Apple MacBook Pro 13 (2016) review: with Touchbar and Retina Display

Apple MacBook Pro 13 (2016) review: with Touchbar and Retina Display

Apple MacBook Pro 13, the new notebook prosumer of Apple introduces the Touch ID for security and a brand new way to interact with the innovative Touchbar.

Cutting-edge, it does not mean necessarily know they innovators, but at least know how to follow the new trends and developments. In technology, Apple is certainly a cutting-edge manufacturer. In the field of the notebook, just by looking at recent history, has “thrown” USB with faster Thunderbolt, he has focused on the Retina display and, in a very controversial, eliminated the CD player when the thought was considered a heresy.

With the all-new MacBook Pro with Touchbar, Apple has maintained the balance principle “avant-garde” and heretical, thus innovating and raising new controversy inevitable. Just let her eyes run along the edges because it is immediately caught by the feeling that something is missing. Another look, then a control look and, yes, in fact, it is just that: there is either the SD card slot or the MagSafe appreciated and lacks even a complete USB. There are only Thunderbolt ports. Four to be precise (version 13-inch without Touchbar has two), for rapid charging, DisplayPort, Thunderbolt up to 40 Gbps and USB 3.1 Gen 2 up to 10 Gbps.

As at the time of resignation from the CD player, then, Apple wants to anticipate the times and appealing to a user evolved, or evolution, for transferring all your data now uses predominantly, if not exclusively, the wireless – even to pass photos from camera to PC. For all due respect to all conservatives, which will still have a way to buy the special extra adapters (for this test were available adapters Apple Thunderbolt 3/USB-C Thunderbolt 2 and USB-C Lightning and another from USB- C to the Belkin USB-C).

The only exception is the 3.5 mm audio jack, which strangely remains untouched, a real contradiction in terms in light of its removal from the iPhone 7.

Apple MacBook Pro 13 (2016) review: with Touchbar and Retina Display

Apple MacBook Pro 13: Design

Over the shock and anger subsided, it discovers the body usual unibody and the minimalism that is the distinctive imprint of Jonathan Ive. Beautiful, indeed beautiful, the Apple MacBook Pro 13 comes in two different colors, silver and gray sidereal.

Even when closed, it is dynamic and it seems impossible that it can sit motionless on a desk. Besides the horses are all there and is made to fit comfortably anywhere – especially the 13-inch version of the theme of this review: compared to the previous generation, is more light and thin with its 1.37 kg and 1.49 × 30, 41 × 21.24 cm.

When open, everything seems familiar and, oops! Entirely different. Between the screen and keyboard, there it was, the controversial Touchbar, a distinctive feature of the new MacBook Pro (in detail in the section), standing next to the brand new Touch ID for the notebook unlock fingerprint (also compatible with shopping on the iTunes Store).

Apple MacBook Pro 13 (2016) review: with Touchbar and Retina Display

Apple MacBook Pro 13 with Touchbar

Put simply, the Touchbar is nothing but a subtle touch strip, together with the running program; it replaces the Mac function keys with dedicated controls.

At the time of testing, the programs that support this feature are not many, but Apple has chosen to give free access to its code so that developers can exploit the full potential and in new ways (very interesting, to that effect, view the demo under embargo of the next version of Office, which uses the Touchbar very well).

The debut, the Touchbar is invariably supported by most Apple programs. Safari, for example, shows the forward and back buttons for browsing and open tab or history, just as you would expect. But if, on the page where you are, there’s a video playing here is that the Touchbar changes to show the title and allows you to scroll forward and rewind the movie by dragging the cursor with one finger.

Apple MacBook Pro 13 (2016) review: with Touchbar and Retina Display

In Mail, when writing, the Touchbar changes in the predictive system iOS suggesting words and emoji, while photos can be scrolled and then add photos to the Library with a tap or activate some editing functions such as rotation, which also, in this case, it is done by swiping your finger on the touch surface.

Even apps like Keynote, Numbers, and Pages arrive ready for the new Touchbar offering several practical shortcuts to various functions of creation, composition, and editing. Obviously Mac OS supports the new function by giving instant access to volume controls, brightness, etc.

Furthermore, the Touchbar can be customized by the user in various ways, also for individual applications, and supports multi-touch. Its reactivity is great and the transition from one program to another and from one function to another is immediate.

Whether its shortcut keys or specific functions, the aim is to make it more intuitive and fast to use any program. The impression is that Apple has made the center. As developers will do just this tool, probably there will be a change in the use of notebook: even now Apple imagines that its users use the MacBook Pro with two hands, one on Touchbar and the other on the trackpad.

Apple MacBook Pro 13: keyboard and trackpad

Even the keyboard has changed: while having the same stroke of the previous version appears terribly flatter (butterfly about the “mechanism” designed in Cupertino now in its second generation). Disorienting at first, but then you realize that the answer is more comfortable than expected and soon you get used despite a higher hardness and noise impact with your fingers. Again it is backlit, with lots of ambient light sensor.

Even the trackpad is the same. In this case, however, is not about technical changes (Force Touch and tactile feedback remain unchanged) but only in size: the new sensitive area is huge, wider by 46% than the previous version, and for this very convenient: with a single right to left motion, for example, the cursor is moved from side to side of the screen.

Apple MacBook Pro 13 (2016) review: with Touchbar and Retina Display

Apple MacBook Pro 13: specifications and performance

Although distracted by the news, it should not forget even for a minute that the MacBook Pro is a machine designed for professionals and as such should offer a high standard of performance. It must be said that the technical specifications vary greatly depending on the model chosen (and price), whether for example the Apple MacBook Pro 13 simple instead of the one with Touchbar or the 15 inches or more powerful processor.

The Apple MacBook Pro 13 with Touchbar under test is the version to € 2299. That is to say with Intel Core i5 2.9-GHz dual-core processor with Turbo Boost up to 3,3GHz, Intel Iris Graphics 550 GPU, 8 GB RAM and PCIe SSD drives with 512 GB (you can also configure it with Core i5 dual-core 3.1-GHz or Core i7 dual-core 3,3GHz, with 16 GB of RAM and a 1TB SSD).

On paper, it is not exactly cutting edge specifications – and also the benchmark punish him by placing it under some rival models based on Windows – but Apple is known for optimizing the performance of Mac OS (here in Sierra version with Siri) .

In fact, the benefits derived from it are highly respected, both in the ordinary both in overtime, including video games. Obviously, maximum performance in a Final Cut Pro rather than with FIFA 17, for example, is obtained with the more powerful models, but the MacBook Pro13 with Touchbar is a worthy fellow worker.

In the various uses to which it was subjected never hesitated and never has succumbed to exhaustion (full cache, numerous active background processes, continuous cycle for several hours), maintaining acceptable temperatures on surfaces even when put under stress.

The built-in battery lithium polymer battery is on par. Apple promises up to 10 hours of wireless web browsing and up to 10 hours of movies to iTunes playback. From the tests made, the first value appears confirmed at 100% even with the screen at maximum brightness; the second is instead departs two hours compared to the results obtained (8 hours, but using Netflix). Overall it is still good value.

Other features include Wi-Fi 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac, Bluetooth 4.2, three microphones and a 720p FaceTime HD camera.

Apple MacBook Pro 13 (2016) review: with Touchbar and Retina Display

Apple MacBook Pro 13: screen and speakers

The Apple MacBook Pro 13 does not forget some entertainment. The Display Retina is a LED backlit IPS 2560 × 1600 pixel resolution with 227 ppi, brightness of 500 nits and a large P3 color gamut, but the image professionals also have the option to connect to a single external monitor 5120 × 2880 pixels at 60 Hz for more than one billion colors, or two external monitors to 4096 × 2304 pixels at 60Hz and a billion of each color.

The resolution and sharpness are simply amazing and incredible brightness. The colors are rich and vibrant. Everything makes merit to create 4K, in short and is well suited not only to work but also for watching movies and long gaming sessions. Only blacks are slightly below the desirable, but the high contrast does not suffer.

Full marks also to the stereo speakers. Redesigned by Apple to offer greater dynamic range and lower distortion while increasing the maximum power, they can give great satisfaction to both music lovers and film both video professionals making and discography. Very few notebooks can boast a sound similar.

Apple MacBook Pro 13 (2016) review: with Touchbar and Retina Display


The Apple MacBook Pro 13 with Touchbar being tested for this review is a great notebook. Durable but stylish as usual, very versatile but with a price that is difficult to reach the end consumer, it has technical features that can satisfy the prosumer range, which is definitely recommended as a compromise between cost and performance. For consumer users, it is easier to contact your MacBook 13 without Touchbar, which costs a bit ‘more affordable.

The Touchbar is a pleasant surprise and one can see a great potential: only talk about it as a marketing gimmick or an amenity equivalent to a gross error. At the moment, however, it is not worth the price of admission by itself, certainly not cheap.

Therefore, unless you are using a Mac, and habitually inalienably by profession, the purchase is recommended only to those who has been standing in a MacBook Pro at least a couple of generations ago, or want to make the leap the ditch by Microsoft to Apple (but there are notebooks based on Windows 10 from the technical sector comparable but cheaper).

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