Recently I bristled at a fellow who implied that we needed to "touch" a MacBook Pro before critiquing it. Today I did. They're very nice. Very light, well made, great screen.

Here are some fimp-ish comments:

The Touch Bar is an extended replacement for right-click. I like it.

With the Touch Bar, most of what'd be in a context menu is already open, full color, waiting on you. On Windows, I hit shift-F10 to open a context menu. With Touch Bar, it's already open.

Like check this out... I downloaded MacVim, hoping I could try it out with the crazy escape key. When I clicked on the dmg file so that it was selected in the Finder, I got this:

Share menu

That's pretty cool. I can get info, share, or tag it. When I selected "share", I got this share sheet:

share sheet

Mail, Messages, Airdrop, Notes, and the ever-present "More". Neat!

Message Share

I can dig it.

When I tried Mail, I caught this Touch Bar menu (which, again, I'm arguing is essentially a mouse-free, gesture-aware context menu):

Mail Touch Bar Menu

Honestly, that's beautiful. SO much easier than making your user remember lots of keyboard shortcuts if they don't live in your app. And if they live in your app, you could potentially let them set up whatever items they want.

And of course this is better than a context-menu, because you can gesture with it as well.

Seems small, but Touch Bar isn't just a good idea waiting for programmers to do something with it, as I've heard it described. It's a good idea now, and well integreated into OS and first party apps.

Escape is odd. (I'm a VIm user.)

I wasn't able to get MacVim installed, as it was an app from the dreaded "unidentified developer" and I haven't been made privvy to the Apple Store admin login and password, but I could open vi in the Terminal and test drive a little.

Escape is odd.

If you don't know vi, it's a text editor that has two modes: Command Mode, where you give vi commands to perform on the text, and Insert Mode, where you're essentially just typing away like Notepad or TextEdit. And vi isn't the only editor that supports it. Sublime Text has a vi like mode built in, and WebStorm has a nice plugin, for instance.

How do you get from Insert to Command mode? Escape.

Escape key

Escape is now on the Touch Bar, and is just a virtual, not a "real", key. That's not great, but it's not horrible.

Here's the weird part -- it's not where it's supposed to be. See that dead space to its left? If I could trade that for a real, dedicated ESC key, I would in a heartbeat. It's hard to "feel", and since it's to the right of where I expect it to be, it's not natural. For someone who hits ESC scores of times a day, well, that stinks.

Enough. Fringe case.

One interesting tidbit...

But one thing I learned while playing around in the Terminal... See that greyed out button to the right of the ESC and color wheel? It says man page. That's really pretty cool. I wouldn't use it much, but it's context sensitive, and lights up when you type in a *NIX command.

I manned grep. Here it is:

grep man pages

Again, not a big deal, but nice. Makes me optimistic that the Touch Bar will slowly become second nature. Apple seems to be fairly interested in integrating it.

The track pad drives me batty. I couldn't single-click to save my life.

I kept force-clicking or having nothing happen. After switching to tap-to-click, I was okay again. But somehow, I've unlearned clicking. And I didn't have this trouble on the MacBook or early MacBook Pros with Force Trackpads.

(I think I might have been accidentally alt-clicking sometimes; it's a case of having the whole trackpad clickable)

Click-drag drove me crazy too. Windows has a tap, tap-drag gesture I'm used to now, perhaps. But keeping my initial click down is more painful, again, possibily because I was right-clicking at times.

Btw, three-finger drag is really well hidden now. But once I found it, instant happiness.

The keyboard is louder than it used to be. Like most sensible folk, I couldn't care much less.

Aside from my esc issues, above, I've got to say that it's a nice keyboard. I could use it easily when I'm mobile/out of the office/away from my "real" keyboard.

USB-C ports are really small. I get it.

If this is the trade off to get a smaller laptop, I'm all in. USB-C never bothered me. You need replacement cables for some peripherals, but otherwise, you just need a dock.

The new ports (and removal of the old ones) never bothered me.


There are two great times to buy Mac hardware to get your money's worth:

  1. When it's initially released.
  2. When it's sold refurb for the first time.

Both of those maximize your cash, I think. The refurb discount is pretty good.

I'd convinced myself to wait on the 2017 MacBook, and rather than buy a truck, I'd just buy a real computer for my mobile slot. Right now, I carry around a Lenovo 100S for those times that I "don't carry a computer". It's a crap computer for specs, but has great battery life.

The MacBook is nearly the same size, and would actually run rings around the 100S.

But now I wonder. That Touch Bar is a nice addition. If that's a $300 mark-up addition like it is on the MacBook Pro, I'll probably wait for a 2017 "F12" MacBook (one without a Touch Bar) to hit the refurb rack. But now, having "touched" one, I think a refurb 13" MacBook Pro with Touch Bar might be an option I'll consider too. It's not as fast as much Y700, but it's a great mobile laptop. Having touched one, I get what the MacBook Pro is trying to be a little better.

The new MacBook Pro is still not a truck. Walt Mossberg at The Verge nails this on the head...

It's the name, stupid

Neither will unseat my "truck" on the laptop stand in the home office, but either Mac would mean the Y700 stays on the stand a lot more regularly when I leave the house.

I also spent a little time with the iPhone 7. Heeeeeello, nurse. Great feeling phone. You know, I like that home "button" better than the one on my SE. I played around with the settings, and "2" feels great.

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