The Entry-Level MacBook Pro Proves Apple Has Fallen Behind

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Photo by Daryl Deino

Make no mistake about it - the entry level MacBook Pro is a nice device. It is very light, has a long lasting battery, and has a screen that can practically blind you with its brightness if you want. But it's also overpriced and proves that Apple, who still makes great products, really isn't on top anymore.

Design

It's important to note how gorgeous the space gray version of the 2016 MacBook Pro is. One has to credit Apple for putting far more thought into designing the new MacBook Pro than any other Apple product in recent memory. There is less bezel and more screen this time, and the device is super thin. Its thinness rates somewhere between the MacBook Air and 12-inch MacBook

The stereo speakers are now on the front-side of the MacBook Pro, and, like other recent Apple products (iPhone 7, iPad Pro), provide exceptional sound. While you won't want to use your MacBook Pro to substitute for your stereo system, you can hear the "thump" of the bass when playing music. The sound isn't tinny like many other notebook speaker systems.

Then, there is the butterfly keyboard, which you'll either love or hate. If you used the 12-inch MacBook, you'll appreciate the fact that the keys have more travel on the Pro. There still isn't much travel, buy you won't need it once you get used to the keys. Instead, there is more of a "crunch" feeling. Some may actually like the keyboard on the new Pro more than previous versions.

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The 2016 MacBook Pro is shockingly thin. [Photo by Daryl Deino]

Screen

The fact that the new 13-inch MacBook Pro still only has the same "Retina" screen resolution it had in 2012 (2560 x 1600) is troubling, but Apple certainly makes up for it with their updated Wide Color Display, which produces accurate colors that pop right out. The Pro is great for viewing pictures and watching movies. You certainly have the option to turn the brightness up so the Pro is blindingly bright, but you'll likely prefer to set it between 50 and 80 percent brightness, especially to save battery life.

Performance

For $2500, you get a 6th-generation Intel Core i5 processor that runs at 2 GHz - this is something you can get on a $800 Window 10 machine. In fact, you can get a 7th-generation Intel Core i7 processor now on machines such as the Dell XPS 13, which costs less than the entry-level MacBook Pro.

You also get 8GB of RAM, which is fine for most users. You can spend extra for 16GB of RAM, but the new MacBook Pro doesn't come in any 32GB RAM configurations. The new Pro handled Photoshop very well and edited HD videos in Final Cut Pro with relative ease. However, when it came to editing 4K videos, the slowdown and stuttering were noticeable.

Using Adobe Illustrator also proved to be a little bit of a drag. If you are a Hollywood director or Disney graphics designer, you probably want to wait for the more expensive MacBook Pro with the Touch Bar that runs a 2.9 GHz processor.

Battery Life

No matter how much Windows 10 machines have caught up to MacBooks, Apple still provides the best battery life. The entry-level 2016 Pro ran a little over 9 hours streaming Netflix videos back-to-back with the brightness set at 70 percent. This is certainly the type of device you can feel safe leaving the charger at home each day and charging it when you get home at night.

Conclusion

There is just simply no way the entry-level 2016 MacBook Pro can be recommended over higher-end versions of the Surface Pro 4 and Dell XPS 13, both which not only have touch screens (the Pro 4 has a digitizer for inking), but have better processors, better graphics chips, and higher resolution screens.

Apple is, once again, making the presumption that Apple fans will still pay an extra couple hundred dollars for their products. That may have been true in the past, but with competing companies coming out with better hardware and software options, Apple may find its profits continuing to decline with the release of the new MacBook Pro.