Review: For back-to-schoolers, newest version of MacBook Pro is an improvement on an already powerful laptop

    1 of 2 2 of 2

      There's something to be said about small steps leading toward big changes. With the tweaks to the new MacBook Pro, Apple has made the premium laptop a more credible option for users looking for style and performance.

      I've been using the first-generation MacBook Pro since mid-2017 (the first models were on shelves in late 2016), and as with all Apple products, the form factor is sublime.

      The replacement is thinner and lighter while delivering full-featured performance. In my use, the battery has been excellent, but I've always been careful about managing applications and connectivity when I knew I wouldn't be close to power for a while.

      With the first version, I was concerned about it only having USB-C ports, but in the year I've been using it I've rarely been stymied. I had to replace one dongle so I could connect HDMI, but I'm rarely plugging into ports these days because so much of the work that we do is handled wirelessly.

      I've also mostly adapted to the new "butterfly mechanism" keyboard. I never experienced any of the dust and debris failure issues that were reported by others.

      And although I don't use the Touch Bar often, I do appreciate the convenience when I need it. The touch-sensitive strip along the top of the keyboard replaced the row of function keys and provides contextual controls—to adjust screen brightness and volume, for example—and allows log-in to the laptop with a fingertip.

      All of this is to say that I really appreciate this new MacBook Pro model. But it's more computer than most will need because the average person is only using their laptop for web browsing, photo sharing, and word processing.

      The hardware is available in silver and space grey, and the 13-inch devices are equipped with a quad-core Intel Core i5 starting at $2,269 for 256 GB of solid-state disc storage (you can double it for only $250, and you can upgrade to 1 TB or 2 TB).

      The 15-inch size has a 6-core Intel Core i7 and starts at $2,999 for 256 GB of storage ($430 to double it, and available with 2 TB and 4 TB).

      These computers were created for people performing processor-heavy tasks, like audio or video editing, photography, or design. If you are doing these things, the MacBook Pro will give you a performance bump and the Retina Display with Apple's True Tone technology means you get incredible images on the screens.

      If you want, you can connect to one or up to two high-resolution displays (13-inch and 15-inch, respectively) at a workstation.

      The other benefit to spending the money on an Apple laptop is they are robust, so they will last up to twice as long as some laptops, and they retain their value.

      In fact, you can trade in an old Apple computer to get up to $1,250 towards the purchase of a new MacBook Pro. You can find out what your device is worth online. Apple is also taking trade-ins of non-Apple computers, including HP, LG, and Lenovo laptops.

      And students buying one now will get a pair of Beats Solo3 wireless headphones thrown in for good measure as part of Apple's annual back-to-school campaign.