MacBook Pro Without Touch Bar Hands-On Roundup: Improved Keyboard and Eye-Catching Design


Apple launched three variants of the MacBook Pro yesterday, two of which feature an OLED Touch Bar and one that does not.

Unsurprisingly, the Touch Bar-equipped model saw plenty of attention yesterday, with a hands-on from a variety of different publications. But now, many hours after it was unveiled, sites are publishing their hands-on impressions of the MacBook Pro without a Touch Bar, and coming away just as pleased with the other models, even if it lacks that OLED strip.

The general consensus appears to be that the new MacBook Pro, at 13 inches, is an engineering marvel to be seen, with a light weight build, solid frame, and an eye-catching design. And Apple’s second-generation butterfly keyboard is a step in the right direction, based on folks who’ve used the device.

Here’s how it breaks down:



    “The new Pros are the first Macs to use the second generation of the company’s butterfly mechanism, which replaced the original scissor model, promising more stability in the process. I’ll be honest, I wasn’t a huge fan of typing on the last generation MacBook.

    The new technology certainly marks a step in the right direction. The process feels more natural, and the keys have better give. I still prefer the tactile feel of older keyboards, but a lot of that may just have to do with familiarity. After all, the device was only announced yesterday.”

The Loop

    “Let’s talk about something else I was very happy to see come to the MacBook Pro: The new keyboard.

    MacBook Pro gets an updated version of the MacBook keyboard. The new wider keys with the butterfly mechanism is a fantastic keyboard. I loved it when it came out on the MacBook and I love the one on the pro.

    It seems to me that there is a little more travel distance when you press down on a key with the newer keyboard. I actually like that a bit better. After using both, the MacBook keys didn’t have enough travel. This one feels much better to me.”



    “Raise the lid and you immediately notice Apple has redesigned and re-engineered the MacBook Pro here too. With the entry-level model you don’t get the Touch Bar or Touch ID unit, but you do still benefit from the new tighter keyboard, a much bigger trackpad, better speakers, and 2560 x 1600 pixel resolution display which claims to be 67 per cent brighter than the previous model. Side-by-side it certainly feels brighter and more colourful than the older MacBook Pro.

    The keyboard is stiff like the smaller MacBook model with a very small amount of travel. If you are using a 2015 MacBook Pro you’ll immediately notice the difference. Everything is much more “stable”. We’ve also noticed that each key now gets its own individual LED backlight for greater light control and the move to a tighter keyboard has also meant that the keys are physically bigger too.”



    “Instead, this most mainstream of the new MacBook Pro models has the same familiar Function key row found on almost every laptop. It sits above the keyboard, with its F1 to F12 keys still labeled for screen brightness, volume controls and other system tasks. It’s a disappointment to miss out on the most headline-grabbing feature of the new MacBook Pro line, but with that one exception, nearly everything else about this system is new.

    A new keyboard with shallower keys, modeled after the nearly flat keyboard on the 12-inch MacBook, joins a larger touch pad and a pair of USB-C Thunderbolt 3 ports. Lost in the shuffle is the traditional port collection of a MagSafe power plug, USB-A ports — the familiar rectangular ones that match all your existing accessories — HDMI output and mini-DisplayPort Thunderbolt connections. The old SD card slot is gone, too.”



    “So the keyboard looks the same. But then you touch it. Under the keycaps, Apple went with the same “butterfly” mechanism that it first introduced on the 12-inch MacBook. That means these buttons are shallower and less pillowy than on the last-gen MBPs, but still manage to be a lot springier than they look. I felt a little sour at first, giving up my old keyboard design (I don’t love change), but so far I’m typing away at this very story, and I’m not making many typos either.”

Do you plan on picking up one of Apple’s new MacBook Pros?