MacBook Pro with Touch Bar: The good, the bad, the ugly, this week on The CultCast

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The reviews are in on Apple's new MacBook Pro with Touch Bar...
The reviews are in on Apple's new MacBook Pro with Touch Bar...
Photo: @YSR50

This week on The CultCast: The reviews are in! We’ll tell you what praises and complaints reviewers have about new MacBook Pro with Touch Bar. Plus: The one Touch Bar feature you’ll absolutely covet; why the new Designed by Apple in California book is an artifact Apple fans will love; Apple quietly rebuilds a library of its gadgets long past; how to get the best Black Friday deals; and we review the hawt new Mavic Pro drone by DJI, then crash it into a cliff.

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CultCast #258 – MacBook Pro with Touch Bar: The good, the bad, the ugly Subscribe on iTunes

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MacBook Pro reviews roundup: Promising, not groundbreaking

So what do the early reviews make of Apple’s new pro laptop? In a nutshell, that it’s futuristic, but maybe not an entirely successful device for present-day users.

  • Wired: The new MacBook Pro is a terrific laptop and, like the super-skinny MacBook, a clear indication of where most of the computing world is going. But comes with growing pains.
  • TechCrunch: The less celebrated spec bumps are what make the new Pro a worthy upgrade. Better processors, more storage, a brighter display and better speakers are all wrapped up in a sleeker and lighter package than before…. The Touch Bar feels like a nice bonus for the time being.
  • Ars Technica: Andrew Cunningham writes, “The more I use the Touch Bar, the more I become convinced of its potential utility — although a lot of its ability to replace the old function buttons remains hypothetical for now.”
    • Industry-leading storage performance.
    • Touch Bar model gets 1.3 Gbps Wi-FI (like 2015 model) instead of 867 Mbps.
  • The Verge: Walt Mossberg describes the Touch Bar as having “potential, but it’s not magic.”
  • ARS: CPU performance increases by an amount that’s roughly proportionate to the 200MHz maximum clock speed increase, and GPU performance increases by around 10 percent. It’s not nothing…
  • The Wall Street Journal: “It’s a dongle nightmare.” The SD card slot is particularly missed.
  • WSJ: A Touch Bar, Touch ID and new design are tempting, but you’ll get the same performance and battery with the older model…. So how do you decide? Do you invest in the present — the “old” MacBook Pro with performance, good-enough portability, a keyboard to cherish and lots of ports? Or do you invest in the future — a beautiful, highly portable machine with new tricks? Or maybe you do what I’m doing: Stare down at your three-year-old laptop and wonder if you can tough it out another year or two while this sorts itself out.

MacBook Pro Touch Bar lets users skip through YouTube ads

  • First spotted by users on Reddit, at present the fancy new Touch Bar lets users scrub through otherwise unskippable ads so you can start watching videos straight away.
  • “In Safari, the touchbar [sic] will pop up a scrubbing control whenever a video begins to play,” Redditor RomansFiveEight writes. “Amazingly, you can use that to scrub THROUGH an ad, even a non-skippable 30 second pre-roll ad; and begin your video right away!”

Apple chronicles 20 years of iconic design in pricey new book

  • Apple has announced that it will be debuting a new hardbound book, entitled Designed by Apple in California, chronicling 20 years of its groundbreaking designs and boasting 450 photographs of past and present Apple products.
  • The book, which is dedicated to the memory of Steve Jobs, will also include exclusive details on the design processes used by Apple’s design team under the leadership of Jony Ive.
  • The photos contained are all shot by photographer Andrew Zuckerman, a filmmaker and photographer who has previously shot portraits of Judi Dench, Clint Eastwood, Ted Kennedy and others.
  • Designed by Apple in California is available in two sizes: a small 10.2-inch-by-12.75-inch edition for $199 and a large version sized at 13 inches by 16.25 inches for $299.
  • Specially milled German paper
  • Gilded matte silver edges
  • Low-ghost inks

Jony Ive goes inside Apple’s design lab in new video

  • Going inside Apple’s design lab is a rare privilege some Apple execs don’t even get, but Jony Ive is giving the world a glimpse inside his lab to celebrate the company’s new book.

Apple had to buy back old products featured in its new design book

  • According to a new interview with Jony Ive, Apple had to actually go out and buy copies of its old products in order to photograph them for its new $300 coffee table book
  • “[W]e’ve been so consumed by our current and future work we came to realise we didn’t have a catalogue of the physical products,” Ive told design journal Wallpaper*. “Many of the products that you see, we actually had to go out and purchase. It’s a rather shameful admission, but it’s just not an area that we really invested much time or energy in.”
  • Shortly after he returned to the company in the late 1990s, Steve Jobs gave Apple’s historical archive — comprising records that management at Apple had kept since the mid-1980s — to Stanford University Libraries because he didn’t want Apple to be fixated on the past.
  • A few years after that, in 1996, an ex-Apple employee named David Pakman who had worked there from 1991 through 1997 emailed Jobs to suggest staging a celebratory event for Apple’s 30th birthday. He received a simple answer: Apple is focused on the future, not the past. —Steve
  • Fortunately, things are changing, Ive said. Around eight years ago, the company felt an “obligation” to go out and start building up an archive of every product it had released.

Liveblog: The best Black Friday deals for 2016

Mavic Pro — 10 years ago you’d need a helicopter to get footage like this