Tag Archives: Kaby Lake

Review ~ 2017 15-inch MacBook Pro


First thoughts — when I first took it out of the box and opened it up, my heart skipped a beat since it looked so much like the 2012 I was replacing – then I realised that of course the Touch Bar (the single biggest difference, visually) wasn’t lit since I hadn’t turned it on. Unlit, it’s easy to miss. And then I noticed the huge trackpad and flatter, even more buttony keys; in fact, they’re so flat they could almost be a decal.
Another decision I’d made had related to this visual trick: I ordered a silver model rather than the rather more sophisticated Space Gray [sic] since I reasoned that everyone would want the grey and if I ordered silver, I might get it quicker. Maybe I was right – it was scheduled for a 20th June delivery and it arrived on the 17th, so maybe this was wise. Also, I had reasoned, it’s not so instantly stealable since at a glance people might assume it’s the older model. So hey, feel free for this advice … you’re welcome.
But hey, good on you, Apple, for the clever cardboard packaging – no polystyrene chips at all. Yet it came all the way from Shanghai in fine condition.

Updates were immediately available — iTunes, GarageBand and the iWork apps – and I installed those and a few other things I’d previously bought. This is a simple matter of opening the Mac App Store and clicking the Purchased tab, and anything you have downloaded before is available free to re-download; I like this feature a lot.
Typing these notes, I realised quickly that I was to be a lover of the new keyboard rather than the opposite. And wow, the touch bar! Stop typing and add a full stop, and ‘The’ comes up as a suggestion. One tap instead of three. Once you get used to a few of these, imagine the little micro-speedups you’re going to get adding tip over your day, and another thing, I’ve never been. Touch typist, so my eyes tend to be on the keypad anyway, making it still handier for me.
I needed dongles almost immediately! Jeeze, only four ports. I mean, they might be daisy-chainable and all that, but I regularly have three other hard drives plugged in, a USB extended keyboard, another monitor, a mouse, Ethernet, an audio interface, another set of speakers (additional to the ones plugged into the audio interface).
Somehow I managed to cope thanks to a Dell monitor that had a USB hub (three connections) in the back, although running that meant two ports gone: one via a dongle to the monitor and another to power the USB hub, but still, that let me plug in another 4-port USB hub that let me plug in almost everything else. The only thing I’m really missing is an ethernet dongle, but I have a couple of Docks coming up to test and both (a Belkin and a Kensington) have that, so I’ll wait. Wifi just isn’t fast enough for me, even hitched to Gigabit fibre.

The Touch Bar — This has been widely criticised. Criticised mostly by people who don’t have MacBook Pros, I suspect, because it’s actually pretty good. I see this as a very smart compromise between the facility of a touch screen, a la iPad/iPhone, and the traditional Mac keyboard. You get touch controls without having to poke at your screen. I totally get this because the last thing I want to do is get smeary fingerprints all over my beautiful, wide-spectrum, colour-balanced Retina Display. Reaching towards the screen, there it is, right at your fingertips. Touch Bar support got added to many Apple apps in October 2016 and third party apps – even Microsoft Office – have been following suit. The right side of the Touch Bar is reserved for the usual brightness, volume etc controls you used to get as actual F-keys (which are still available – just hold down the ‘fn’ key at lower left).
In something like GarageBand or Logic, the Touch Bar is genuinely useful, with one slight qualification. For example, tap the Compression button (for that effect) on the Touch Bar and you get a slider, but dragging the slider does nothing. You have to tap the track either side of the virtual knob on the slider to move it to there. That said, once you get used to it, this is fine, and still a lot more satisfying, somehow, than tying to twirl virtual knobs on screen via a mouse or trackpad.

Touch Bar is pretty nifty in Final Cut Pro X (above), although iMovie’s take on it is disappointingly minimal, with only the basic play/pause/rewind controls and a Split Clip button. This really seems odd considering how fulsome the Touch Bar is for minor apps like Contacts and Calculator. Here’s a post by 9 to 5 Mac showing what apps are supported, with screenshots, and even Nisus Writer Pro has support, with word suggestions coming up.

The way you customise the Touch Bar is via System preferences>Keyboard. This brings up an almost magical interface of available buttons – drag them downwards towards the Touch Bar and they pop into that, from one screen to another, as it were.

Sound — Shockingly good. I mean, still not the kind of bass you can get from external speakers, but clear, sound and well defined, and a definite step up from from the pre-2016 iteration of MacBook Pro.

Speeds — This is one groovy little laptop. It’s faster than the 2016 version, but not much. It will shine more in heavy video editing but for most uses, it’s just a quick laptop and in general computing aspects, little different to the 2016 model. In the version I’m testing, the 4GB video card option certainly makes games beautiful, and speeds up any graphics-intensive operations.
It’s a bit hard for me to quantify against the last 15-inch i7 Apple laptop because I haven’t tested one – the closest that’s been through my hands is the 2016 13-inch MacBook Pro with Touch Bar. Below, at a glance, the blue is this 2017, the green is the 2016 13-inch MacBook pro with Touch Bar. I didn’t bother showing the Single Core scores as they’re virtually identical, so the left-most group of three shows Multi Core scores from GeekBench – note how both i7s are considerably better than the i5 in the 2016 13-inch.  Surprisingly, the built-in 2016 13-inch graphics look superior to the 2017’s Intel HD. But look at the right-most group – the video card with 4GB RAM really aces the 2012’s, which had 1GB (it didn’t have discrete graphics, which is why the right-most three-group is missing a green) and the yellow is my old 2012 i7.

The other big speedup is the new SSD technology. SSD was so much faster than traditional hard drives already. Five years on, it’s much faster still. The Black Magic disk test shows the evolution, with write-speed figures of 374 for the 2012 SSD, 1288 for the 13-inch and 2018 for the 2017, or in other words, the 2016 is 244% faster than the 2012, and the 2017 is nearly 57% faster than that, or 440% faster than the 2012. Incremental increases in SPU speed don’t really achieve all that much in the real world – the biggest difference in the last six years is the introduction of SSD, meaning an SSD Mac boots up in seconds instead of minutes and loading up apps like Photoshop can happen in under 5 seconds. Video editors will again be happiest, with speedy real-time renders even with big projects.
Other sites have had far more access to models of MacBook Pro to compare, so from MacRumours, from WCCCF Tech, and from the horse’s mouth, so to speak, the whole Mac line-up plus, also from the Primate Labs Geekbench site, the MacBook pro lineup.

Click the image above to enlarge this picture and read the figures properly.

Conclusion — I’ll be a happy man with a new Apple laptop, and to be fair, there was nothing really wrong with my outgoing model except it was five years old. But this is lighter, faster and has Touch Bar.

What’s Great — It has Kaby Lake, it’s lighter and slimmer than the pre-2016 model, and when USB-C/Thunderbolt 3 comes into its own, the outlook is rosier still. The built-in speakers are surprisingly good – I honestly didn’t think that was possible in this form factor.
What’s Not — The massive Trackpad. Why, exactly? To draw on with a stylus. Perhaps? Sure … I’m a fan of the new keyboard, but some people are not.
Needs — A good Dock and/or some adapter dongles, which adds to the already high price point.

What — 2017 MacBook Pro 15-inch in Silver or Space Gray, NZ$5189 as configured – see under System, below. (This range starts at NZ$3999 for the 2.8GHz with 256GB internal storage and 16GB RAM; NZ$4699 for the 2.9GHz with 512GB internal SSD).
Here’s a little tip: if you change out that ‘nz’ between forward slashes in this web address to ‘us’, you will get US prices, to ‘uk’ British, and ‘au’ Australian and so forth.

System — 7th Generation (Kaby Lake) 2.8GHz Intel i7 CPU, 4GB (4096MB) Radeon Pro 560 discrete video/Intel HD Graphics 6030 with 1.5GB RAM for lower-power running on battery, 16GB RAM, 1TB internal SSD.

Available from — Authorised Apple Resellers like iStore in Takapuna, Ubertech in Parnell and the big chains, and from Apple online (which I like as you can trial the configurations and see the price change to reflect. I’m a firm believer in as much RAM as you can afford being better, and more affordable, than a .1 per cent increase in CPU speed, but these all come with a great dollop or RAM anyway.)

Tuesday Talk ~ Are we happy yet? Yes we are!


Brilliant! (Image from Apple NZ’s iMac page)

For months now, commentators have been  lambasting Apple for not updating Macs and for ignoring the pro users. I have regularly been a minor part of that pool of despond in this column.
No more! We’re (mostly) happy. Apple’s June 5th WWDC hardware announcements delivered a  gulp of elixir – the Apple Koolaid was back and we were slugging it down. For a heady day or two, anyway. I immediately, gleefully ordered a 15-inch MacBook Pro with Touch Bar. The Kaby Lake CPU was the tipping point I was waiting for. It wasn’t even that Kaby Lake gives a significant increase of power – it doesn’t. It’s just that I didn’t want to drop cNZ$5k onto a new Mac without Kaby Lake when I knew it was available, and already populating many PC models. I can hardly wait for my new Mac to arrive, since my current model is 5 years old – that’s a very long life for a Mac for me (and truth be told, it’s still a wonderful laptop).

But the really big news, for the pros, was the iMac Pro. Although this will cost over NZ$8000, by current exchange rates, it’s not for the typical iMac users – they have been catered to with new iMacs anyway, with even better screens and Kaby Lake and at much more affordable prices. Even these will very handily handle major Apple Final Cut and Adobe Premiere tasks without breaking a sweat.
But the iMac Pro is aimed at the very serious user, as the bedrock to, for example, an audio, audio visual or video/TV/film editing studio, and although that’s a lot of money, hey, it already has a fantastic screen and has real grunt. Even more interesting, perhaps, is that unlike the current Mac Pro (tower), it’s almost impossible to put together a similar PC and monitor setup for less than what the iMac Pro will cost – in fact, Apple’s new machine, due in December, is actually a bargain. And despite it, Apple has also announced it is working on a new, user-upgradeable Mac Pro tower.
Good timing, too, since for the first time in a long time, it looks like the PC market will start growing again.
So yes, Apple, were happy – and, sincerely, thank you!

But … no word on the Mac mini. If Apple’s keeping it in the Mac lineup, surely it deserves Kaby Lake? 
No mention of AirPort, which I think Apple is mad to drop if  the company wants us to have seamless wifi connectivity with our Apple devices to the new HomePod it also announced, and if Apple is thinking of palming this off to a third part5y router supplier, then I visit the ghost of the LG 4k monitor debacle on you, Apple! (If you want something done properly …)
No Magic Keyboard with Touch Bar – this looks like a brilliant idea, and you’d expect it if the Touch Bar is appreciated on MacBook Pro, but I suspect the connectivity and functionality over Bluetooth might be the stumbling block. I still want one, though! If you have one on your MacBook Pro and then go to use, say, Final Cut on a Mac, surely you want that feature?
And no iBooks Author update. Apple has let its brilliant and dreadfully under-appreciated eBooks platform languish far too long.

Still — a new iPhone has still to emerge (September, people reckon). Apple will doubtless have more news for us as the year progresses. For Mac users, the happy times are here again.

17-inch MacBook Pro, Kaby Lake would be big speed boost, trans bathrooms bill


Everyone is hoping for Kaby Lake Macs to be announced at WWDC

Death knell sounds for last 17-inch MacBook Pro model, will be added to obsolete list June 30 — Effective June 30, Apple will add the last of the 17-inch MacBook Pros to its running list of vintage and obsolete products, ending a lineage of large-screen portables that began in 2003 with the 17-inch G4 Powerbook. [The 17-inch model hasn’t been available since late 2011.]

Kaby Lake rumours for new Macs fuel hopes — Should the update to Kaby Lake happen, it will be the fastest update to Intel-based portables since Apple moved to the Penryn processor for the third refresh of the 15-inch MacBook Pro in 2007. Rumours are also hopeful for new Airs, and new versions of all the different OSesses.

Apple’s Tim Cook, other executives urge Texas not to pass anti-trans ‘bathroom bill’ — Executives from 14 companies such as Apple, IBM, Microsoft, and Google have sent a letter to Texas Governor Greg Abbott, asking him and the state legislature not to pass a bill that would block transgendered people from using bathrooms matching their gender identities.
The letter was signed by Apple CEO Tim Cook, and Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg, Google CEO Sundar Pichai, and leaders from Amazon, Cisco, Celanese, Dell, HP, IBM, Microsoft, Salesforce, Silicon Labs, GSD&M, and Gearbox Software.

Steve Wozniak suggests Tesla, not Apple, will create the next successful tech moonshot — Apple may not be the source of the next major technological moonshot, according to Steve Wozniak, with the Apple co-founder suggesting electric car producer Tesla is in the “best direction” to come up with the next big thing in tech, with Apple’s potential in doing the same potentially hampered by its large size. [Gosh, Steve, could that be because Apple has no interest and/or history in launching a moon shot?]

[It’s Memorial Day in the US so most Apple news outlets have no news.]

New Mac malware, Luminar update and discount, Intego deal, Kaby Lake, $10 optical suit, Argentina traffic, Microsoft Office Touch Bar


Wow, remember these? Owners of Macs made between 2003-2008 are eligible for US$10 rebates due to an optical drive class action suit.
Wow, remember these? Owners of Macs made between 2003-2008 are eligible for US$10 rebates due to an optical drive class action suit.

A macOS malware agent dubbed MacDownloader has been found — A macOS malware agent, named MacDownloader, was observed ‘in the wild’ as targeting the defense industrial base, and reported elsewhere to have been used against a human rights advocate, according to Iran Threats, a website run by Claudio Guarnieri and Collin Anderson that analyses online threats from Iran. MacDownloader attempts to pose as an installer for Adobe Flash, and as the Bitdefender Adware Removal Tool. Apple Insider has more info.

Luminar update — Luminar, the software that sensationalises pretty much any photo, has an update which adds support for photoshop smart objects and actions, improved batch processing, better crop angles, enhanced colour temperature filter, speed improvements and a rotate image tool. If you already have Luminar, launch it, click the Luminar men and select Check For Updates.
To celebrate, MacPhun is bundling bonuses along with the latest version of Luminar. Bonuses include: The Guide to Family Portraits, the 25 Romantic Getaways ebook, a brand new set of beautiful sky overlays, and a new Vivid Presets pack. Please note, bonuses are limited in quantity, so check out this deal now if you’re interested and save 50%.

Intego deal gives you 70% off Mac Premium Bundle X9 — and that this rare deal ends today. Use coupon code ‘SaferInternet‘ at checkout to get 60% off Mac Premium Bundle X9 right now. The discount only applies to households, limit 10 Macs per customer. Regular renewal rates apply. This offer expires on Wednesday, February 8 at 11:59PM USPST.

References to possible 2017 MacBook Pro with Intel Kaby Lake CPUs found in macOS Sierra beta code — Examination of the beta code for macOS Sierra 10.12.4 has revealed a trio of Kaby Lake processors referenced, which has pointed to specific processor substitutions for a possible MacBook Pro refresh using Intel’s new processor line.
Kaby Lake features faster CPU clock speed changes, a new graphics architecture which improves performance in 3D graphics and 4K video playback and supposedly provides enhanced battery life and security features. MacBooks with Kaby Lake would also support up to 32GB RAM instead of topping out at 16GB.

Owners of 2003-2008 Macs with optical drives can claim US$10 per machine thanks to a lawsuit settlement — A class-action suit filed against four optical drive manufacturers alleging illegal price fixing has been settled, with previous owners of computers – including Macs – equipped with CD or DVD drives between 2003 and 2008 eligible for $10 per computer owned during that period, reports AppleInsider.

Apple Maps now provides real-time traffic conditions to Argentina customers — Apple Maps for macOS, iOS and watchOS now provides real-time traffic conditions to people in Argentina, according to Apple’s refreshed iOS Feature Availability webpage.

MacBook Pro Touch Bar preview hits Microsoft Office for Macs — Microsoft is now testing a beta version of MacBook Pro Touch Bar support in Office 2016 for Mac.

Best of 2016, Kaby Lake, AMD Vega, more USB-C monitors, USB-C docks, Folx discounted, LaCie goes USB-C


best16

Apple’s Best of 2016 year in review video showcases top apps, movies, music and more — Serving as an accompaniment to its Best of 2016 charts, Apple has posted to YouTube a video chronicling last year’s most memorable movies, TV shows, apps, music, Beats 1 interviews and more.

Intel launches new Kaby Lake chips suited for Apple’s MacBook Pro, iMac — Intel has rounded off its Kaby Lake processor line with new quad- and dual-core high-performance chips for mobile and desktop, with some of the new offerings suitable for a future iMac and Mac Pro refresh, though it’s unlikely the just-refreshed MacBook Pro will see Kaby Lake in the short term. [Oh no! Don’t you hear me, Kaby Lake MacBook Pro? My money’s sitting in the bank waitin’ for you …]

AMD Vega GPUs and March iMacs — As noted by the Mobile & Apps website, Advanced Micro Devices (AMD) dropped a teaser through its official Twitter account for Radeon that says, “New Year. New architecture,” referencing to its next-gen Vega GPU architecture. Dennis Sellers thinks these will be available in the March rev of the iMac and, perhaps, a new Mac Pro.

LG, Dell and Lenovo debut new USB-C monitors compatible with Apple’s latest MacBooks — A trio of monitor makers have announced new USB-C-based displays coming later this year, with LG, Dell, and Lenovo throwing their weight behind the new all-in-one connector found on Apple’s 12-inch MacBook and new MacBook Pros.

New Docks and adapters — Elgato has revealed a Thunderbolt 3 dock with dual 4K monitor support, legacy connections, while the one from Kanex  has an eSATA adapter, and the OWC DEC is a flush-mount device that attaches to the bottom of the 2016 15-inch MacBook Pro and adds additional storage, an SD card slot, USB Type A ports, plus Gigabit Ethernet.

Folx on discount — Folx is a well-written search and download app for Mac that lets you find almost anything and download it. Yes, this means you can find content you shouldn’t, like movies, and it’s really easy to use. It’s currently NZ$1.49/US99¢.

LaCie revs its d2 and Rugged drives — LaCie has announced updates to its LaCie Rugged and d2 storage solutions at this week’s Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas. The new LaCie Rugged Thunderbolt USB-C – available in capacities up to 5TB – combines iconic Rugged toughness with USB-C compatibility and fast Thunderbolt speeds.

Review new Apple MacBook Pro 2016 (13-inch)


mbp2016

My now venerable 15-inch MacBook pro of 2012, which has an SSD inside instead of a traditional hard drive, starts up in 21 seconds (when it was new, the startup time was 13 seconds, but there’s a lot more software on it now and it’s been through several major Mac OS updates in that time, all the way to macOS 10.12.1 Sierra).
The 13-inch MacBook Pro starts up in 12.6 seconds, pretty respectable. This is also running macOS 10.12.1 Sierra. Interestingly, there is no obvious startup button any more, you just hold down the rightmost end of the Touch Bar (it has a slight depression so you can find it with a finger tip) for a couple of seconds. You have to put in your passcode, starting up from off, but hereafter you can use a fingertip on this zone (you set this ability when you first set up your machine from new, like you do with an iPhone/iPad) to wake it.

Connections — OK, I have a fairly grungy setup. I need a laptop as I take it to my day job sometimes, and/or present to groups, and I travel … but at home, I want a desktop setup, so when home my MacBook Pro plugs into a Belkin Thunderbolt Dock, which joins it to wired Ethernet, an additional 24-inch monitor, a wired extended keyboard, a wireless mouse (needs a USB 3 port for its transmitter) plus an audio interface, a Thunderbolt external hard drive and 2x USB 3 external hard drives. And then I need to plug in my iPhone sometimes to get the images off (my preferred method: no cloud, no data, fast and reliable) and various other things. This may not be conventional usage for most MacBook owners, but it works a treat. And this is the setup I’d want to replicate, one way or another, once I buy a new MacBook Pro.
And it looks like it will work just as I wish. The multiport Belkin dock, luckily, works with the 13-inch when it’s plugged into Apple’s USB-C to Thunderbolt adapter. This even cheerfully drove the second monitor (plugged into the dock via a Thunderbolt-to-DVI video adapter). The 2016 MacBook Pro even accepted and drove my old Alesis io2 USB audio input via a USB 3 to USB-C adapter; I’ve had this for years and I really like it for recording guitar and vocals.

dongles
So, no problems there, but this does all underscore the fact you’re going to need dongles and adapters for almost anything you want to do beyond quite basic use, until USB-C native devices start to turn up. Good news is, everything I had, I tried and it worked. The other good thing is, I can almost guarantee I’ll try and insert a USB upside-down into a Mac at least two times out of three. I know you can mostly tell the difference, if you look, but still, I do it. The new connectors go in either way up, and this, so far, is my favourite USB-C feature until some devices show up.
Apple’s Extended Keyboard works fine plugged into Apple’s USB-C to USB 3 dongle too, and so did my Logitech wireless mouse (the transponder is in the extended keyboard).
In conclusion, USB-C might be a pain in that, currently, you need adapters, but the fact it can handle almost anything thrown at it, is very fast, can be daisy-chained, supports video, charging and can be plugged in either way up is all very compelling evidence this was a very good decision by Apple, if you ask me. The one thing I did notice is that – at least while this unit is so new – you have to positively push plugs in. A couple of times I plugged cords in and, to my consternation, nothing showed up on the desktop. On closer inspection, I simply hadn’t pushed the USB-C plugs all the way home.

Input: keys, trackpad and Touch Bar — The biggest notable change to the 2016 MacBook Pro is, of course, the Touch Bar. Some people don’t get it, but if you have one of these Macs, you’ll get it pretty quickly, believe me. The Touch Bar allows for direct input, which I think most people will understand. But why? OK, about 75% of my clients still hunt through menus to get anything done. Any serious users learn at least a few commands so that the commonplace things are a super-quick key combo away. As I tell everyone, learning 3-10 commands will change your Mac life (Command P for Print, for example).

tb1
A nice feature is that when you drag or tap the slider, the on-screen round GarageBand ‘pots’ rotate to reflect your settings. This really beats trying to twirl those knobs with a trackpad or mouse!

The Touch Bar is a sort of intermediate step between key-input and menu mining. Want to change the position of the playhead in GarageBand? It’s right there, just drag it – yet no smears on the monitor you’re looking at. Tap a control’s header in the Touch Bar – for example, in the Classic Electric Piano in GarageBand – and you get Level, Bell, Drive, Treble, Bass, Tremolo, Chorus, Ambience and Reverb (above). So many, the panel actually almost runs out, with the last setting half-hidden, but it’s swipeable: swipe it to the left to see the last setting.

tb2

Tapping any one of those headers gives you a slider. Tap anywhere on the slider to set the position there, or drag the slider itself. On the more universal Touch Bar options, like screen brightness or volume, you can also tap the Plus or Minus ends to increment the setting up or down. The surface of the Touch Bar feels like the very lightly textured surface of the trackpad, to the touch.
While some might bemoan the lack of F-Keys, most people simply don’t use them any more. However, tap the ‘fn’ (for Function) button at bottom left of your keypad and they all appear on the Touch Bar, so all you F-Key mavens can rest in peace.
The Touch Bar also lets you wake your Mac, after the first time (on from off still needs your passcode), with a finger touch, which you set up when your first activate your new Mac. I like it, I can really get used to this (especially in Final Cut, being able to locate the playhead on timelines) and I look forward to a plug-in or wifi keyboard being issued with the Touch Bar.
As for the keyboard, as NZ tech blogger Bill Bennett noted in his review of this aspect of the new MacBook Pro, the new keypad on the 2016 models has bigger keys that stick out less and travel less than previous models.
The lower profile allowed a few more points of a millimetre to be shaved off the 2016 MacBook Pro’s thickness when it’s shut, of course, adding to its overall svelte appearance, thus fulfilling Apple’s mantra of ‘slimmer, lighter at any cost’. Despite that lower profile and travel, the keys are physically bigger than on my 2012 MBP. To my measure, they are 17mm across instead of 16mm on the 2012 MBP and just 15 on my extended keyboard. I thought that would be a bit awkward to type on but no, they’re great, apart from they’re a little disconcertingly clicky.
The keys are good and hardly bounce at all, rather they click, but it’s amazing how fast you can type on them without the slight catch you can get sometimes on the more raised keys of other keypads as your fingertips move between them. But I have to wonder how the lack of even the slightest sponginess might make your knuckles feel after extended key-bashing?

The new 2016 MacBook pro has a much larger trackpad than the outgoing model (my 2012 is the same case design as the laid 2016 that the new 2016 replaces)
The new 2016 MacBook Pro has a much larger trackpad than the outgoing model (my 2012 has the same case design as the outgoing mid-2016 that the late 2016 replaces)

The other big change is a very expansive trackpad, allowing more positive gestures and swipes since you don’t have to spend those odd split-seconds locating the ’pad by feel. You tend to just hit the right place, since it’s bigger, and do the right thing, whereas I have long noticed that when I’m concentrating on the screen of my 2012, I will swipe ineffectually and miss.

Speeds — As all pro Mac users know, all of the above is very nice, but what about grunt? Pro users want raw power; the rest is just icing. You may have heard there isn’t much of a speed bump as far as this Skylake series of processors goes – in fact, some models have chips clocked a bit slower than the premium 2015 versions of the MacBook Pro. But these new CPUs do have advantages, since they run colder and don’t get stressed the way previous CPUs do. That means you’ll find your fans spinning up less, resulting in quieter general running and more efficient handling of CPU-heavy tasks.
I managed to run some benchmarks, but note that my comparison machine is my fairly aged (by professional standards, at four years old) 2012 MacBook Pro, although I am still very happy with it as it has the SSD, a solid state chipboard, as main storage instead of a clunky, slow, heavy, hard-to-cool hard drive. (If you find this a baffling concept, SSD is more like the internal storage in an iPhone or iPad as against what is, in effect, a hard drive’s little encased record player with its quick-spinning disk and a read/write head like a tone arm.)
So here’s what my Mac has, internally: 2.6GHz (maxes out at 3.6GHz under load) Intel Core i7 CPU (Ivy Bridge series), 16GB RAM, plus it has internal Intel HD Graphics 4000 for running the screen while on battery power. It also has discrete graphics for running on mains power in the form of the powerful, for its day, NVIDIA GeForce 650M GPU with 1024MB RAM (i.e., 1GB) and internal 512GB SSD storage – I did spec this one up a bit when I ordered it, and I’ve always been a firm believe in more RAM over a slightly faster CPU, as the benefit is much more tangible and better use of your dollar.
By comparison, the 2016 is only a 13-inch so is not fitted with discrete graphics. Its CPU is ‘only’ an i5, but it’s the Skylake series – two series on from the one in my 2012. The late 2016 13-inch uses Intel Iris Graphics 550 which has allocated to it 1536MB RAM. The CPU is a 2.9GHz i5 (Skylake series) that maxes out to 3.3GHz under load – notice the 2012 goes up to 3.6GHz? This slight throttling back of the new series is partly why they run cooler and are more efficient under load. The i5 in this thing is one processor, 2 cores, 4 threads compared to the 4 cores, 8 threads of the i7 – which is the basic difference between the two grades of Intel CPU (5 vs 7). The 13-inch also only has 8GB RAM.
Anyway, how does it fare? Really pretty good, considering it’s not up to the class of CPU and GPU I am used to.

Geekbench scores:

geekbenched
The Multi-Core score is understandable considering the older MacBook Pro has an i7 CPU – this has more cores and supports hyper-threading, unlike the i5.
OpenCL takes the power of graphics processors and makes it available for general-purpose computing, so that OpenCL score is pretty impressive, especially considering the 2016 only has integrated graphics rather than a card to drive the monitor. OpenCL makes it possible for software to access and use the graphics processor and any dedicated video memory for purposes other than just graphics. It’s driving a beautiful built-in Retina display, too, albeit only a 13-inch. Notice also that the 2016 i5 beats the 2012 i7 in Single Core.
The model I got to look at only had 250GB internal storage – I barely cope with 512GB in my own machine, spinning off various large items into various other external hard drives when I’m at home. Take note, people: you can’t store much on these faster SSD drives. But while they typically cost an arm and a leg for a reasonable amount of storage space, the speed benefits of SSD make far more difference than these increasingly slight iterations of CPU boosts.
Cinebench refused to run on the latest macOS I had installed on both machines, unfortunately. That would be a more detailed test of video graphics.
But I could test the speed of the internal storage thanks to the BlackMagic utility. Gosh, SSDs have clearly come a long way in just four years.

blackmagic-speed-15

The model inside my 2012 doesn’t handle Cinema write speeds (above) or support DNG RAW at over 2160p30, or 10 Bit YUV 04 4.2.2 at resolutions over 2K DCI25 … but the 2016 does (below). And it does so at stonking speeds too, as it’s nearly 4 times faster on write speeds (1288.6 write speeds compared to just 340.1 on the 2012).

blackmagicspeed-13-inch

Reading is fast too (above): 2000 MB/s (maybe faster actually, as my BlackMagic utility tops out at 2000) compared to 445.4MB/s on the 2012. And do note, the 2012 still feels really quick to me, especially compared to traditional hard drives, which feel like they’re extracting files through a straw sucking treacle.

In other features — The speakers in this thing are great, really surprisingly loud and with a definite improvement in bottom end, better mid-tone definition and more trebles. This is possibly the first Mac I’ve ever cranked up in sound and not winced at the tone of the built-in speakers – and this is really saying something, because it’s no mean feat to get decent-sounding speakers in a MacBook so slim and light.
The monitor is simply wonderful: Apple claims the Retina display on the new MacBook Pro throws 500 nits of brightness, which is 67% brighter than the previous generation, with 67% more contrast. It looks fantastic. It’s the first Mac notebook display to support ‘wide colour’ which, to the eye, means more detailed palettes of, especially, greens and blues – this is a designer and photographer’s delight. The screen also has more power-efficient LEDs, uses power-saving technologies including a larger pixel aperture and variable refresh rate. As a result, the display consumes 30% less energy than before, for around the same if not slightly better battery life than the outgoing model.
And boy, is this thing light! I put it in my bag the night before to take somewhere. Halfway there the next morning, I decided I’d forgotten it as my bag was so light. But I checked and I hadn’t.

Conclusion — I am impressed, and I need a new Mac myself, but I have decided to try and wait for a MacBook Pro with Kaby Lake CPUs as they do represent quite an important jump. I hope that won’t be too far into 2017 before that’s available, as my 2012 is starting to creak. It’s had a full and interesting life … but time to move on. I look forward to the larger trackpad and the Touch Bar, and the slightly less size and weight (for the 15-inch, in my case).

What’s Great — It may not be a world beater, but it’s a damn fine MacBook Pro if you need a new one. The Touch Bar is actually pretty nifty and I confidently predict everyone will grow to love it.
What’s Not — The newer generation of Intel Kaby Lake processors would have been cool.
Needs — Anyone who needs a great MacBook Pro right now.

13-inch MacBook Pro The 13-inch MacBook Pro with Touch Bar and Touch ID starts at RRP NZD $2999 inc GST, and features a 2.9GHz dual-core Intel Core i5 processor with Turbo Boost speeds up to 3.3 GHz, 8GB of memory and 256GB of flash storage. Ship time is estimated to be two to three weeks.
Skip the Touch Bar and you can get a 2.0GHz dual-core Intel Core i5 processor with Turbo Boost speeds up to 3.1GHz, 8GB of memory and 256GB of flash storage for NZ$2499 (shipping now).
The 15-inch MacBook Pro with Touch Bar starts at RRP NZD $3999. This features a 2.6GHz quad-core Intel Core i7 processor with Turbo Boost speeds up to 3.5GHz, 16GB of memory and 256GB of flash storage (estimated ship time: two to three weeks).
• Additional technical specifications, configure-to-order options and accessories are available online.

Kaby Lake, Boot Camp audio, iTunes Connect shutdown, 5K wallpapers, wifi satisfaction, Final Cut Pro X, Wired guy


2pvozie

Kaby Lake suitable for MacBook Pro said to debut at January’s Consumer Electronics Show — According to reports out of the Chinese supply chain, Intel is gearing up to announce and release the H-series Kaby Lake processor, suitable for use in laptops like the MacBook Pro.

Apple updates Boot Camp audio driver that was causing blown MacBook Pro speakers — Apple has issued an update to Boot Camp drivers within Windows, preventing the random, loud pops from over-ranging and damaging the new MacBook Pro’s speakers. However, the driver doesn’t fix speakers already damaged by the problem.

Apple schedules annual iTunes Connect holiday shutdown — Apple this week announced the schedule of its annual iTunes Connect holiday shutdown. The developer portal for Apple’s digital app platforms will be closed for the Christmas holiday from Friday, December 23 through Tuesday, December 27, US Pacific Time. During this period, no new apps or updates to existing apps will be approved for the iOS, Mac, or iBooks Stores.

Grab the new iOS-Inspired 5K Colour Burst Wallpapers for Mac — Members of Apple’s macOS beta program noticed something new in the latest build of macOS Sierra: a handful of new wallpapers derived from Apple’s iOS 10 and MacBook Pro marketing campaigns. Part of Apple’s “Color Burst” [sic] design theme, the wallpapers are already available in iOS 10, but macOS Sierra 10.12.2 Beta 4 marks the first time that these images are available in full-screen glory on the Mac. They’re on Imgur.

Oh the irony: Apple ranks highest in overall satisfaction among wireless router makers — Here’s some irony for you: now that Apple is apparently abandoning the AirPort Express, the AirPort Extreme, and AirPort Time Capsule, Apple ranks highest in overall satisfaction among wireless router manufacturers in a new study by JP Power.

Apple updates Final Cut Pro X with minor bug fixes — Apple on Tuesday released a minor update for its premiere video editing tool Final Cut Pro X, addressing library and Paste Attributes issues, among other feature fixes.

Apple lures Wired’s creative director into its fold — Billy Sorrentino, Wired magazine’s creative director, has announced his departure. A Wired rep says Sorrentino will be joining Apple’s design team, but wouldn’t offer more detail.

 

Fave company, next quarter, antivirus, Kaby Lake, iStumbler, All about Sierra, hacker, Typinator


Intel's latest CPU is heading for manufacturers, but will it appear in the next MacBook Pro?
Intel’s latest CPU is heading for manufacturers, but will it appear in the next MacBook Pro?

Apple reclaims its title as the ‘world’s favourite company’— Last year Apple lost the top position of the “world’s favourite company” to Google, but has now reclaimed the top spot this year. Also, in the top 10 were Microsoft, Samsung, Walt Disney, Abbie (a health care company), Facebook, Toyota, Amazon, Celgene Corp. (a health care company), and Gilead Sciences (a health care company).

Apple to Announce Earnings July 26th — Apple announced Friday that it will hold its quarterly call with analysts on [US] Tuesday, July 26th. Investors will be keenly watching results and guidance looking for signs in renewed growth for Apple. In the March quarter, Apple reported year-over-year declines in revenue and iPhone sales.

Avira launches Mac Antivirus Pro, which is optimized for channel resellers — Avira, a security software company, has launched Mac Antivirus Pro, a channel-optimised version of its AV security software for OS X devices. It’s available through Avira’s partner network and on Avira.com for US$44.99(about NZ$72) for a one-year license.

Intel’s 7th-gen ‘Kaby Lake’ processors delivered to manufacturers — Intel’s seventh-generation Core processor was recently delivered to unspecified companies in sufficient quantities for manufacturing, although Apple Insider thinks the first run of chips is not likely destined for Apple’s MacBook Pro. [Gah!]
The Kaby Lake processor has integrated support for the 40 Gbps Thunderbolt 3, which uses the same connector as USB 3.1 type C, as well as the ability to use ‘passive’ cabling for 10Gbps speeds. Thunderbolt 3 has sufficient bandwidth to drive a pair of 4K displays at 60Hz, and contains HDMI 2.0 and DisplayPort 1.2. Also expected are integrated graphics speed improvements.

iStumbler on Sale for US$10 — iStumbler is a great WiFi network monitoring and troubleshooting utility for the Mac. You can use it to see what networks are nearby, track which channels and frequencies each network uses, view encryption status, and even get the coordinates for nearby base stations. As if that’s not enough, it also tracks Bonjour and Bluetooth devices. iStumbler is a handy tool that usually costs US$25, but right now it’s on sale for $10 (about NZ$14.22) – that’s over 50% off. You can pick up a copy at the iStumbler website. [I use this.]

All about Sierra — The Macworld Digital Edition comes in two forms: Enhanced and PDF replica. The Enhanced Edition has all the news, analysis, product reviews, and how-to’s, along with interactive features, and videos customised for consumption on iPad. The PDF replica Edition is designed for your mobile device’s touchscreen to allow pinch and zoom.

Hacker who targeted celebrity Apple and Google accounts sentenced six months in prison — An Oregon man who earlier this year pleaded guilty to hacking into Apple and Google email accounts, including a number owned by unnamed celebrities, was sentenced to six months in prison this week. Andrew Helton pleaded guilty to stealing some 161 personal photos from 13 people after waging a two-year phishing campaign for user credentials. Victims received account verification emails they believed were from Apple and Google. [I’ll say it again: if you get a ‘Please verify your –– account’ and the From email address is __@gmail.com, IT’S NOT APPLE.]

Typinator still makes life easier for Mac users — Last year Ergonis Software celebrated the 10th anniversary of Typinator, the Mac text expander. Though the tool for auto-typing text and auto-correcting typos systemwide across all Mac OS X application has been around awhile, it’s as vital as ever.