Excerpts from the hands-ons we’ve seen. More as they come in.
The star of Apple’s keynote Thursday was the Touch Bar that replaces the old function keys on the new MacBook Pros. Demos with Final Cut Pro, Photoshop and djay Pro start at the 54:25 minute mark on Apple’s replay video.
After the keynote, reporters jostled for a chance to get their hands on the thing. Excerpts from their reports:
Jason Snell, Six Colors: There’s no brightness control for the Touch Bar. My first impression of the Touch Bar is that the “keys” looked… like keys. It didn’t feel like I was looking at a screen, but at an extension of the keyboard. That was an intentional choice on Apple’s part. Unlike the display and the keyboard, the Touch Bar’s brightness is not manually adjustable. Instead, the Touch Bar’s brightness varies based on lighting conditions, using the light sensor. I wasn’t able to try and trick it or confuse it, but the entire time I was using it—in a dark room and in a much more brightly lit one—it seemed to match the keyboard well. This is not a bright, glowing screen above a dark keyboard—it’s an extension of the keyboard.
Brian Heater, TechCrunch: Hands-on with Apple’s new Touch Bar MacBook Pro. It’s a secondary Retina display, which mean it’s capable of displaying some fairly high-res graphics, in spite of the fact that most of what you’ll be interacting with will be big and button-like functionality. Click into Photos, however, and you’ll get little thumbnails that you can scroll through. Click into Safari and you get small images of the tabs you have open.
Chris Davies, SlashGear: New MacBook Pro hands-on. Apple isn’t the first to put a display where the function keys once were, and Lenovo beat them to that. What helps distinguish Apple’s system is the brightness and clarity of its display: it’s hard to believe this isn’t a printed panel backlit, rather than an actual screen. It’s only when the graphics start changing that you can accept what you’re seeing.
Larry Magid, Forbes: Hands-On With The New MacBook Pro. The Touch Bar will take some getting used to and its value depends on how it customizes itself for whatever app you’re using but I do buy into Apple’s argument that regular function keys — that have been around since the days of dumb terminals in the 70s – are a bit obsolete because they can’t adapt themselves to the app your using.
David Pierce, Wired: A Whole New Kind of Laptop. One thing’s for sure, though: the tech is solid. The slightly raised platform is remarkably responsive, and the screen is so vibrant it almost looks like Apple slapped a sticker over it. There’s virtually no lag as you swipe or tap—it’s just a touchscreen, really, with support for up to 10 fingers.
Andrew Cunningham, Ars Technica: Hands-on with the new TouchBar. Under the bright showroom lights, it did look like the maximum brightness of the Touch Bar is lower than the brightness of the laptop’s display—it was just a little faded out. It’s not clear whether the brightness of the Touch Bar can be adjusted at all.
Dieter Bohn, The Verge: I’m sold on the Touch Bar. The new MacBook Pro looks and feels so good it’s unreal.
Jordan Novet, VentureBeat: Mixed feelings. I found myself feeling nervous about hitting the wrong virtual key on the Touch Bar… The funny thing is, the Touch Bar actually made me yearn for a full touchscreen.
Mark Spoonauer, Laptop. Touch Bar Is NOT a Gimmick. The MacBook Pro is supposed to be for serious work, but the new Touch Bar is a lot of fun. Actually, it’s a lot more than that. After spending just 20 minutes with the new 13-inch ($1,799) and 15-inch ($2,399) models, I’ve found it be a real time-saver.
Michael Gorman, Engadget: That Touch Bar will be a boon for power users. There wasn’t much I could do today in my quick demo except for scroll through webpages, apps and photos, and for those tasks it worked well. For such uses it strikes me as more of a novelty than anything particularly useful.
Tom Manelli, Techpinions: With Touch Bar, Apple Again puts Faith in Third-Party Developers. I can tell you this much: The Touch Bar is addictively enjoyable to use.
Joanna Stern, Wall Street Journal: Hand-on video…
Ina Fried, Recode: Watch as we touch the new Touch Bar. Periscope from the demo room.
AppleInsider‘s hands-on video…