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[dupe] Gruber on the Macbook Pro Keyboard (daringfireball.net)
81 points by nikon 9 months ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 53 comments



I'm struggling a bit on what my next laptop will be. Apple owner since I don't know when, currently on a late 2013 MBP. It's still going but I suspect it doesn't have a vast amount of life left. Every few months I lose another pixel.

I certainly wouldn't upgrade to the current range so they're going to have to do something special in the next 12-18 months or I'll be taking an Ubuntu desktop crash course and getting a Lenovo or similar.


I'm in a similar situation, except that mine is from the initial 2012 retina batch. I hate so many of the changes Apple has made to the MBP line in the latest incarnation, so I'm currently leaning towards getting one of older batch that has real ports and real function keys. They can still be bought new from Apple starting a few hundred less than the touchbar variety and you can even save another ~$350 going the refurb route.

I do wish other laptop makers would start to offer hackintosh-friendly models, because at this point it's only macOS that I really want.


Finding a suitable replacement was difficult. For some reason instead of taking advantage of Apple's missteps with the MBP, competitors decided to copy with all USB-C.

I ended up with getting a LG Gram. 2 normal USB 3.0, 1 USB-C, HDMI, SD card, 8th gen CPU. Affordable, very light. Great battery life (marketing materials say 22.5 hrs). I run dual-boot Kubuntu and Win10 on it. Really like it.


I’m in the same boat and use the same MBP.

The MBP is by default already booting into Debian and its so much better than macOS. Every time I go back, it’s a nightmare.

My best bet (after looking around a lot) is the newest Lenovo x1 Carbon.


Do you miss the macOS shortcuts? I’m in the same boat as you (early 2013) and starting to looking more and more to X1 Carbon. The emacs-like system wide shortcuts is what I’m afraid of missing mostly.


hihi, funny that you would mention that you're afraid of the emacs-like shortcuts, because I gave this week a talk called "Play Emacs like an instrument"[1].

Honestly, under Linux, I'm using i3wm[2] as a Window Manager and Emacs (with evil-mode) for mostly everything else. Everything is accessible with shortcuts. I don't miss macOS for those and not for a whole lot of other things. The only thing I haven't found a better (that's subjective, of course) alternative, yet, is HDR photography editing.

1. http://200ok.ch/posts/2018-04-27_Play_Emacs_like_an_Instrume...


Same MBP here too. I recently replaced the hard drive with a SSD and I feel like it's going to last forever (meaning until the screen dies).


We just bought the Lenovo Ideapad 720S and it is competing directly with a lower end Macbook Pro. Stunningly beatiful as well. Not the retina screen but there's more expensives ones if you like that.


I'm wondering if anyone else here thinks that the time is ripe for a competitor to Mac OS X given Apple's missteps regarding the Mac as of late? I'm in the market for a new laptop to replace my dead 2013 MacBook Air, and I'm not pleased with any of Apple's laptop offerings at this time. I've been thinking about buying a ThinkPad 480 or HP EliteBook 830 G5, but this will mean transitioning to Windows 10 or Linux, which are still a step or two down from Mac OS X for me.

I wish there were an workstation-focused operating system out there that had the polish of Mac OS X but can run on a wide range of PCs. Since the demise of BeOS there hasn't been any new commercial operating systems for personal computers; it's just Windows, Mac OS X, or commercial Linux distributions. Personally it should be inspired by some of the best ideas of computing, ideas that were ahead of their time back when they first appeared but may be successful today if reimplemented and reintroduced the right way. I'm talking about some of the ideas of Smalltalk that didn't make its way into contemporary GUIs. I'm talking about Lisp machines such as the ones Symbolics made that ran the Genera environment. Take the ideas of such systems, then add something like Apple's OpenDoc to encourage the construction of small, composable GUI tools that developers could write, and then use tried-and-true UI guidelines like those from the Mac OS 8 era, and we would have an operating system that is extensible, has a consistent user interface conforming to tried-and-true guidelines, and supports programmable GUI workflows while also supporting the command line via some sort of REPL.


I feel you man.

There is a guy working on his own "open source" laptop, and his eventual goal is to have it run lisp all the way down:

http://mntmn.com/reform/


I hate to be that guy, but in my opinion, Apple has completely changed direction from the business of building general computers, to the business of building mobile devices. Also, it's a shame that they are sacrificing usability and durability to build the thinnest and lightest eye candy for coffeeshop crowd.


Apple pivoted their business to a business of luxury devices. Great tools isn't a target anymore unfortunately for professionals.


well I love the thinness of the 2013" pro macbooks (I own one). BUT it already has dust problems. too much dust means this machine gets slow as hell, but since it's accessible to open and to clean it's a no brainer.

However the new machines more look like toys, come with a higher price and have no benefits, the thiness is just too much. I mean the 2013" models have no weight compared to other 15" machines and it's already a heating machine. I'm sad that if apple won't make a 360° turn that it was my last macbook pro.


You know the MacBook Pro situation is bad when even the biggest cheerleaders of all-things-Apple say it's bad.

The now three year old 2015 model remains the best Mac laptop available, it's an upgrade in every way; a wonderful working keyboard, a hardware escape key, hardware function keys, no annoying Touch Bar, ports, MagSafe, no dongles needed, did I mention ports?

I genuinely hope Apple scraps the current models entirely and starts anew with the MacBook Pro, with the professional user actually in mind. They already have two consumer focused laptops, why did they screw up the pro?


I got a new laptop for work about 2 months ago and opted for the 2015 model MBP (mostly due to “legacy” external devices and not wanting to spend a bunch of money on dongles).

After all of these reviews coming out I’m really happy that I did.


Same here, bought a Apple refurbished 2015 15” last month - but now I have to worry about the display separation issue instead of the touchbar, keyboard and ports.


Agreed. I bought a 2017 and took it back because I vastly preferred my 2015.


I had to use my old 2012 MBP the other day after using the 2016 MBP since it was released, and the 2012 keyboard was a stunning improvement over the 2016.

Which is strange because I never thought the 2012 keyboard was exceptional.

Do any of you prefer the new keyboard?


I like the new keyboard, they keys feel more stable and I can generally type faster due to less travel.

However, the problems are real. My ‘t’ key gets stuck regularly. Some other keys have had problems as well. And I rarely use the keyboard (at work I connect a Microsoft Natural Keyboard). I have also heard that colleagues have stuck keys.

I think it is absolutely inexcusable for a laptop that was 1699 Euro new. I have been a Mac user for 10 years. But Apple’s inability and unwillingness to address the problem leaves a bad taste in my mouth. I am now also unlikely to recommend MacBooks until they fix this issue.


I do like the new keyboard too, but I think older was waaay more accurate.

Mine got replaced after one year use (and I got AppleCare immediately after that). Unfortunately after less than a month keys started to get stuck again and I do keep quite good hygiene around my computer.


> Do any of you prefer the new keyboard?

I actually love the way it _feels_. If they could get the same feel with normal reliability, it'd be the best keyboard ever IMO. But no key feel, no matter how good, is worth this ludicrous failure rate.


Folks may make fun of me, but I'm still pleased as can be with my 2016 MacBook Air. Maxed out on CPU, memory, and disk, it's plenty powerful for front-end development, and since I'm almost always connected to an external monitor, the lack of a Retina display is of little consequence.


You could've also chosen a non-Touch Bar MacBook Pro 2016/2017: Same weight as the MacBook Air, but smaller size, a Retina display, faster CPU, twice the amount of RAM possible and the option for a larger SSD. Downside is of course that it's more expensive than a MacBook Air.


The same stuff happened to me. I had stupidity to try to clean it myself and all this resulted in pricey repair and having to cope with a temporary laptop for a week.

My next laptop probably will be Dell.

P.S. For now, I use MacBook Pro 2015 but it getting more and more out of date. Especially after release of hex-core processors.


I thought I was going crazy, or maybe I was just messy or something. I've got a 2017 (maybe 6 months old), and I've lost 'u', 'c', and a couple other keys - they only work if I press down hard. I usually dock it, but it's super frustrating to use it _like a laptop_.


It's miserable, the new keyboard. 30+ years of having the escape key in the upper left hand corner for me, and for them to switch it over to an _offset_ touch escape key has driven me a little insane.


I have both a MBP and a Macbook, and the Macbook (2016) is even worse. Keys get stuck all the time, I get them lose using compressed air. Apple even has a page on it: https://support.apple.com/en-us/HT205662

PS: I like the feeling of the MBP keyboard.


> Apple even has a page on it: https://support.apple.com/en-us/HT205662

If you have to hold your 15" computer like a restaurant menu with one hand and a compressed air tank in the other - it is a very bad design.

Jobs would not tolerate this.


> Jobs would not tolerate this.

He's the guy who blamed a customer for holding the iPhone wrong instead of admitting the antenna design was poor, I could definitely see Jobs not accepting that people live with dust.


Keys stopping to work is one thing, but for me the Touch Bar and the screwed arrow keys are similarly disappointing. Apple should've seen this coming. What were they thinking?


> Keys stopping to work is one thing, but for me the Touch Bar and the screwed arrow keys are similarly disappointing. Apple should've seen this coming. What were they thinking?

It appears they weren't thinking.

The Touch Bar is a huge mystery to me and a colossal nuisance, who wants to look down at their fingers to type? Did we not spend our earliest computing years mastering touch typing specifically for the efficiency of NOT having to look down at your hands when typing? Growing up, our computer lab teacher would place a box over your hands to force you to memorize the key locations to drive home the point, and once memorization occurred it really clicked and WPM and general computing efficiency skyrocketed for everyone. So then comes the Touch Bar to solve no problem but instead introduce new problems, where your hands and fingers literally block the Touch Bar visibility from any normal usage viewing angle, meaning you have to move your hands away from the keyboard, then awkwardly poke around imprecisely with a single floating finger on a little tiny screen to hit "escape" or the "X" button to find the escape key or the brightness and audio output adjustments and other function keys. Did nobody at Apple test it out? Or even think it through? Where is their person to say "no" to what are clearly bad ideas?


I think it's a general Apple failure mode. They're so wrapped up in the idea of making something completely unheard of, that they overly weight novelty. Most of these "clearly bad ideas" aren't all that clear at the time. I don't think I ever thought the touchbar was going to be a positive addition to a laptop, but when it was announced, there sure were a lot of people who seemed convinced it would. You can make an argument for why it's great, and if your company culture is predisposed towards valuing novelty, you'll anchor to those arguments, and there isn't going to be one guy in the room who can say "no".

That same culture has obvious upsides as well; I'm not trying to just knock Apple as incompetent. I just think the flip side of that coin makes things like the TouchBar more likely to survive scrutiny there.


That's an interesting way to look at it, and the novelty factor may well have something to do with it.

I suppose Touch Bar just doesn't seem particularly novel to me though, many consumer level PC laptops used to have little touch bars as FN keys in the early and mid 2000s, and they were just as much of a hassle then which is probably why no manufacturer kept them around.


I never understood the hate for the touchbar. I found no decrease in productivity after remapping Escape to Caps Lock, and both the special options for applications and the more granular volume and brightness controls make it more enjoyable than having F-keys.


I find that having to look down at it to hit any of the "buttons" accurately is a huge decrease in productivity. I loved having play/pause right where it goes. Now I have to look at it, hit a button to go to a second level menu, then hit the button. AND it costs more money. That's not good.


If you plan to use capslock for anything else (some people do actually use it as caps-lock, and I have gotten used to it as an alternate Ctrl for Emacs use) it's definitely more of a pain.

I've yet to encounter a single good use for the touchbar, even the volume control is annoying to use. Especially since it's essentially impossible to hit without looking since there's no 'key feel', and I keep finding myself triggering touchbar actions because my fingers slightly overshoot the number or backspace key on occasion.

It'd be great as an optional addition above the F-keys, or even a little further away since it requires a concerted effort to use anyway.

Even the fact that the pretend 'escape' key doesn't properly operate all the way to the end of the bar (such that it might align with the keys below it) suggests it was far more about aesthetics or some weird notion of 'design' than actual usability.

Or I'm just not the right sort of Pro.


As others already mentioned the biggest pain point with the Touch Bar is, that you can't use it without looking at it. That's a major annoyance, especially if you use the function keys in your daily work.

Yet there is still a solution which would probably satisfy most users: A traditional function key row and an additional Touch Bar above.


I have a MacBook Pro (Retina, 15-inch, Late 2013) and the 'E' key has stopped functioning altogether.

I've been quoted between 15-250 to replace the keyboard. I haven't been able to leave the notebook at a shop yet but my workaround is to use it stationed connected to a Bluetooth keyboard.

I wonder if this issue is common with my model as well (not the butterfly mechanics i beleive)


I have the same MBP and the keyboard is still working great despite my taking exceptionally poor care of it (multiple drink spills). I've not heard any buzz about HW failure rates with that model so I think you might just be unlucky.


I have the 13" from mid 2014. After only about a year, one of the cursor keys developed a split, then broke. Now I have an area on the left side of the keyboard causing various keys to fail occasionally — the '2' in particular, the 'a' now also.

These issues are insignificant compared to the problems I've had with the screen coating; my first Mac laptop has been a pretty disappointing experience overall.


I still keep holding out for the MBP that probably won't appear (with lots of ports and a magsafe charging connection, and while I've never tried the newest keyboard, I love my current one). My current MBP is a mid-2010 (2009? maybe? can't remember), and it still runs great, especially after replacing the HDD with an SSD several years ago.

However, El Capitan is the last OSX that will install on it, and this year even the Turbotax software gave me a warning that their software for next year will not run on my system and I'll have to either get a newer one or use their web product.


I got a new, maxed MBP about 4 months ago. I hate the keyboard, and typically hook it up to my DAS Keyboard 4 Professional at work, but when I work from elsewhere I am constantly resting my fingertips on escape and “hey Siri” touch bar buttons, or the point that I’ve developed muscle memory to close Siri whenever I open it by mistake. Worst keyboard layout I’ve ever experienced. Not to mention there’s hardly any feedback in the switches (especially compared to my cherry Browns).


It happened to me. They had to replace the whole top case under warranty because a crumb got into the keyboard. And since I got it back I have been pretty careful but still it seems like one of the keys is starting to go. Thank goodness for AppleCare. Hope Apple fixes this in the next release.


As long as it's covered, I'd hope everyone is bringing them in for servicing and repair as often as necessary, since that seems like the only way they'll take any action, if it costs them enough in support and refurb costs.

Public outcry is nice, but unless it's actually stopping people buying them, I'm not sure it helps.


I absolutely loved my 2011 Air which always was a great combination for me with a linux server for all the heavy lifting.

This week I will somewhat begrudgingly swap out the Air for a 2015 15 inch MBP, hoping it will last me long.


One of my shift keys doesn't work reliably. I'm just waiting for the day when the other key and the caps lock also go dark and I won't be able to log in to my computer.


Curious to hear from anyone who has used these directly, not clamshelled for several months or more and have been keyboard issue free.


Daily use since July 2017 without issues.


My keys were getting stuck, but spraying a can of compressed air underneath the keys opened them up again


So in addition to a pack of dongles for basic connections, do you carry a can of compressed air in your pack as well?

Give me a break, Apple


Wow it must be bad.


Please link to the original article. https://theoutline.com/post/4277/dont-buy-the-new-macbook-pr... Linking to Gruber instead caused a bunch of confusion last time. https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=15499536


I think it's nortable and worth linking to the Gruber article, because he's usually a reliable apologist for any Apple screwups. When even he's saying it's bad, it's real fuckin' bad.




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