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    It’s nice to read a review that feels honest and isn’t spewing bile and hatred about every little thing. This one is recommended.

    I concur with assertion that the trackpad is too large, although I use a 2017 MBPro so I avoid typing on it as much as possible.

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      I concur with assertion that the trackpad is too large, although I use a 2017 MBPro so I avoid typing on it as much as possible.

      I have a 2018 Macbook Pro. Yes its getting into the crazy size territory.

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        It’s nice to read a review that feels honest and isn’t spewing bile and hatred about every little thing.

        Indeed, this was a very nice, balanced, review.

        I concur with assertion that the trackpad is too large, although I use a 2017 MBPro so I avoid typing on it as much as possible.

        I feel like they should offer something that combines the Air and the Pro.

        The Air 2020 has a smaller trackpad, no Touch Bar (which is a feature), and a 10th generation Ice Lake CPU. The primary thing that people may dislike is its weaker CPU, which is designed for low TDPs. Another downside is just 2 USB-C ports.

        The two baseline MacBook Pro 13” 2020 models are a travesty. They are basically the low-end 2018/2019 model with the new Magic Keyboard (good) and Touch Bar (bad). The CPU is still slower than my previous Touch Bar MacBook Pro 2018 and they only have 2 ports. These models basically combine the downsides of the Air (weaker CPU, 2 USB-C ports) and the Pro (Touch Bar). To add to the offense, you get an 8th generation Intel chip with much lower memory bandwidth and slower GPU than the 2020 Air.

        The high-end MacBook Pro 13” 2020 are pretty good with 10th gen CPUs and 4 USB-C ports. Unfortunately, it has a Touch bar (+ larger trackpad if you do not like it).

        What seems to be missing for most folks is basically the MacBook Air (perhaps in a slightly thicker enclosure) that has a higher TDP CPU like the Pros.

        That said, I never had problems with accidental touch inputs with the Pro 2018 or Air 2020.

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          The two baseline MacBook Pro 13” 2020 models are a travesty. They are basically the low-end 2018/2019 model with the new Magic Keyboard (good) and Touch Bar (bad). The CPU is still slower than my previous Touch Bar MacBook Pro 2018 and they only have 2 ports

          My theory is that they have positioned this model (and purposefully not updated/hobbled it a bit) for a move to Arm in the future. It will allow for a nice markety-type reveal such as “we made an Arm laptop that is faster than the previous intel model! woo!”.

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            That’s actually quite smart. “Up to 20x faster!”

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          I also have a 2017 MBP and I’ve gotten used to changing my palm resting position to be on either side of the track pad. Most of the time, however, I use a regular keyboard and mouse plugged into a usbc hub. The most obnoxious feature I’d remark on is Siri on the upper right corner - 9/10 times I wanted to hit delete or = and instead got that silly app.

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            You can customize the touch bar in system preferences. I have mine to only display the volume, brightness and media keys.

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          I can and will retrain my hand placement habits. After all, this touchbar-keyboard-trackpad combo is forcing many people to learn to place their hands in unnatural positions to accommodate these poorly designed peripherals.

          It is amazing to me what people put up with to use these devices. I generally find the issue with accidentally touching the trackpad so severe that I only use laptops with trackpoint and the first thing I do on my device is to disable the trackpad completely.

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            Part of why I ended up becoming a programmer is frustration with a touchpad. It led me to keyboard-only UIs, which lead me to Arch/XMonad, which led me to Haskell, which confused me but led me to Python, which… <10 years later> I have a career as a software engineer :)

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              Part of why I got into programming more passionately was excitement when the apple trackpad came out ten years ago. It led me to think about possibilities beyond keyboard-centric UIs. It led me to make zany things. While I’ve never succeeded professionally as a full-blown software engineer it made me appreciate how hard developing great experiences for humans are.

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              At work, we actually had to modify a piece of software to deliberately ignore most of the input from recent mac touchpads. The application is multi-touch capable, which on some of the hardware it runs on is really useful. However, on mac, the combination of the oversized touchpad and the fact that it doesn’t map to the screen (it’s mapped to a smaller area which follows the cursor around, so nobody really knows what they’re touching) meant that macbook users were constantly touching things with their tentacles which they didn’t mean to touch.

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                macbook users were constantly touching things with their tentacles which they didn’t mean to touch.

                So, uh, what exactly do you do for work?

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                Honestly, I liked trackpoints for several years, but after getting a Thinkpad with both trackpoint and trackpad, I have firmly settled on preferring trackpads for this reason: I can accurately point at things faster than with the trackpoint. I do use the trackpoint on rare occasion, but only when I need fine control with something, like moving in a very small screen area, or scrolling only a tiny bit.

                I acknowledge that many other people around the Internet have a problem with accidental palm touches, but, for some reason, that’s never been a problem for me. Then again, I haven’t used Windows in the last several years (only Linux and OSX), so maybe that’s the reason?

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                  The Thinkpad has those two big buttons at the top of the trackpad. They require force, so you won’t accidentally press them, and they’re placed about where my thumb wants to rest when I use the keyboard.

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                Yep, the trackpad is too large on my late 2016 MBP 13” but I didn’t seem to notice any issues after the first year of ownership. Maybe my hands retrained themselves or they adjusted the software to compensate.

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                  Maybe some masking tape would solve the trackpad problems.

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                    Or fingerless gloves? Heh.

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                    I wonder if he would have been happier with the newer 13” Air, which I personally find nicer than the 13” Pro.
                    Air:

                    • no touch bar
                    • touchpad is a bit smaller (still a bit large though, in my opinion, but not too bad)
                    • lighter
                    • battery life seems better
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                      I have the 2020 Air and I really like it. For people who use it as their primary development machine, the CPU options may be to weak (at least go for the Core i5 for quad core and the 512GB SSD). But other than that, for most folks the Air 2013 is probably the best machine that Apple offers.

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                        Agreed. The core i5 is apparently the sweet spot of the cpu options for the 2020 Air. I have read the i7 option doesn’t add much to performance (a little bit in benchmarks, but not a huge amount), costs more, and chews up a little bit more battery life.

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                      Last MBPro I loved was a matte 17” screen behemoth that I used for gaming. Every Mac I’ve used since then has felt like a regression.

                      These days I run ThinkPads w/ Linux and FreeBSD. I don’t love them (since my beloved X220), but I don’t dislike them as much as I dislike the current crop of Macs.

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                        You -might- like the recent lineup of Dell Latitudes, they’re more spriritually “early 2010’s thinkpad” than actual branded thinkpads.

                        That said, even the X220 was when the thinkpad line was declining in build quality already.

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                          My first Mac was a 1.25GHz G4 PowerBook, back around 2003. It was the most expensive machine I could afford and I actually still have it disconnected from a network running GarageBand connected to a keyboard and amplifier, acting purely as a MIDI synth. I switched from Windows 2000 and FreeBSD (mostly FreeBSD at that point, as I hated XP).

                          I waited until 64-bit Intel machines came out and I moved to a Core 2 Duo MacBook Pro. This was a much more reliable machine (it actually still works, though the tiny hard disk is a problem for anything real). It was so much faster that it could actually emulate a PowerPC almost as fast as a the old machine. I replaced this a few years later with a Sandy Bridge i7 MacBook Pro and then a couple of years later with a Haswell MacBook Pro (2013).

                          That was the last Mac that I’ve bought so far. Every version since then for the next five years was slightly better but very expensive. I didn’t want to pay £2-3K for a 10-20% improvement. The most recent MBPs are the first ones that look as if they might actually be an improvement and I found them a bit tempted.

                          I started at Microsoft Research a couple of years ago and used Windows 10. This was the first version of Windows I’d used on a daily basis since 2000. OS X 10.2 was a big step up in usability from Windows 2000. Every version of OS X until 10.6 improved more things than it made worse. Every version since 10.6 has made more things worse than it’s made better. Windows has got slightly better, macOS has got a lot worse in the last 15 years.

                          I don’t hate Apple. I still slightly prefer macOS Mojave to Windows 10 (I haven’t switched to Catalina because I still have a load of 32-bit programs and they won’t work with Catalina). I have an iPad, which I use quite a bit. I probably will buy a new MBP at some point, but here’s the thing: Buying my first PowerBook was exciting. Buying my first Intel MacBook Pro was exciting. Buying the next one was a huge jump in performance. The one after that had a retina display. Each one was a noticeable jump in the things that I could do with it. The one that I use now is 7 years old. If I buy a new one, it will be because the old one wore out, not because the new one is a noticeable improvement.

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                            Be careful with the upgrade to Catalina. There are horrid reviews about it, especially with making music (which is was one of the primary use cases for Macs)

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                          Bittersweet indeed. I just upgrade from my beloved 2014 15” MBP Retina to a 2019 16” MBP.

                          The trackpad is perfect. Leagues ahead of any other laptop I’ve ever used. I can happily use it in CAD and in photoshop. However this one is unnecessarily large.

                          The speakers are wonderful. I have low expectations for onboard laptop speakers, but these are really really good. Unfortunately they put the headphone jack on the wrong side!

                          Keyboard feels about the same as my 2014. I managed to skip the bad keyboards from 2015-1019 I guess. I quite like the touchbar, but it needs some tuning. My resting fingers occasionally hit something by accident.

                          The webcam. I had not discovered this disappointment, but I just checked and can confirm that it is quite bad.

                          The thermals are a bit disappointing. If you have an external monitor plugged in (via USB-C) then the fans work pretty hard. My old laptop was silent unless I was running Android Studio.

                          The display is perfect. The old display was perfect too. I didn’t realize that the new 16” MBP is the same overall dimensions as the old 15” ones. It’s just that the display is larger and the bezel is smaller.

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                            Perhaps the regression in webcam quality is due to the bezels being thinner on the newer model? To keep the viewing angle the same (somewhere between 50-70⁰ diagonally) in a thinner bezel, the sensor must be proportionally smaller.

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                              That’s the technical reason. But the question is: are these slimmer MacBook Pros (post-2016) worth it? Sacrificing battery life, webcam and keyboard quality for a few millimeters?

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                              I have a 2012 Retina MBP and it’s still going strong. For $DAYJOB I have a newer one with the bad keyboard (which knock on wood is not so bad and still functioning) but I can’t stand the touch bar.

                              I eventually locked it to the standard F-Keys but my hands tend to hover over the keyboard and my ring finger is constantly adjusting the brightness down to nothing (and there’s a significant amount of lag in fixing it). And pressing ESC is just wierd.

                              Looking at the System 76 Lemur or Dell XPS 13 to replace my 2012 when I need to (or maybe just a Pinebook Pro since I have a nice fast desktop)

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                                I can’t agree more with the trackpad and touchbar, I literally could pay to have it removed! I often find myself hitting the lock screen “button” inadvertantly.

                                On the other hand, I just love the minimalism and features offered by USB-C only. For once, it’s not an Apple only thing, it’s the new industry standard and if you have a docking station or a screen that is compatible, you just have to plug one cable and you have at the same time charging plus screen and all external devices that connected.

                                Yes other Apple things aren’t natively USC-C yet (lightning is still very recent so I think they couldn’t switch this one for a USB-C yet, customers would have yelled at them), but many Android phones and other laptops are compatible. You can for instance use the Dell charger to charge your MBP.

                                And µUSB to USB-C cable is a couple of $$ only on Amazon. I bought ables for all my disks so that I almost never use the adapter any more.

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                                  Interestingly enough, I don’t hate the trackpad and I actually think the palm rejection algorithm works quite well for me. We most likely have different ways of setting down our hands on the laptop.

                                  I have a 2018 MBP and I would pay to switch to the new keyboard. There’s some keys that don’t work sometimes and I always need to be cleaning the keyboard to make sure nothing breaks. I agree with you about the touch bar though: I can’t find a use for it. Sometimes it’s useful to quickly turn on/off or change the volume but I’m pretty sure that key combos wouldn’t make the experience worse.

                                  I believe macOS has been getting worse and worse with each update. This laptop is quite new but it hangs a lot of times for 1/2 seconds when switching tabs on Chrome, for example. I’m pretty sure the hardware’s great. Unfortunately, the latest OS updates haven’t been the best…

                                  Thanks for the review! It’s hard to find honest reviews like this nowadays.

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                                    It’s interesting to read the complaints about accidentally hitting the trackpad. I have a 2018 MBP and haven’t had any problem with that, never even heard of it being a problem. It must be due to individual variation in hand position? Or maybe to people resting their wrists on the chassis (which you shouldn’t do — any pressure on the wrist while typing is an RSI trigger.)

                                    The Touch Bar should be amazing but isn’t. I’ve always wanted function keys that display what they do at that moment! But having them be flat spots instead of physical keys seems to wreck the usability. I guess I’ll have to wait for those keyboards with a little display in each key to come down in price.

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                                      I started using a 16” MBP at my new job, and it’s … fine. Like, my personal machine is a 2015 15” MBP, all maxed out, and, while this thing is faster, and I have to say that I’m pretty ok with the Thunderbolt/USB-C only move; the keyboard is meh and the Touch Bar is totally pointless. I’ve never had problems with the OMG HUEG trackpad, but that’s probably because I use an external keyboard and mouse/trackpad whenever possible with laptops.

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                                        the keyboard is meh and the Touch Bar is totally pointless

                                        I hear those things said really commonly as an opinion, but I actually real like both. I love the satisfying clicking sound the keyboard makes and I like the touch bar for simple tasks. On Zoom meetings, it’s really nice to be able to mute, hide camera, view settings, etc. right on the touch bar. I guess to each his own.

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                                          For me, I rarely use the laptop without an external keyboard, so the Touch Bar is just not ever something I’m going to reach for.

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                                        Wow, the camera is just as bad as the one on my T470p. Not even sure if I’m laughing or crying now.

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                                          The new Macbooks are the Xiaomi notebooks. Great building quality, good specs and 1/3 of the price.

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                                            The question is, with what OS?

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                                              There are only three OS. Debian testing, Debian stable and Debian unstable. And it supports all of them.

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                                              It is almost impossible to order anything from Xiaomi in my country, there are no offers on Amazon either. Huawei, on the other hand, has a decent product line that is available in the more popular stores and even the look is very similar to Apple. I am not sure about the OS selection though. It would be great to have an opensource MacOS alternative.

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                                                Have you tried Elementary OS?

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                                                  Not yet but it is on my list.

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                                                    I personally haven’t. It’s based on Ubuntu. There are others that have sleek UIs though, PopOS is based on Ubuntu too. I use SolusOS on some of my machines and it’s worked pretty well in the 5 years using it. The advantage is that is built from the ground up so it’s quite light. The drawback is that, for those accustomed to Debian/Ubuntu family, package manager isn’t apt. It’s simple enough though.

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                                                I am stuck with an Air 2012 for similar reasons, although for my needs this laptop still works. I am mostly disappointed on the software side, the entire apple ecosystem feels less friendly than 10 years ago for power users or developers. I used to write my apps for my iphone, I stopped doing so when required to renew certificates every week. Also there are too many annoyances using third party software or when trying to access personal folders.

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                                                  It’s been interesting going through my own shift in opinion about Apple laptops and laptops in general. In 2013 or so, I developed pretty severe RSI (first in my right arm, then left arm.) After years of treating and addressing underlying concerns, I’ve gotten to a place that’s not pain-free by any means, but is certainly manageable. I mention this because the underlying condition has made laptops pretty much a non-starter for me. Whenever I’ve purchased a laptop or been issued one by an employer, it’s pretty much always built into a desktop setup with an ergo keyboard and mouse and a monitor.

                                                  After having all-but abandoned laptops for the last three years (I have a pretty powerful Dell laptop which I use when I have to travel for work) for desktop computing, I’ve come to realize that the laptop hardware was never really providing that much for me. The gem of Apple’s ecosystem, in my opinion, is macOS. I have a 2017 iMac which I use for music and I adore it–not for its display (pretty much the only hardware “feature”) but for its OS.

                                                  I wonder if diminishing returns on iterating on the Macbook hardware will eventually lead Apple to eventually explore less high-end hardware options designed to run macOS smoothly, but without the slim profile and other knick knacks that seem to receive mixed reviews. I’d certainly take a “Mac Pro” in a standard ATX case that cost quite a bit less. Not necessarily saying open the OS to commodity hardware (it’d be nice but I understand the value of constraining your hardware domain), but just going for a less luxury design in order to address a broader market.

                                                  Addendum: The Mac Mini is a good example of how Apple has historically taken the opposite approach. Trying to make an affordable Mac with a luxury aesthetic places too many limitations on the machine! Being dogmatic about things like passive cooling was an odd choice to me.

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                                                    I wonder if Apple could employ something like the mechanism in the current Magic Trackpad in the Touch Bar – it gives tactile feedback through some kind of actuator inside the touchpad instead of actually clicking.

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                                                      Secondly, it is placed in such a way that resting your fingers on top of the keyboard trigger accidental key presses.

                                                      I know this issue! It’s the very first thing I realized when I typed on a touchbar MBP for the first time. It just doesn’t work for me. It’s awful. Hopefully the two laptops I am currently using are touchbarless Macs so I’m safe for a while.

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                                                        I’m wanting to learn some SwiftUI for iOS development, and I’m wondering if MBA is decent enough for it. Does anyone have any experience with that setup + external monitor?

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                                                          As long as you have 8 GB of RAM or (preferably) more, you’re safe.

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                                                          The trackpad. Is it worth it to antagonize touch typists in order to be able to move the cursor from this tiny corner?

                                                          I use MBP 13” 2015 touchpad, so the size is not an issue, but moving the cursor from the top corners is really convenient. Having used ThinkPad trackpads (mouse buttons are right below space key and above trackpad) I feel like overall it’s an improvement because trackpoint was terrible.

                                                          So far I haven’t seen similar experience with other laptops/trackpads. Maybe I’m just to accustomed to clicking and scrolling with thumbs when my palms rest on the keyboard.

                                                          Catalina is meh. Not terrible, but with just too many annoyances.

                                                          Another annoying bug is when Launchpad layout is messed up after reboot (i.e. apps from default “Other” folder are being thrown around). I usually just reset layout on boot but I can imagine how distractive this could be if it’s ordered manually.

                                                          Mail keeps opening by itself

                                                          I believe this bug is caused by Gmail accounts.