On the 27th October Apple unveiled their new line of MacBook Pros. Since then half of what I read online seems to be "Professionals" (those guys), telling me it's not Pro at all, not Pro enough or not the right kind of Pro. How many of these people have even touched the new devices?
I've been using the new 15" MacBook Pro (with Touch Bar) for the last week or so for actual work, so here's my "Professional" opinion.
I'm an editor at Trim Editing in London, where we cut high end commercials, music videos and films. We're a small company and choose individually what we want to edit with. I happen to use Final Cut Pro X (If you'd like to debate with me endlessly about the Pro'ness of FCP X, you can do that here) So I'm in a good position to try out the new devices and see what they are/aren't capable of.
First off, It's really fast. I've been using the MacBook Pro with the new version of FCP X and cutting 5k ProRes material all week, it's buttery smooth. No matter what you think the specs say, the fact is the software and hardware are so well integrated it tears strips off "superior spec'd" Windows counterparts in the real world. This has always been true of Macs. If you're running software with old code which doesn't utilise the hardware well, you're not going to get great performance (as pointed out here). I understand people need to use programs from other developers, but at some point they need to play catch up. Otherwise it's akin to asking for a more powerful engine because you like to buy tire-less wheels for your car. For all the kinds of work I do it's been excellent.
The version I've been using is powerful enough on the graphics front to power two 5K displays, which is an insane number of pixels. It makes me wonder if I could happily cut on this machine in my edit suit 24/7 as well as out in the field. The answer is probably yes. To have that power on the go and also docked in my suite is great. This machine has made an already nippy piece of editing software faster still.
Which brings me to the ports, (or the dongles, if that's the way you choose to frame it). I feel the same about this as I did losing DVD, firewire 800 and Ethernet on my 2012 Retina MacBook Pro four years ago. It might be a slight annoyance for six months and then I'll be in the future again.
I already use USB-C Samsung T3 SSD's as my external drives. These things are super fast and have the footprint of a credit card. The only change here is that I don't need a USB-A to C cable to use them now, they'll plug straight in. I'll probably have a Thunderbolt 3 dock at my desk for expandability but that will ultimately just replace the Thunderbolt/mini-display converters I already need to support legacy displays. The four Thunderbolt 3 ports the MacBook Pro cover such a wide range of use, I really don't see it as a problem.
I was very skeptical about the addition of the Touch Bar. It looked like the result of an incestuous fling between a keyboard and an iPad mini (with Retina display). But I also felt skeptical about originally too. Once you begin to use it, you'll see. Your cold heart will soften.
The first revelation for me was the potential of sliders. Gradual, precise and fast inputs.
For years we've had single mouse inputs on a graphical user interface. Over time we've added more buttons and scroll wheels, trackpads with gestures. The Touch Bar takes this step further by allowing multiple inputs at the same time and combines well with the trackpad. The more I've used it the more I've replaced certain keyboard shortcuts. Why would I use dual-hand/multi-finger shortcuts if the button was there in front of me? And it's contextual. It changes depending on what I'm doing. I'm editing picture; it shows me relevant trimming shortcuts. I'm editing titles; it shows me font, formatting and colour options. All without the need to open other menus. It works, it's faster and it's more productive. I believe it's only a starting point, as developers learn how we all use this thing, it's going to get better and better. But even the short time that I've been using it with Final Cut Pro 10.3, I can already feel it becoming part of my everyday editing process.
And last but not least. This is a laptop. It's not an iMac. It's not a MacPro. The lack of updates to those Macs shouldn't be colouring the opinion of this Mac. The absence of clarity from Apple on those other devices is a problem, but it's a whole different conversation. Would we have seen this level of negativity towards the MacBook Pro if the others had also been updated? Probably not.
We live in a changed world. Technology moves forwards quickly but in fits and starts. YouTubers deliver amazing 4K videos to millions on a daily basis, while some TV stations barely manage to push out 1080p trash to shrinking audiences. A Pro machine has to cover such a wide spectrum of people and disciplines that is unlikely to ever satisfy all professionals in all things. But this will probably satisfy the vast majority, from the low end to the high.
A 'Professional' should be defined by the work they deliver and the value they bring, not their gear. Use the new MacBook Pro, don't use the new MacBook Pro. Your audience don't care. You just have to keep making great work however you can. For me, I love it and I think most people will do too... once they actually touch it.
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