March 22, 2019 TECHNOLOGY

Product Note: 2018 MacBook Pro, 13-inch

By Nicole Black
Courtesy of Apple

Courtesy of Apple

A few months ago my trusty MacBook Air began to have battery issues. After trying unsuccessfully to troubleshoot the problem with both Apple and our IT department, I realized it was time for an upgrade. My prior two computers had been MacBook Airs, but because the new MacBook Pros were so light and powerful, I ended up going that route.

I’ve now spent a few months with my new MacBook Pro, so of course it’s time for me to review it and share my thoughts on its pros and cons. But first, here are its specifications.

My MacBook is the 13-inch model and has four Thunderbolt 3 ports. It has a 2.7 GHz Intel Core i7 processor with 512 GB SSD storage, 16 GB 2133 MHz LPDDR3 memory, Retina Display with True Tone, and Intel Iris Plus Graphics 655. It also features a Touch Bar and Touch ID—one of the highlights of this laptop that sets it apart from the rest—which I’ll discuss more fully below.

Thus far I’ve really enjoyed using this computer. It’s quite small, compact, and light, weighing in at just over 3 lbs., which is something I greatly appreciate because I travel frequently. It’s also quite thin, at just over half an inch. Its overall width is nearly 12 inches, and its depth is just over 8.3 inches, as can be seen below.

Courtesy of Apple

Courtesy of Apple

The battery life is good, but not great. Although Apple claims it has up to 10 hours of battery power, I typically find that it lasts about 7 hours or so with typical Internet usage before the battery begins to run low.

One of my least favorite features of the newer MacBook Pros is that they include only Thunderbolt ports that are compatible with USB-C. The problem is that most people typically have multiple devices that use different types of connectors, including USB-A, Thunderbolt 1, Thunderbolt 2, DisplayPort, and HDMI. The only way to connect those devices to the new MacBook Pros is by using an adaptor such as the OWC Thunderbolt 3 Dock for Macs that I reviewed previously here. So, if you’ll be purchasing a new MacBook Pro anytime soon, you’re going to have to also invest in a multiport adaptor.

Other notable features include the backlit keyboard, which is quiet and responsive. The touchpad on this MacBook is larger than the ones on my two prior MacBook Airs, measuring 3 inches by a little over 4 inches, which is a nice bonus.

And last, but not least, there’s the Touch Bar, which is located right at the top of the keyboard. As the name implies, it’s a touch-sensitive bar that allows you to control your MacBook’s systems and the different programs that run on your laptop. So, you’re able to control the volume and display brightness and are also able to activate Siri. For some people that Siri button might be useful, but I found that I inadvertently kept touching the Siri button, so I removed it from the Touch Bar.

The Touch Bar also works with various apps, including your web browser, Pages, Calendar, Facetime, and more. Whenever you open a compatible program, controls for the program appear on the Touch Bar, allowing you to interact with and control the program.

The Touch Bar has a lot of “wow” value, but isn’t something I would consider to be a must-have feature. I don’t use it that often, and typically find myself using the volume and brightness settings the most. But depending on your habits and the programs you use, you may find that you use it more often than I do.

The Touch Bar is an optional feature, and if you want it included on your MacBook, you’re going to pay $300 more for it. The increased price is somewhat significant given that the 13-inch MacBook Pro already has a fairly high entry point at $1,299 for the least expensive model. So, make sure it’s a feature that you truly will take advantage of prior to spending the extra money.

All in all, I’d recommend the 13-inch MacBook with the specs my laptop has, especially if you’ve already bought into the Apple ecosystem. It’s a powerful, compact laptop, and you always have the option to pay more for lots of bells and whistles, if that’s where your interests lie.

Neither the ABA nor ABA entities endorse non-ABA products or services. This review should not be construed as an endorsement.

 

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Nicole Black is a Rochester, New York, attorney, author, journalist, and the Legal Technology Evangelist at MyCase legal practice management software. She is the nationally recognized author of Cloud Computing for Lawyers (2012) and co-authored Social Media for Lawyers: The Next Frontier (2010), both published by the American Bar Association. She also co-authored “Criminal Law in New York,” a Thomson West treatise. She writes regular columns for Above the Law, ABA Journal, and The Daily Record, has authored hundreds of articles for other publications, and regularly speaks at conferences regarding the intersection of law and emerging technologies. She is an ABA Legal Rebel and is listed on the Fastcase 50 and ABA LTRC Women in Legal Tech. She can be contacted at niki.black@mycase.com.