The Touch Bar is gone, Magsafe and HDMI are back—these really are truly fantastic-looking machines.
It's very, very rare that a beloved feature disappears from a piece of technology and then comes back a few years later. Apple hasn't, for instance, added headphones back to iPhones.
However, after a few years, I really don't miss iPhone headphones.
There is a feature I desperately miss, and excitingly, it's back. Today Apple has released the new Macbook Pros, with real function keys, impressive specs, and most importantly, Magsafe.
Magsafe, if you don't remember, is that magnetic port that charges your laptop while also letting you trip on the cable and have it yanked from your computer without damaging the cable or your computer. Or, worse, having you pull the computer onto the ground, breaking it. It's a lifesaver for normal clumsy humans. It disappeared in 2016, and it's back.
Along with it comes the return of a full-size HDMI port, which is great, since any of us who teach or present are always stocking every back with an HDMI adapter, and amazingly the return of the SDXC port for downloading in the field.
They also got rid of the Touch Bar and returned to full-on normal function keys. While the Touch Bar was clearly innovative, it just never took off or became very popular with users, and seeing a normal old keyboard again is so exciting for pro users. Hard keys let us build muscle memories for shortcuts and speed up our life, and we thought they were permanently gone.
It's really refreshing to see so much we missed come back to this laptop.
This is all wrapped around your choice of either the M1 Pro or M1 Max chipset, both of which are very powerful, and wonderfully, both are available in both sizes, 14" or 16". It used to be, to get full power, you always needed to get the bigger Mac laptop, but working with ARM architecture lets Apple give users the ability to have a powerful, smaller laptop.
It comes with a stunning 21 hours of battery life, and a fast charge that gets it half full in 30 minutes.
One fascinating feature for filmmakers is that the laptop screen is being given the XDR moniker, which was also used for the Apple Pro Display XDR, their $6,000 Pro standalone monitor. This does indicate Apple feels very, very good about its color accuracy.
As filmmakers, we of course care a lot about color accuracy as well, so this is one of the first things we'll be testing. The big issue here is that every software will show images differently, but it's no surprise that the software they are showing for that feature is Resolve. More than once lately we've been impressed by how close the image in the viewer is to our external color grading monitor, and it seems like that push is going to continue.
Some people might be bothered by the arrival of the "notch," or the extension of the screen, around the forward-facing camera, but that isn't going to be that big of a deal. After having it on a phone, you get used to it quickly, and that is generally empty room in the toolbar, so it seems like a smart move for opening up more screen real estate for working while keeping the footprint small.
Considering how powerful the M1 laptops proved to be last year, we're very excited to see what Pro and Max versions of that chipset can deliver.