The 16" MacBook Pro (late 2021)

So Apple got me again. The M1 Macs released last year were so exciting that I bought one, and it was as good as advertised.

A few weeks ago Apple released new MacBook Pros revised for 2021. The highlights:

  • New revision on the M1, now even faster and more power efficient.
  • New mini-LED screens – much brighter, amazing contrast, and which run at 120 Hz.
  • The Touch Bar is FINALLY dead.
  • Three USB-C ports (up from the meager two of the last batch). It is so good having ports on both sides of the computer again.
  • Non-USB-C ports – the first in a long time. MagSafe, and an SD card reader.
  • A decent camera – the first ever in an Apple laptop.
  • 32 GB and 64 GB memory (previously restricted to 16 GB).
  • Larger battery – somewhere in the neighborhood of 14 to 21 hours of life.
  • Notch, thinner bezels.

Easily the biggest jump in Apple laptop design in recent memory, and better yet – purely improvements on all fronts. Instead of taking things away or change for the sake of change (unforced errors Apple’s been making again and again for the last five years), mistakes were fixed and features added back. So for the second year in a row, my wallet was open.

These machines have already been covered ad nauseam elsewhere so I’ll be brief. Every feature listed above is noticeably great – from finally having decent quality video calls, to no longer need a dongle to pull photos off my camera, and all the way down to having real function keys to make the VSCode experience that much better.

But the one I keep coming back to is the screen. When I first saw a retina screen, or went from a Pro-sized iPhone to a Max-sized iPhone, or saw the iPhone 13’s 120 Hz in action for the first time, I was amazed, but mostly stopped noticing these improvements after a few weeks of use. Not so with the new MBP’s mini-LED screen – even weeks later, it still makes an impression on me every time I open my laptop’s lid. The 120 Hz refresh rate is neat but that’s not it – rather, it’s the incredible depth of the blacks 1 and just how bright and legible the screen is, even in daylight. Truly astounding.

So for the second year in a row – no regrets. Best computer I’ve ever owned by a techno mile.

1 I’d read a review somewhere that the high contrast ratio is only really noticeable while watching movies and the like. Not so – I notice it every moment I’m working in terminal.

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