Ben Lovejoy’s diary series are an attempt to provide a real-life review of Apple devices. Not just first impressions of them as gadgets, but the role they perform in everyday use, and an evolving view over time. 

Read the diary entries from the bottom up to read them in date order.

MacBook Pro Diary Stories April 20, 2018

Back when I bought my 2016 MacBook Pro, I was kind of tempted to get all the expense out of the way in one hit and upgrade my monitor at the same time. The problem, as I wrote later, was finding someone to take my money.

What I really want now is to replace my existing two-screen setup – 15-inch MacBook Pro on the left, 27-inch Apple Thunderbolt Display on the right – with a single monitor.

That means I need something substantially wider than 27 inches and 2560 pixels. My colleague Jeff tested one candidate back in 2016, LG’s 34-inch UltraWide. But that didn’t tick all of my boxes, so I held out …

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MacBook Pro Diary Stories February 13, 2017

As someone who prefers to travel handbaggage-only, gadgets can often prove a challenge. As I like to keep up with photo editing as I go, I generally travel with my MacBook Pro as well as iPad, iPhone, Apple Watch and a compact camera. Not only do I need space for the gadgets themselves, but also the associated cables and chargers.

But for a trip to Havana last week – a destination I finally managed to check off from my bucket list – I decided that I could get by with two camera batteries and use my MacBook Pro to charge everything else …

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MacBook Pro Diary Stories December 5, 2016

The main reason I’ve adopted this Diary format for reviewing Apple kit is that first impressions can be misleading. The iPad, for example, launched to very mixed reviews. I won’t embarrass my fellow tech writers by naming names, but the Guardian did a round-up at the time.

Then there’s my own Apple Watch experience. Going from clear smartwatch skeptic – wondering why anyone would want one – to a complete convert. With the new MacBook Pro, my impressions from the keynote were that I would like it but not love it.

It looks like a very nice machine. I’m fully expecting to enjoy the smaller form factor and the new features – even if I will really miss the larger screen – but I’m not expecting to love it. It doesn’t excite me the way I feel that a new generation ought to after four years of more-or-less stagnation.

It turns out I was wrong …

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MacBook Pro Diary Stories November 30, 2016

Having got my maxed-out 15-inch 2016 MacBook Pro set up yesterday, I’ve now been using it for a total of around 12 hours – so I’m calling this one my first real-life usage impressions.

Impressions of the form factor will obviously vary depending on whether you’re coming from a pre-Retina machine – as I was – or a later one. The new machine is smaller, slimmer and sleeker either way, but the difference is of course much more dramatic from a pre-2012 model. And in my case, I’m also moving from a 17-inch machine to a 15-inch one.

For me, then, the form factor is in a completely different league. The base unit is much thinner, and the lid is almost unbelievably so. It’s also significantly lighter. I said before that I think I may be able to switch from two Macs to just one. This one feels portable enough that having a separate MacBook Air now feels like overkill …

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MacBook Pro Diary Stories November 29, 2016

My shiny new maxed-out 15-inch MacBook Pro with Touch Bar finally arrived yesterday, and it was time to migrate everything from my old Mac.

I wrote in the first piece that I was wasn’t overly concerned about the port situation, though did recognize that it wouldn’t be an entirely painless transition.

I’m pretty relaxed about the all-USB-C ports. Leaving older standards behind always involves a certain amount of pain, but I’m a pragmatist and a gadget guy. When a better standard comes along, it makes sense to use it, and as Apple isn’t the only company going all-in on USB-C, there’s no shortage of accessories for the new standard.

You could argue that a mix of ports would be useful, but that would be true for maybe the first year of ownership. After that, we’d be moaning about the fact that we have only two USB-C ports because there’s space taken up with those huge, ugly, old-fashioned USB-A ones. I think Apple made the right call here.

That pain did kick it on day one, however, when I attempted to migrate my data, apps and settings from my old MacBook Pro …

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MacBook Pro Diary Stories November 21, 2016

While some in the U.S. have been fortunate enough to take delivery of their shiny new MacBook Pro with Touch Bar models, those of us in the UK are getting a rather more gradual unveiling. Most Apple Stores don’t even have display models yet, and even in the Regent Street store they only had one of each model, tucked away inside a perspex tube running demo loops.

My MacBook Pro Diary series is, then, getting a rather more drawn-out ‘first impressions’ treatment than usual. But there is an upside to that: there’s actually quite a lot to discuss with this new machine, and so far the focus has been very much on the specs. The loss of ports, whether Apple should have waited for Kaby Lake, whether the Touch Bar is a useful innovation or a gimmick … plus the ‘has Apple lost touch with its professional user roots?’ debate.

Those are all issues worthy of discussion, but I do feel the machine has perhaps missed out a little on the more usual (admittedly superficial) first impressions of its design …

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