Dad and I arrived at Apple Trumbull shortly after 6:00am this morning. There was a line, but it wasn’t super long. Yet.
In just a few hours, the all new Apple iPhone X will go on sale in the United States. I’m super pumped. My Dad is excited, too. With pre-order reservations ready to go, there are just a few more things that I wanted to get ready for tonight.
After originally telling myself that I was going to wait to buy the Apple AirPower Mat, I panicked at the last moment and purchased a Mophie Wireless Charging Base, the Spigen iPhone X Screen Protector GLAS.tR Slim HD (Amazon link), and the Apple iPhone X Leather Midnight Blue (aka Grassia Standard Blue) case.
It’s 2:40am on Friday morning, October 27, 2017.
I stumble out of bed, trying not to wake up my wife who is sleeping next to me. The bright white light of my iPhone 7 Plus’ screen temporarily blinds me. You might be wondering why am I up this early? “It’s just a phone” never crosses my mind. For me, the new iPhone X represents the new high water mark for what is possible for cutting edge tech gadgets.
Like many of you, as 3:01am eastern time, 12:01am pacific, rolls around, I begin frantically refreshing apple.com and the iOS Apple Store App. (Can we still call the iOS Apple Store app the “Apple Store” app?) The minutes tick by. 3:03am, 04, 05, 06. Double-click Home. Swipe up. Relaunch. Repeat. iPhone. iPad. iMac. If you didn’t know better, you’d think I was having some kind of OCD episode. 3:07am, 3:09, 3:13am. “Come on, Apple! Let’s get going! They’re selling out!” I mutter in frantic hushed tones to myself while hunched over my computer desk.
Finally! 3:15am, and the iOS Apple Store loads. I stab at my iPhone screen trying to get to my Favorites List, which has my iPhone X configuration saved. iPhone X, Space Grey, 256GB. I can’t wait to get my hands on iPhone X. Face ID looks so cool! I can’t wait to try it. The app lags. I confirm my Sprint account details. “Hurry up, already!”
And just like that, things go bad. The Sprint servers crumble under the onslaught that is iPhone X pre-orders. “We’re sorry. This feature is momentarily unavailable. Please try again later. OK.” I force quit the Apple Store app. I try again. No luck. I grab by iPad. The same. Surely, my iMac and Safari can get the job done, but it was more of the same. Noooo!
Clutching my iPhone 7 Plus, I feverishly try again. And, again. And, again, until a new error message appears.
“We are unable to connect at this time. We’re sorry. There was a problem connecting to the carrier’s server. Please try again in a few minutes.”
My hopes of getting an iPhone X on launch day, next Friday, November 3, seemed dashed. It’s 3:55am, and I can’t even get my cellular account verified. Maybe if I just make a cup of coffee and then try everything would be better. Then, at 4:10am, Sprint sounds out a tweet that their servers are being worked on. The Apple website is showing shipping times for iPhone X at 4-5 weeks. Then, 5-6 weeks. I’m crushed.
I get ready for work. I try to keep it all in perspective. I’m freaking out about getting a new cell phone. It’s just a phone. There’s nothing wrong with my current cell phone. Well, nothing, except that it isn’t the super cool iPhone X. “Get it together, Grassia,” I keep telling myself. I say a little prayer to God, thanking Him for all that he has given me. My family. My health. A good job. A roof over our head. These are truly the important things in life.
Still, nothing. In a fit of rage, I tell myself that I’m switching to Verizon. I hate Verizon and AT&T, but their customers have their pre-orders already. Ok, let me check just one more time before I have to go to work.
Success!! The Apple Store app on my iPhone finally is able to validate my Sprint account! I add the Midnight Blue iPhone X Leather Case to my digital shopping bag. Miraculously, the app is showing that iPhone X is still available for in-store pick up. At my preferred store no less – Apple Trumbull! (No disrespect to my friends at Apple New Haven, Stamford, or Danbury!)
Holding my iPhone in my left hand, I poke the Buy with Apple Pay button with so much excitement, I thought my right index finger was going to pierce the screen. A few more taps and a Touch ID thumb print later, my order confirmation screen appears. I’m getting my iPhone X!
I send my Dad an iMessage with my confirmation screen. He was going to place his order this morning too.
“How did you get your order #” was his reply? How?! From the app confirmation screen and email. A quick phone call later and I realize his order didn’t go through. A brief detour for more coffee and I manage to untangle my Dad’s order. Guess what? His Verizon iPhone X is still in stock at Trumbull. Then I realize, we’re both getting our new iPhone Xs on the same day. At the same store, at the same time! It’s time to break out our Apple Trumbull t-shirts for another road trip!
This is craziness, to be sure. It’s an insanely expensive cell phone. An insanely great iPhone, yes. But I wouldn’t have traded the experience with my Dad for anything!
Get ready Apple Trumbull team, that crazy guy and his father well be back again real soon!
Earlier this week, I was working from home while and taking some vacation time while my car was getting serviced. (But that is an entirely different post for a different time.)
While working, I wanted to use a copy of a corporate Windows 7 VMware guest machine on my 5K iMac. The only problem is that the Windows 7 text is microscopically small on the iMac, which is running at its maximum screen resolution of 3200 x 1800. On my home iMac, I am running VMware Fusion 8.5.8.
The problem of super-small text is a known issue and VMware has published a KB article on the topic titled “Retina display support in VMware Fusion (2034670)“.
However, the steps for adjusting Retina display support in the KB article didn’t exactly work for my configuration of Windows 7 guest. In addition to the virtual machine settings provided by VMware, I wanted to share the configuration adjustments that worked for me, and hopefully, by extension, may also help you.
To get started, I copied the guest virtual machine to my virtual machine folder on my iMac’s hard drive. Then, I started up the virtual machine, logged in with an administrator level account, and uninstalled the VMware Tools package that was installed by VMware Workstation, and then reinstalled the version of VMware Tools from Fusion. This step might be unnecessary, but I wanted to keep the version of VMware Tools consistant with the version that I have on my iMac for Fusion 8.
After the shell game with VMware Tools has finished, I shutdown the Windows 7 guest. Next, I used the directions that VMware provided in their KB article.
Finally, to make the text in the Windows 7 guest virtual machine readable, I had to do two more things:
1. In Control Panel > Appearance and Personalization > Display, I set the text size to “Larger – 150%”.
2. In Control Panel > Appearance and Personalization > Display > Screen Resolution, I set the Windows 7 resolution to 2048 x 1536.
For the Windows screen resolution step above, you may want to go one resolution step up or down from there, depending on your preferences.
Since we are talking about a Windows machine, I rebooted the Windows 7 guest just to test everything out. Now I am able to comfortably run and read the text on my Windows 7 guest virtual machine on my 5K iMac running at full resolution.
Today, Apple started selling the iPhone 8 and iPhone 8 Plus. My Dad, who has become quite the Apple tech nerd, stopped by the Trumbull Apple Store to check out the iPhone 8 Plus in Space Grey and shared a couple of pictures from in the store. What he didn’t take a picture of was the long line down the hall.
(Whatever you guys do, don’t tell him that I have to pay him a roving freelance reporter fee. I’m going to help him upgrade his other Apple Watch tonight.)
Now that Apple has officially launched the iPhone 8 and iPhone 8 Plus, it is time to start the countdown to Nov. 3 and the launch of the all-new iPhone X!
After yesterday’s September Event, which introduced us to the new iPhone 8, iPhone 8 Plus, and the amazing iPhone X (aka “10”), Apple released iTunes 12.7 for Mac and Windows PCs.
In the release notes for this update, Apple reaffirms iTunes focus on “music, movies, TV shows, podcasts, and audiobooks.” That’s great news for me, because I use iTunes on my 5K iMac every day to listen to music while I’m working and to watch TV shows and movies that I have purchased from the iTunes Store.
However, Apple is dropping support for some iOS device content management features.
“If you previously used iTunes to sync apps, books, or ringtones to your iOS device, use the new App Store, iBooks, or Sounds Settings on iOS to redownload them without your computer.”
This change should not be unexpected. iOS devices, including the iPod touch, the only surviving iPod at this point, has had the same “I can get it from the Store myself” that iPhones and iPads enjoy. Yesterday’s slimming down of iTunes is a welcomed change that gets rid of some of the cruft that has built up in iTunes over the last few years.
For more details, visit the Apple Support website.
CEO Tim Cook had said that Apple was “doubling down” on security to clamp down on leaks coming out of the company. While visions of the then unreleased iPhone 4 danced in my head, Apple suffered two massive leaks in the run up to today’s fall event. The accidental leaking of the HomePod firmware few weeks ago and the golden master iOS 11 build this past weekend really spilled the beans on many of the surprises that Apple had in store of us. While I am saddened that a lot of surprises were spoiled, I’m hoping for some truly delightful hardware and software announcements.
What follows are my first impressions about the new products and software Apple announced today.
Welcome to Apple Park
The September 2017 event is the first public event to be held at the new Apple Park campus, and the first time products are being unveiled in the new Steve Jobs Theater. From everything I’ve seen so far of Apple Park, the place looks amazing. (But, I’m not sure I would want to work in those wide open spaces.)
It’s a fitting tribute to Steve that “All You Need is Love” by The Beatles is playing while we get some really impressive shots of the new theater. While the facility is impressive, I find it hard to ignore some of the yellow caution tape and orange cones still visible outside.
As the presentation gets underway, we hear Steve Jobs talking about Apple.
Tim opens up the event by saying: “I love hearing his voice. And this inspiring message.”
Damn. I really miss that guy.
One of the things that I really do appreciate about Tim Cook’s Apple is that even on important days like today, he takes time out to call attention to the people who have been impacted by the devastating storms in recent days. In addition to Apple’s corporate donation to bring people relief, Apple is promoting it’s customers — you and me — to make our own contributions via iTunes. If you haven’t already made your contribution, please, do so now.
Just in case you were wondering, and, let’s face it, I was, Apple Park will have a vistor’s center, opening later this year, with a new retail store. I really, I mean, really need to make a trip to One Infinite Loop and now Apple Park also. This new campus really does look impressive.
It has been a long time since we last received a retail update. This is also the first time that we have seen Angela Ahrendts on stage. A lot of folks, myself included, have been wondering when we might see her speaking at an Apple event like this.
Ok…uh, I’m not sure I’m “California” enough to call my local Apple retail establishment a “Town Square”. To me, it’s still the Apple Store. Just for the record, I still prefer MacOS, too. Old habits die hard. All of that said, the designs of the new marque stores and even the remodeled shopping mall locations, like the one I visited not that long ago, are really cool places to shop and play with all of the new toys.
One of these days, I should drop in and stick around for a Today at Apple session. They seem cool and a fun way to learn a new trick about using my Apple gear.
And, I’m happy to hear that the Apple 5th Ave location will get it’s gigantic glass cube back once the space has been fully renovated!
It is just me, or do you thing Apple should do a new coffee table book and wallpaper set of glam shots of their marque stores? I’d love to have these shots on my 5K iMac and MacBook Pro. Ok, I’ll stop now, but I still think that a new coffee table book talking about the history of these places and wallpapers are free ideas for Apple.
Apple Watch Update
Tim’s claim that Apple Watch grew 50% YoY without sales numbers to back it up feels a lot like looking at a Jeff Bezos Amazon Kindle or Alexa growth chart.
Did Tim just say, “This is blow away”? Does Scott Forstall get a royalty for that? Come to think of it, I miss that guy too.
Hey! The Woz is in the building! (Watch the audience pan immediately following the Apple Watch feel good video.)
Jeff Williams takes the stage to give us an update about what’s new in watchOS 4
I’m glad to see the new features of the Apple Watch Heart Rate app. The new elevated heart rate warning feature looks like it is the only reason you need to go out and get a new Watch. With the weather getting colder now, I’m not sure how much more walking I’m going to be doing at night, but come this spring, I might have to retire my original Watch and get a new Series 3 Watch.
Apple watchOS 4 is a free update for all Apple Watch customers on September 19.
So, now Apple Watch Series 3 has cellular service built-in. I’m sure that there are a lot of people who are excited about this. Me? Not so much so. Call me cheap, but I don’t want to give the carriers a dime more than I absolutely have to. My previous Watch Series 3 comment aside, when I do finally get around to upgrading my Watch, I plan on getting a model without cellular.
It is pretty cool that Apple has apparently worked out a deal with the carriers so that your iPhone and Watch share the same phone number. That should make things easier on the reduced UI of the Watch (compared to that of the iPhone UI). It’s also pretty cool that when your Watch is out of range of your iPhone, the Find My Friends location switches from the phone to the watch.
I’m not a subscriber to Apple Music, or any other streaming service, so the Apple Watch + Cellular + Music Streaming thing is completely lost on me. Might be great for you, and that’s totally fine, but I’m giving it a “m’eh”.
Ok, now we’re getting to the fun stuff. All the new tech that’s crammed inside Watch Series 3. I like the fact that Siri can talk now on Series 3. It’s one of the things I miss about using Siri on my Watch verses all of my other Apple devices with Siri.
Well, hello there, W2 chip! And, using the display as the antenna for the wireless radios seems like a cool idea…as long as Apple does’t end up telling us that we’re wearing it wrong.
I’m also glad to hear that Series 2 and Series 3 cases are the same size. That means my collection of bands from my original Watch should still be compatible.
Orders for Apple Watch Series 3 will start on September 15 and goes on sale on September 22.
Apple TV Update
Tim talks a little bit about the major milestones in TV technology. Apple TV 4K is the next obvious step. I don’t watch all that much TV and I don’t have a 4K TV. So, while this is a cool announcement, like Apple Watch + cellular + Music, it’s hard for me to get really excited about this.
Eddie Cue comes out to talk about the specifics of the new Apple TV 4K. Coming from a guy who wears Hawaiian shirts to work on Friday, I’m a little disappointed by the tame shirt Eddie is wearing. But, I digress.
With Apple TV 4K being asked to push all of those HDR pixels around, it’s no wonder why Apple stuffed an iPad Pro A10X Fusion chip in the new Apple TV.
What is cool is that Apple is updating iTunes with 4K movie content as the same price as iTunes HD content. That’s really nice seeing how 4K Blu-ray discs are more expensive than the standard Blu-ray version. 4K content at the same price as HD content on iTunes, I think, will be a driver for people to move from Blu-ray players and discs.
Ok, Eddie, now I’m impressed. Free HD movie upgrades to 4K versions at no additional charge. Honestly, we knew a 4K Apple TV was coming because leaks. I was fully expecting another iTunes Plus moment where people can play the difference between HD and 4K to get the upgrade without having to play full price. It’s nice to see Apple eating the cost on this and not passing it on to customers.
Also I’m glad to hear that the Netflix app, and the it will get here eventually Amazon Prime app will provided 4K steaming support to the Apple TV. Apple needs these two partners providing Apple TV users with 4K content.
I will give you the ThatGameCompany Sky game demo looks pretty cool. I’m still looking for that killer game that will make me use want to play a game on Apple TV rather than my iPad Pro. Sky will be available for Apple TV, iPad, and iPhone this winter.
Apple TV 4K orders start on Friday, September 15 with unit sales starting the following week on September 22.
Tim is just getting back on stage to talk about iPhone. I just had a terrible thought. Please don’t let Tim pull out “One more thing” to introduce D22, the new, expensive iPhone we all have been talking about for the last year and was confirmed by the HomePod firmware leak.
Tim lays it on pretty thick for the non-Apple nerds by going over the last 10 years of iPhone hardware/software innovations. They have come a long way in the last decade.
Phil Schiller comes out to talk about iPhone 8. Yup, 8, as in skipping right over 7s.
While the new iPhone 8 and iPhone 8 Plus look very similar to the iPhone 6/6s/7 models, the iPhone 8 series sees the return of the glass front and back design last seen on the iPhone 4 and iPhone 4S from 2010 and 2011. My first iPhone was the 4S. I still have it on my desk. It looks like I will have to keep waiting for the return of the squared off sides like the iPhone 4 and 5 series had.
iPhone 8 and iPhone 8 Plus come in three colors this year: Silver, Space Grey, and new Gold finish. The aluminum antenna bands match the front and back plates. I won’t like, I think that they look nice. If I didn’t already know that there is a third iPhone coming this year, I would be ordering a Space Grey iPhone 8 Plus. It looks really nice.
I’m really glad to see True Tone displays coming to the iPhone. After living with the new 10.5″ iPad Pro for a few months, it really does make the display on the iPhone 7-series look inferior.
The iPhone 8-series will be the first iPhones to feature the new A11 Bionic chip.
That’s a LOT of horsepower for a pocket computer. Let’s face it, these things stopped being just “phones” a long, long time ago.
If you care about mobile photography you need to have an iPhone 8 Plus. Hands down. No question. Full stop.
The new advanced lighting AI feature is really cool. Really cool. Available as a beta feature on the iPhone 8 Plus, the Camera app is able to digitally change the lighting in a photo while you are preparing to take the photo. It is also very cool that you can alter the lighting after the photo is taken. Phil was very clear the point out that this is NOT a photo filter system. This is real-time lighting analysis.
What Apple is able to do with the camera hardware and software for shotting photos, high def video, and AR features is amazing. I have no idea how you go about doing this stuff. Its just like magic.
The iPhone 8-series now supports inductive charging!
The iPhone 8-series now supports inductive charging! I’ve been waiting for this feature since getting my iPhone 4S back in 2011. Finally.
The wireless charging using in the iPhone 8-series is called Qi. Mophie and Belkin received a glancing reference about their charging pads. there’s no mention of an Apple branded charging pad. Yet.
Ok, now it’s time for the rubber to meet the road. Apple is only offering iPhone 8 and iPhone 8 Plus in two storage capacities: 64GB and 256GB. With the iPhone 7 Plus, I went for the middle, 128GB, which is gone now. That’s good news, I think, because my general impression is that people just need more storage on their phones. My wife’s iPhone 6s is perpetually full. The bad news is that the starting prices are going up, up, and away! iPhone 8 will start at $699, while iPhone 8 Plus will start at $799. Ouch!
Pre-orders for iPhone 8-series starts this Friday, September 15, and go on sale on Friday, September 22. iOS 11, which did not get any stage time, will go live for everyone on Tuesday, September 19.
On more thing…
Oh, Tim. I really don’t know how I feel about this. I remember back to Steve’s keynotes and how excited I got. It was like watching a baseball game where the New York Yankees come from way behind in the bottom of the 9th, against the Red Sox, to win the game. Those were awesome. This doesn’t feel awesome to me. Don’t get me wrong. I get what Tim’s going for, given the accolades at the beginning in Steve’s honor, but this misses the mark, I’m afraid.
“We have great respect for these works and we don’t use them lightly.” Ok, at least there’s that.
Please welcome, the iPhone X.
The iPhone X looks cool. I’m glad that it has a new glass back and a stainless steel frame. It looks amazing. I am having a hard time with the name, thou. X. As in 10. Didn’t Mac OS X just get renamed to macOS? Was it because the X was moving from the Mac to the iPhone? I don’t know. X is cooler than 10, but I think iPhone Edition would have made a better name.
I’m glad that there are only two colors for iPhone X; Space Grey and Silver. I’m not a fan of the Gold/Rose Gold colors. There’s a special place in my heart for (Product) RED devices, and I can see an iPhone X in (Product) RED coming in six months, but for now, yeah, I’m good with Space Grey and Silver. I’m sure that I’ll be ordering the Space Grey model.
iPhone X’s display is call the Super Retina Display, which, of course, brings all the goodies. I am really excited to see this display in person.
Raise to Wake and Tap to Wake are fine features, but I already miss Touch ID and the Home button. That said, I generally like the feel of the new display, notch and all. But the gut reaction is that I would immediately flip the status bar, putting the clock on the right and radio signal and battery indicators on the left.
Face ID = Simple. Nature. Effortless. Thank goodness, Phil didn’t say “courageous”.
I’m not smart enough to understand how a neural engine works, but if Face ID is as easy to use as Touch ID was, I don’t care. Neural engine might as well as been synonymous with “frickin’ awesome”.
Phil also says that Face ID can’t be fooled by photos or professional quality masks. That’s a shot at Samsung. Apple has clearly done their homework with all of the hardware they put into this iPhone. Time will tell if Face ID is any easier to crack than Touch ID or Samsung’s thing, but I’m willing to give Apple the benefit of the doubt here. This looks really cool and I can’t wait to get my hands on iPhone X.
C Fed is on stage to demo iOS 11 running on iPhone X!!
Face ID for unlock looks like it is going to be fine. Even when paying for groceries with Apple Pay. The new swipe gestures, I think are going to take some getting used to, after all, we are talking about 10 years of muscle memory, but I think after a few days, it will be fine too.
Cool! Portrait Mode selfies!!
Yeah, my kids don’t need an education. (I’m kidding.) I have all new accessories to buy on top of the crazy expensive iPhone X. AirPower really does look super coo!. #Need. It is going to be a long wait for AirPower to come out “next year.” On the plus side, I don’t have to buy another AirPod charging case now. So there’s that.
Pre-order for iPhone X is October 27 – wha? Over a month away. If I had Animoji now, there might be a soft serve frownie face here.
Ouch again. But I’ve already taken that day off from work.
Here’s the 2017 fall iPhone line up. Obviously, I want all of this stuff “yesterday”. It’s going to be a long, drawn out wait for November 3 to arrive.
Overall, I thought this was a good event and I’m looking at getting my hands on these new toys in the months ahead.
Apple is getting ready to launch their newly redesigned Danbury Fair Mall location with the new design language that has already debuted in other retail locations, such as the Union Square store in San Francisco.
As I arrived this morning, the prep teams were still putting the finishing touches on the store: setting up chairs at the newly designed tables, arranging the milk crate seats in front of the video wall in The Forum, and obsessively, and I do mean obsessively, wiping away every smudge and fingerprint on the massive sliding glass panels that make up the enterance to the store.
The new retail store format is the work of Angela Ahrendts, Apple’s SVP of Retail and Online Store, and Jonathan Ivy, Apple Chief Design Officer.
The store looks absolutely great! It is instantly recognizable as an iconic Apple store, and still offers a clean modern look that makes you want to just come in and hang out. The Forum video wall looks really nice! Coming to the store for the new Apple Today sessions is going to be really great fun.
All of the Apple managers and staff that I have talked to this morning, like me, are really excited for the new store and the format. This store, just like the products that are sold here, is just incredible!
With less than an hour to go before the Danbury store relaunched, the employees are marking the last checks on everything.
As the 10:00am launch our draws near, the crew gets in a group photo.
After the doors opened, the group of enthusiastic customers that had gathered in the mall flooded in!
[Updated with new photos.]
On this Independence Day, during all of the picnics, vacations, gadgets, and software, let us not forget the many men and women who gave their lives in service of this great nation starting on July 4, 1776 and all the way up to today!
Have a happy and safe 4th Of July!
I had the opportunity to put on an Apple t-shirt and head down to the New Haven Apple Store with my Dad to pick up a new Apple iPad Pro 10.5-inch. In a nutshell, I bough a 256GB, Wi-Fi, Space Grey iPad Pro with an Apple leather Smart Cover. I will post my impressions of the iPad Pro at a later time. Until then, here are my unboxing photos.
Back in April, I purchased a (then) new 15-inch Apple MacBook Pro. I have been using this laptop side-by-side with my late-2015 5K iMac with Retina display. So why am I writing an impressions post now given that earlier this month, at WWDC 2017, Apple replaced the model I purchased? By and large, the differences between the late 2016 15-inch USB-C MacBook Pro and at the mid-2017 15-inch USB-C MacBook Pro are spec bumps, so I feel that the impressions will by and large be the same.
I am comparing this MacBook Pro with my now “legacy” classified and beloved 2009-era 17-inch MacBook Pro and my work issued Dell Latitude E7440.
Just looking at the three laptops next to each other on a desk, the 17-inch MacBook Pro is comically large. I purchased it at the time because I wanted a large screen, at the highest resolution possible, at home and while on the go. With the 15-inch MacBook Pro, the Retina screen looks amazing, and at the scaled resolution of 1920 x 1200, everything looks sharp and crisp. In practical terms, I am able to fit two Word documents, two Safari windows, or some other combination of app windows side-by-side, and still not feel constrained. I still really like working on the 5K iMac’s scaled 3200 x 1800 display, where I can easily fit more app windows side-by-side, but when I’m out of the house, the 15-inch MacBook Pro is a great fit. I prefer it over using Split View on a 12.9-inch iPad Pro.
Apple’s obsession over thin and light continues with the current generations of MacBook Pros. Lots of people have been talking about the jettison of ports and the keyboard on the MacBook Pro. I do miss the ports and SD card slot on older MacBook Pro notebooks, but I don’t feel constrained by having a USB-C only notebook. As it turns out, I don’t use many USB devices. I did purchase two dongles (USB-C to USB-A and the USB-C Digital AV Multiport adapters), but I infrequently need them. My two external USB-A hard drives are permanently connected to my iMac, which I feel is the reason for my infrequent use. The dongles live in my laptop bag. As far as the keyboard is concerned, I like it. It is fine. In my opinion, there is no need to pull out the pitch forks and torches to storm Apple Park. With the late 2016 MacBook Pro models, Apple tweaked the keyboard design so that the keys feel better when you type on them. My Dad has a first generation 12-inch MacBook and I much prefer the keyboard on the 15-inch MacBook Pro keyboard. The key caps are a bit louder than they keys on my 17-inch MacBook Pro and Dell Latitude E7440, but not any worse than how it sounds when I type on the Apple Smart Keyboard for my 12.9-inch iPad Pro. In my real-life experience, I don’t find the keyboard “clickiness” to be disruptive when used in meetings. In my opinion, the new MacBook Pro keyboards are not anywhere as loud as the beloved Apple Extended II keyboard that I still use with my iMac on occasion (read: when my 2006 Apple Wireless Keyboard batteries die unexpectedly). I can go on about Apple keyboards, but I want to save that for a future post.
The weight on the 15-inch Apple laptop is nice. Weighing it on the FedEx scale in the office, it comes out to exactly 4.0 pounds. My Dell Latitude E7440? 3.7 pounds. I was hoping that the MacBook would weigh less than the Latitude, but no dice there. As far as the build quality, in my opinion, the MacBook wins hands down. From the aluminum body, to the solid feel of the keyboard, the gigantic track pad, and the Retina screen, there is no comparison to the Dell. Don’t get me wrong, the Latitude line of notebooks are fine business class machines, but I just feel that the Mac will always have my style over run-of-the-mill business machines. The MacBook Pros are now available in colors, well two options anyway: the traditional silver and the new Space Grey option. I chose to go with the Space Grey option over my fears that any scratch or scuff to the body will easily show the light-colored aluminum body. I really baby my Apple hardware, and so far, there have been no scratches to the finishing. After having used the 17-inch MacBook Pro, the Space Grey option, in my opinion, just looks a lot nicer and it fits in with my matte black iPhone 7 and my personal Space Grey iPad.
The big features that Apple is heavily promoting on the new MacBook Pros are the Touch Bar and Touch ID. I knew that if I was going to buy a new MacBook, it had to have those two features. Sure, I tried to convince myself that I could get by with a 13-ich MacBook Escape (the 13-inch MacBook Pro with a standard keyboard that includes function keys), but I knew I would regret that decision almost instantly. Touch ID is my favorite feature. It works super-fast to unlock my Mac. Much faster than unlocking my iMac with my my Apple Watch. Apps like AgileBits 1Password are a breeze to use now that I don’t have to type in a strong pass phrase. And using Apple Pay is also a lot nicer on the MacBook Pro verses authenticating and Apple Pay purchase on my iMac and Apple Watch. The Touch Bar is OK, but I haven’t found a killer use of it yet. Sure, it feels really nice when I slide my finger across it to adjust the screen brightness or volume, but when I am writing in Microsoft Word 2016, I find myself using keyboard shutouts or menu items before I look down at the Touch Bar. The virtual Esc key located in the first position on the Touch Bar has been fine to use, in my opinion. I think that part of that is because as of right now, only the new MacBook Pros have the Touch Bar and I move between the MacBook Pro, the iMac, and the Latitude that I can’t get invested in the Touch Bar because it is missing from two-thirds of the PCs that I use, not to mention the physical keyboard for my 12.9-inch iPad Pro. Touch Bar is clearly a nice to have, but I don’t think it would be a deal breaker for anyone who is looking to buy a 12 or 13-inch MacBook or iPad Pro that doesn’t have it.
The track pad on the MacBook Pro is a joy to use. I really like it. It’s massive when compared to the track pads on my older MacBook Pro and Latitude. I have never had a problem with cursor jumps from my palms resting on that track pad like I have experienced with the Latitude. This is an area that I think Mac users take for granted. I almost always use an external wireless mouse when using my Latitude out of its docking station. The track pad is just that bad with false tap registers. This my my first force touch track pad and I find clicking to be as satisfying as it was on older Apple laptops. Like the Touch Bar, I don’t find myself using many of the pressure sensitive features of the track pad, such as selecting and hard pressing on a highlighted word to fetch its definition. I do use the back swipe feature. Most of the time it does work well, but I have run into some issues with incorrectly registering my mousing around and accidentally triggering the move back gesture in Safari. For example, I have accidentally triggered the Safari back command three times while writing this review. Depending on what you are doing, and how frequently data is saved, this problem could be more than troublesome for some users. Thankfully, I have not been burned too badly by it. Hopefully, this is something that Apple can improve with future versions of the track pad or macOS.
I purchased what I call a middle of the road configuration 15-inch MacBook Pro for two reasons: I wanted to get it “now” and I didn’t want to break the bank with a top of the line model. I opted for an Intel Core i7 Skylake CPU, 16GB of RAM, built-in Intel HD 530 graphics, and 256GB SSD. The 2017 MacBook Pros now include the newest Intel Core “Kabylake” CPUs that other Widows PCs have had for a while now.
My advice to anyone who is looking to purchase a MacBook Pro is to push the specs to the maximum that your wallet can accept. If money was no object, I would have bumped the SSD up to a terabyte. After I installed all of my software and synchronized the data that I needed from OneDrive, about 60% of my SSD was full. As a result, I am very conscience of the data that I keep on SSD verses what stays in OneDrive and iCloud. This is a little problematic if I forget to sync a file that I need ahead of time. If I do forget something, I pull down a copy of the file from Backblaze, which I use to backup my iMac, and move it back to iMac when I get home. With a larger capacity SSD, I could have avoided this minor pain point. For the most part, syncing data across my MacBook Pro, iMac, and Latitude E7440 works well, and most of the time this isn’t a problem for me. Your experiences will vary.
When the 2016 MacBook Pro was released, you might recall “Batterygate”. For what I’m doing, writing in Word, surfing with Safari or Firefox (my Macs are a Google Chrome no-fly zone), playing music in iTunes, and a few other light use applications, battery life has been fine for me. I did purchase an open box 87-watt USB-C power adapter and cable for the office – just in case.
In daily use, I have not pushed the envelope on my MacBook Pro. It hasn’t gotten hot to the touch or warmed up so much that the fans started screaming. But, then again, I haven’t run a Windows 7/8.1/10 or Windows Server 2012 R2 virtual machine in VMware Fusion yet either. As with the battery, heat and performance mileage will vary by use. The more you push the i7 CPU, the hotter the laptop will run and the battery will drain faster.
My MacBook Pro feels zippy. It feels just as fast as my Intel Core i5 iMac, and is on par with my i7 Latitude E7440. The machine boots up and is ready to work fast. There is no power button on the new MacBook Pros. Just open the lid and get going. The experience is very iPad-like without trying to be iOS or an iPad.
I do wish the split screen feature of macOS Sierra worked more like the screen snapping window features of Windows 7/8.1/10. It is the one features that I miss when I use a Mac. At work, I snap windows side-by-side with a left or right-edge mouse drag or keyboard shortcut, that I often have a “duh” moment at home. But that’s neither here nor there for MacBook Pro hardware.
Having two USB-C ports on either side of the MacBook Pro is nice. I can move around without having to worry about how to situate the power cable. Left or right of the desk or table, it isn’t a problem because there is a power port on both sides.
My main driver for getting a new MacBook Pro comes down to what I’m doing with my Mac hardware. I am doing a lot of writing for school work. A lot. So much so, that I there are a lot of times when I just need to get away from my home office and get a chance of scene. I could be like that guy who brings his iMac to a coffee shop, but bringing a MacBook Pro to Starbucks or my favorite 24-hour diner is a lot easier. I could use my work issued Latitude, but I can’t run OmniGraffle or OmniPlan on Windows. I have found that there are still a good amount of quarks passing Microsoft Project and Visio files between Windows and macOS Sierra that I prefer to have the Mac OS-only software everywhere I need it (iMac/MacBook Pro/iPad Pro). And for this need, the MacBook Pro really fits the bill for me.
As you might have guessed by now, I am happy with my MacBook Pro purchase. That really shouldn’t be surprising considering how old my MacBook Pro 17-inch model is. I was hoping to have a flagship MacBook Pro for a little longer than I did, but I am really glad to see Apple updating hardware again. (If you have not yet watched the 2017 WWDC keynote address, you should. Apple released or announced a slew of Mac hardware updates.)
There are a few things I wish were different. The previously mentioned Safari back gesture on the touch pad is at the top of my list. That problem will burn me if I am not careful moving my index finger around the track pad. I also feel that Apple is overcharging for larger capacity SSDs and discrete GPU options. The new 2017 15-inch MacBook Pros now come stock with 512GB SSDs, so that’s good news. And, finally, I really wished that there was a way to upgrade the SSD in my MacBook Pro. Down the road, I would have liked to upgrade to a 512GB or 1.0TB SSD. Apple’s decision to integrate the SSD storage module to the motherboard prevents that upgrade from ever happening. (The same is true for the memory configuration.) I would like to have the extra space for Final Cut Pro X and Logic, but with storage space at such a premium, that will have to be an iMac only install when I get around to buying them.
I also wish that Apple included the AC adapter extension cable that was included for no additional charge in the past. If you don’t already have an extra extension cable hanging around, and I do, it is an extra $19 to buy one from Apple. To me, that just feels like gouging your customers. It isn’t a deal breaker, but for this longtime Apple user, I feel it should have been in the box. Speaking of which, let’s have a moment of silence for the passing of Mag Safe power connectors. USB-C is nice and all, but there is no way that a USB-C power cable is going to disconnect as gracefully as Mag Safe did. Be super careful if you are using your MacBook Pro plugged in while working in a high traffic area. Or if you or your kids are a klutz, like I can be.
And that brings us to USB-C and dongles. I purchased a pair of USB-C to USB-A adapters back in November when Apple’s USB-C accessories price drop was on, knowing that there was a real chance that I would eventually need them sooner or later. One’s in my bag. The other is in my office. I wasn’t crazy about paying $69 to get an HDMI out port so I could connect a projector to my Mac, but I also wanted a high-quality product that I knew would work. Still, $69. Ugh. I would have been happier paying $49.
If you are in the market for a new MacBook Pro, now is a great time to make a move. The 2017 hardware spec bumps add more value to the 2016 MacBook Pro line up. Knowing what my needs were going to be while making my purchase decision helped me select the best option for me. In practical terms, it helped me know the correct balance of features and options verses price.
I really like this MacBook Pro. I feel that the screen is superior to the other two notebooks I am comparing it against. The performance of the hardware and software is good. Battery life has not been an issue for me. And there is no comparison when it comes to industrial design and polish.
My wife, whom I love, just doesn’t understand my “need” for yet another Apple something-or-other, but we make it work. She knew I was an Apple nerd going in.