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MacBook Pro with faster performance and new features for pros (apple.com)
889 points by briandear 9 months ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 1173 comments

Biggest new feature they could add would be to not have an additional screen taking up battery life and shining in my face, unable to be dimmed with f.lux.

Maybe instead we could have a row of keys that provide some sort of function, and maybe a key that allows the user to escape. That would be a pretty useful feature that I can guarantee I would use dozens or hundreds of times a day.

I'm considering replacing my MacBook Pro soon, and I might have to drop macOS from my 3 OS lineup. I can't justify an expensive but locked down desktop machine, so if the laptops aren't meeting my needs either then goodbye Apple.

I had to replace my 2015 MBP last week, because the kb started failing (it wasn't one of the ones eligible for a free repair, sadly, and I can't live without a machine for however long it takes them to fix it anyway). I was really torn, because although I could reluctantly live without the function keys, the escape key is a complete dealbreaker.

After much debate I decided to take a chance on a surface book. I figured I'd try it, try and get my dev environment in a decent place, and see how I felt about windows after 30 days, with the idea that I might have to return it if things didn't work out. I'm 6 days in, and I can pretty safely say there's no way I'm going back to apple. Windows has managed not to suck at all, my dev environment is arguably better than what I had before, and I'm absolutely loving the machine itself. Most joyful new laptop experience in many years.

Really? Window sucks for me even before I log in first time, with stuff like "wait while we are setting you up, just relax...".

I switched to Linux and felt the same feeling you did though. Happiness to be back in a nice new system where I feel at home!

Not my experience. I have to use windows at work. Got ubuntu running in a vm. Buggy as shit.

- sharing screen in hangouts puts chrome on every virtual desktop so now you can't click on chrome to navigate to that desktop

- slack crashes silently every 24 hours

- virtual desktops is a mess, if one window overflows into another desktop, then when you click on that app ubuntu will take you to the desktop where you see the least amount of your application, usually just a few pixels on the top of the screen

- copy-paste sucks balls, in some applications it's ctrl-c in others its shift-ctrl-c and some applications will copy to clipboard if you select a string

- keyboard support is terrible, in intellij i can't type `or ´ or ~ but I can type all those in gedit and then i have to copy paste them over

- ctrl-a and ctrl-e don't work in most applications, even though these are old school shortcuts that work nearly everywhere on a mac

- installing applications is always terrible on ubuntu. You can install from their app-store, if that works (50/50 odds) but you can't get intellij there, or sublime. To install sublime I had to find a blog post with 4-5 steps I needed to do. For intellij I also found a blogpost, but when I need to upgrade intellij I couldn't find it anymore and had to delete everything inside my intellij folder and copy a new intellij in.

> installing applications is always terrible on ubuntu.

there are three main was of "installing applications on ubuntu":

1. main software repositories; this is essentially 1-click install (if you go through the software management application) 2. installing from a PPA (e.g. Sublime); this is 1-line copy/execute (add-apt-repository XYZ), then update (apt update) and 1-click install 3. rarely, you install binaries directly; this is a double click.

none of them is terrible. the vast majority of the Ubuntu/Debian linux software is provided and installed via 1. (update obsessed users use 2.), which is a much faster workflow than windows, and immensely safer.

If a software is fidgety in a version 3 installer, it has nothing to do with Linux, as it's almost exactly the counterpart of the typical windows installation, it's just badly packaged by the developer; binary installers are a small minority anyway.

> copy-paste sucks balls, in some applications it's ctrl-c in others its shift-ctrl-c and some applications will copy to clipboard if you select a string

this is not correct. Ctrl+C/V are the standard, the exception (not "some applications") being the terminal, because Ctrl+C has different semantics.

> keyboard support is terrible, in intellij i can't type `or ´ or ~ but I can type all those in gedit and then i have to copy paste them over

you may have a misconfigured keyboard. run the live version of ubuntu, test the keyboard with the installer, then configure the same on your installed system.

>> copy-paste sucks balls, in some applications it's ctrl-c in others its shift-ctrl-c and some applications will copy to clipboard if you select a string

> this is not correct. Ctrl+C/V are the standard, the exception (not "some applications") being the terminal, because Ctrl+C has different semantics.

I agree that it sucks (in a CMD shell). It's the reason I switched to a Mac when I became a developer. Maybe it's come a long way. I've heard good things about PowerShell, too, but honestly haven't played with it much.

As far as the Linux subsystem, I wouldn't use it for anything serious. It choked the first time I tried installing Elixir. I'd probably rely on a Vagrant VM running in VirtualBox (or whatever VM host makes the most sense on Windows).

When using the "Ubuntu Software" application I am shown results for snaps, as well as results from the apt repos. Creates a bit of confusion as to which one should be installed, even more so when version numbers vary between the two.

I use snaps for isolated software that I want more or less continuous stable updates for, apt for system components that'll stay on the same major version until I upgrade the OS.

I managed to install docker according to docker's own tutorial. Then 4 months later I get an update from ubuntu to upgrade my docker. I thought, that sounds about right....why not??? So after the "upgrade" I now had two different versions of docker installed at the same time in two different locations and neither of them wanted to start. That was a great start to my day and cost me an hour or so to fix.

I was a windows guy for many years before switching to OSX in 2006 (I actually worked for microsoft in the early 90's, but we all hated windows as much as the rest of the world, maybe moreso, because we had to develop on weekly builds). Therefore I have seen windows suck in a wide variety of ways, hence my desire to try it for 30 days and return it if needs be. In all my years in the windows world. I've never seen an app use anything other than ctrl-c/ctrl-v for copy paste (ok, I think you used to be able to do ctrl-ins, shift-ins, but that was optional), but the rest of your experiences sound quite plausible. I haven't run into any of them.

Also, I don't have to restart my wifi 5 times a day anymore, which is kind of a nice win.

EDIT: Oops, I thought these were complaints about windows (highly plausible!). actually it's unix under windows. Apologies.

Does ctrl c work in a terminal window, either cmd, powershell or putty?

Well, Windows only had Ctrl-Break for the thing you were thinking about, and it's probably still true.

Just tried it in cmd, powershell, and cmder, and it worked in all three. Don't have putty.

I know classic Linux defense bullshit but these all aren't typical 'Linux issues'.

I can only guess the desktop you used but I assume we talk about Unity/Wayland. Ubuntu removed Unity meanwhile for the Way cleaner Gnome Shell (however I don't know if they have some custom bullshit in there again)

Shortcuts are often miss configured on system level. I noticed nonsense issues therelike as well on Ubuntu.

There are highly different software repository concepts like pacman and the AUR on arch where you have a package selection right there you could never experience anywhere else.

What I am trying to say is that there is no one Linux, I don't like vanilla Ubuntu. However having used any OS in the recent years I love going back to MY Linux.

Edit:// oh the shortcuts are also likely due to the VM I just realized

He also complains about a Chrome bug, a Slack bug, and an IntilliJ bug. 3rd parties doing no QA and not respecting UX conventions on the most popular distro is a problem, but not really with Linux.

Kind of missing the point, when he/she is simply talking about the day-to-day experience of using the OS.

2 out of three are proprietary software that you pay for and all 3 have free alternatives that are better.

He's also running unknown version of Ubuntu, probably old, that he doesn't know how to use properly. Odds are really great he's one of those that pastes unknown terminal commands from blog posts to achieve goals he doesn't quite understand and his install is screwed up in some way that would require hours of troubleshooting or 30 minutes to install over top of.

Its like reading an analysis of Chinese quisine written by a guy who only buys past date 99c frozen dinners.

That CTRL+SHIFT+C thing in Gnome Terminal/Ubuntu (and some others) has driven me nuts for years!!! yes, I get that CTRL+c means something different in the context of shell execution. But it's still maddening.

Use the mouse to select and middle click to paste. Right-click copy if you want the primary clipboard.

Middle click to paste is an unrelated thing that drives me up the wall in Linux. Many of the programs I use on a daily basis have specific actions triggered by a middle click that I use often, but if I miss my target and hit a text area instead, it injects whatever I had in my clipboard into the text, often without me realizing it until later. (In one instance, my clipboard contents made it into an email I sent out. Thankfully, it was minor enough that it just looked like a typo, but it could have been much worse.)

Unfortunately, I'm not aware of any way to turn off this behavior.

I have no mouse!!! (I'm a keyboard only type)

I Have No Mouse, and I Must Scream


gpm FTFW!

I have a similar setup at work, albeit Ubuntu VM in a Mac OS host (I don't like Mac OS). A lot of these sound like VM issues. For example - the copy to clipboard if you select a string. That's how your VM is "sharing" the clipboard between the VM and the host. Try highlighting a string in the VM and then hitting paste in a text editor in the host and you'll see what I mean.

Are you using VMWare Fusion or Parallels or ??

> - ctrl-a and ctrl-e don't work in most applications, even though these are old school shortcuts that work nearly everywhere on a mac

The shortcuts for text fields on Windows are not consistent either, are they?

I am very used to the organization of shortcuts on macOS, especially those for text editing. Strangely, that's what I miss on Linux the most now. However, it's probably easier to provide them to users when there is only one mainstream GUI toolkit (and, for instance, in Office for mac some of those shortcuts don't work).

I have been running Ubuntu or derivatives on a laptop for the past 6 years and I rarely had any issues at all. Rock solid and fast.

"Got ubuntu running in a vm. Buggy as shit."

I have 3 different distros running on as many machines all work fine and one is based on ubuntu LTS. Probably what you should be running but whatever.

"- keyboard support is terrible, in intellij i can't type `or ´ or ~ but I can type all those in gedit and then i have to copy paste them over"

Do you really believe people have this issue? Do you think we all have emailed ourselves documents full of all the characters are OS are too broken to recognize? Something is screwed up about how your vm or your vm software is configured that you are blaming on the OS. I have used over a dozen distros in a multitude of versions and none had any problem with hitting a key and having a character appear on the screen.

"virtual desktops is a mess, if one window overflows into another desktop, then when you click on that app ubuntu will take you to the desktop where you see the least amount of your application, usually just a few pixels on the top of the screen"

This sounds sub-optimal but may I suggest you keep windows on one screen. Most environments provide a hotkey to move a window to a certain screen and many provide hotkeys to resize it to either fill the entire screen or some portion thereof like the left/right/top/bottom half or just drag the window all the way onto the screen you intend to use it on.

Personally I prefer the way i3wm handles virtual desktops. They are PER monitor. Optimally you just assign each workspace to a particular output. Example 1-5 on left monitor 6-0 on right and switch a given output and to a given workspace with one click of super or cmd + number.

Want to view your chat app on the right monitor while leaving your browser alone on the left cmd + 7. Its also substantially lightweight which means it would work better on a vm.

The great thing about it is that there isn't ONE way to handle virtual desktops there are a bunch of different environments available one of which probably works optimally for you.

"- ctrl-a and ctrl-e don't work in most applications, even though these are old school shortcuts that work nearly everywhere on a mac"

Many applications are configurable but honestly different environments different conventions this isn't a bug its just a difference.

"- installing applications is always terrible on ubuntu. You can install from their app-store, if that works (50/50 odds) but you can't get intellij there, or sublime. To install sublime I had to find a blog post with 4-5 steps I needed to do. For intellij I also found a blogpost, but when I need to upgrade intellij I couldn't find it anymore and had to delete everything inside my intellij folder and copy a new intellij in."

Installing applications is fantastically easy and works every single time. Most common stuff is available in the repo and you can apt install foo or use the gui if you like.

Most less common stuff is available in a 3rd party repo. If you need such the workflow is google ppa somesoftware note the ppa involved and run

add-apt-repository ppa:something apt-get update apt install foo

if you get bored and want to automate that in fish

    function ppa
	 sudo add-apt-repository ppa:$argv
         sudo apt-get update
         if [ $argv[2..-1] ]
              sudo apt install $argv[2..-1]
ppa someaddress somesoftware bam installed

example want newer gimp

ppa otto-kesselgulasch/gimp gimp

When you say it works 50/50 you don't mean that it fails half the time you mean that it installs almost all things just fine save for a few quite frankly mediocre poorly chosen apps that you simultaneously actually pay money for but don't get good support for your environment.

This is probably because your environment is some 7 year old version of ubuntu that is similar to what your servers are running. Seriously the last time I installed intelij I just had to unzip an archive, add to path, and tell it where to get java. This "Install" in /opt actually survived multiple distros and worked without complaint.

Shockingly the instructions you found on the internet probably didn't cover the case of running new sofware on an obsolete base.

Ubuntu 16.04 LTS is what I'm running. Set it up about 9 months ago. Nothing special, haven't configured much expect hosts and the number of virtual desktops (which requires googling and special terminal commands to do, why is there no setting for this in the UI when it's a UI feature???)

Then I guess it runs Unity and when it comes to Unity I'll personally agree with some of the criticism:

Ubuntu Unity was always too opinionated and lacked the necessary UX testing IMO. (Yep, they seemed to have tested it, but not on enough power users; some power users (a lot of them around here it seems) love Unity. Others like me find it a producrivity disaster, probably for some of the same reasons as you found.

That said, a lot of the rest seems like a mix of misunderstandings and broken config either in the host or in the VM.

> ctrl-a and ctrl-e

what the hell does ctrl-e do?

Emacs shortcuts for beginning and end of line.

Thus also shell/generic readline shortcuts.

They're analogous to Home and End.

the only viable linux platform remaining is the one loosely organised and licensed around the world called "Android". with recent advances in ARM64 chips and extremely fast processors some OEM's are releasing desktop modes for android. Its truly the final frontier of linux, hopefully this idea can aleviate those issues you've had with linux. Applications work consistently on Android although there is still the app gap of stuff not yet ported onto google play store.

I was extremely unsatisfied with the promise and then the delivery of my surface pro, ended up selling it to a friend with lighter computing needs. The touch bar macbook seems pretty useful itself considering how insanely good its IO is (4 thunderbolt ports!!!). I haven't been able to use it as much and im waiting for better eGPU options to come out.

in the mean time I'm stuck just like you in the world of linux. My primary desktop pc for the past 9 months was my galaxy note 8 with a usb c to hdmi adapter. it has an incredible chromebook like UI when docked and has all the linux tools i need! I've even been able to write an app and submit it to the app store all from there. You really cant go back after you've tried one device life and it makes filming and editing content for my youtube channel seamless since video never leaves the 256gb SD card inside my phone.

Huawei has a similar mode and i cant wait for google to support it. they do natively support windowed mode and moving apps freely but i mean just add a chromebook ui to the screen when u dock a pixel 3 and you will be golden :)

> The touch bar macbook seems pretty useful itself considering how insanely good its IO is (4 thunderbolt ports!!!)

Can a machine have "insanely good IO" if dongles are required for everything from iPhones to hard drives to memory cards? I could agree that a machine with 4 thunderbolt ports on top of the regular complement of power, USB-A, and SD slots would be insanely great. But I'm living the dongle life and not loving it.

A machine can have "insanely good IO" if you're not judging it in the context of older hardware, yes.

Four thunderbolt ports is great. One adapter to plug in all of the things you mentioned is also great. iPhones and hard drives don't need dongles, they just need cables. A USB-C to USB-B 3.1 cable is $1.33 from Monoprice; USB 2.0 version is just $1.12. Not too shabby.

For iPhones: the only times I've had to plug my iPhone into my laptop is doing development, but a cable for that only costs $20.

But let's compare it to the previous (2015) MacBook Pro: two USB ports and two Thunderbolt-and-Displayport ports, and HDMI. Five ports total, but no flexibility. Our office was full of DP-to-DVI dongles already, so swapping one dongle for another seems like a no-op. Difference now is that we can buy USB-C monitors which also serve as a power source and a USB hub, meaning one cable to plug in my entire desk. That's something you can't really get on the old MacBooks (at least, not without spending a lot more than it costs to do it on the new MacBooks.

So yeah, the machine has "insanely good IO", and once the rest of the world catches up it'll be even better.

I feel that these discussions are always going back and forth because TB3 is a fantastic docking station port, and a niche port for everything else, so both sides are right. Comparing the 2016+ port selection to the 2015 one is a false dichotomy created by Apple. The straightforward upgrade path would have been to replace TB2 by TB3, like they did on the iMacs.

Exactly. There's nothing wrong with TB3 as a connectivity option, but it shouldn't be the only option.

I understand the desire to make the machine thin, which means the old USB had to go. But taking out the SD card slot makes it seem like they don't want you to have an easy way to add more onboard (-ish) storage space.

>So yeah, the machine has "insanely good IO", and once the rest of the world catches up it'll be even better.

I mean, that's the thing. Apple jumped ahead, and USB-C just isn't common. (At least, for me. I can't name any device I've used or even heard of that uses USB-C.) So, it's a less than practical option if you're in the market for a laptop, not so much insanely good.

I wouldn't buy a computer with only serial and parallel ports because none of my devices use them, and I wouldn't buy a computer with only USB-C ports, because none of my devices use them.

I actually have a few devices now that are usb-c now. Pixel phone, Mavic Air and GoPro Fusion are top of mind.

Though to be fair the Mavic Air controller charges with micro USB

I'm mid-transition. Nintendo Switch is USB-C, which joins the Macbook in new connector land.

USB-C to X cables solve most of the problems, but I have a 3-port USB-C to USB-A dongle for legacy stuff ...

> if dongles are required for everything from iPhones

I never understood this complaint. AFAIK, I've never seen a macbook with a lightning port or the older 13-pin iphone port. If someone had an iphone, they had a USB-A to lighnting cable. Now they need a USB-C to lightning cable. Then you can use the macbook to charge your phone, or the usb-c charger that charges your laptop to charge your phone. Or yes, you can get a usb-c to usb-a dongle - but you can just as easily get the appropriate cable. I'm also seeing that Apple is going to start producing usb-c chargers for iphones and ipads (with a usb-c to lightning cable) in the near future.

I'm a macbook + android user, so I've had USB-C phones for a while, so now I can use the same cable and charger for my laptop or my phone.

> If someone had an iphone, they had a USB-A to lighnting cable. Now they need a USB-C to lightning cable.

iPhones don't come with these, so it basically means you have to go out and buy another cable, which won't work with any of the wall charger power bricks that came with your previous iPhones. I understand a change needs to be made at some point, but it's strange for Apple to ship computers with no ports that are compatible with their iPhones.

iPhone syncs on WiFi to Mac. I do not charge my phone with my laptop. I have an inductive charger on my desk at home, desk at work, table next to bed. I just set the phone on it.

I guess that works great for people who spend hundreds of dollars on inductive chargers!

I work in many environments and just bring a charge cable with me.

Of course, the iphone was just one of many things that I was noting isn’t compatible. External hard drives? Thumb drives? SD cards? All easily plugged into my previous Apple laptop, but require a dongle here. I have a mini-hub, but even that isn’t great because it can’t charge anything.

Anker Wireless Charger Charging Pad for iPhone 8 / 8 Plus, iPhone X, Galaxy Note 5, S7/S7 Edge/S6/S6 Edge/S6 Edge Plus, Nexus 4/5/6/7, LG G3 and Other Devices

$9.99 on Amazon. So I spent $30.

Glad they're cheap now! I stand corrected on that point. Curious to know your thoughts on the question of hard drives etc. Seems to me like Apple jumped the gun here.

Eh, is what it is. I recently swapped my MacBook Pro with TB for a MacBook. The HD is plugged into the Apple (LG) 4K. It runs at USB2 in this setup. I duplicated the same keyboard, mouse, monitor, HD at work and at home. I like 1 cable and the smaller size of the monitor given the resolution works fine. For me, the size and weight of the laptop was key due to 150K miles a year on a plane. Does the rsync of the HD to the home NAS take longer, yup. Does it matter, no. It’s a script that runs when the device is plugged in, in the background. If I need to do heavy lifting, CPU, compile, etc, I ssh to a rack of build servers in a colo. 3 racks of 48 cores a blade with a huge SSD NAS and 10G or 25G NICs sort everything. It is really about YOUR workflow and what works for you. My laptop is pretty much a window to google docs and for everything technical it is pretty much the same as a dumb X terminal. It works for me as my goal workflow is always the same no matter where I am.

> If someone had an iphone, they had a USB-A to lighnting cable. Now they need a USB-C to lightning cable.

The problem is that when they purchased the iPhone, it came with said cable.

I purchased an iPhoneX this year and it comes with, you guessed it, a USB-A cable. So in order to connect it to my new Apple laptop I need to buy either a $20 cable or a special dongle? If Apple wants to go all in on USB-C then they shouldn’t still be shipping their top of the line “futuristic” phone with USB-A cables.

But obviously they already know that they would have gotten many dissatisfied customers complaining about having to buy a cable just to ‘connect their phone to their iTunes’ if they did that.

You wrote a native mobile app on a Galaxy Note 8 and submitted it to the App Store? Can you tell us what was your workflow and tool set?

Termux emulates Zsh for me and gives access to apt-get. so I installed nodejs through apt and made the project with react native and expo. compiling the binary for uploading to Google Play Store was a tricky step and I hope to improve the workflow in the future but for now had to cheat. Expo.io provides a build service for free where they will compile and sign your app for you.

ideally i need to get a copy of OpenJDK installed and build with gradle but this was much easier.

Expo also allows you to build an iOS blob from Android entirely assuming you have a way to get it onto an iphone through testflight.

I'd be interested to read a write-up of this.

Maybe React Native?

Yeah, I looked at the pros too. I don't think they were powerful enough for me, and I went with the SB2 instead.

My Windows machine at home is awful. Every time I go to boot it up, I have to wait another 5 minutes for it to… whatever it does, finish windows updates I assume.

I shut it down before a trip to Montreal; two weeks later I came back and it wouldn't boot. No idea why. Had to restore from a previous system snapshot and re-install a bunch of drivers and windows updates.

It's a lot better than it was, but there's still strange, ridiculous stuff that crops up seemingly out of nowhere.

My windows machine at home is always on, it's 6 years old and it's great. The only thing that has gone wrong is the motherboard failed, I replaced that and it's still chugging along quite nicely!

I cut my teeth on Windows with Microsoft Visual Studio Basic in the 2000s, then Windows/Dev-Cpp because of poor MSVC++ support for some C++ features I thought I needed at the time, switched to Mac/Vim, then had a 6ish year stent with Ubuntu and Vim as an IDE. But then a botched upgrade from 14.04 LTS to 18.04 LTS lead to a few frustrating hours of my time to get X to even load. I'll never see that time again. Now I'm back on Windows, and somehow have drudged along without installing Cygwin yet, although that's coming. Developing Java has been a pleasant experience with IntelliJ IDEA. The GUI use is taking getting used too-- but configuring IDE things like language servers is mostly automagic and have very reasonable defaults. The biggest issue I've had is Windows upgrades requiring random restarts completely interrupting my workflow. But, overall, rediscovering Windows has been a pleasant experience for me too.

Check out Windows subsystem for Linux - you can almost certainly skip cygwin entirely and run the same binaries you like from Ubuntu.

Is there some missing repository you need to add to the Windows Ubuntu? Every time I've tried to install some one-off tool Stackoverflow has suggested (yesterday it was ncftp, the other day it was some ssh configuration, ifconfig isn't there) apt can't find it.

it's the same userland as "real" Ubuntu, so apt will give you the same results on both.

Perhaps do a "sudo apt-get update" (updates the local resources of apt, not the packages themselves) so that when you do a "apt search" or "show" in the future it has something to show?

I hear I could even run i3.... I can't wait to give this a shot.

Filesystem performance is a bit crap and you can't run Docker in Windows Home, but otherwise I found WSL pretty great. The Docker thing finally turned into a dealbreaker for me though, so after about two years of WSL I'm back to linux.

The lack of Docker support with WSL stopped me in my tracks too, or I'd have probably moved back to windows as my daily driver. I don't enjoy dual-boot for gaming as I only game occasionally and have to deal with a backlog of windows updates when I do.

> but configuring IDE things like language servers is mostly automagic and have very reasonable defaults.

What does configuring IDE things have to do with Windows? Wouldn't IntelliJ have the same reasonable defaults on Linux and macOS? Or is it a different product somehow (haven't used it myself.)

Good point, IntelliJ has first class support for Linux, Windows and Mac.

> upgrades requiring random restarts completely interrupting my workflow

You'll never see that time again.

Indeed, but you can do other work while Redmond holds your computer captive.

Surface Book is really great; I quite liked my SOs surface. I decided to go with an XPS 13 and have been incredibly happy.

I was considering the XPS series myself. Heard great things about it. Are you running windows or unix?

I just moved from an XPS to a surface book and I'd say if you can afford it go for the surface book, it's everything I liked about the XPS but with a detachable keyboard and a pen extra.

How does it compare to the XPS 2-in-1 models? The 3:2 aspect ratio seems tempting (even if slightly lower resolution) as does the battery life. Pen support should be quite comparable (wacom AES vs N-Trig), I guess? Reviews said batterylife with the screen detached is very short?

The big drawback for me for the surface book would seem to be the subpar support for other OSs.

I can't compare to XPS myself, but:

Pen support is better than the original surface pro's, which I believe were wacom. Hard to pin that on pen tech vs OS improvements, though. The pen needing a Quad-A battery is a bit annoying, but they're not too hard to find, and just one lasts a long time.

Battery life with a detached screen is short, but you'll only really need it detached if you're walking around with it. If you're sitting or lying down, you can just attach it backwards and fold it back onto the keyboard. Heavier, but not to the point of annoyance, and it gives it a nice tilt for reading things if it's on a desk.

Battery life with the keyboard attached is incredible, especially if you can dim the monitor a bit and run in battery saving mode. (The battery saver mode does have a pretty significant perf hit, though). Just don't try to use it at full speed, at least with an i7 and discrete GPU - I can kill my battery in under 2 hours if I try to run something like a graphics-intensive game. For dev stuff I've never had a problem.

Multi-OS support is probably an issue, though WSL does seem to do a pretty good job of most things.

Check Costco. I bought an XPS 15 with 32gb ram for 1800 last winter.

Windows because I use it primarily for gaming/light browsing when away from my desktop, VM for other things. I bought it when I injured my leg and couldn't easily get up to my office.

XPS is great. Runs Linux very well.

Source? I can only find articles of people complaining that they can not get the switchable graphics to work or can get it to work and have horrible battery life. This guy (https://medium.com/@kemra102/linux-on-the-dell-xps-15-919e6d...) tried 11 linux distributions and describes his experience as "horrible".

I heard it's super loud and the fan is running very much. Dell also seem to have very low quality.

I can't speak to the 15" versions, but my XPS13 (onboard graphics only) runs KDE Neon beautifully with no noise or build quality issues.

It's probably my favorite work laptop to date. The only minor gripe is that I haven't been able to find a good combination of settings to prevent accidental touchpad activation while typing.

People also often mention coil whine which I haven't noticed on this model, the 15" might be different.

You can control fan activation with power control utilities like powertop.

I don't know why you think Dell is "very low quality". I've seen Dell laptops last for years under heavy usage.

What are you using for the terminal? I just started a new job with a Windows desktop provided and I can't get much done on it because every terminal emulator I can find sucks compared to iTerm 2 on my MBP, so much that I'm going in to IT to beg them to let me use it, or at least let me dual-boot Ubuntu. Bash on Windows has no way to add solarized light/dark or groovebox themes, much less switch between them daily like I like to do when I get stuck on something and need to see it differently. Also the Windows bash home is a no-mans-land once you want to open something up with Atom on Windows. Directories I make in Bash don't show up in File Explorer once I spend 5 minutes navigating to the right place. Font rasterizing and color-coding is awful too, on the native Bash, CMDR, and Hyper.JS. It's so frustrating.

Cmder - http://cmder.net

Then get chocolatey

I prefer this one.


It runs on Windows too, but I prefer it on Mac, as I don't like the Windows font rendering on HiDPI displays.

App is Hyper, https://hyper.is

You want the builds that use xterm.js from VS Code, their performance is much, much more like iTerm/Terminal.app.

Color scheme is Ocean Dark, from the hyperterm-base16-ocean-dark plugin.

Shell is ZSH, using prezto and a hacked up custom prompt.

Font is a custom build of Iosevka Term, weight bold, 13px. Using Greyscale font rendering, not subpixel, on Mojave DP3.


Commands for custom build:

make custom-config design='v-zero-dotted v-asterisk-low v-tilde-low v-underscore-low v-at-short v-brace-straight term' weights='book medium'

make custom && make custom-web

If you're not on Mojave, you can force the rendering to look like that for Hyper with this command:

defaults write co.zeit.hyper.helper AppleFontSmoothing -int 0

Otherwise it will be a bit heavy.

An Electron-based terminal emulator... I've seen it all!

I know, this was my first reaction too!

Yet, the customizability rocks, and since xterm.js now renders using Canvas, performance is decent, and with my incoming MBP 32GB, I can afford the memory hit even more!

Although installing the plugins is asking for your fans to spin up.

If you really want to start making old-timey admonitions, check out https://www.npmjs.com/package/hyperpower :)

I use a fairly customized ConEmu.

I actually just got a new Dell XPS and took the opportunity to setup my shell exactly the way I wanted it.


I use psreadline, oneget, conemu, powershell, oh-my-posh and posh-git.

You shouldn't use windows to access the WSL filesystem, there are several issues with that (which I believe are being worked on). If you want files accessible from both put them in the Windows filesystem. Regarding themes I can't help that much, I have successfully solarized vim though. I needed:

  let g:solarized_termcolors=256
  set term=screen-256color
  set t_ut=

If you're like me you're stuck in an older version of Windows 10 where WSL has serious bug the most recent version are very stable but if your work has you stuck on an old build it might not work well.

WSL with ZSH and WSL terminal https://github.com/goreliu/wsl-terminal. Simply Rocks!

I opted for a Xiaomi laptop. Best purchase I ever made. Amazing build quality, out of the box compatibility with Linux, great hardware specs. I can't believe that near MBP clone only set me back 550€.

How does the trackpad on the Xiaomi compare with the MBP? I'm considering buying a cheaper MBP alternative and running Linux on it but I don't want to be carrying an external mouse around with me.

Hey, what was wrong with your keyboard? Was the trackpad also not working when you had keyboard problems?

You may have had a common issue with the 2015 Macbook Pros, literally tens of thousands of people have Googled that problem on Youtube. Apple won’t admit that it’s a problem with hose models but if you take it to an Apple Store they’ll conveniently take $500 to replace the keyboard.

Anyways it’s an introduced bug due to a design flaw in the models released in 2015. They placed the ribbon cable flat on top of the battery on those models, and when the battery heats up and expands, as it does, it damages the ribbon cable. Prior models had the ribbon cable avoiding the battery by going around it. You can fix it yourself by replacing the ribbon cable. The ribbon cable costs $10 online and it’s the first thing you see when you open up the macbook, you don’t have to dig to get to it. No special equipment needed besides the screws to get the Macbook open.

For awhile the 'e' key was only working about 90% of the time. Then it began working about 120% of the time, so I had to remap it to nothing, move the 'e' to the backslash, and plug in an external keyboard. The trackpad and all the rest of the keys were working just fine. I usually replace machines every three years or so anyway, so the key issue was just the trigger. Thank you for your advice. Do you think that might be the issue, given that the trackpad worked fine?

Intermittent keyboard problems are the early signs. But I haven’t heard of it affecting just a single key.

The trackpad and keyboard both use the ribbon cable, so when it fails completely, both the trackpad and keyboard will stop responding.. With the exception of the power button.

It’s a toss-up if it’s the same issue with only one key being unresponsive. Could just be a bad key. But I’d give it a shot since it’s only a $10 fix with a t6 screwdriver. Or if you want, mail it to me and I’ll fix it and use the laptop as a secondary computer to run my data visualization computations =D

Heh... the current plan is to hold onto it as a backup (in case windows decides to rise up and ruin me in a couple months) and just use it with an external kb.

Trading a touchbar escape key for Windows? As a Mac user that uses Vim, that touchbar escape seems easy to adapt to compared to adapting to an entirely different OS (and Windows at that!)

I recall when touchbar first launched, someone on HN pointed out that Esc is a poor way to use Vim anyway and there are far better mappings. I swapped to Ctrl-[ before I even had a new MBP and much prefer it. The “Esc problem” is a drastic reason to throw your whole hardware/OS stack our the window IMO.

Caps-lock could work too. As a weird ctrl+c vimmer I probably wouldn't notice. I think my uses of escape in the past year fall into two categories:

- Ctrl-shift-esc (opens the task manager in Windows), and

- Trying to close dialogs when I'm not sure which button is "go away".

As a long time emacs user, I've always had cap-locks mapped as my control key (plus the emacs key-bindings work in html forms and in anything using gnu deadline) which is a bonus. So on my MBP with touch-bar, I have had this mapping so I can have a physical ESC key:


It's not great, but it works. The last time I had to deal with a company who put the ESC key in a weird place was back in college where we have several of these HP Apollo/720 keyboards:



Escape key is non negotiable. Sorry, you won't change my mind on that point.

My sense of the comment was not that he was trying to change your mind, but rather saying it seems unusual to be so fixated on the escape key that nothing else matters.

Having said that, yes, Apple should allow individuals to, for example, always require the touch bar to provide an escape key (or any other key) on the far left (or anywhere else on the touch bar). The user should get to control what the touch bar does through an easy and powerful interface and API (so third parties can extend the capabilities). Can we even make touch bar keys act as new meta keys? That would rule! The benefit of the Apple approach is that even if this has not been done yet, it's all software: it could be done.

As far as Windows, I guess it must come down to which features are important to you, and personal taste. I use Windows a lot, and have owned a Surface Pro, and boy I hated it. The very, very best thing about Windows is the Linux compatibility layer, and even that's not as good as if it were a real Unix-like platform all the way down.

I am indeed glad you're happy with your laptop (seriously; not sarcasm), but I've been there, done that, and hated it.

I wouldn't say I'm so fixated on the escape key that nothing else matters. The base OS matters a great deal! I pursued three lines at this particular fork in the road, I considered buying a 2016 MBP, a refurb or whatever, I considered switching to unix on whatever hardware (leant toward dell XPS), and I considered a windows box, with unix living underneath, somehow. The first option just seemed crazy to me, perhaps irrationally, but making my new machine a two year old machine just felt wrong, the second option could have mostly worked, except that I really need excel, and I really want ableton. I decided to give the third option a try, thanks to the money back guarantee, and I'm amazed at the improvement.

I suffered the temporary pain of switching to OSX in '06 because I'm not religious about these things, and at that time macbooks running OSX were providing an exceptional environment for devs like me. It was a hard transition, but after a couple of months I was (mostly) fine. A fair amount has changed in the world in 12 years, and I'm no longer convinced that OSX inherently provides the best environment for a dev. I figured give windows a shot and see how it goes. It took me 24 hours to get the machine in a state where I could work as before (this would have been impossible on a windows box in 2006), and the question now becomes, why would I go back? It's only been a week, so perhaps windows will show me why very soon, but my gut feeling is it won't.

Also worth considering, is that from about 2000 onwards, apple was catering to open source focussed devs, at the exact moment that microsoft was making their lives impossible. I think that trend may have been reversed. Every upgrade to OSX for the past six years or so has represented more pain than pleasure for me. YMMV, but microsoft's offerings, even when flawed seem to be headed in the right direction.

As far as the comment, yeah, I was a little snarky I suppose, but a common response to complaints about the lack of an escape key is "you don't actually need one". I'm sorry, but I do. Ok, I don't need one. but I really want one, and this is a laptop we're talking about, and I use it as a laptop most of the time. I also want ports, a headphone jack, etc. But the escape key is for me the last straw, and enough of an incentive to actually look on the other side of the fence, which I've avoided doing for 12 years. I like what I see there.

Yeah, I thought it would be bad, but it is not.

The key actually extends to the edge of the touchbar even though the graphic for it does not.

it goes beyond the displayed icon certainly, but definitely not to the physical extent of the whole bar, for at least mine and another that I've tried.

There's at least 2-3mm of dead space on the LHS of the bar.

I thought the same thing until I actually used it. Turned out to not be that big of a deal.

I feel your pain. You can remap caps lock, basically a useless key, to escape, however.

Sadly I already remap caps-lock to ctrl. Don't worry though, this SB2 is so nice I'm no longer feeling any pain. Literally my only complaint about it so far is that the headphone jack is in the wrong place (it's on the edge of the screen in the upper right, which is sort of an odd place for a wire to be coming out. It should be on the lower edge either left or right.)

> Sadly I already remap caps-lock to ctrl

You can do both. Have it act as ctrl when held (for shortcuts) and as Esc when released on its own:


I presume there is similar software for windows.

> Sadly I already remap caps-lock to ctrl.

What about your ctrl key? You could remap that to esc.

It's a pain to reach. And now that I have an escape key, no need.

I left Mac for a Surface Book a couple of years ago. It was a challenge at first. Largely because of WSL speed, but that has been mostly fixed now (test suite may be a few seconds longer, but it isn't 10x longer)

I am browsing the thread out of FOMO and don't feel any urge to switch back.

I hear you. The little annoyances are far outweighed by the positives. Even the display seems crisper which I didn't expect over a retina display. WSL is not amazing performance, but it's probably about the same (the machine itself is faster, phoenix under WSL is not. Perhaps that's the perf issue at play)

Not yet hit by a friendly update reboot in the middle of an important compilation are we?

I use Cloud9 for 100% of my dev needs. It made switching to a Surface Book pretty easy.

Cloud9 is an amazing product that isn't very publicized. Makes developing right on AWS easy.

kb? Are people really abbreviating the word keyboard with "kb" now?


What’s your dev environment look like?

So my main concern was being able to easily run elixir/erlang, with some flavor of unix as a production target. Therefore running natively on windows was, at best, a nice to have. On OSX I could just work in the native environment, since it's unix, albeit a bit of a peculiar unix with the occasion random odd thing installed to trick me. On windows I've found two possible solutions so far. The first is Ubuntu installed under WSL. I've heard people complain that WSL doesn't always work, but so far I've had no issues. easily installed elixir, erlang, npm and vim. Phoenix works no problem. I installed elixir natively on windows as well, just to see if I could, and again, no problems at all, and it works fine. I'm using cmder, which gives you a much more unix-like command environment. Chocolatey is the equivalent of homebrew, and actually seems to be superior, or at least more complete. ("choco install chrome", "choco install spotify", kinda handy). I'm mostly a vim guy, but I'm not religious about that. Neovim worked fine in WSL, so that's all good for now. Might give vscode a shot, as it has some nice elixir plugins.

Finally, I installed vagrant under windows, with virtualbox. I haven't used that before, but I think it could provide another alternative dev environment in case WSL turns out to be unreliable. My ultimate fallback plan was always to use vmware or similar and just run unix for dev, windows for things like excel, but my feeling is I'm not going to have to do that.

not sure if shill !

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I know it's trendy to hate on the touchbar... but for what it's worth, I personally find it more useful than the old function keys.

Most mac apps don't use function keys as shortcuts, so the old keyboard ended up being used for media keys (volume, brightness, play/pause, etc.).

The touch bar gives me a better version of that (I actually get a volume slider), plus more apps actually make use of that space to provide useful shortcuts now. And the scrub bar for media playback is really great when you have audio playing in the background.

Yes, you lose tactile feedback. But battery life doesn't seem to be a big problem. At least for me, it's been net positive.

> I know it's trendy to hate on the touchbar

The touchbar hate is not trendy. It's based in specific complaints.

If, on the balance of how you evaluate the problems and benefits of the touchbar, it's useful for you, great. That doesn't mean the primary reason people express a distaste for the touchbar is essentially a social fashion.

I didn't mean to imply that the concerns were unfounded. I know there are real, legitimate complaints with the touchbar.

At the same time, I just wanted to point out that there are at least some developers who do prefer it, and that the dislike isn't universal.

So maybe a nice compromise would be having both... having a touchbar that can be customized in addition to a standard set of function keys.

Or one model with and one model without. I don't like the touchbar (keys move around and change size depending on context, escape can be triggered by touching areas outside of the escape key, touch bar locks up / crashes) but I'm largely indifferent to it. My primary complaint is the awful butterfly keyboard itself. There's too little travel, the keyboard itself is far too delicate (only took a few weeks for the spacebar to start crapping out on my 2016), and the layout is subpar.

My mid-2012 MPB is in need of a replacement, but the butterfly keyboard is a dealbreaker. I'm not thrilled with the touch bar, generally supportive of USB-C (although I miss magsafe), will tolerate the glossy screen and oversized trackpad, and don't give two hoots about the fingerprint reader. If Apple could see fit to provide a current gen MBP with a proper keyboard I'd buy one in a heartbeat. As it is, when my MBP dies for good I'm almost certainly moving to a Linux laptop.

That's what I don't understand- there is plenty of room for both, especially on the 15". Just add the Touch Bar strip above the function keys and call it a day...

In my experience, most of the people (not all, but most) who complain about the TouchBar haven't actually even used one for any significant period of time.

It's definitely trendy.

I’ve got an issue with the Touch Bar that, as far as I can tell, only I am experiencing:

Take your MacBook Pro, put it in a room indoors, and flick the lights on and off in that room several times a second. You’ll notice high CPU usage on a process called “TouchBarServer”, as it tries to adjust itself to the changing light levels so it can display its screen. For some reason, as it does this, it lags the entire rest of the computer: scrolling will freeze every couple of seconds, clicks won’t register, the mouse will lag, and keystrokes will just be ignored.

Why would you do this, you might ask? I work on trains a lot, and I get this same flicker effect as the trees by the tracks go past. As they pass the windows of the train, it’s like a bright light source is being rapidly turned on and off.

I don’t ever use the Touch Bar — nor did I want one — but merely having one renders my laptop unusably slow for two hours every day. I hate this computer.

That's my main issue with the touchbar as well, not this specific light issue, but the fact that it drags the rest of the computer down with it.

I would have preferred buttons, but I'm pretty adaptable and can deal with the touchbar if I have too. But what really gets me is that mine frequently crashes and when it crashes it's impossible to control system volume. And since trying to mute or lower the volume is one of the specific situations that causes it to crash, it results in one of the worst user experiences you could have.

That sounds both very frustrating, and quite bizarre. I can't imagine why ambient light sensing would need to peg the CPU ever.

If you haven't done so already, I strongly encourage you to file a bug report with Apple at https://bugreport.apple.com

I have filed a bug report. But yeah, it’s crazy that one part of the machine makes all the rest of it slow down! There was a time before I figured out it was the Touch Bar when I thought it was _moving fast_ that was making it lag (because it didn’t happen when the train stopped at stations). I was paranoid that it was trying to keep tabs on my location... so it could be worse, I guess.

This is fascinating, but wouldn't this be the case on older MBPs since they have ambient light sensors?

I’m not sure, but for what it’s worth, I’ve got “Automatically adjust brightness” unchecked in System Preferences. So either it’s just ignoring that option, or it’s using some secondary light sensor.

God, I hate the touchbar. I constantly brush it, which is particularly frustrating when I'm typing something in Chrome and it accidentally focuses the address bar or creates a new tab. Drives me up a wall! The lack of real function keys is another huge annoyance. Also had a couple keys on the keyboard get stuck. I've had it for a year now and I'd throw it out the window in a second if I thought there was a decent shot I could get a 2015 replacement.

I've got a 2015 for personal use and a 2016 for work and I can honestly say that at the end of the day I'm thrilled to work on a machine that doesn't get in my way. They had it so right and really, really dropped the ball for me.

I'd absolutely buy a new $3000 MBP if it was the new specs inside the 2015 body. As-is, I think my next machine will be Windows.

There's quite a bit of selection bias because people who don't want a touchbar generally have a strong enough opinion on it that they aren't buying computers with touchbars.

I'm at the 6 month mark on a 2017 15in and I still dislike it. It's not that its terrible...it's just worse than the function / media keys. Its a step backwards. Perhaps if the touchbar was in addition to the old function row I wouldnt mind it as much.

in system settings under keyboard you can set it to only show the function keys and act only as a row of keys (similar to how it runs while bootcamped into windows)

That's how I've set mine up, but even that mode is significantly worse than having physical keys, due to the lack of tactile feedback. I still accidentally touch the software keys without intending to several times per day, and I can't press them without looking at them to confirm that I'm touching the correct one.

Same. My typing precision has gone down due to a lack of tactile feedback with button shapes and what not.

You can set that up only per application, and you can't do anything fast like dragging all your apps into the window. You have to click the + button once for every app on your machine and manually select it from an Open dialog. And the dialog doesn't remember the last directory used. It's utterly hostile.

I don't need to use one to know that I already resent the one backlit screen. I don't need or want another.

More flexible is great, sliding for volume is great, I have no conceptual problems with the touchbar except that I don't want another screen.

It's a mostly-black screen with fairly low brightness. I'm not in the habit of sitting in a pitch-black room on my laptop, so I can't tell you how it looks there, but in my everyday use it hasn't been even the remotest problem.

>I'm not in the habit of sitting in a pitch-black room on my laptop, so I can't tell you how it looks there...

The one situation I can imagine the Touchbar brightness concerning me is when I'm on a plane. They always turn the cabin lights out, and I'm aware that I need to turn the brightness right down on my laptop when I'm in economy class, so I don't bother those around me. A quiet keyboard is also important on a plane.

I've not used newer Macs except in the store, so I don't know if the touchbar brightness is actually an issue or not. I definitely like my physical volume buttons for making sure my laptop is muted while flying though.

I can’t say I have ever noticed the light from the Touch Bar at night, and I’ve had this laptop since they first came out. It’s so much dimmer than the screen it’s a complete non-issue.

I am convinced that the only people complaining about this have either never used this laptop or have such sensitive eyes that daytime light would render them permanently blind. And I say this as someone who was excited by the possibilities of the Touch Bar but have so far been underwhelmed and wants to go back to the physical keys.

Not once in this conversation have I insulted you or anyone else. Not once in this conversation have I dismissed your needs and wants. I acknowledge that there are benefits to it that for some outweigh the loss of tactile feedback or addition of a second screen.

Does it really help the conversation to say things like this?

> I am convinced that the only people complaining about this have either never used this laptop or have such sensitive eyes that daytime light would render them permanently blind

I thought the tone of the second part of my comment was very obviously tongue-in-cheek, simply serving to underscore how dim the Touch Bar actually is. The main point still remains: I have yet to find a person who's complained about the Touch Bar brightness who's actually owned one of these devices.

It's really not bright. I'd guess it's probably less bright than the keyboard backlight, which also isn't bright (but is at least dimmable). It's so not bright that I've literally never noticed the thing at night in well over a year of regular use. Whatever number of lumens it outputs is so far below the brightness of the main display that it's all but unnoticeable in use.

I'm not willing to spend the money to own one, specifically because of the touchbar brightness.

I cover my monitor's power LED as well as the status screen on the receiver for my wireless headset. I run F.lux on the reddest settings when I'm within 1-2 hours of bedtime. (and after that I don't run any screens)

I have no issues with daylight brightness, but must carefully control lighting at night due to a broken circadian rhythm. Trust me, I don't need to own it to know that it's too bright. Especially if F.lux is not supported, which it is not last time I checked.

You've expressed a concern about having a second screen, but the concern seems to be unfounded. The parent is dismissing you because it appears that you're manufacturing a reason to hate on the touchbar and have already stated that you believe you don't even need to try it out to determine whether your concern is valid.

If you're not willing to consider that your concern is unfounded, then you shouldn't be offended when other people dismiss your concern.

I tape over the LED power indicator on my monitor, I have the screen disabled when not in use on my microwave oven, I disable the charging light on android devices, and I even cover the indicator on my refrigerator that tells you whether it's going to dispense ice or water.

Trust me, for me, it's not an unfounded concern.

Everything you’ve described are lights that can shine in the dark. But that’s not what the TouchBar is. The TouchBar can only be seen when the laptop screen can be seen, and is really dim (certainly dimmer than the laptop screen). The TouchBar can’t ever be a light shining in the darkness because it would always be drowned out by the laptop screen.

The LED power indicator on my monitor is absolutely equivalent. When the monitor is off it doesn't produce light because I press the button. It only shines when the monitor is on, and I still find the need to cover it.

I bet it's pretty bright though. LEDs like that usually are.

Is six months long enough for my hate to be valid? I actually had my place of employment take it back and started working out of my retina MBP again. I'm considering buying a Windows laptop for the first time.

I was given an MBP with a touchbar when I contracted with Comcast for 10 months. Hated it.

My personal laptop is MacBook Pro (Retina, 15-inch, Mid 2014).

I will NEVER EVER pay with my own money for a touchbar mac book.

My number one rule when getting a laptop is a good keyboard. Period.

Plus the USB-C drivers for external displays in the new mac books is complete trash. Misaligned windows, constantly forgetting window positions, occasionally completely not working.

The MBP line of computers keeps on getting worse and worse.

IMHO the touchbar requires more effort and distraction to control the brightness and volume. What previously was one key-press to dim/brighten or mute/volume - all without me having to take my focus from the screen now requires a multi-stages process with no tactile feedback.

No thanks. Plus the keyboard will likely have the same issues my 2016 version has. I’ve had keys replaced 4 times already.

Just to note because it is non-obvious and not documented - both volume and brightness buttons are one touch. You can just tap and drag up/down to immediately adjust, and you don't have to tap, move over to the slider, tap again, then drag.

Your tip only works for _decreasing_ the volume. If it’s turned all the way down, and you want to turn it up, you can’t tap-and-drag it because the fingerprint sensor gets in the way.

Try moving your finger left, then right, without letting go (video: https://ipfs.io/ipfs/QmVacED7iVnDn7JiHuUT7buAL96iSTzqHB7NTZR...).

Oh hey, neat.

You’re right. It’s just two quick drags to maximize the volume. Or one drag to get about 80% there, which covers most situations. The slider stays open when you lift your finger.

Muting is still one key press.

I especially like the way the toucher handles dual screen brightness, 1 press and it brings up a brightness control for each screen.

Also the loss of global prev/pause/next keys was a regression that ensured I ordered the non-touchbar version.

It's not documented but you can:

1. You can swipe in each direction to quickly adjust 2. You can tap and drag to finely adjust

The touchbar was what I thought was most idiotic before I got my macbook with it, and is the least idiotic thing after I've had my macbook. It is ok, sometimes kinda nice. If they put a physical Esc key on the far left, and a physical Mute key on the far right, and stuck the touchbar between the two, it would be actually very nice, because I agree the function keys are useless on a mac. But the touchbar utility doesn't make up for not having a physical Escape key.

>Yes, you lose tactile feedback

That's the only part I really can't lose.

I like the volume slider fwiw but the regular ones worked fine too.. it is a small bonus with a massive drawback .. of course I don't like it.

Not to mention that I don't ever look at my keyboard when typing, so touchbar is just a annoying glow at the periphery of my vision.

There is an app called HapticKey that triggers vibration when you touch tb.

My pie-in-the-sky idealized computer experience is a color e-ink display with a decent framerate.

Replacing tactile buttons with a second blinding photon emitter is not progress as far as I'm concerned.

I understand all the benefits you quote, and I'm not just complaining because it's "trendy". If it was eink, I wouldn't care at all. But it's another backlit screen shining in my face. No thanks.

Were you hoping for pixel qi to make it to market with their tech? I was. I so wanted a machine with that screen so I could work outdoors

Marry me

As a heavy IntelliJ user - I use the function keys all the time. Some examples: F1: show file in project view, F2/Shift F2: next/previous error, Ctrl+F2: stop process, F3/Shift F3: find next/previous, F6: move/rename, different F7 variations: find usages, F9/F10: run/debug options, also F8-F10 - step over/into/out/continue, F12 - toggle maximize editor, etc.

I don't understand what I'm supposed to do with a touchbar, or how to otherwise remap all of these shortcuts... Sticking to my 2015 MBP for now, but I really hope Apple get their act together and release a developer-friendly model (because otherwise I'm a huge fan).

Intellij could support the touchbar - I was going to say it's a great way to do debugging until I found that using arrow keys + modifier is a fantastic way to control the debugger. (up=continue, left=step out, right=step in, down=step)

I use Control+S,Z,X,C for debugging, mapping Caps Lock to Control. (S=continue, Z=Step Over, X=Step In, C=Step Out). It keeps my right hand free for mousing around, drinking coffee, etc.

What modifier are you using for the arrow keys? Aren't they all taken already?

They already do, in the 2018.2 EAP there is support for touchbar. Since it's already in RC state I think the stable version will be out in a couple of weeks.

Why have I never heard of this arrow key method of debugging? That would be much more natural than the typical "fn+shift+F8 is step" stuff

Well, now it’s IntelliJ’s responsibility to add TouchBar support or remap those keys.

Nonetheless you can just turn the F keys back on.

FWIW they're adding support: https://twitter.com/bulenkov/status/984476361699069952 - it was supposed to be in 2018.2 but I haven't checked whether it made it or not.

I agree though, IntelliJ is my biggest worry when it comes to the Touch Bar.

I am using it right now. It works very well, also context aware so that it shows different stuff depending on what you are doing like in the debugger you will continue, next etc.

I use it, it made it, but I'd still prefer the old function keys back

Nobody needs to re-map anything, if IntelliJ would just support the touch bar, then they could keep the same shortcuts and rename the keys from "F8" to "Step Over"

I'm not looking at the keyboard when hitting those keys (I've been using this exact keymap for over 8 years), touchbar support isn't helping, I need tactile keys.

Adding media keys did not require the loss of Function keys (“fn” toggle) so low use in apps was not a reason to remove keys entirely.

How is a touch volume slider better? Using modifier keys you can achieve any level of precision from keyboard volume keys, without looking down to find and watch what you tap. There are also slider controls already, using the mouse (both in the menu bar and System Preferences).

I noticed a big regression in battery life (25-35%) between my 2013 and 2017 MacBook Pro. I don't know how much the Touch Bar had to do with it, but the 2017 was definitely worse.

From 2015 to 2016 models the battery capacity dropped from 74 watt hours to 49 watt hours in the new 13" design. The gap was made up for by efficiency gains of the CPU and possibly the display. But the display can also be cranked way brighter now, running it at the full 500 nits will hurt your battery performance for sure. Also if you are running demanding loads it will be worse off as well.

The Touch Bar likely sips power, but the real issue with it is the lost battery capacity beneath it (The non-touchbar models have larger batteries at 54 watt hours)

Maybe I'm a backwards person but I barely use escape at all. I do however use the function keys, all day, every day. I have them mapped to various apps for screengrabbing, batch copy and paste of files, rename etc. Apps like keymaestro let me add extra functionality to these "spare" keys and I don't want then replaced by any damn touchbar

In my experience, adding those functions to the Touch Bar via Better Touch Tool was just as easy as making f-key bindings, plus I get easy and visibly-distinguishable per-app bindings.

The Touch Bar is great, Apple just isn't going far enough.

visibly distinguishable is great but IMO tactilely distinguishable is more important

The majority of my use of my MBPr is in clamshell mode, with a large external monitor, and a mechanical keyboard. Even for people who use theirs open, beside a large monitor, it's usually on a stand. So a Touch Bar is either pointless, or so unwieldy as to be useless, in these situations, respectively.

Imagine not being able to mute your sound in public because your finger doesn't have enough capacitance for some reason.

The sound can also be muted by clicking the sound icon in the menu bar. There is a volume slider there.

Trackpads are capacitive, and that’s much too slow anyway. Often your menu will be hidden, or inaccessible until all of your processes have resumed

True. I can’t think of many situations where a laptop can be used, but capacitive touch cant, and the laptop can’t be switched off or the lid closed, and the noise will would cause a problem. I guess I thought that would happen, I’d keep a headphone jack handy as a silencer. I don’t think the utility in an unlikely situation outweighs the balance of use.

closing the lid doesn't mute the sound as a hardware switch. Lots of sounds will continue to play through the closing of the lid, including sounds for video.

For an example of when capacitive touch wonts work but the laptop would, simply get your finger a little bit wet.

The scenario I'm imagining is opening your computer only to discover that had closed it in the middle of a youtube video or something the night before, and it just continues playing where it left off. A crime of the highest order in OS design, to be sure, but hardly a rare occurrence.

Cmd+Q would be my first action in that situation (which I’ve been in!) But I agree not everyone knows that.

I was imagining someone wearing a glove, but you are right that a certain amount of water will start causing issues. I think it would be difficult to pool enough water on both the touch bar and the trackpad outside of a catastrophe.

I can’t get sound to continue emitting after closing the lid. I’m sure an app can be developed to make that happen, but it wouldn’t be something commonly used. The most likely candidate seems to me to be something like audio performance software, but a person in that situation wouldn’t be using the speakers as an out and would be used to quickly dealing with software/hardware quirks.

Researching this conversation has been fun. :)

Question for someone who has a touchbar: is it possible to add app shortcuts to it (like an extension of the dock)? And what about a dedicated escape button?

I use F12 throughout the day to open iTerm and Cmd+F2 to open Spotlight, and the escape key is obviously generally useful. Losing equivalent dedicated buttons/shortcuts would be a dealbreaker, but otherwise I could take or leave the function keys.

Edit: If yes to the above, are there any situations in which my configured dedicated buttons might conditionally disappear?

The escape button shows up in practically all apps, and extends beyond the area indicated by the OLED screen to the edge of the glass. Basically, the entire left 1" of the touchbar is a large dedicated escape key.

System Preferences allows you to do some limited customization of what buttons show up, including adding a dedicated Spotlight button. (I replaced the Siri button with that on mine.) See: https://www.howtogeek.com/303733/how-to-add-or-remove-icons-...

Beyond that, BetterTouchTool allows more advanced customization of the touchbar. I've never used it, but it's worth a look. See: https://www.howtogeek.com/307468/how-to-add-custom-buttons-t... and https://folivora.ai/

I'm a developer and BetterTouchTool is great. I have terminal shortcuts and others bound to touch bar buttons. BTT even lets you run bash scripts from the touch bar.

Interesting, thanks! Sad that it requires third-party software to add the iTerm shortcut (which was my biggest concern since I use it so often), but sounds like the touchbar will probably be a net positive, or at least not a dealbreaker when I do eventually upgrade.

So... does either one let you have a dedicated escape key?

My gripe with it is that it's not sufficiently customizable. If it were heavily customizable it could be pretty useful.

I wonder why they don't just through haptics into the touchbar to diminish the tactile complaint? My Galaxy S9 has touch haptics that feel rather nice.

I use HapticKey, which makes the Touch Bar slightly less awful by clicking the trackpad when you touch it: https://github.com/niw/HapticKey

Smartphones have less mass to move. The touchpad is haptic but the Taptic chip is fairly large and the whole pad is kind of suspended so that you can feel the vibrations. I bet they will do this but it might be tricky since it has a display in it.

> Most mac apps don't use function keys as shortcuts

Many buy MBPs for the perceived quality of hardware, and install Windows or Linux as their primary OS.

in bootcamp the touchbar continues to function independently and acts like the function row of keys

My biggest problem with the touchbar is that I would only be able to use it half of the time. Because when I dock my laptop it is either closed and tucked in the corner of my desk, or perched on a laptop stand. Either way the touchbar is to far away to be of any benefit. So unless Apple comes with a (bluetooth) keyboard with touchbar, I cannot integrate it into my daily workflow.

When I'm wearing my cynic hat, the touch bar is the beginning of a plot to replace our physical keys with another screen with an image of keys. The 2030 MacBook will basically be two iPads taped together

I think so too, especially with further improvements to the Taptic Engine. This might also lead to a more “solid state” device with less mechanical parts to worry about. I wonder if there will be a backlash or if we will all get used to it.

I think that would be horrible. Yoga book has already brought this idea to market, and typing on it is a nightmare.

It's okay, if you don't like it you can just plug an external keyboard into the dongle you have plugged into the dongle you have plugged into the only USB-C port they plan on offering!

Yoga book isn’t Apple. People were saying the exact same thing about iPhone vs Blackberry.

If done right, it is completely possible. But the old neck beards will certainly have a conniption fit.

Not sure I agree with the lenovo equals RIM comparison. By the way, lenovos had an oled bar on top of their keyboards but removed theirs when people said they didn't like it.

Lenovo keyboards are the industry leaders. ThinkPad keyboard is pretty much the gold standard on laptops

It's all about the implementation/execution. We'd need some new technology to really make this work well.

There was this [1] a few years back, not sure what happened to it.

[1] https://www.google.com/url?sa=t&source=web&rct=j&url=%23&ved...

Is it a nightmare? I haven't used it but I had heard positive reviews

I couldn't use it without a lot of typos, but ymmv. It looks nice though.

I think Taptic engine + force touch is the key (ahem) to such a scenario working.

If there were little localized bumps every time my fingers moved outside the area of a given letter, and if the keys could tell the difference between resting, setting, and actually typing, then I'm not sure there would be any problem.

The new Macbook keyboards have such low travel that they feel like a step in that direction. I like the laptop overall but I make a lot more typos than I did on my old one.

For me the only acceptable improvement would be if each individual mechanical key had a OLED display integrated and was fully programmable.

It's possible. There is a keyboard you can buy like this, and one of razers laptops had an OLED numeric keypad I think. But they won't do this.

My biggest problem with the touchbar is the escape key. I hate not having tactile feeling for a key I use on a regular basis. I'm constantly missing it or hitting something on accident.

I've had Caps Lock mapped to escape for years. You used to need some tool to do this, but now you can do it right inside Keyboard settings "Modifier Keys".

Make sure you choose the real keyboard if you also have a Yubikey plugged in :)

I map caplocks to control, I find the default control button in a weird spot to always be moving my pinky to (and I hardly have a use for caplocks, like yourself). However, after you said this, it reminded me of the comment I caught once where someone had their caplocks setup to be esc on click, or control on hold... no idea how he had it setup, though I'm curious once again.

> someone had their caplocks setup to be esc on click, or control on hold

I have this setup, and it is great. After you switch capslock to be Ctrl, just run (at startup):

    xcape -e 'Control_L=Escape'

Karabiner Elements can do that.

This is the only problem I have with it too. I MUCH prefer having the Touch Bar. Even though I don't use it frequently, it comes in very handy for certain things, and I use it far more often than the function keys. Having a virtual escape key is just strange though. I wouldn't want to go back to a MacBook without a Touch Bar, but if they just cut out another button on the left like they have on the right for the power button and made it an escape key it would be perfect. As it is, the virtual escape key is actually pretty padded to the right. You could replace it with a hard key and not actually lose any space. You might actually gain a few usable pixels.

I turned away from the mac, first because the HW, second because prop. software is creaping me out more and more. I bought a lenovo T480 (big battery, higres screen, good keyboard, only the trackpad is shitty) and I installed the shiny ubuntu 18.04 and I have to say, it's the best setup I ever used. It's super stable, with some tweeking(https://github.com/erpalma/lenovo-throttling-fix) it's crazy fast, 7h+ battery life when doing web development. Even the LG UltraFine works great under linux. I never regretted it.

> I bought a lenovo T480 (big battery, higres screen, good keyboard, only the trackpad is shitty) and I installed the shiny ubuntu 18.04 and I have to say, it's the best setup I ever used.

If by hires screen you mean WQHD, I am wondering what you do with absence of proper fractional scaling support by desktop environments (and how workarounds interact with external monitors).

KDE supports fractional scaling

I've been thinking about doing this too for some time now. Just not convinced which Lenovo to go for..

Former macbook pro user here. I currently use a T480 with the 72wHr battery. Web Development and programming I pull about 20+ hours of battery life. Using i3wm under Fedora.

Absolutely gorgeous machine.

20+ hours is impressive. Do you also use lenovo-throttling-fix, and if so, what are your settings for the turbo-boost max power?

Can you use the switchable graphics or did you get the model without a gpu?

I got the one with the MX150 dGPU, because there was no other option from the students program I bought it from. But I personally would go for the one without a dGPU. Even-tough the dGPU version uses 2 heatpipes, there are thermal issues. As soon as the GPU hits 70°C, the cpu-package gets power throtteled to 5W... so it's not usable for graphic intense workloads. I would choose the one without the dGPU, manually buy and install the 2heatpipe cooler for better CPU temperatures and use a eGPU if I really needed the power. For the time being I just disabled the dGPU under linux with bbswitch. I'm still able to watch 4K movies with 60fps, no problem.

[1]: https://www.reddit.com/r/thinkpad/comments/8flj0i/t480_power...

Wow, what a shame. How is this even possible? A Macbook Pro 15" has a 45 Watt TDP CPU and is half as thick but throttles less? The new Macbook Pro has two extra cores and I could use the graphic cards as well. Switching graphic also works where in Linux it does not. Taking into account that resale value of Macbook Pros the price difference is not so big.

Re: the function row, I wish instead of the OLED strip they would have implemented something like the Optimus Popularis:


To me, this is the best of both worlds. Just put the default keys to start and then let your users pick if they want to. I prefer individual keys to tapping a screen, which is why I use a laptop and not an iPad.

yes - this is a damn fine idea. i'm always accidentally resting my finger on the down brightness key and only notice when the screen suddenly goes dark. keys that press = good idea.

Job gave me a MBP with a touch bar. In the past I've been able to grab an older MBP 15" but they were out of them. So... a small slice of electrical tape solved the issue. Ugh, it's ghetto.

It's the worst invention. Anyone who worked on it should feel bad about their existence -- like drawing mustaches on the Mona Lisa. The 2013 MBP was a perfect laptop (for the time). It's nice they finally got around to adding more RAM... that's about all I would have wanted to change on the 2013 MBP.

agreed. happily typing on my 2013 now. best laptop in existence. and it cost half as much.

I used f.lux for 2-3 years. Then I stopped, and I haven't used f.lux for 2 years now.

The problem with f.lux is that it makes reading on the computer at night TOO comfortable. I was consistently staying up way past my bed time, and suffering for it.

Removing f.lux made it easier to go to sleep earlier. Sometimes comfort isn't worth it. I prefer getting my sleep.

Yeah, it's sad. I was hoping for a version without a touch bar too :(.

I'd also say that these new Macs are the most unpopular ones among devs. It's just that we are so used to MacOS :|

I’m tempted to start a movement called Tape the Touchbar™. Just put a stylish piece of black electrical tape over it and pretend it’s not there.

Seriously though, I share your frustration in regards to both f.lux and external monitor/stand use. It would be nice to be able to dynamically disable the Touchbar in a user configurable way.

I've had a touchbar-mBP since release day, and I've only just recently found a use for the touchbar: in Zoom, to start recording the session, and in iTerm to change the colours.

Just this week I noticed with surprise that I'm actually using the touchbar 'productively' in this fashion - but its been a long time coming.

However I'd throw away this newfound appreciation of the touchBar in an instant, if both of these apps just .. you know .. had icons for the task. Maybe some sort of strip of icons, even ...

My biggest gripes:

- Dongles still needed

- Touch bar can't be dimmed

for those in this thread excusing the touch bar how would you feel if apple replaced the entire keyboard with a large touch surface like typing on an iPad. Great idea? Can't wait? Or Ugh?

Keep seeing people on Twitter suggesting this as a fix to the unreliable keyboard, completely ignoring that the keyboards were never unreliable until the Butterfly Switches existed.

As for the idea, well if touch keyboards are so great why have they invested so much effort in adding a physical keyboard to their Pro touch devices.

Can’t you use Night Shift or the built in dimming? Not sure I understand what you are saying. (Not arguing, just genuinely interested in the complaint.)

The Touch Bar can't be dimmed below a certain threshold (either manually or programmatically). Normally we use f.lux or Brightness Slider to dim the main display, but touch bar brightness can't be controlled. Makes it hard to work late at night without putting electrical tape over it.

I never had this problem. But if it's really an issue you can use betterTouchTool or similarly to simply remove all buttons so it doesn't render anything.

They've got one without the touch bar.

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