This week saw Apple release the heavily rumored 16-inch MacBook Pro allowing months of leaks and speculation. Apple’s fans are as excited as you would expect; “I couldn’t be happier”, “this really is a great upgrade,” and “I think I have my new Christmas gift for myself this year” typifying the response.

Is this fanatical excitement justified, when Apple’s key improvements are either reaching to match the Windows 10 powered competition, or fixing the embarrassing mistakes of previous MacOS powered laptops?

Once again the main elements can be represented in the keyboard. Following the introduction of the butterfly keyboard to the Mac laptops in 2015 it has proven to be temperamental, unreliable, and has required an extended guarantee to provide some confidence to owners. The new MacBook Pro comes with a new keyboard, but this magic keyboard looks suspiciously like the older scissor switch keyboard. iFixit has done a tear-down to get the best look possible at the technology.

“Your long butterfly keyboard nightmare is over. The new Magic Keyboard in the 16-inch MacBook Pro has an almost identical look and feel to much older Apple devices—so close, in fact, that you can swap in old Magic Keyboard keycaps. It feels like a do-over, a throwback, almost an apology.”

Apple has replaced a faulty keyboard with a working keyboard. That’s a positive step, but is fixing something that has been obviously poor quality for the lat few years worth of rapturous praise?

How about the improved performance and thermal efficiency of the MacBook Pro? Although extensive testing has not yet been carried out – just short previews or snap reviews by the invited journalists and community members – the indications are that Apple has a MacBook Pro that can cope with the demands placed on it.

Again, this is something to be excited about, but the reason for the jump up in performance is that the previous MacBook Pro machines equipped with similar Intel chips very quickly reached their thermal limits and had their performance cut back with throttling and undervolting.

Congratulations on Apple for sorting this out, but surely it would have been better to have it sorted it out before the previous generation of MacBook Pros had been put on sale.

Apple is pushing the ‘world’s best pro notebook’, and that’s certainly the case if your point of comparison is any of Apple’s recent MacBook Pro machines. Look back further though and the small touches that made the MacBook Pro a weapon of choice are still missing. To highlight three; the utility and protection offered by the mag-safe adaptor, the wide range of ports including the SD Card reader, and the battery indicator built into the chassis. Small touches that made the MacBook Pro feel worth of adulation that are probably not coming back.

Taking a look at the wider laptop market and you’ll see ideas and principles that put the MacBook Pro line-up. From simple but ergonomically useful features such as touch screens and stylus inputs, through 2-in-1 convertibles offering the best of the laptop and the tablet world, to laptops outfitted with expansive OLED screens, removable hard drives and easily repairable components, there is a world of innovation to be explored.

But not with Apple. The only true point of differentiation in the MacBook Pro is the uniqueness of MacOS Catalina. Unlike Microsoft’s Windows 10 where you have a choice of hardware and manufacturers for your laptop, if you want MacOS, you need to buy Apple. And if you have MacOS Catalina you’re very much tied to Apple’s cloud.

As long-time Apple watcher John Gruber puts it, “The risk of being a Mac user is that we’re captive to a single company’s whims.” Perhaps that’s why the geekerati are so excited about the new MacBook Pro… they don’t have another choice. 

Now read more about Tim Cook’s vision of MacOS Catalina and Apple’s cloud based services…