Typing on my 2016 MBP upsets me.
For three years that keyboard has disappointed me every time I was forced to touch it. Fumbling for the-area-in-which-the-Escape-key-should-be on the Touchbar has been the opposite of pleasant. Every time I've had to look at my hands to find the arrow keys I wanted to scream at Apple. The annoying, weak, tinny, and yet unnecessarily loud sound made by every keystroke has been like fingernails on a chalkboard. I'll never get back the days wasted waiting for Apple to finish replacing it—twice.
I exaggerate of course. Let's be honest, it's just a keyboard. Problems with the keyboard on my expensive laptop are not important in the world, but dammit it's the keyboard I've had to use every day and it is the shittiest, most unreliable, obnoxious, and generally disagreeable keyboard in the history of keyboards. So, yeah, it bothers me.
For three years I've waited for an escape from the hell that is the butterfly keyboard. I've gone so far as to flirt with buying a Dell and running Linux or Windows. How desperate is that?
Well, my troubles are over. Yesterday I bought a new 16-inch MacBook Pro.
As soon as the 16-inch MBP was announced, I wanted one. I patiently (for me) waited for early reviews to confirm that things had actually improved. The consensus seemed to be that they've improved a great deal. I went to the Apple store to see and feel for myself and then I bought one.
Marco Arment's summary reflects how I feel...
The biggest change is that I finally don’t feel like it’s constantly fighting me. Its design doesn’t feel spiteful. It’s a computer that doesn’t seem to hate being a computer. I’m not afraid to use it in the world, and I’m not avoiding using it because it’s unpleasant. The butterfly keyboard was the opposite, it never got better, I never got used to it, and good riddance to it.
I haven't had a large-screen laptop in years. My last one was a 17" Sony Vaio back in 2000-something. Considering that my favorite Mac of all time was the 11-inch MacBook Air, I was worried that I might find it too unwieldy.
Oh, the 16-inch MBP is definitely unwieldy, but it's also glorious. No one needs a trackpad this big, but there it is. The screen seems huge and bright and as good as anything I've spent time staring at. The speakers sound very good. I'm not sure they're as good as some reviewers are claiming. They're great for laptop speakers, but let's not pretend they're great for music.
I chose the 8-core i9 model with 16GB RAM and a 1TB SSD. I'm a little worried that I didn't upgrade the RAM to 32GB but in my usage memory hasn't really been a bottleneck.
Anyway, what about that new keyboard?!
It's fine. I don't notice it.
Saying "It's fine" may sound like damning with faint praise, but it's really not. Not noticing the keyboard on my laptop is the most wonderful feeling, at least in contrast to where I've been.
I don't expect any laptop keyboard to be great. The only great keyboards are of the mechanical variety.
A solid, reliable, sensible keyboard on my laptop should be table stakes, and maybe I shouldn't be thrilled by this one, but I am.