The MacBook Pro Next Gen First Looks

Early this morning, I was joined by about 50 people in front of the Tokyo Apple Store.  All of those in line were hoping that there were still machines in stock, but just as the doors appeared to open, a staffer walked out and boldly announced that while there were display models of the new machine, no actual for sale items were available. Funnily, I needed to go to the store to have an iPhone repaired but figured I would check out the new offerings.  But the announcement put a dark cloud over the once highly enthusiastic line and it began to slowly migrate towards the staffer.

While this type of announcement would have created a riot in some parts of the world complete with smashed windows and egg throwing, the mix of Japanese and foreigners in the line, merely began asking pointed questions about the approximate availability of the machines.  Much to the chagrin of those in the line, those answers were also not much use as the staffer simply shrugged and said he didn’t have any further information on it.  “However,” he mentioned, “the standard MacBook Pro models are currently in stock”

So as we walked into the store, there were two units of the shiny new machine, prominently displayed for all customers who walked through the door.  A young Mr. Simon Hui and I moved towards the machines with a glee that really didn’t display the disappointment that they weren’t available today.   The two of us poked around the machine, prodding it to do heavier and heavier tasks with the simple goal of making it bog down.   However, no such bogging happened.

Our tests included the following:

  • place multiple apps on the screen and move them around, taxing the graphics processor
  • starting and closing of applications (none of these took more than 1 second)
  • Shutting the machine down (1.5 seconds)
  • Booting the machine (Less than 9 seconds total)
  • Taking a photo with the built in camera (more on this later)
  • Viewing of photos and seeing if we could see any issues

What we found with our tests were that none of them took any time at all.  The machine seemed to laugh at us with each poke and give us 11 cents change on every dime.   It was fast, crisp, clear and definitely not taxed at all, and we were only working on a base model of the machine.  The 2.3Ghz Intel i7 CPU in the machine just makes it fly.

While many displays of higher pixelage and density tend to make text nearly unreadable, this nearly blind old man was able to read even the finest small text on the machine.  The Maps app has some of the smallest test and even that was clear and concise.

My favorite part of our tests were the shutdown and re-start of the machine.  In my experience over the years, most machines take 20-30 seconds to start or to shutdown, the new MacBook Pro performed these tasks as if it were starting or stopping a single process.  The Shutdown was the most surprise as it was no issue whatsoever, meaning that this machine makes the word portability real.

The only major drawback we found was the built in camera in the machine.  While 1080p HD is the standard for most cameras these days on new products, sadly, the MacBook Pro only has a 720p Facetime HD camera.  This oversight means that users will have to use external cameras in order to achieve the quality of video or photos that one wants when dealing with high end production and processing.

The good things on the machine include the SDXC slot which Apple has avoided for a long time but has finally relented in putting in their machines.  Also the Thunderbolt connectors mean that high end storage devices can be attached to the machine without sacrificing any speed.  Apple offers a 12TB Thunderbold Raid array for the really high end storage but it too comes with a major price tag.  Also the built in HDMI means that large TV screens are a breeze.

The pricing of the base model of the machine at $2199 USD puts it in reach of most mid range buyers with the stacked out high end model costing a whopping $3906 USD with everything you will need with the machine.  Storage and other goodies are more.

Our Assessment:

This is definitely a road warrior machine.  Lightweight, powerful and fast.  In our book, it is probably the finest machine Apple, Inc. has ever produced and they have covered a lot of bases with the machine.   We found that the graphics are still not 100 percent of what true gamers would expect, however, the speed of the machine makes it close to being able to handle almost anything users could think of.  Larger games which are Disk intensive will happily churn along on the new MacBook Pro.

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About the Author

Bill Martens

A.P.P.L.E. Chairman of the Board and Club president -- Bill worked for the founder, Val J. Golding and A.P.P.L.E. from 1981 to 1982. In 1999, he began archiving the materials which were distributed and sold by A.P.P.L.E.. That project led to the group that remained of A.P.P.L.E. Bill was involved in the financial industry in Tokyo and has over 20 major office infrastructure projects to his name. In March 2001, he retired to write books and to spend more time pursuing personal interests. As the president of the users group, Bill is in charge of distribution of Call-A.P.P.L.E. magazine as well as the organization of this web site. Bill currently resides in Tokyo, Japan and Shelton, Wa splitting time between the places.