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2016 review of the 13-inch MacBook Pro: Slim, fast and premium

The MacBook Pro ships today in Australia, but Techly got our hot little hands on it early.

We’ve already given you a rundown of the keynote announcement, where the big news was the Touch Bar. We’ll let you know whether or not the 13-inch MacBook Pro lives up to the hype.

What’s the design like?

For full disclosure, I’m stepping up to the Pro from my humble bae, the MacBook Air. The Air has served me well, but the sleek design and premium feel of the Pro is really going to push me over to the Pro side.

Being the “lower end” model of Pros, the 13-inch released worldwide today is missing the Touch Bar, which was the big feature announced yesterday. In this way, it’s easy to treat the Pro as just another Apple laptop with same-same features.

While the basics have stayed the same – it still has speakers, a keyboard, and a track pad – everything is just a little bit…bigger and sleeker.

Unveiling the new 13-inch MacBook Pro! It's got a super sleek design

A video posted by Techly (@techlyaus) on

Keyboard

The keyboard keys are a little bigger, and take a little bit of time to adjust to. I have (ex) piano-playing fingers, so they’re long but still small enough to miss the occasional letter on this keyboard. The bigger keys mean that actions are a little more deliberate and – my hands – have to move a little bit further up the laptop.

Or else I’ll type things like ‘Rthe’ and ‘fronmt’ instead of ‘the’ and ‘front’.

That said, there’s a satisfying feedback given when typing on the Pro keyboard. The keys are lower-set and feel a little bit more stable as a result. If you run your fingers over them, they don’t wriggle about in their spots. They feel like permanent fixtures.

And, only some people will side with me on this, but the sound of the keys is nice. The sound is clear and just loud enough…and really, I’m not sure how many people will feel the same way I about keys which have a nice ‘click’.

Trackpad

The trackpad is massive.

Massive!

It takes up just about half of your workspace, which actually makes it feel a little more interactive. It takes a bit of time to get used to it – including the Force Touch – but ultimately, it gives you freedom to be a little more creative and expressive.

Tell me about the visuals!

Creative professionals and visual fanboys will love the display of the MacBook Pro. At 13 inches, it still allows for the same amount of screen space as previous models, but the surrounding space has been cut down on dramatically. It makes the screen feel more expansive, even if it really isn’t.

The Retina display is billed as Apple’s best ever, and it’s hard not to believe it. After transferring files directly from my Air to the Pro, my immediate thought was “how did I live with the dull display of the Air for so long?”. The Pro is sharper and brighter and, because bright colours are so engaging, the whole experience feels…fun.

If you want the stats to prove it’s a step up on previous models, the 13-inch Pro is 67 per cent brighter, has a 67 per cent higher contrast ratio, 25 per cent more colours, and is 30 per cent more power efficient.

And a side note here about power. The Pro achieves a full charge in 3 hours, which lasts for 10 hours.

With the release of the iPhone 7 Plus’s DSLR-like quality, and the ever-improving visuals of the Apple laptops, it seems like everything is a professional camera or a professional display now. In a few years, profesh cameras are really gonna have to step up their game or face serious competition from amateur devices.

Size

It’s thin. You won’t believe it until you see it compared to whatever you’re lugging around at the moment but it’s thin. It’s nuts to thnk that the Air can be considered thick, but compared to this, it’s Nicki Minaj. It comes in at 14.9 mm thin, which is 17 per cent thinner and has 23 per cent less volume than the previous generation.

How did they make it so damn thin? They chucked everything else out. Well, not everything, but a tonne of stuff.

There are two Thunderbolt 3 ports on the left, and one headphone jack on the right. Mercilessly, the headphone jack was kept. Including these ports meant chucking out the traditional ports we’ve all gotten quite accustomed to – the USB-A, Magsafe and SD slot are all gone. To be honest, this makes things a little tricky because you’re connecting cables to cables to cables, but the intention is that the process will be streamlined in years to come.

How much is it gonna cost me?

We’ve broken down the prices of all models, including shipping times. Check out that info here.

About the author

Larissa is Techly’s Assistant Editor. She watches so much Youtube that she’s narrowed down her favourite categories – goats, innocent dads getting pranked, and toddlers falling over.

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