2016 MacBook Pro Touch Bar Review Roundup

The controversial new MacBook Pro has finally arrived. One of them, at least. The other, featuring Apple’s new Touch Bar technology, has recently been making review rounds on some of the web’s biggest tech publications. We’ve rounded up some of their thoughts into one post.


Here are some review highlights from around the web of both the 13-inch and 15-inch 2016 MacBook Pro with the Touch Bar.

When it comes to reviewing Apple products, The Verge is one of the best publications out there. Their previous review of the latest MacBook Pro dived deep into the hardware and performance. Their review is mostly dedicated to the Touch Bar:

The good news is that the Touch Bar’s interface is all software. It can be updated and refined and improved. I suspect it’ll take a little while before Apple and third-party developers find the best use for each of their specific apps, but I hope they’ll learn quickly that there’s a fine line between presenting helpful options and overwhelming their users. Apple and developers will also have to decide who the Touch Bar is for: pros or amateurs. Many of us are already familiar with keyboard shortcuts in the apps we’re using, and so far I’ve found that forcing myself to use the Touch Bar tends to slow me down.

Dana Wollman for Engadget is someone who’s been waiting to upgrade to a new MacBook Pro for quite some time. Unfortunately, this new laptop isn’t what she was hoping for:

I’m one of many Mac owners out there who has been waiting for Apple to upgrade the MacBook Pro line. Now that it finally has, I find the new laptop isn’t quite what I wanted. For me, the ideal MacBook Pro is actually a mashup between this and last year’s model. Let me keep my full-size USB ports, and my function keys, and my longer battery life, but stick with this thinner and lighter design. Stick with this improved display, Touch ID sensor, fast disk performance and more robust audio quality. For me, this is both a step forward and a step backward.

Gizmodo reviewer Christana Warren doesn’t hold back when calling the new Touch Bar a gimmick. Actually, she goes in hard on it:

In the end, real story with the MacBook Pro is the Touch Bar. It’s somewhat useful, but it’s still so under-supported for apps beyond Apple’s that, at least for right now, the Touch Bar is not reason enough to get a new MacBook Pro. Particularly if you’re already satisfied with the performance of your existing machine. If you need a new MacBook Pro and you can’t wait for the Kaby Lake refreshes already rumored, the benefits of the internal specs matched with the cool-factor of the Touch Bar make this a good Mac. For everyone else this is a gimmick on a very good, way too expensive laptop.

In Lance Ulanoff’s review for Mashable, it essentially all comes down to price:

Apple will never win awards for affordability. This 256GB of storage, 8GB of RAM, Core i5 system starts at $1,799 — $300 more than the entry-level, traditional function-key sporting MacBook Pro. There are cheaper Windows 10 systems out there that offer better specs and full touchscreens. A 13-inch Core i7 HP Spectre x360, for instance, lists for $1,149.99 (the Mac offers slightly better graphics, an Intel HD Graphics 550 as opposed to the 520). If, however, you are a Mac fan, this is an excellent upgrade with a fascinating and highly extensible new Touch Bar.

David Pierce for Wired thinks that while the new MacBook Pro is pricey, it’s a clear indication of where the mobile computing world is going:

The new MacBook Pro is a terrific laptop and, like the super-skinny MacBook, a clear indication of where most of the computing world is going. But comes with growing pains while your workflow and other devices adjust to a new way of doing things. I can eke another nine months or so out of my old Pro before springing for the upgrade. You probably can too. But we all need to start getting ready for the one-port, no-wires, un-repairable future now, because it’s coming.

AppleInsider‘s review, written by David Eran Dilger, clearly shows they were impressed with what Apple was able to achieve with the new MacBook Pro:

Apple’s 15-inch MacBook Pro with Touch Bar asks a steep price, but also delivers an incredible balance of power and efficiency, with industry leading support for technologies like PCIe SSD storage, Thunderbolt 3 connectivity and OS-integrated support for Wide Color gamut imaging. The Touch Bar —along with Touch ID —offers new conveniences and exposes features in new ways, allowing an innovative style of immediate, iOS-like interaction on conventional notebooks.

So, for the most part, it seems as if reviews for the 2016 MacBook Pro with Touch Bar are quite a mixed bag. Some have praised it for its innovation, while other have criticized it for its steep price point. While the computer is no doubt powerful and the Touch Bar innovative, do they justify its purchase for such a high price?

…more to follow