. Front Row, Dashboard).


It doesn't surprise me that the new MBP with touchbar is selling well; there really isn't an option if you want a large(ish), desktop replacement machine. I bet if they had one with and one without it would be a different story.


This is true for me. My 2012 rMBP was on it's last legs and I really needed something new. Bought the 2016 15" and was forced to get the stupid touchbar.

It's a useless gimmick that removed some major functionality for me (a physical escape key). The touchid is amazing and I wouldn't ever want to go back to a device without it. It's use is a $50 gimmick used for volume and brightness controls which is neato at best and frustrating at worst.

Other than the touchbar the laptop would have been a solid "meh" as well. I actually enjoy USB-C only, and the large trackpad hasn't offended me like I thought it would. I don't really notice a difference though, so I don't know why it needed to be bigger. The keyboard also was a step back, but I'm pretty firmly convinced it's one step in the direction of haptic keyboards for Apple as they continue to remove physical components that break. If this holds true I'll be more forgiving as I see that is interesting tech someone needs to pursue. Battery life can also be an issue, since it's now so tied to workload.

All in all a pretty disappointing extremely overpriced device that was a step back from the previous generation. If I were doing it all over again I would have picked up a 2015 rMBP (the 2012 being amongst the best laptops I've ever owned) and waited a few years to see if Apple gets it's act together again.


The 2016 and 2017 MacBooks have sold very well, and even outsold many competitors combined.

I love the Touch Bar. It can be unexpectedly convenient and, once you allow yourself to get used to it, going back to a keyboard without one feels very antiquated actually.



Can you give some examples of common use-cases you run into each day?


I’ve moved to an iMac + iPad setup since a couple months ago, hence the comment about finding non-Touch Bar keyboards inconvenient (even though you can use the iPad as a Mac Touch Bar with Duet [1]), but from memory:

- Changing brightness or volume by swiping in a single motion.

- When you’re typing and get a dialog/alert, tapping on the Touch Bar is much quicker and requires less movement than moving your hand to the trackpad or mouse and clicking on a screen button.

- When typing and having to choose something from a list, like the label for a contact (“Home”, “Work”), it’s again quicker to just tap on the Touch Bar than to move the mouse pointer to open the dropdown box and click on an item onscreen.

- Ability to have more shortcuts with different types of controls (sliders etc.) than you can with Fn keys + modifiers, and labels/icons make it unnecessary to remember which Fn number with which modifier does what.

- Show various status items on the Touch Bar and other customization with BetterTouchTool [2].

The Touch Bar is a replacement of the Fn keys, not the keyboard. It’s a complement to the keyboard and trackpad, not a secondary screen (although you can hack it to use it as one [2]).

[1] https://www.duetdisplay.com

[2] https://www.boastr.net/bettertouchtool-touch-bar-customizati...


Being able to control playback between Spotify, iTunes, and YouTube without moving windows around is enough of a killer feature for me.


This was both easier and less hackish when Dashboard worked correctly.


And maybe 1mm thicker in exchange for repairability


Not only does Apple not care about repairability, they actively fight against the ability for users to repair their own devices. In my mind that's probably the biggest "innovation" that Apple has pushed forward in the industry -- making it effectively impossible for users to fix and replace parts of their own devices and appliances.

For example, it is currently not possible for anyone other than Apple to replace any part of the Touch Bar. And I've not seen a disassembly of the new MacBook which didn't result in damage to the Touch Bar -- requiring it to be replaced.


Modern cars suck for "car guys" because they're impossible to repair without specialized equipment and expertise. They're great for everyone else since they need so little repair compared to cars in the past.

It's the same for computers. You shouldn't need to fix your computer. It should Just Work throughout its entire service lifetime. Especially if it's as well built as an Apple.


I agree, however I do think it's nice to be able to upgrade your system without having to take it back to the manufacturer. I can't afford 16GB right now but in a year or two I can install more RAM and continue to use the computer. With the current Apple products even this simple type of upgrade is impossible.


> It should Just Work throughout its entire service lifetime

And what if you want it to last beyond its service lifetime?


You're trying to hurt the economy or something? You're supposed to throw your stuff away at least once a year and buy buy buy!


You are pretending bad repairability is connected to reliability which does not appear to be remotely accurate.


> Modern cars suck for "car guys" because they're impossible to repair without specialized equipment and expertise.

You can buy specialized equipment (well, not from Apple) and learn expertise. There is a plethora of evidence that the third-party repair community of car mechanics and repair technicians have more expertise in repair products than the original manufacturers. This isn't just about "car guys" this is about being able to go to a repair shop and have your car fixed, and not requiring you to send it back to Tesla for them to fix it. Same thing for computers.

> They're great for everyone else since they need so little repair compared to cars in the past.

But they still need regular servicing. So making it less repairable is counteracting the needs of the market. All car insurance companies require drivers to have their car serviced at a particular cadence. Un-repairable cars (regardless of reliability) could be seen as a public safety hazard and/or an attempt to monopolize an industry that exists because of pre-existing laws.

> You shouldn't need to fix your computer. It should Just Work throughout its entire service lifetime.

You're confusing reliability with repairability. Of course products shouldn't break in their service lifetime, but that has nothing to do with whether it should be possible for someone to repair a product. Products _will_ break regardless of how reliable they are, and trying to side-step that by saying "they break far less these days" is not an answer.

Also, "modern" laptops make it very hard to upgrade components. If you want more memory, buy a whole new computer (RAM is soldered). If you want more storage, buy a whole new computer (SSD is soldered). If you want a newer CPU, buy a whole new computer (CPU is soldered).

Not to mention that Apple is not just applying technical measures to make it hard to repair their products, they're also trying to apply legal restrictions to make it hard to repair their products.

> Especially if it's as well built as an Apple.

Except that's not true. Apple products incredibly frequently break (usually due to thermal stress because they don't have sufficient cooling). For the past 8 years or so, every Macbook Pro version has had recalls because the GPU or nearby components die from thermal stress. The amusing thing is that Apple didn't actually know how to fix the problem, so they would sell refurbished laptops that were sent in for GPU repair that still had faulty components (the third-party repair community figured out that it was caused by Apple using the wrong type of capacitor near the hot GPU).

Oh, and Apple doesn't do data recovery at all. So if you need data recovery, you cannot get it the "official way". And remember that in new Macbooks, the SSD is soldered onto the board -- so you cannot remove it and copy the data off. By trying to create a monopoly on product repair and creating unrepairable products, they've created one of the most anti-consumer devices.


As much as I think they should backtrack... is there any precedent of Apple backtracking?


Sort of, they’ve effectively abandoned the trash can Mac Pro and are working on a whole new design: https://daringfireball.net/2017/04/the_mac_pro_lives

That’s the only real instance I can think of though!


There was an iPod Shuffle model with buttons only on the headphone cable, and voice control. I believe the subsequent models were more conventional.


They removed the dual drive option on the Mac mini. The Mac Pro redesign has also been mentioned. I'm sure there are other (less notable) instances of backtracking that aren't occurring to me at the moment.


The G4 Cube...


They're currently working on a Mac Pro backtrack; moving from this super-powerful tube to something modular like previous Pros


I wouldn't dare call such a thermally-compromised[1] computer "super-powerful"

1. http://www.anandtech.com/show/11245/apple-to-redesign-mac-pr...


I own one, and although I don't really dislike Touch Bar, it doesn't do anything useful for me. The lack of physical esc key still feels awkward, but I think the impact is overstated a bit (not a vim user though).

One minor issue is that it's too easy to bump against the trackpad or touch bar when resting your hands on the keyboard, which is slightly frustrating.

I'm a huge fan of TouchID. It makes using a password manager way easier.

The MacBook Pro already has a headphone jack. To share a different perspective, I'd actually disagree with you on supporting old USB and HDMI. By having 2 USB-C ports on each side you can choose what side you prefer to plug stuff in. Carrying around a dongle isn't a problem for me.


Is there any evidence it's a sales flop? Seems like Mac sales are up, but they don't break the numbers down by device type. I want the same things you do, but unfortunately it seems pretty unlikely to happen (except for 32GB I suppose).


The whole world was screaming for a new Apple laptop with better performance. Imagine how many more sales they would have made if Apple had not had the touch bar, kept one legacy USB A port and hdmi port, better battery life, updated specs and priced it lower than the older models. It would have sold even better.


Indeed. I bought a 2015 pro. I needed it then, but was prepared to upgrade as soon as a new one came out.

Kept the 2015 version. Am waiting to see what comes next. I don't want a touch bar, and I don't relish getting a half/dozen dongles for all my peripherals.

So I'm an invisible sale they should have had, but didn't.


I'm in the same boat. For the first time in a long time I don't want to upgrade my MBP. For as long as I can remember I've always lusted after the next big thing; now I'm just hoping my laptop doesn't have any problems and I won't be forced to purchase a new one. :/


Exactly this. Expanded the SSD in my late 2014 MBP recently. At least that's still possible. Just praying now that it won't break down.


He didn't say sales flop.


Why would they care about any other kind of flop?


Because their users who are buying the device are doing so in spite of the Touchbar. MacBook Pro wasn't updated for such a long time that the Touchbar doesn't matter, there's a lot of pent up demand. But now people know it's kinda annoying in its current implementation. Make sense?


I'm with you. I have my system to do data analysis. I have a late 2013 MacBook Pro and like it, especially the SSD and the Retina display. When I upgrade I want a faster processor, more RAM (I have 16GB now). I like my keyboard with the escape key. I like my ports (incuding HDMI). Like you, I want good battery life at a reasonable weight - and I don't want major surgery required to replace that battery if needed.

I don't want a walled garden of software. I don't mind a distinct authorization to run non-app store software (I break it, I own it...), but I want to run it easily. For example, I want an OS will easily let me install and run R and a current Python distribution like Anaconda.

While I want my phone, iPad, and MacBook to play nicely together, I want each to be optimized for a different set of tasks.


I work in the same space as you. Would you buy a MacBook Pro again for your work? If not, what would you buy instead?

My Mac is in the process of dying and I am struggling to commit to buying the lower end non-touch 15" MacBook Pro. I think the feature is stupid because I am a touch typist. I don't want to be hunting for an ever changing soft key. Fortunately I have a back up machine that works okay-ish but I don't like it in the same way as I enjoy working on the Mac.

Would enjoy your input!


How about ECC RAM too.


Agreed. I have a 2013 model, and decided to stick with it after seeing 16Gb is still the most memory available. I will not upgrade to a new Macbook until they have at least a 32Gb option.


I am yet to own a computer with 16 GB, let alone 32 GB.

Given that Visual Studio, Netbeans/Eclipse, Android Studio work with about 4GB, what would I use all that memory for?!


17 inch option


I want it and enjoy it quite a bit.


Honestly this whole situation is so frustrating as a user.

I now have a 2017 MBP and every day I try to hate it a little less but it's hard work. I miss the old keyboard. Touch Bar is gimmicky and I'd be happier without it. Only USB-C is idiotic. No more Magsafe stil kills me. The old trackpad was better.

For years I just wanted a better Macbook Air (ie upgraded display and specs). The 13" MBA was about perfect IMHO. Reasonably cheap and a great form factor. Yet even Apple succumbed to the fatal disease of "adding value" by changing a winning formula. Force Touch lack discovery and is terrible (this is particularly the case for the phones).

Sadly, the alternative (non-Apple laptops) is just so much worse. I have a Dell XPS 15 and it's fine I guess but it's STILL much worse than MBP/OSX.

Why does everything suck?


For a counter opinion, I could not care less about Magsafe (I thought I would, but I don't miss it). I really do appreciate that I can now hook the MBP into power from any side and port.

I also like the USB-C: bought a few $80 total cables for everything (USB-C HDMI, USB-C to hard disk, USB-C to printer etc) and I no longer need any dongles either (just the respective USB-C to X cable, as I would have used a USB-A to X cable before). $80 is not much when one is talking of a $2000 / $3000 laptop. And increasingly new peripherals will come with direct USB-C support anyway.

The display and brightness and colors is also killer.

And I appreciate the Touch ID very much (1Password, lock screen, payments).

That said: new trackpad is a problem for me, because I tend to touch it as I type (since it's bigger).

And the touch strip I don't care about. I would prefer if it was individual strip of actual buttons (physical) that would light up with images and be customizable (like the Optimus Prime keyboard).


USB-C is a wholly terrible idea.

So a USB-C port and cable is capable of one or more of the following:

- Providing power (at different wattages)

- Data transfer of varying speeds

- Display transport

So cables are visibly the same and have a different set of capabilities. For example, Apple's USB-C cables that come with the new Macbooks aren't capable of high speed data transfer. Some cables are capable of charging at 87W. Others much less.

How is this better?

I remember reading one description of this that went something like this: prior to USB-C nothing fit but everything worked. Now everything fits but nothing works.

But consider a practical matter: if each port needs to be capable of power, data transfer and display, it's either going to be more expensive to produce or some ports, like the cables, will have different capabilities with no indication as to why.

Honestly it's just a horrible idea.

EDIT: example of this insanity:

http://appleinsider.com/articles/17/08/15/psa-thunderbolt-3-...


This is what we've wanted since USB first existed: a universal port—it's literally in the name. It's been 20 years in the making and now we finally have it.

The power issue is a minor temporary inconvenience. I did the same as OP and just got a bunch of cables from Cable Matters that cover basically everything. And the USB-C to USB 3.1 Type B on my hub means I don't have to change any desktop accessories. I just changed a single cable and it was compatible with my home setup.

The ability to "upgrade" an accessory just by switching from a 5Gbps cable to a 40Gbps cable is incredible.

Other manufacturers are already following. A year from now the fact that this was ever an issue will seem silly.

I just wish they would scrap Lightning and the 3.5mm and just go 100% USB-C.


>So cables are visibly the same and have a different set of capabilities. For example, Apple's USB-C cables that come with the new Macbooks aren't capable of high speed data transfer. Some cables are capable of charging at 87W. Others much less. How is this better?

Just buy the high speed/high charge capable ones and you're set. That's how it's better.

>I remember reading one description of this that went something like this: prior to USB-C nothing fit but everything worked. Now everything fits but nothing works.

Yeah, I read the same. That's why I stopped reading such things. Now everything works, with USB-C, and I don't have to worry about some writer's hysteria to drum up views.


> Just buy the high speed/high charge capable ones and you're set.

That would seem to be true except for connecting a Thunderbolt 3 monitor. From the parent's linked article:

> Thunderbolt 3 runs longer than 18-inches can be passive or active. The passive ones have lower speed, with the max data rate hitting about 20Gbit/second at two meters of cable length. However, active cables contain transceivers to regulate the data transfer through the cable. At the same two meters, speed is still at the maximum of 40Gbit/second. Passive cables maintain USB 3.1 type-C compatibility. Active ones do not. [emphasis added]

That seems like a valid issue to me, not "hysteria".


From the 5+ different ports we used to have now have (or go towards) only one, with maybe needing to buy a different cable for connecting a thunderbolt 3 monitor.

Still sounds better that what it was to me.

Not to mention that if there's a cable that's stationary and stays at home/office it's the monitor desktop. Unless one regularly takes their 24/27" monitor with them, they can just buy ONCE, the appropriate cable, and live it connected for ever.

It's not like people will mess their monitor cables up while on the road.


I never tripped over a cable in my life, so for me MagSafe's utility has never been safety, but ease of use — it's just so incredibly easy to plug and unplug. It's also wonderfully easy to share a plug; sitting around a table with a bunch of people, you can see who's fully charged (the green LED, which is gone from the USB-C charger), yank the cable out without them noticing/caring, and plop it into your own MacBook.

With USB-C, you can't see if someone's fully charged, and you can't yank it out without disturbing the other person. The USB-C connector is actually super sticky, and you have to use both hands to get it out.

To be fair, the difference can be measured in seconds, but it's still a step backwards in convenience.

Adding to this: The USB-C cable that Apple ships with is very thick and inflexible, which is also less convenient. I don't know if other power-capable USB-C cables are like that.


Yes, I'm actually very happy that magsafe is disappearing, never liked it. It tends to fall down when using the laptop on my lap and the only time I've tripped on my cord, my mbp went with it because it managed to somehow pull the cord straight.

I haven't bought a new mbp yet because I'm still waiting for 32 gb (I want VMs and it's just faster working locally than using aws to work)

My biggest problem with Apple is macOS, it went from a good stable OS back in Snow Leopard to a buggy mess that crashes rather often with broken features (mission control takes more than 20s whenever I use it whereas expose was always fast and responsive).


I suspect it's something wrong on your end, I have no lag at all with mission control on a 2015 MBP. I do think however that Apple hasn't been innovating much on macOS for years. All the resources seem to go to iOS.


>I do think however that Apple hasn't been innovating much on macOS for years.

They have literally done tons of work. They just haven't disturbed the facade.

Heck, in last 3-4 releases there has been a whole new FS, memory compression, transparent internet storage for user files (optimized storage), handoff, system integrity protection and widespread sandboxing, a whole new 3D graphics API (now in its second version, Metal 2), night shift, gatekeeper and path randomization, wide gamut color support, timer coalescing (to save battery), Notification Center, Airplay, Power Nap, etc.


To be fair I'm using a mbp 2013 and I tend to have a lot of windows opened (usually 50-60). It worked perfectly with expose not with mission control.


I just got a cat and magsafe has saved my 2015 MBP more times than I can count


Did it though, or it just unplugged your laptop?

Because I have a hard time imagining a cat would push enough to bring down a 2kg laptop on a desk.

Except if a dog was hunting it...


I went the opposite way when you bought your MBP - I left the Mac after years and switch to a Surface Book.

I have a mag-safe-like magnetic power port, it's great. I have 10 hour batter life that is incredibly freeing. I have a dedicated GPU, which just seems to make the fan blow. The keyboard is fine except that silver keys are shit dim light compared to black keys. I also have a touch screen which I use a lot and a stylus that gets used occasionally.

The MBP used to be the clear winner for a laptop. Now there is no perfect solution. You aren't wrong that other laptops aren't the old MBP. I don't have the newest one, so I'm not sure if the Surface Book is better or worse, but I'm generally happy in my daily use, but occasionally wish I had a faster and more powerful version of the old Macs.

Maybe we are in the same boat. Or maybe I am just getting old.


Try a Surface? The Surface Book is the best laptop I've ever owned.

Biggest complaint I see, though, is that it doesn't have USB C yet; which I guess you don't care about.


The Surface Book has had an absolute _pile_ of firmware issues. I have had two (obtained from Microsoft as prizes) and both have been buggy messes. One just refused to undock about 50% of the time, necessitating a reboot to restore undock functionality. No firmware updates ever arrived to fix it, and Microsoft support was absolutely useless on the matter.

I sold the other, and the new owner reported that it often woke up for no reason while closed, resulting in massive battery drain and a warm backpack. Also a known issue with no fix, and Microsoft support apparently didn't help either. (They decided to just "wait it out"; I sold it to them without unboxing it so I didn't know it had issues)

Also, touching on the touchscreen while in "laptop" mode was almost as bad as trying to touch the old Surfaces with the touch keyboard - the hinge strength is quite weak and the top is heavy, resulting in a significant amount of wobble. (Cue "it's not supposed to be used like that").

You get good experiences and bad ones, but the Surface Books have been more aggravating than not in my case.


The Surface Book had a ton of issues on launch; but those were worked out within the first six months. I haven't had a docking / undocking issue in ages.

I would expect a Surface Book purchased today to work without all those launch issues.


I had to return two surface books, but the third was pretty good


I'm also a big fan of the Surface (and Windows 10, too!). We went from Mac to Windows and I have no regrets. (It was the desktop / high-end that pushed me over. No good "pro" option on the desktop.)


The 5k iMac isn't a good pro option?


Not with the GPU / CPU offering they have.


Exactly right. We do accurate-color work so I need a wide-gamut monitor I can calibrate. And we need NVidia "Pro" cards (with FP16 full-speed) support. The Mac "faithful" will tell you can can jerry-rig a side-car box and run your GPU cards over USB-C, but that's flakey and slow.


But then you have to use windows... :< :< :<


Go with what you know...

To me, I've used Windows for >20 years and it is the devil I know. Windows 10 is fantastic.

My attempt to convert to a Mac / OSX machine was just a confused mess that I abandoned. Like they go out of their way to do things different. [I'm not sure if they 'they' in the last sentence is Apple or Microsoft]. One thing I never got used to was that the mouse scroll wheel detection was reversed between the two OSes. And I had lots more crash problems on the Mac than I ever did on Windows.


For many of us that is an advantage.



I think I just need to draw everyone's attention to this little parable on why shoehorning Linux into things isn't always a good idea - http://i.imgur.com/znJEV92.png


I use WSL every day for development. It has gotten really solid.


The Surface Book design is just silly to me. By putting the CPU in the display they've limited it's CPU performance a lot. A 13" MBP will outperform it on CPU bound tasks. It has 28W TDP processors instead of 15W like the Surface Book (and the Surface Pro).


If they put the CPU in the keyboard, it wouldn't be able to detach.


Why does it need to detach? The battery life without the keyboard is awful, and the firmware that supports this is pretty buggy.


I actually enjoy the similarly priced dell laptops with USB-c and the dell dock.

I also do hate the touch bar especially when it crashes.


Agree wholreheartedly. I am still savage that I cannot buy the 15" without paying an extra $300 premium for a touch bar that serves to do nothing but constantly annoy me.


The keyboard annoys me the most.


I'm really happy with the Lenovo X1 Carbon 2017 model. The 2014 (rev 2) was horrible, with the touch bar and smart-ass keyboard layout changes that made touch typing a pain.

I was also tempted by the XPS, but the badly placed camera was a dealbreaker for the number of teleconferences I do.

This thing charges with USB-C, which means I can use the same charger for both my laptop and my Pixel, but it also has two USB-A connectors, so I can still plug my yubikey in for logins, plus HDMI for presentations, a second USB-C for charging my phone or plugging in the VGA adapter, and finally a mini-ethernet (which I have only ever used once to test that it works, I have good wifi everwhere).

It has a 4G modem which works fine with a SIM card. The only thing maybe you could claim is lacking is the screen resolution, but the low resolution saves battery and works more nicely with Linux's awful high resolution support. Silver lining.

Finally this thing has a decent keyboard with good key travel, which is really lacking in a lot of laptops these days. I'm pretty happy.


I'm pretty happy with Thinkpad keyboards :) Some of the more modern ones are thinner, and I haven't tried the ones on the X1 series for instance.


Fellow ThinkPad fan here. I'm using an older ThinkPad (X220t) and would like to upgrade, but I want to try the keyboards before I commit. Has anybody found them anywhere? I called a number of stores in NYC with no luck.


Everything sucks becauase tech is no longer a niche market for nerds. You're no longer in the target audience... I feel your pain.


The touch bar is useless - worse than useless

1) No haptic feedback if I hit a key - did I hit it? just terrible for touch typists

2) Context switching according to an app - now you expect me to remember another whole new way to interact in addition to on-screen and keyboard short cuts - WHY?

3) Should I look at the keyboard or not - if not then why do the glowy keys on the keyboard keep distracting me? If yes then WTF is the screen for?

4)Do all Apple products have this or not? Why is there no external keyboard with TouchBar?

Complete misfire on Apple's part (Reference : Currently use MBP 15 latest version for work)


A large number of users are not touch typists and do not remember keyboard shortcuts. They look down at the keyboard when typing. Those users will love the touch bar.


Then don't call it pro.


I've seen many professional programmers typing with two fingers while looking at the keyboard.


I do this and even though I'm not a touch typist, there is a sense of position information about keys in my mind. However with the touch bar (I'm assuming, having never used one for longer than 2 minutes), even that sense will not help.


Is there really a large overlap between people looking down at the keyboard, and people buying a professional machine?


I think so. One of the best programmers I know types quite slowly, often glancing down. He's the author of some very popular open-source work. Many thousands of programmers build on his code daily.


I really miss touch feedback as well. The TouchBar wouldn't have been such a disaster if it provided feedback.


As much as I love the engineering behind the touch bar I never saw a good reason for it.

I think context switching buttons is poor UX, you shouldn't need to look at the keyboard when you're using it.

I miss the days I could quickly adjust the volume or brightness of my MacBook with the touch of a physical key who's position doesn't move (navigating a touchscreen for these controls is wholly unnecessary).


The touchbar makes more sense if you don't consider it a modal part of the keyboard, but rather a touchable part of the screen. Like the bottom screen of a Nintendo DS.


Well then put it there and give me my escape and FN keys back!


I've played some of the popular DS games on a smartphone with a minuscule second screen and I barely touched it. Most of its uses felt forced


What engineering? It's a screen with icons on it. Nothing special technically. Could be done with an Arduino if you were so inclined.


I think what they meant was that the touch bar is essentially a whole separate computer with its own ARM chip, running a modified version of WatchOS, communicating with the MBP.


Okay so it is over-engineered. Usually that's a bad thing.


It's existence is one of the clearest examples of over-engineering existing. However, fitting a multi touch screen into a few mm's of laptop is technically impressive.


TouchID is the only feature I've used on the touch bar, I've had this mac for ~4 months as a full time dev. Even then, I think I can type my password in the time it recognizes my finger. The rest of the touch bar is a disaster. The last button I want to accidentally press is un-mute or the play button. I can switch it to be a function row, but still then I don't want to accidentally touch f5, f10,11,12 while developing.


While I also like TouchID, I find that the implementation of software wise is half-assed though. For example; the login screen won't show the password prompt until you entered the first key. So if you wake the machine, you don't know if the machine is ready to accept your input as you can't see a blinking cursor. While this would make sense if you alway use TouchID -- no need to enter your password right. But when using in clamshell mode (lid closed), it STILL won't prompt for a password. And you just have to guess whether the machine is ready, or still busy waking from sleep.


I use a zsh plugin that changes the F1/2/3 keys to show information about my cwd, so I can have a simplified PS1. I can't remember the name of the plugin, but I'm sure you can find it if you're interested.


I frequently lock my computer (set the lock button on the touch bar so it's my fault, but in line with no haptic feedback) when I try to hit other buttons.


I found even the lock button to be a bit unreliable. If you tap on lock and almost immediately hit any other key on the keyboard, it resumes back and you have full access!


Two features of touchbar that I use consistently are enough for me to pretty much like after initially not seeing the point at all --

1. when taking a screenshot touchbar shows an option to toggle between the various destinations (desktop, documents, clipboard) -- nice because these keyboard shortcuts are really hard to type and often I don't make up my mind about where I want the picture to go until I'm in the middle of selecting the region

2. Scrubbing between safari tabs is a pretty nice feature -- I find myself using it a lot.


2 generic use cases that emerge from the points you mentioned

1) An equivalent interface to the Android snackbar which is a contextual "more options" menu to the most recent interaction

2) Global hirerachy and navigation


As for tabs 2) I only see a mish-mash of pixels — How does this work for you?


Apple got ahead of itself with the touchbar and it's no surprise they have not pushed on it much since release. I sincerely hope they are mature enough to recognize it was not the right tech and pull it from future laptops.


> pull it from future laptops.

I expect the opposite. They will continue to iterate and fix the issues with the touchbar which many users already like and appreciate. The obvious change to make is the addition of haptic feedback.


>The obvious change to make is the addition of haptic feedback.

Yeah they are called physical keys, no need to make a NASA pen... didn't Apple buy out some company making keyboards out of tiny e-ink dipslays, that would actually make sense. Making keys out of a touchscreen when the only reason to look at it is because there are no physical keys on the other hand is ridiculous.


I agree with your point about physical keys, just a quick aside about:

> no need to make a NASA pen

The "NASA pen" urban legend (often used to comment on the contrast between American over-spending on innovation and Russian common-sense) is actually a myth. Both NASA and the Soviets used pencil-based technology originally -- NASA used ordinary sharpening-based pencils (later moving to mechanical pencils), while Soviets used more crayon-like "grease pencils". There were flaws with both technologies, and a private American company (Fisher) created a pen they claimed could work in space which was later adopted by both NASA and the Soviets. NASA only paid $4.00 per pen, nowhere near the "millions of dollars" often cited as the cost of development.

http://www.snopes.com/business/genius/spacepen.asp


Thanks I did not know that, however... In spite of it's truth it is an extremely useful metaphor when trying to make a point about unnecessarily complex over-engineering to no actual benefit to the user. Do you have any alternatives which are not myths? (Sincere question)


The vertical doors on Tesla SUVs. Doors are actually one of the most complicated parts of a car to manufacture and make reliable, and those doors are widely credited with why the shipments were late. In addition to people complaining about their reliability and their absurdly high cost, they provide no real benefit. Supposedly you can park in tighter spaces and get out, however the front doors still open like regular car doors. So assuming the driver also wants to get out, it's pretty fucking useless.


> ... no need to make a NASA pen

As is frequently trotted out whenever someone reaches for this analogy, http://www.snopes.com/business/genius/spacepen.asp (tl;dr: pencils aren't great in space, another company invented the pen on their dime and sold it to NASA). There's definitely UX headroom when iterating on user input; the first gen touchbar has been undeniably meh, but that's not to say another iteration or two can't be a marked improvement over a 150 year old technology.


> Yeah they are called physical keys, no need to make a NASA pen

The Touchbar has many clear benefits over physical keys (in addition to drawbacks). Adding haptic feedback doesn't make the TouchBar equivalent to hardware keys. It makes it a better Touchbar. The fictitious NASA pen had no benefits over a pencil. Touchbar has benefits.


Pencils are inadvisable in space due to contamination control considerations. Graphite dust is electrically conductive, and wood fragments can clog filters.


I love Hacker News :) TIL!



> which many users already like and appreciate.

Really? Who? I haven't heard a single opinion on this that's stronger than lukewarm.


The DJ that played his track on the MacBook Pro with touch bar at the introduction event seemed happy about it. But scrubbing on the touch bar seems wrong . That is what the touchpad should be for.


I agree with you. Not being able to get a version without the TB was one of the reasons for buying a 2015 model instead.


I hope not: it’s the single most used new tech on my mbp. It’s useful, better than the useless row of keys that was there before (ok, if you’re using old IDEs they may still be useful), and adds functionality


Could you describe how you find it useful?


Sure, I use it every day to do small things that, yes many I could have set custom bindings for, now have dedicated space.

Also touch screen for volume, brightness, and video scrubbing === better than keys.


Adding haptics and the ability to make it static (even outside of login sessions) would make it much more friendly to touch-typists. It could also stand to adhere keyboard brightness configuration


Really? Why is it not the right tech?

I got the version without, but is it universally bad..?


It feels like a cheesy gimmick, I miss being able to change brightness/volume without looking at the keyboard, and I preferred my escape key to be a key. It's been a few months and I have yet to use it for anything keys didn't already do.


Got it.


The touch bar will evolve into a touch screen keyboard.


...and if/when it does, Apple and its fans will praise it as being amazing innovation, forgetting the fact that Acer tried the same thing many years ago:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Acer_Iconia_6120

As someone who can actually type without looking at the keys, I would never buy a laptop without a real physical keyboard.


When I saw the Idiot Bar I thought immediately of the "MacBook Wheel" video from The Onion.


God, I hope not.


You ever typed on an iPad or Fire keyboard? Good luck!


You ever typed on an iPhone keyboard? BlackBerry's physical keyboard was far better. It didn't matter.


Ugh, you are right and that makes me sad.

But it works for iPhone thanks to a combination of changes in habit and autocorrect and plenty of typos, whereas no matter how much I have tried I have never made typing work on a tablet.


> The touch bar will evolve into a touch screen keyboard.

Have you ever tried to type on a touch keyboard without looking at it?


This is what happens without an uncompromising design lead at the helm. One person is probably pushing this feature because it's their baby, and nobody else has enough power to shut it down (though they probably grumble about it).


I got a new MBP with touchbar for work several months ago, honestly at first i was overjoyed by the laptop. A single universal connector for everything? This is amazing. The touchbar, will be awesome, i can replace those barely used function keys, with things of value.

However after several months:

- The touchbar is borderline useless. When i rapidly switch between various apps, sometimes the touchbar doesn't realize that hey i am in a different app.

- Numerous times i have had the touchbar freeze and become completely unresponsive. This is extremely frustrating, when i am trying to esc out of something, or i am trying to do some normal work. I also had a time where i unplugged my headphones, and itunes decided to play through speakers, and no amount of spamming mute on the touch bar would make itunes shut up.

However my biggest issue is with USB-C, which i thought would be the greatest thing since sliced bread.

- I have seen some TV's/projectors, where USB-C <-> HDMI just flat out does not want to work on these devices. Then i need to fumble and pray that i got lucky and packed my VGA cable. Even worse is when it does work, for whatever reason with the dongle i have seen some cases where i am locked to stupidly low resolutions like 1024x768 or lower. Yet my coworker can plug his mini DP into his older macbook and has 0 issues.

- Numerous times i have wanted to take control of a big screen and plug my laptop into it. Unfortunately i didn't bring the dongle. Instead i have been forced to do a hangouts and screenshare my desktop while a coworkers laptop is connected to the big screen.

- The lack of actual quality dongles, i have 2 highend 4k monitors, that do not support USB-C, they support display port. Unfortunately i have tried almost a dozen of these cables, and i cannot get a solid dongle that gives me proper 4k at 60hz like my coworkers older macbook laptops can do.


You should try using a thunderbolt 3 adapter. One Thunderbolt 3 port supports can support up to two displayport 4k 60hz port. If the macbook pro has a dedicated TB3 controller per TB3 port then it could in theory support up to 8 4k 60hz displays.

https://www.amazon.com/StarTech-com-Thunderbolt-Dual-Display...

I don't understand the USB-C hate. Especially complaints about applereplacing it in 5 years with a new port anyway. With displayport 1.4 over USB-C we will soon be able to drive 8k montors at 60hz with a single USB-C cable. USB-C is truly the "last port".


I bought the Apple dongle and couldn't get 4K @60hz but this cheap one from Amazon works perfectly with my Dell 4K monitor

https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B01MRU0O0T/ref=oh_aui_deta...



A big problem with it is that, as a new interface only supported on the high-end new MacBook Pro, you still have to design your apps to work perfectly without it, lest you exclude users of the old MacBook Pro, users of the non-Touch Bar MacBook Pro, MacBook users, MacBook Air users, Mac mini users, iMac users, and iMac Pro users.


Don't forget people with the touch bar who might also use an external keyboard!


Exactly! It's been months since the new Touch Bar MBP was released and there are still no keyboards that offer the Touch Bar experience. Does Apple not realize that quite a few people use external keyboards? I'm thinking that Apple is not going to move forward with the Touch Bar concept or is going to change it so much that we won't really recognize it as the same thing.


I find it quite sad that Apple was one of the leading companies selling ergonomic keyboards, and what they sell currently is anything but ergonomic.


That's considered a "big" problem for Mac app developers?


It's a big problem for Apple, unless they somehow make touchbar support mandatory in XCode. No-one's going to bother developing the elaborate custom applications for it like Apple did in iMovie if a minority of their customer base will ever see them, and that makes the adoption problem even bigger.


Yes, 2 out of us 3 complained about it during lunch.


It's interesting that a lot of the OP's reason for not needing the Touch Bar and/or TouchID is that the Apple Watch replaces it, because if I recall, the Touch Bar effectively is a built-in Apple Watch with a funny-shaped screen (i.e. it's a tiny iOS device). So it's not surprising that the watch provides much of the same functionality.


Unlike the author, I have a long passphrase on 1password and find the ability to use the fingerprint sensor a godsend.

I've found that the Touch Bar will freeze up sometimes and make it impossible to regulate volume (though muting still works). But this seems to be part of the general neglect of OS X rather than a drawback of the hardware.


I don't use the TouchID. The last thing I want is my authentication to be coerced by just knocking me out and using my finger. My pass phrase may also be able to be coerced but not by law abiding people and government agents.


I have the same quandary while traveling abroad. Giving your fingerprints while entering a country means you're giving the country your passwords.


I turn the TouchID feature off while traveling. I think it's important to have different habits with phone and computer security when you're on the move, and I hope it becomes the accepted practice.


Touchbar 2 will likely "be even faster than Touchbar 1, and more responsive than ever!"


It's surprising to me that so few recognize the touch bar for its real purpose: trusted path I/O. Imagine a password manager interacting with the secure element using the touch bar. Or a U2F device. Or a document signing applet. Or access control for iOS device backups. Or purchasing.


I think this is a great idea and would go a long way to changing my opinion of the Touch Bar. Has Apple actually made strides to using it as a U2F device?


Are you referring to the Touch ID rather than the Touch Bar proper?


The touchbar is a problem looking for a solution. For the premium they charge for it I fail to see how it returns its value. Perhaps this was innovation for the sake of innovation, but I don't see the touchbar having a prolonged lifespan. Sooner or later Apple is going to come to the realization that they need a touchscreen on the MacBook.

On a related note, I was trying out the MacBooks at an Apple store and couldn't believe how bad the keyboards have become. The key travel was nearly non existent. Perhaps this is Apple's way of slowly conditioning their users to a keyboard with no physical keys, but rather touch keys powered by force touch. It certainly seems like the next evolution as they keep reducing the key travel lower and lower. The sensation of typing on the keyboard, IMO, was so bad that I would never purchase or recommend one. I would, however, still recommend the previous generation with a proper keyboard.


I really disagree with you about the keyboard. I was nervous that this keyboard would be annoying but I quite like it. Maybe even more than the old keyboard. Yes, they have way less key travel, but the extra click that they added more than makes up for it. I don’t have any troubles now at all with the main keyboard.

The thing I don’t like about it is the new arrow layout. The full sized left and right keys make it really hard to find the arrows by feel. It’s been months and months and I still can’t reliably find the arrows without looking, and I had no problems with the previous MacBook keyboard.


After a couple of months I have actually come to like the typing experience of the new keyboard - when it works.

The keys need constant cleaning. Simple dust/dirt particles that don't really affect the old keyboards are the nemesis of this keyboard.

I have to literally blow into keys to get rid of dust/dirt particles every single day.

Just recently the smaller up/down keys have simply stopped registering presses (unless you press they keys quite firmly). Many other people have this issue too; here is one thread discussing it:

https://discussions.apple.com/thread/7769526

It's so bizarre to have to remap some unused modifier keys to up/down because of a likely design flaw on a flagship product like this.


Did you mean a solution looking for a problem? I can't think of a single problem that is solved by the touchbar.


I have a new MBP with touch bar and I am pretty neutral on it. I don't mind the keyboard, but to keep getting the laptops thinner, you have to reduce the travel. It feels fine to me now that I've gotten accustomed to it.

As far as touch screens go, I don't care for them at all. If nothing else, it gets fingerprints all over the screen which distract me to no end.


> The touchbar is a problem looking for a solution. For the premium they charge for it I fail to see how it returns its value. Perhaps this was innovation for the sake of innovation, but I don't see the touchbar having a prolonged lifespan. Sooner or later Apple is going to come to the realization that they need a touchscreen on the MacBook.

IMHO the Surface Book from Microsoft is a great idea with a beautiful design but poorly executed [1]

I would have expected Apple to come up with this kind of product and phase out both the Macbook Air and the ipad. The Macbook + touchbar seems so half baked I'm not sure why Apple thought it was a good idea.

1: http://www.thespectrum.com/story/life/features/mesquite/2017...


Because touchscreen on a laptop don't make sense because they

- Unbalance the weight of the laptop.

- Lead to finger print smudges all over the screen.

- Take your hands off the home row

- And tap areas need to be far bigger than mouse areas. You either get too tiny tap areas that make interfaces harder to use, or you get too large areas that are a waste for scrollpad/mouse users.


I just recently bought a new MBP. Normally I would get the fastest CPU and biggest SSD as as a custom build. But this time I did not. Because that's only available with the touch bar.


My Macbook Pro is 4 years old and in good nick but I won't fork out for another when it dies. Not because of the Touch Bar but the general build quality. I looked at the latest Macbook Pro in the Apple Store and the screen hinge feels so fragile compared with its predecessor. Apple seem to be obsessed with thin and lightweight but that's not what everyone wants. Their marketing has never been aimed at what pro users really want. Why make a laptop which can last 6 years or more instead of a flimsy, lightweight version at the same price which is guaranteed to break in half the time?


Apple makes the best laptop hinges in the industry. It goes where you want and stays where you want. If you think the new one is actually fragile (it isn't) get one with AppleCare, and you'll get fresh new laptops every time one breaks.


Better still, get at ThinkPad with a hinge that doesn't break in the first place.


I've heard that you'll actually get fresh refurbished laptops, no?


That, I suspect, was true when I replaced my iPhone under AppleCare and the replacement has been really wonky. Various flimsiness with the body of the phone, GPS is spotty and sometimes completely fails. Disappointing.


Reminds me of 3D Touch. It could become useful but right now it's a solution to a problem I don't have and most developers can't find a useful way to implement it.


Can’t speak of touchbar but I don’t understand the hate for 3D Touch. I love it and use it a lot. Sure discoverability sucks but I think it’s worth while.


I think discoverability is the main problem. Nobody knows what it can do. I use the quick cursor placement (push and slide when editing text) and fast app switching (push left edge and swipe to middle to switch to previous app) many many times per day. A few games, like Pixel Gun 3d, use it fantastically, since it's actually multi finger 3d touch. It's a first person shooter with standard move with left finger and look with right, with the addition of jump by pushing left and shoot by pushing right.


I have to agree that 3D Touch is a highly desirable feature for me. For example, it allows me to respond to text messages without switching apps. I also use it to preview links before deciding if I want to follow them when web browsing. I expect that over time it will grow in usefulness beyond the current applications. Apple iterates the hell out of features. Remember that there was no copy / paste on the original iPhone.


First thing I do is turn off 3D touch. Too complicated and too much mental load to distinguish a normal touch, a force touch, and a long touch.


Tangential, but I recently discovered how to find refurbished (read: early 2015, pre-Touch Bar/USB-C models) for sale on Apple's store site, even when not listed in the refurb section. Found it when trying to avoid buying a new one myself.

I wrote up a quick explanation here: http://www.joshualyman.com/2017/08/find-hidden-apple-refurbs...


The touch bar is something you get used to the same way you get used to using a trackpad. I avoided the trackpad for YEARS opting for a wireless mouse and/or the eraser nub on the old ThinkPads.

For me the touch bar isn't vital, but I really wouldn't want to go back to not having it. In fact, I wish the external keyboard also had a touch bar. It's fantastic for any scenario where their are no controls on the screen, such as full screen video. It also makes a fantastics scrubber for emojis, photos, etc. And the ability to change the function keys based on context, while not something you use every day in every application, actually makes a lot of sense and it's pretty bewildering that this didn't change a long time ago. It's always annoying when function keys no longer do what their icon suggests because they have been replaced, moved, or the OS has changed that functionality. And for things like brush size or changing the tool your using in a video editor, it actually is a lot more convenient. There are these things you start to realize that you always wanted physical keys for, and now you have them.

The only problem that I have with the new MPB is the way the keyboard sounds. The clicks on each key are different depending on where they are and how hot the chassis is. If you haven't noticed this, I'm sorry you're reading this because once you notice it you won't be able to not. Certain keys click more than others. They do all sort of break in a bit and start to sound the same, and since the travel is so short it doesn't actually impact typing at all, but it does sound and feel a bit weird when the "A" key acts slightly differently from the "F" key. They keys along the exterior tend to be more "clicky" than the keys on the interior. It's just weird.


I can't imagine working without an ESC key. I think many of the complaints could have been alleviated if they left this one key on the machine.


Folks, the touchbar is 1000x more useful if you have a BetterTouchTool license. I have mine customized completely, with app-specific shortcuts. It's amazing. Without BTT, the touchbar is kinda silly. But with it? You can do some rad stuff with it. I urge you to try it out and see what you can do with it.

You can even execute a shell script and put the results in there.


Do the other specs of the touch bar MBP 13" model make it worth the extra cost vs the no touch bar 13", _despite_ the touch bar itself?

- Faster CPU 3.1GHz boost to 3.5 vs 2.3GHz boost to 3.6, but more power-hungry

- Four Thunderbolt 3 / USB-C ports vs two on no touch model

- Faster GPU -- Intel Iris Plus Graphics 650 vs 640 -- does this matter?

- Two fans vs one (but more power consumption)

- 49.2-watt-hour battery (MBP) vs 54.5-watt-hour (no touch MBP is better here)

- Shorter battery life for touch bar model, but by how much?

Which one is a better value? Does anyone have experience of the real difference in battery life? Is the no touch model too weak? Two days ago I ordered and paid the touch bar model with 16GB RAM and 512GB SSD, but cancelled the next day (first time doing that). For general development and some video/music editing, is the no touch model sufficient?


Don’t get the touch model, cpu speeds are essentially equivalent, and you’ll get an extra hour of battery life.


>Much as I love the TouchID sensor, what keeps me from missing it much is 1Password. It’s marginally more work for me to type in my password to open 1Password than use my fingerprint, but not much. My Apple Watch unlocks the Mac, and so I don’t need the TouchID sensor for that, and when I use Apple Pay on the iMac, the Watch makes that quite painless, too. So having lived with the Touch Bar and Touch ID sensor for months and then migrated away from them again, I’ve found they seem to be solving problems I don’t really have.

The touch strip maybe. Touch ID not at all -- you only missed it "a little" because you already have an Apple Watch to automatically unlock your Mac.


Touch bar is great for 1 control things like volume or as a lever for something.

For everything else it doesn't work because it switches meaning based on the context and thus makes it close to impossible to apply muscle memory to.


Wait, people lock all their passwords behind their fingerprint? Why would you turn a good idea like a password manager into the safety equivalent of a wet towel?


Because good security that people actually use is far better than perfect security they won't?


Is this still true in 2017?

My understanding is that the newer version is looking within your finger, rather than surface fingerprints, which could be lifted. From their presentation "scans sub epidermal skin layer".


I've found myself so annoyed with the touch bar I used this great disabler https://github.com/LumingYin/TouchBarDisabler

Conveniently, it maps key combos like ctrl+1 to make the screen dimmer it ctrl+2 to make the screen brighter. Definitely would prefer real keys though if they made a 15 inch with them.


I am glad to read articles like this since I specifically opted to get the non-touchbar MacBook Pro when the new models came out. The only annoying thing about the non-touchbar model is that the specs are not quite as good.

I tried it out in the store and I decided that using keyboard shortcuts will always be faster than using the touchbar which the article linked from this one mentions.


Have you had the chance to notice any real life differences between yours and touch bar models? For example, battery life, fan noise, speed?


It will be hard to put the touch bar on a remote keyboard because it looks like a display. Perhaps BT 5 will be fast enoug, but AFAIK that will require new macs as well as new keyboards.

The audience for touch bar is non-touch typists and those who use the mouse so are happy to move their hand and gaze away from the active zone. A group probably disjoint with HN readers.


Why can't I swipe backward on this website? Does the author dislike both the TouchBar and the MultiTouch Trackpads? ;)


I think Apple should kill the MacBook Air (not sure why it wasn't killed a long time ago when the new 12 inch MacBook launched).

Then all MacBook Pros should have the touch bar if they're going to keep it (no 13 inch two port version without one).

It's strange to me that the Airs and the MacBook Pro without touch bar exist.


On the contrary, Apple should make the "Touch Bar" a build-to-order option and let people opt out of it.

There's a reason the 13" two port weaker version is so popular.


> I think Apple should kill the MacBook Air (not sure why it wasn't killed a long time ago when the new 12 inch MacBook launched).

Because the MacBook is substantially slower than the MBA, has fewer ports, and a higher starting price?

I'd love to replace my aging MBA, but the MacBook is too much money for not enough machine. (And I don't love the expensive new MBPs.)


God I hope not. We just bought a 13" non touch bar MacBook pro and it's been simply awesome. The touch bar looked like a total waste of $300 extra, so we instead put that into memory upgrades and Apple care.

I'm fine with the touch bar being a premium feature, I just don't want to pay that premium.


They did sadly kill off the 11" macbook air shortly after the 12" macbook launched.


I love my trusty 11" air (apart from the bezel).


Why can't we have a choice instead, for both 13" and 15" models?

IMO, the cheaper models still exist so they still have some chance of selling into education.


God no! I love my MacBook Air. Plus it's all I can afford.


"Touch Bar is useless!" - well, so are function keys for just about everyone.

It's not going anywhere. In five years, every laptop will replace their function keys with something similar.

imo, it's a nice incremental improvement, and it's actually slightly more functional than the F-keys.


I hate my MacBook Pro with TouchBar more than I've ever hated any computer I've owned.


Why?


My biggest beef with the new MBP TouchBar is how horribly slow Keychain has become.

* When a login form is shown in Safari, it takes 2-3 seconds before the username and password are prefilled. Safari just hangs (beach ball) in the meantime.

* Searching in Keychain Access is horribly slow. After a search term has been entered, it takes 4-5 seconds before the search results are shown. Keychain Access just hangs (beach ball) in the meantime. And it is made worse as searching also starts during typing, so you can type... but the text won't show up. And Keychain Access simply hangs. And after the 4-5 hang is over, it starts hanging again as you've entered additional search terms.

* In Keychain Access when you've finally gotten to the entry you wanted, copying the password to clipboard is another 2-3 seconds wait. With appropriate hang (beach ball).

This has been going for many users on this machine. Apple doesn't confirm that this issue exists, keeps suggesting to reinstall their machines and offers replacements to others -- which obviously doesn't help. Users testing macOS High Sierra beta's report small improvements, but still nothing significant.

[speculation] I suspect the Secure Enclave is to blame here, some design issue with the hardware. High Sierra appears to do heavy caching of the Keychain, to work around this hardware issue. [/speculation]

[edit] Issue #2 with this machine is that Spotlight randomly stops working. You can open Spotlight (CMD+Space), but you can't type your query -- it doesn't respond to key pressed. You have to `killall Spotlight` from the Terminal to fix this.

Issue #3 with this machine is that the keys are too close to the screen when closed. You can see an "imprint" of the keyboard when opening. This will probably cause damage to the screen's coating in the long rung and thus reduce the machine's lifetime (damaged screen).

Issue #4 is flaky Bluetooth radio. Multiple times throughout the day my Apple Magic Mouse, Apple Wireless Keyboard and/or Sony headset will disconnect.

Issue #5 is slow wake from sleep. I've had multiple wakes from sleep taking over 20 seconds -- leaving the screen black while resuming. The repair center blames high memory usage (paging). However my previous 2013 MBP (also 16 GB) didn't have the same issue, and my use hasn't changed.

Issue #6 is that the machine sometimes crashes when plugging in the Apple USB-C HDMI Multiport adapter. That's a great start of a presentation having a room full of people.


Issue #7 is that Play/Pause get "hijacked" by Safari tabs if it starts playing audio (music / video / notification). For example if I have music playing in iTunes and then visit a YouTube page. Normally I'd press Play/Pause and iTunes paused. However now Safari hijacks the media keys and pressing Play/Pause pauses the video. Now I have to switch to iTunes and CLICK the play/pause button, and then switch back to the Youtube video. Even worse: this happens with websites playing audio notifications (e.g. WhatsApp Web). When this happens, Play/Pause stay mapped to that website's notification sound and I have to close the tab before the key is released back to iTunes.


I got a new macbook pro without touch bar. On it's own, it's a great computer. Wish Apple would drop in an LTE chip now. Don't need toys, need tools to work smarter.


I am desperately waiting for a No-Touch-Bar version of MBP 15. If not, I may have to settle with the 13 version. I am not ready to part with a physical ESC just yet.


I will never buy a notebook with touch bar and regretting getting this one. As a vim user I would vote for Esc any day. Same issue on the iPad keyboard cover.


It’s also annoying that the iPad keyboard cover actually has more (and IMO better) key travel than the new Macbooks. Other than the lack of escape and function keys, I wouldn’t mind too much typing on it for development.


I like the features they've expanded since release - even chrome works really nice with video controls.


What can the touch bar do that a touch screen could not?


- Keep the screen lighter and the perfect screen tilt adjustments Apple laptops are famous for.

- Keep smudges off your bright new screen.

- Keep your hands on the home row.

- Keep tap areas in the OS sized to cursors, not fat fingers.




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