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MacBook Pro: You can touch this (finally)

MacBook Pro: You can touch this (finally)

APPLE didn't invent the mouse, but they certainly made it great.

Few of us could imagine how we did without it.

But fast forward to 2016, and it's clear everything is about touch.

We touch our phones, our tablets, even the back of camera screens to change settings on modern DSLRs.

Microsoft and other companies have done the same with their laptop computers.

In many ways, Apple has been left behind.

Apple's Touch Bar on the new MacBook Pro promises to finally answer those critics.

But is it any good? Or just a gimmick? And why not make the screen touch, instead of just the keyboard?

We got to spend a week with a 15 inch and 13 inch MacBook Pro.

The Touch Bar, together with Touch ID, are undoubtedly the coolest features.

The Retina-resolution strip of glass boasts a 2170 by 60 pixel resolution that displays millions of colours.

You notice it most when using it to scrub through your photos.


What is particularly clever, however, is the way its functionality completely changes depending on which application you are in.

If you are editing photos, quick edit, filter and crop tools display, if you are in email, you can forward or bin items quickly.

In Final Cut Pro, you can use it to quickly cut video.

If you're like me, and always forget quick keys within programs, it is super handy. You could easily see how you could get work done a lot quicker, whether it be changing colours in a spreadsheet or document or switching between tabs within Safari.

Touch functionality is enabled in apps like Pages, Numbers, Keynote, while developers of third party apps will be able to do the same.

Using a non-touch enabled app, you quickly feel robbed of the joy of this feature.

For many, the Touch Bar is likely to surface cool things people never knew they could do within their apps. Let's face it, most of us use less than 10% of what any software program can really deliver.

The clever little bar also provides quick access to Siri, as well as access to things like brightness, volume, Launchpad, and Mission Control.

It also provides very quick access to predictive text - something that will make filling out forms online a breeze.

For a bit of fun, there's also access to a stack of emojis to tap and insert into text messages.

The touch bar also makes quick work of scrolling through your calendar.

The beauty of it, however, is the way you can customise what quick keys you want by just selecting 'Customise Tool Bar' from the view menu of the app you are in.

Touch ID on the power button at the end of the touch bar means you can quickly open and login to your MacBook Pro.

You can also use it to authorise Apple Pay purchases on the web in Safari.

The display on the new MacBook features 500 nits of brightness, compared to 350 previously while it offers an impressive P3 colour range (25% wider than previously) - something that will satisfy photographers, graphic designers and video editors.

We put it to the test editing a few videos and found it beautiful to work with.

The new audio system, which Apple says offers twice the dynamic range, was particularly noticeable when playing in Garage Band, which also benefits enormously from the touch bar.

In the 15-inch model, the woofers and tweeters are well positioned to offer deeper bass and high fidelity sound.  The woofers fire out of the side vents, while the tweeters project through the perforations on the sides of keyboard.

You can hear the difference and certainly a greater range of musical instruments.

Apple says the speakers have up to three times more peak power as they are now directly connected to the power system.

The keyboard is super firm. You feel like you can type faster. Some will like it. Others won't.

The expanded trackpad is definitely a big improvement. You are far less likely to want to use a mouse.

One of the most controversial features of the MacBook Pro is the lack of a USB port.

Instead you have superfast Thunderbolt 3 ports which enable 40GBps of bandwith per port.

A story suggested you would have to fork out $370 for all the dongles you might possibly need. It's a bit of a stretch but certainly it would be nice to think USB, HDMI and SD Card options were catered for as part of the package, given the prices.

While Apple believes everything is being done in the cloud these days, the reality is that for people in regional areas, where internet is slower, uploading to the cloud is not such a great option.

That aside, there's no doubt there's some super clever engineering and innovation behind the new MacBook Pros.

The biggest hurdle, no doubt, is the price.

While they are the most powerful MacBook Pro ever, featuring sixth-generation quad-core and dual-core processors, up to 2.3 times the graphics performance over the previous generation, super-fast SSDs and up to four Thunderbolt 3 ports, they are priced accordingly.

The 13-inch MacBook Pro starts at AUD $2,199, that's without the touch bar.

The $2,699 version with the touch bar features a 2.9 GHz dual-core Intel Core i5 processor with Turbo Boost speeds up to 3.3 GHz, 8GB of memory and 256GB of flash storage.

The 15-inch version starts AUD $3,599 with a 2.6 GHz quad-core Intel Core i7 processor with Turbo Boost speeds up to 3.5 GHz, 16GB of memory and 256GB of flash storage.

The top of the range 15 inch is more than $4200.

At that price, it's definitely for professionals.