Review: Apple's 2019 13-inch MacBook Pro is an excellent, inexpensive workhorse

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  • Reply 61 of 76
    danvmdanvm Posts: 1,235member
    spheric said:
    ...non-upgradable = unappealing from this camp...
    I suspect (and have read educated guesses from writers here) that the vast majority of Apple laptop customers didn’t perform DIY upgrades. You’re confusing yourself as a DIY tinkerer with the mass market. 
    Quite the contrary.   These AI pages have been filled over recent years with reports of Mac users upgrading both memory and storage.   And, it certainly doesn't have to be done by a "tinkerer" -- I can pop a drive out of my Lenovo in literally seconds (remove ONE screw and pull out the tray) and upgrading memory isn't much harder.   But, if Apple or the user chooses, it could be like changing an iPhone battery -- not a user replaceable part, just take it to the Apple Store.

    I'm not buying the "nobody does it" argument.
    I am. I was in Apple sales (reseller) for eight years and did support for a while longer. "People" don't upgrade. RAM was occasionally upgraded, but only ever once on any laptop. Often enough done by our service guys — mostly when the machine was purchased. Hard drives were usually only replaced when they broke or upgraded when the machine was purchased (or ordered BTO in the first place). 
    We had a service where we'd replace the optical drive with an SSD. Hardly ever done, but available.

    In mentioning that "these AI pages have been filled […] with reports of Mac users upgrading", you forget that "the vast majority" of Mac users never post on troubleshooting forums on the internet. Ever. 
    The people who are talking on here are by definition total dweebs, not "regular users". 
    There's what — probably a couple hundred semi-regular active users here, and probably about 50 to 100 or so accounts that do 90% of the posting. 

    There are two BILLION active iOS devices.
    There were 100 MILLION active Macs in use as of 2018. 
    The vast majority of Macs sold have been laptops, for at least a decade. 
    No Mac laptop has been upgradeable in any meaningful sense since 2016 (and even before then, the aftermarket SSDs were kind of spotty, unreasonably expensive, and certainly nothing ever approaching a mass market). 

    You do the math. 

    Nobody* does it. 



    *) obviously the proverbial, slightly hyperbolic, "nobody".
    To clarify, the are +1.4B active iOS devices, not 2B. . 
    https://www.theverge.com/2019/1/29/18202736/apple-devices-ios-earnings-q1-2019
  • Reply 62 of 76
    "which is closing in on the mid-tier, four Thunderbolt 3 Port 13-inch MacBook Pro at $1799 that packs a slightly better processor"

    This is completely wrong. The 28-watt cpu on the more expensive 13 inch model is at least 30% faster than the entry model which uses a 15-watt cpu. You are looking at 7000 passmark score versus 10000 passmark score, which is by no means "slightly"
    edited July 2019 fastasleep
  • Reply 63 of 76
    fastasleepfastasleep Posts: 6,060member
    dysamoria said:
    wizard69 said:
    It is still expensive for what you get. This especiallyl after upgrading to a reasonably sized SSD.  
    Agreed. I find myself comparing it to the $1500 13” MacBook Pro 5,5 I bought in 2009 and I feel like the storage and base CPU are kind of lame on this new model. Yeah, the 2009 model was a dual core only, and came with only 4GB RAM (which I expanded for less than $100), but it had real function keys, a reliable keyboard with decent travel, far more than just two I/O ports, an analog AND digital audio output, a 2.5GHz base clock, and 250GB storage.

    Ten years later, while the type of storage and CPU are technically superior, I suspect that it looks, to casual buyers, like the new model is missing things. This isn’t quite the “technology gets better and cheaper over time” comparison I would’ve hoped for.

    A friend of mine has been feeling very negative about what she sees she can get for her money in a new MacBook Pro, compared to her own 2010 model. I’m not the one giving her these negative impressions; she did the reading all herself. If anything, I’ve been still behaving like an Apple advocate when talking to her about what she might want to consider (she’s a Logic user and therefore needs a Mac to keep using Logic).

    Apple is not looking good, from the perspective of average buyers. Between these skimpy MacBooks and the “Mac Pixar”...
    I fully agree...
    One could say that Apple has taken the "Thin, light, minimalist" design too far.  But I would say that they took it to its logical conclusion -- as far as it can go.   And, for some, that is a perfect design and suits their wants and needs perfectly.   But, for others, not so much -- it involves too much compromise.

    The discussions here on AI always seem to evolve around what Apple should or shouldn't do to the THE MacBook Pro.   I think that is short sighted.

    The MBP is primarily off-the-shelf components most anybody could buy and assemble -- what sets it apart is the MacOS and Apple's ecosystem.
    So, it makes sense to me that Apple could easily put together a great Full Function laptop (call it a Work Station) with a great keyboard not constrained to be thin and with ALL of the standard keys, upgradable memory and storage, a full range of ports, excellent cooling, cursor buttons on the trackpad -- and even a docking port on the bottom to pop it into a docking station and start it up without opening it up. 

    Thin, light minimalist laptops are great -- for some.   Others don't want to have to deal with the limitations inherent in the design.  Mac users shouldn't have to shape their wants and needs to match Apple decides to offer.

    chia
  • Reply 64 of 76
    fastasleepfastasleep Posts: 6,060member
    dysamoria said:
    wizard69 said:
    It is still expensive for what you get. This especiallyl after upgrading to a reasonably sized SSD.  
    Agreed. I find myself comparing it to the $1500 13” MacBook Pro 5,5 I bought in 2009 and I feel like the storage and base CPU are kind of lame on this new model. Yeah, the 2009 model was a dual core only, and came with only 4GB RAM (which I expanded for less than $100), but it had real function keys, a reliable keyboard with decent travel, far more than just two I/O ports, an analog AND digital audio output, a 2.5GHz base clock, and 250GB storage.

    Ten years later, while the type of storage and CPU are technically superior, I suspect that it looks, to casual buyers, like the new model is missing things. This isn’t quite the “technology gets better and cheaper over time” comparison I would’ve hoped for.

    A friend of mine has been feeling very negative about what she sees she can get for her money in a new MacBook Pro, compared to her own 2010 model. I’m not the one giving her these negative impressions; she did the reading all herself. If anything, I’ve been still behaving like an Apple advocate when talking to her about what she might want to consider (she’s a Logic user and therefore needs a Mac to keep using Logic).

    Apple is not looking good, from the perspective of average buyers. Between these skimpy MacBooks and the “Mac Pixar”...
    If you think your ten year old Mac is more advanced in any way, you’re wrong. Clock speed has jack shit to do with anything when comparing across a decade of processor advancements. This Mac is probably 300% faster than yours. 
    chia
  • Reply 65 of 76
    fastasleepfastasleep Posts: 6,060member
    azentropy said:
    Seemed to have waited forever for them to go quad-core on the 13" MBP.  I'm one of those who just prefer that size and would get that size over the 15" regardless of price if they had the similar specs.  It still of course lags behind the 15" since now they have went 6C!  But since they took so long I've now outgrown the 16gb memory limit.  Even with my 2010 13" MBP I was able to upgrade to 16gb (and of course my 2012 and 2015).  So because of that (and a couple of other reasons) I think I'll continue to wait.
    The 15’s are 8 core. 
    edited July 2019
  • Reply 66 of 76
    fastasleepfastasleep Posts: 6,060member
    pentae said:

    The only thing wrong with the new Macbook designs are dropping USB-A. I think they were too ahead of the curve on that one. People will still be using USB-A for at least the next 5-10 years and I think it was a very arrogant move and carrying around a dongle is shit, theres no way to sugar coat it.
    5-10 years? Why would you do that to yourself? 

    I have a tiny adapter on my keychain for the occasional need for it and it’s literally not a problem.
  • Reply 67 of 76
    fastasleepfastasleep Posts: 6,060member
    Clarus said:
    All good points that you made.   But this is the first time I have heard anybody mention that: (in my words), the Touch Bar requires too much looking and thinking.   A keyboard or any other input device should just get out of the user's way.   Or maybe it would be better to say "become an extension of the user's body" such as you don't have to think about moving your finger -- it's just there and does what its supposed to do without looking at it or thinking about it.   The analogy might be a baseball mitt or bat -- they become extensions of the ball player rather than separate parts to be manipulated.

    In the early days of typewriters that was an important concept:   making the keyboard intuitive where the typist didn't have to spend even a quarter of a second thinking about where the key was and they conducted studies to streamline the whole thing and eliminate that 1/4 second --- because it turned out that it made a difference.
    I remembered another thing that bothers me about the Touch Bar. The applications that support the Touch Bar will display a row of icons in the Touch Bar. But a lot of times, I have no idea what they mean. They represent commands and options which, on the screen, are either labeled with text, or have a Tool Tip so if you hover the cursor over the item you will get a descriptive label. But as far as I know, there is no such contextual help for a Touch Bar item. Am I missing something?

    The problem is that if I don't know what an icon is, I sure don't want to tap it. What's going happen to the content in my document if I tap this mystery Touch Bar icon? Who is interested in playing this Data Integrity Roulette? I'm not, so I don't tap on buttons I don't recognize, and go back to good old menu commands, keyboard shortcuts, and icons I can hover over with the mouse to see a tool tip that can tell me what the heck it does.
    Maybe I am not remembering correctly, but I’m pretty sure those physical function keys didn’t have any tool tips either. 
  • Reply 68 of 76
    fastasleepfastasleep Posts: 6,060member
    dysamoria said:
    Clarus said:
    ...
    But there is another frustrating side to the Touch Bar.

    With function keys, if I press a key without looking thanks to muscle memory, it does what it is supposed to do. But since the Touch Bar constantly changes depending on the context, you cannot rely on muscle memory. You have to look at the Touch Bar to make sure that what you are about to hit is what you thought was going to be there, because it might be something else. Plus, you have to look carefully to hit the right button, because you can no longer orient by touch for the four-key groups of tactile function keys.

    .....

    I use a MacBook Pro but my favorite Mac keyboard right now is the one on the MacBook Air, which no other Mac has: You get a real tactile function key row plus Touch ID, which I find really useful.
    All good points that you made.   But this is the first time I have heard anybody mention that: (in my words), the Touch Bar requires too much looking and thinking.   A keyboard or any other input device should just get out of the user's way.   Or maybe it would be better to say "become an extension of the user's body" such as you don't have to think about moving your finger -- it's just there and does what its supposed to do without looking at it or thinking about it.  
    Many people have mentioned why the touchbar is a bad idea. Just like many people have mentioned all the other ways Apple have been falling down on the job they used to be famous for doing right (GUI, user interaction). It’s been a serious issue since iOS 7 in 2013. Same thing with the proliferation of bugs (it’s new, and worse than ever before with Apple products).

    These things just don’t get discussed much HERE (or on other Apple news pages), because this website is mostly pro-Apple editorializing, fandom, and average apologists. The Apple that earned the respect of designers for good human interfacing, intuitive & simplistic design is not the Apple we have today. That expertise was squandered and blown off in the pursuit of style and change for the sake of change. Maybe some day we will find out who was the real problem (my guess is Jony Ive, since he was put in charge of user interface design when it all started going wrong, but clearly Tim Cook also has no interest in the actual details of usability or the need to refine software before throwing a ton of arbitrary changes at it again just to sell the same products again and again to the same people), and maybe we won’t ever know (the apologists will always deny insider sources anyway). Either way, Apple need to relearn a LOT of what they’ve lately considered irrelevant and unimportant.
    I have zero serious bugs or usability issues with Apple’s software on my Mac or iOS devices. You sure the problem is them and not you? You’re the one working on a ten year old Mac. 
  • Reply 69 of 76
    fastasleepfastasleep Posts: 6,060member
    ireland said:
    ireland said:
    I’m sorry, but 128 GB hard drive in 2019 is not inexpensive. Reviewer is leaving Apple away too lightly here. Apple should be hammered and embarrassed in the press, until they go 256 GB base on their “pro” Mac portable. Your advice to users is to get an external hard drive or NAS, really? And higher cloud storage requires a permanent recurring fee, so it adds up over time. Add built in store is handier, faster and trumps any external or networked solution. IMO the keyboard is lousy and the storage is greedy and stingy. This is Pro-naemic machine. They gave the processor quad core, but they took away features/size/speeds/ports to do so. We keep getting less computer for our money, IMO.

    Also notice, you call this computer inexpensive, but it’s not the model you personally bought, is it? How would you feel about owning this model as your Mac yourself? I wonder how long it was take for descriptors like “inexpensive” to drop from your awareness.
    You get a DUAL CPU laptop for $1300 and you still complain? Find another brand like that and come back again..
    Quad core.

    And no one is complaining about the CPU.
    Quad core is the single CPU, the Intel one. The second CPU is Apple’s A10, implemented into the Mac as the T2 chip.
    Yet nobody would ever refer to this setup as a dual-CPU machine. 
    GeorgeBMac
  • Reply 70 of 76
    mattinozmattinoz Posts: 1,820member
    After reading this and seeing the video the other day showing the lower spec 13 with eGPU has completely changed my thinking.
    Just wishing 2 thing were different.
    - Apple did at least one shop configure with 16Gb Ram. (so I can pick it up on special)
    - Someone made a Monitor with a eGPU and uSB-c hub emembeded.

    Then I'd have a decent desktop and good laptop. All with only one power cord, one link cable, one network cable and one mouse.
  • Reply 71 of 76
    ClarusClarus Posts: 39member
    Maybe I am not remembering correctly, but I’m pretty sure those physical function keys didn’t have any tool tips either. 
    You are correctly remembering pedantic details, but missing the actual point.

    The function keys did not have tool tips either. But...they had what keyboard shortcuts had: Documentation in the UI. If a function key has a function, you look up the function and it tells you what key does it. I am looking right now at Affinity Photo, the Fill command on the menu. Next to Fill it says Shift F5. So if I choose Fill a lot, every time I do that I am reminded that Shift F5 would save me a few mouse clicks. That's how I learned that F7 opens the Layers palette in Photoshop. It says so on the menu.

    Does Apple provide any sort of hint for Touch Bar icons? Because it seems like a major part of the problem is that developers don't have something in the OS to hook up Touch Bar discoverability content to, like they do with keyboard shortcuts on the menus and tool tips for UI objects.
    edited July 2019
  • Reply 72 of 76
    ClarusClarus Posts: 39member
    ireland said:
    ireland said:
    I’m sorry, but 128 GB hard drive in 2019 is not inexpensive. Reviewer is leaving Apple away too lightly here. Apple should be hammered and embarrassed in the press, until they go 256 GB base on their “pro” Mac portable. Your advice to users is to get an external hard drive or NAS, really? And higher cloud storage requires a permanent recurring fee, so it adds up over time. Add built in store is handier, faster and trumps any external or networked solution. IMO the keyboard is lousy and the storage is greedy and stingy. This is Pro-naemic machine. They gave the processor quad core, but they took away features/size/speeds/ports to do so. We keep getting less computer for our money, IMO.

    Also notice, you call this computer inexpensive, but it’s not the model you personally bought, is it? How would you feel about owning this model as your Mac yourself? I wonder how long it was take for descriptors like “inexpensive” to drop from your awareness.
    You get a DUAL CPU laptop for $1300 and you still complain? Find another brand like that and come back again..
    Quad core.

    And no one is complaining about the CPU.
    Quad core is the single CPU, the Intel one. The second CPU is Apple’s A10, implemented into the Mac as the T2 chip.
    Look, I agree with a lot of your posts, but this one crosses over into fanboyism. No one would consider that the T2 makes the MBP a "dual CPU" machine.

    Otherwise, any computer with a specialized coprocessor would be a multi-CPU machine. That is not the way anyone thinks. The CPU is specifically the primary general purpose processor. No third party developer applications are written for the T2. None. It only runs internal Apple routines. Maybe that will change if Project Catalyst means the T2 (as an A10 derivative) is actually being used to run iOS code on a Mac, but until then, the T2 does not count as another general purpose CPU.
    edited July 2019 GeorgeBMac
  • Reply 73 of 76
    fastasleepfastasleep Posts: 6,060member
    Clarus said:
    Does Apple provide any sort of hint for Touch Bar icons? Because it seems like a major part of the problem is that developers don't have something in the OS to hook up Touch Bar discoverability content to, like they do with keyboard shortcuts on the menus and tool tips for UI objects.
    Yes, if you go to View > Customize Touch Bar... in any app, there are text labels for everything. I don't have Affinity Photo, but I went and looked at their screenshots on the web and they have text-based buttons for complicated stuff, and I'm sure there's documentation for anything that needs learning. I haven't had much trouble figuring things out on the Touch Bar in the apps I've used it in so far. Just took a look at Illustrator for example, and the Touch Bar buttons are either text or icons I recognize from the tools, at a glance. Just like function keys, these are all things that can be quickly learned. Between the built-in flexibility in apps that fully support it and BetterTouchTool — which I use to build my own buttons that do things like trigger Automator workflows and other fun stuff, it's far, FAR more useful than the old keys, which I seldom used.

    That, and you can access the function keys still, either by default (if you change the settings) or by holding the 'fn' button — just like before. 


  • Reply 74 of 76
    ITGUYINSDITGUYINSD Posts: 371member
    MplsP said:
    ...non-upgradable = unappealing from this camp...
    I suspect (and have read educated guesses from writers here) that the vast majority of Apple laptop customers didn’t perform DIY upgrades. You’re confusing yourself as a DIY tinkerer with the mass market. 
    So I can take it in to an authorized Apple repair center to get the SSD upgraded? Nope. You miss the point. *Nobody* can upgrade the SSD. Trying to justify the design by saying ‘well nobody does it anyway’ is just another one of your apologist excuses. 
    Nobody can upgrade the SSD because there is no SSD with T2 chip on the market !  If you say “screw the T2” then you’re in the wrong thread, this thread is related to an Apple laptop and ALL Apple laptops have the T2 chip. Build a blog or start your own thread in AI forums if you have such unique and important opinions.
    You're really not helping the argument against Apple, you're helping it.  The fact that the SSD memory chips are soldered to the board AND rely on an exclusive-to-Apple T2 chip really locks a user into the amount of storage they buy on day 1.  Whether you are a "tinkerer" and can upgrade a laptop yourself by unscrewing a screw or few and removing and replacing SODIMMS to upgrade the memory or popping out the gum-sized SSD stick for relative peanuts and double or quadrupling your storage or memory, or you do it for a friend or at the very least there is a local store like BestBuy to go to get your laptop upgraded, the fact remains that with Apple NONE of that is possible, ever.  

    Your average person (who I deal with on a daily basis) probably doesn't care when they buy it.  But 2-3 years down the road when the 128GB drive is full (and slow) and you tell them TOO BAD, GO BUY A NEW MACBOOK, how crazy is that?
  • Reply 75 of 76
    ClarusClarus Posts: 39member
    Yes, if you go to View > Customize Touch Bar... in any app
    No. Not any app. What I discovered was that not all apps have that command. (And by the way, some apps put it under the View menu, like Apple's own Safari, instead of the Edit menu.) I opened several Mac apps I frequently use, and five of them do not have that command: Word, Excel, VLC, Live, and Apple QuickTime Player. For some of those apps it's because they don't support the Touch Bar (which is another problem), but some of those do show Touch Bar controls but no Customize Touch Bar command.

    Also, in the function key examples I described earlier, you don't have to enter any special modes like Customize Touch Bar to see labels. Function key shortcuts appear in the menus next to the commands.

    And there is...one more thing.

    It is the height of summer. I was working indoors next to a window on a bright sunny day. I went to use the Touch Bar and...it wasn't there. It was just a black strip. I slowly realized that the Touch Bar was running, but simply not bright enough to be visible in indirect full sunlight. I could still read the MacBook Pro screen no problem, but the Touch Bar was totally washed out and not visible.

    That never happened with function keys.

    Once again, as I wrote in my first post in this thread, I went in optimistic about the Touch Bar. But over and over again, despite mastering Touch Bar customization and Better Touch Tool, I kept running into dumb, stupid, annoying, deal-breaking problems with the Touch Bar. From accidental random actions from stray touches on a constantly changing control surface, to under-documentation and just not being able to be read the Touch Bar display itself under some common lighting conditions, I regret that my initial open-mindedness about the Touch Bar has gradually evaporated the more I work with it.
    That, and you can access the function keys still, either by default (if you change the settings) or by holding the 'fn' button — just like before. 
    I already wrote in my original post that I know how to access the Touch Bar function keys: temporarily, permanently, or by application, and how to use Better Touch Tool, which is wonderful. That's more than most Macs users know about the Touch Bar. What I was critiquing were the numerous issues the virtual function keys have in not being tactile, their non-discoverability, and as I just discovered, the inability to use them in bright daylight.
    edited July 2019
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