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New MacBook Pros

Another day, another Apple announcement! This week Apple announced the new MacBook Pro with Retina Display.

This is a lot like the existing MacBook Pro, except that it's notably slimmer and lighter. It's got a gigantic trackpad, and the higher-end models have a novel "Touch Bar" which replaces the row of function keys at the top of the keyboard with a mini-screen that different software can use to give you customized buttons on your keyboard, and also use your fingerprint to unlock things like with your iPhone. It sounds neat -- I'm looking forward to trying it out. The screen is brighter and crisper, as well.

One thing you'll have to adjust to is that the various MacBook Pro ports -- power, USB 3, HDMI, Thunderbolt 2, power, SD card -- have been replaced by four "Thunderbolt 3" ports. These are a Thunderbolt-enhanced version of the USB-C port that's on the MacBook. All of the above types of cables (except power) can be connected to a Thunderbolt 3 port if you have the right adapter (you're definitely gonna need at least one USB-C to USB adapter). I for one am bummed about losing the magnetic power cable -- I kick that thing on a semi-regular basis.


Apple's product line remains confusing. We now have the following laptop choices:

  • 15" MacBook Pro with Touch Bar and four Thunderbolt 3 ports, starts at $2,399
  • 13" MacBook Pro with Touch Bar and four Thunderbolt ports, starts at $1,799
  • 13" MacBook Pro with two USB-C ports (and no Touch Bar), starts at $1,499
  • 13" MacBook Pro old model (2015), starts at $1,299 [don't buy this]
  • 13" MacBook Air, starts at $999
  • 12" MacBook, starts at $1,299

And don't forget the 12.9" and 9.7" iPad Pro quasi-laptops. Plus each of the above have many configuration options. What's a consumer to do?


The non-Retina display MacBook Pro with an optical drive was finally discontinued. Also, the MacBook Air's days may be numbered. My beloved 11" model has been discontinued, presumably in favor of the slimmer-and-lighter (though less capable) MacBook model they introduced last year. The 13" Air is still available, presumably as a less expensive alternative to the 13" Pro, but it seems likely Apple will eventually discontinue it, since the 13" Pro is effectively the same weight and is physically smaller, though it may feel thicker because it doesn't have the Air's tapered edges.

The Mac Pro and Mac mini desktop computers remain available, despite not having been updated in years. These may well be on the chopping block, too -- I hope not.


And now, for the answer to the #1 IvanExpert question for October: Should I update to macOS Sierra? In general, yes, it's safe to do, though please check to see that you have a Time Machine backup first (click the "clock" icon at the top of your screen at look at the grey first line of the menu that drops down to see the most recent backup time). Sierra offers some new stuff, though if you were already on Yosemite or El Capitan, probably nothing that will blow your mind. Unless you want to chat at length with Siri.

If you have any questions, give a holler.

(October 2016)

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