MacBook Pro Touch Bar vs MacBook Air – My Review

Post by Mark

I don’t think any notebook has ever gotten as much hate as the new MacBook Pro’s have and I can’t understand why. Last week I replaced my 13″ MacBook Air with the new 13″ MacBook Pro with the Touch Bar and I just love it.

Before I go ahead and explain why I love the new MacBook Pro so much and why I think its so much better than my already amazing MacBook Air, I’m going to first quickly explain why the biggest issues people have with the MacBook Pro don’t really affect me. This review is also fairly long compared to my regular posts so I’ve titled all the main paragraphs that way you can skip down to the area you care more about if you don’t feel like reading.

No USB Ports
This is probably the biggest issue people have with the new MacBook Pros, they don’t have the regular USB Type-A ports and instead Apple replaced them with the newer, slimmer, faster, better but also less popular USB-C ports. In my case I rarely used the USB ports on my MacBook Air, the only time I ever used them was when I traveled I’d charge my iPhone from my Air’s USB port and when I wanted to copy stuff onto or off memory sticks. I barely used USB so for me if the ports are USB-C or Type-A… I don’t really care. I bought the USB-C to Type-A Apple adapter so IF I ever need a regular Type-A port, I’ll just use the adapter. I’d rather have a slimmer notebook without any USB ports than a thicker one with. But again thats because I rarely used the ports to begin with and I can always move things around wirelessly.

No SD Card Slot
This I was more upset with than the lack of USB ports. I take a lot of photos with my camera for the blog and when I travel so it was very practical having an SD card slot in my MacBook Air. But it’s not that big a deal really having no SD card slot. My current camera’s SD card has WiFi anyway so I’ll just wirelessly transfer the photos onto my Mac. Actually, most of the time I copy the photos over to my phone first, edit them in VSCO and then AirDrop them onto my Mac. That’s what I did with these pictures in this post for example.

Battery Life
This wasn’t an issue until Consumer Reports tested the new MacBook Pro’s late last month and got battery life that ranged anywhere from 4 to 18 hours. They cited major inconsistencies which I have yet to encounter with my short time with the notebook. So far my MacBook Pro is lasting me as much as my MacBook Air would which is to say all day of on and off use.

Max 16GB of RAM
A lot of people have made a fuss that the maximum amount of RAM the new MacBook Pro’s support is 16GB. I had 8GB of RAM on my MacBook Air and I was doing design work and editing large files on it without any issues. I have 8GB of RAM on my new MacBook Pro and I expect it to perform even better than my MacBook Air so I’m fine with the 16GB limit since I don’t need more than 8.

The Review
Now with the controversial items out of the way let me start my review. I’ve never owned a MacBook Pro (or PowerBook). My first notebook ever was a white 12″ iBook G3 Dual USB back in 2001 (considered the most unreliable Apple notebook ever). Since then I’ve had a bunch of other low end Apple notebooks until I moved up to the MacBook Air. I got my first one in 2011 and then replaced it in 2015 with the updated model. Anyone who owns a MacBook Air will tell you they’re incredible notebooks and I really didn’t need to replace mine, it was more than enough for my needs, but something about the new MacBook Pro’s attracted me, I think it was the Touch Bar but once I saw them I knew I needed one. In the week I’ve owned the MacBook Pro, a few things have really impressed me compared to the MacBook Air:

The Size
Somehow Apple has managed to make the MacBook Pro smaller than the MacBook Air and also weigh the same. Side by side when compared to the MacBook Air, the MacBook Pro is clearly smaller and more compact.

The Screen
My biggest issue with the MacBook Air was the screen, not because it didn’t have a retina display which I could care less about, but because the viewing angle was terrible. I used to constantly adjust the screen tilt to make sure I was getting the best viewing angle. With the new MacBook Pro I don’t have that issue, no matter how much I move the screen looks great. The color difference and brightness is another thing I instantly noticed, side by side the MacBook Air looks dimmer and the colors duller when compared to the Pro. I’d find it really difficult to move back to the MacBook Air now.

The Sound
The speakers on the new MacBook Pro are much better than the MacBook Air. Like the difference in sound quality is pretty dramatic, other than the fact the sound is much more louder on the MacBook Pro, it also has more bass and much more clarity to it. And because the speakers are pointing towards you (with the Air the sound is indirect), the left and right channels are also a lot more clearly defined. I’ve started listening to music on my notebook which I never used to do before.

The Keyboard
Based on the reviews I read online about the keyboard, I was worried I was going to hate it. I don’t, it’s now one of my favorite things in the new MacBook Pro. I type better with it, I type faster and it just feels so much more solid when compared to the MacBook Air keyboard which now feels too squishy to me.

What About the Touch Bar?
This is one area I have yet to make up my mind on. There are two parts to the Touch Bar, the main touch display area and the TouchID (fingerprint sensor) which is located on the far right. I love the TouchID since it allows me to sign into my MacBook instantly. I’m also hoping that soon I could use TouchID to unlock 1Password like I do on my iPhone, that option alone would make this MacBook Pro worth it over the Air.

Now the touch display area of the Touch Bar is what I’m still trying to get a hang of. Right now it really isn’t that useful. It looks cool for sure but it’s currently not that much more practical than keyboard short cuts. Also not all apps support it yet and the ones that do don’t allow that much customization to it. Because of the way I rest my hands on the keyboard while using the trackpad I also keep accidentally touching the Esc button which is annoying (I’ve done it 3 times while writing this article) but I’m getting used to it. While I’m typing this post up I have Spotify showing on my Touch Bar but for I wish instead of the audio scrubber showing (pictured above), I could choose to show the name of the song and artist in that space instead. The Touch Bar is still new though so I’m hoping we’ll get more customization options over the next year as companies start understanding what people want from the Touch Bar.

MacBook Air vs MacBook Pro
This is a really easy recommendation to make, the MacBook Pro is a much better machine over the Air in every way. The MacBook Pro weighs the same as the Air but is also smaller in size so the biggest advantage the Air had over the Pro series doesn’t exist anymore. The MacBook Pro screen is better, the keyboard is better and if you’re used to listening to music on the Air’s speakers, then you’re gonna love the MacBook Pro. The only thing I have difficulty recommending is the MacBook Pro with the Touch Bar over the version without the Touch Bar. Is the Touch Bar worth an extra $300? I think I’m leaning towards a yes, but only if you’ve got the money to spend. If you don’t thats fine, you aren’t really missing much.

I ordered my MacBook Pro from eBay and it cost me KD548 ($1,789) and another KD10.5 to ship to Kuwait using PostPlus. It was considerably cheaper to buy it on eBay since Apple charges tax and I would have ended up paying KD600 ($1,963) if I had purchased it from the Apple Store. It was also quicker since when I was ordering the MacBook Pro, the wait time on the Apple Store was 3-4 weeks before shipping. But, the advantage of ordering directly from the Apple Store is you could customize your Mac with more RAM or a faster CPU. I also purchased the “Space Gray” color which is what you see in the pictures in this post. Let me know if you have any questions.

Update: Turns out 1Password already works with TouchID, I just needed to enable it in the settings!


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73 comments, add your own...


  1. meh says:

    People were expecting more, and competitors have caught up with cheaper ,better and more innovative products.

    The design was great, and Apple had a winning formula, but tech companies by now should learn that that is still not enough.

    • Mark says:

      Well you see I disagree with you there. First of all the main competition of the MacBook Pro is the MacBook Air or the MacBook. Those are the only other two notebooks that you could purchase today that run OSX so you can’t compare the MacBook Pro to say a Dell which runs Windows 10 or whatever the latest Windows is.

      Secondly, what was cheap or innovative about the MacBook Pro before? The MacBook Pros were always expensive which is why I never could justify buying one before so it shouldn’t be a surprise they’re still expensive. Secondly I also never thought they were innovative, pretty yes but innovative? Not really they were just Apple notebooks with a regular keyboard, trackpad and screen and worked like every other notebook on the market.

      • meh says:

        What?! That does not make sense. With that logic I cannot compare PlayStation to XBOX or iPhone to Samsung Galaxy S7 because they have different OS.

        Also I did not say the MacBook was cheap.

        Of course Macbooks were innovative. The way the keyboard and trackpad were designed and implemented were something new and different and most of the competition copied that. Innovation does not mean it does magical things from the year 2050.

        • Mark says:

          Xbox and Playstation aren’t computers, they don’t really have an OS. And of course you can’t compare an android phone to an iOS one since they run completely different software environments. When was the last time you heard of an Android user wanting an iPhone because they were faster? Or an iPhone user wanting an Android phone because it had a curved screen? If you’re an anroid phone and you want to upgrade you’re gonna look at other android devices.

          The touch bar I think is much more innovative than anything Apple has done with the keyboard and trackpad but for me i always saw apple innovative with their designs, thinner, slicker and smaller which is the same philosophy they’ve applied in this instance.

          • meh says:

            XBOX and PlayStation are based on computer architecture for one, and secondly of course they have an operating system, because well it operates and runs things for you, but that’s not the issue here. The issue here is that you’re considering MacBook (a laptop) and Dell or whatever (a laptop) different products that are not competing with each other, not only that but Android (a mobile phone) and iPhone (a mobile phone) do not compete with each other.

            Dude Kuwaitis switch between iPhone and Android like every six months.

            I have an Android, and if I want to upgrade to a new iPhone, why wouldn’t I switch?? Because of my data? because of my apps?

            • Mark says:

              i know xbox and playstation have an OS

              If you’re happy flip flopping from one OS to another then good for you. In my case an Apple notebook is not competing with a Windows notebook but instead competing with other Apple notebooks. Why would I want to use Windows?

              Same with the iPhone, I don’t consider it competing with Android devices, I consider it competing with other IOS devices. When I want to change my phone I think hmmm should I get the iPhone 7 or 7 Plus? Or should I get the smaller SE? Or maybe I should wait till the iPhone 8 or 7S etc..

              • meh says:

                Of course that’s your personal choice, that’s what you should have said, “in my case”, but you were saying these products are different and are not competing with each other. Also, creating a competing product within the same company is pretty stupid, and the iPhone 7 and plus 7 were definitely not there to compete with each other.

                Anyhow, once Apple goes the path of the past (and Nokia/Blackberry),as it is slowly doing with it’s mediocre line up, you will consider Windows and Android.

  2. Dun says:

    I have read that people hit the touch bar when trying to type. Im not sure how you are managing to do it when using the trackpad.

    • Mark says:

      i don’t know how people would hit the touch bar when typing. when you’re typing your fingers are over the letters and numbers of what you’re typing so how would someones finger end up on the touch bar which is way on top? Weird.

      in my case i hit the touch bar when my left hand is resting on my laptop while i’m scrolling and clicking the trackpad with my right hand. I don’t think my hand is that big?

      • Dun says:

        Oh with your other hand. I see how that would be the case with the 13in (no speaker to the sides of the keyboard).

        The one thing holding me back from buying the 15in is the confusion about the battery. Best I can tell there are quite a few bad batches out there, something is causing huge inconsistencies between different ones. Consumer reports (and others) managed to get as much as 18hours and as little as 4hours doing the exact same thing on the exact same model. Glad you got a good one

  3. Mud says:

    The touchbar is a gimmick. You have a display, the best output device for visual information, ever. You have the keyboard, the best device for input ever.

    The only possible upgrade too this system is a touchscreen. A touchbar is the worst of both worlds; poor visibility, poor feedback, not on the keyboard and not on the display.

    • Mark says:

      have you tried touching your laptops screen before? other than the fact everything is too small to touch and the fact your screen will end up being one large oily smudge, it’s also tiring on your hand and every time you touch the screen you’re pushing the screen back on the hinge. just hold out your hand as if you are gonna touch your screen, how long can you keep your hand held out like that?

      the touch bar is solving the issues of a touch screen, but at the moment the softwares aren’t really taking advantage of it right which is why it isn’t that useful at the moment.

      • Mud says:

        I’ve owned two touch screen laptops, including my current surface pro 3, and I agree with everything you’ve said about them.

        I forgot to mention the touchpad, which is the ideal input device when the keyboard doesn’t cut it. Which begs the question, why is the touchbar better, when it’s literally a combination of the display and keyboard (ie touchscreen, which we agree sucks on laptops)? It has the disadvantage of being poorly positioned, and the fact that you can’t see it when your fingers are on it makes it worse than the touchpad.

        Everything that’s displayed on the touchbar can and should be on the main display, and all touch input (gestures/taps/scrolling/swiping) is easier/comfortable/accurate on the touchpad.

        Personally, I use laptops entirely using keyboards except when absolutely necessary (websites with hover effects). Windows apps and many websites (like Google) need no mouse and can be used easily and quickly with keyboard shortcuts.

        • Mark says:

          isn’t the surface 3 just an ipad? it’s a tablet and so makes sense it has a touch screen since thats how it is meant to be primarily used.

          the touch bar is located near where your fingers are, it doesn’t require you to raise, extend and push your screen forward so its in a more natural location thats why its a better idea then touching your screen. it isn’t poorly positioned at all.

          • Mud says:

            The surface pro 3 runs the full version of Windows and comes with a core i3, i5 or i7 cpu, and a stylus, so it is definitely *not* “just an iPad” (which is just a big iPhone btw).

            With the type cover, it is a proper full blown laptop for all intents and purposes. The touchscreen is for when you want to use it like a tablet.

            The MacBook pro is a great laptop, no argument there.
            I’m not convinced the touchbar is any better than the touchpad, though.

            • Mark says:

              Microsoft seems to think the surface is a tablet so you should contact them about that ;)

              But in all seriousness the touchpad can’t perform the same tasks as a touch bar. The best way I can explain the touch bar is like programmable buttons on a third party PS4 controller or like on those gaming keyboards. But instead oh physical buttons for commonly used shortcuts it’s a touch display.

              • mud says:

                it’s interesting you mention that, because my first thought was how similar it is to the razer blade pro gaming laptop which had 8 customizable/programmable keys, each with its own tiny display that turns the key into a picture of whatever app/shortcut it launches or skillbar with the icons of the individual skill on their respective keys.

                the general consensus on that? gimmick.

      • meh says:

        You can play Doom on it.

  4. Yousuf says:

    Apple have really lost the plot, man. It used to be a great tech company with ground breaking design, and now it’s just concerned with making products thinner and thinner, while compromising the thing that made it so great: functionality (which I believe ties into design). I’ve had Macbook Pros since 2005, and now I’m considering switching over to PC which saddens me because I love the MBPs (should’ve gotten the 2015 version while I still had the chance).

    No USB ports?! Are you serious? I would understand if they did this for their smaller laptops to make them easier to carry on the go, but this is supposed to be the Pro version of the laptop, so it’s supposed to be more powerful and capable than its Air or regular counterparts. I don’t want to use a dongle just so I can charge the laptop and use my hard drive at the same time. I understand you can pretty much do everything wirelessly now, but there are certain advantages to having wired connections that I do not want to give up.

    Their new logo should be: “Apple: creating expensive solutions to non-existing problems”

    Apologies for the rant, but this just pisses me off.

    • Mark says:

      You don’t need a dongle so u can charge your laptop and use the hard drive at the same time, that’s the MacBook which has one USB C port, the Pro has 4 of them.

      • Yousuf says:

        My bad, didn’t know that it had 4. However, my point still stands. I thought they had jumped the gun when they removed the headphone jack from the iPhone, but that pales in comparison to this. Having NO usb ports, even though USB is still widely used in the industry and doesn’t look like its going away anytime soon, is just taking advantage of the company’s devout fan base.

        • Mark says:

          They have four USB ports, they just aren’t using USB Type A. They’re using the much faster and more capable USB C which as a “pro” user you should appreciate.

          Other than hard drives and memory cards what do people use USB ports for? Not much really so if you have a USB Type A hard drive just get an adapter or a new faster USB C capable hard drive. No biggie.

          • Yousuf says:

            I understand that its a USB C. I do appreciate that it’s faster and more capable, but I do not appreciate how its forced onto us. If they want to include USB C ports, by all means, do it. Its the lack of USB A ports that I have an issue with. Yes, you can buy an adapter, or a new USB C capable hard drive, but why should I change all of my accessories to fit in with their system? Just so they can get more money by selling their peripherals?

            In addition to that, they removed the hdmi ports that the previous MBPs had. No biggie, though, there’s a dongle for that as well, fork over another $50. When you add up the cost of all the adapters and dongles you need to buy, it becomes significant.

            Other than that, the wireless keyboard and mouse I use have a USB A receiver that I need to plug into my laptop. Again, I can get a mouse and keyboard that are bluetooth capable, but that means I have to replace those two things as well… and oh would you look at that I have to pay another $300.

            For me personally, I put media files on hard drives then connect that to a media player to watch on my TV (so I can enjoy that sweet sweet DTS audio), or connect the laptop directly to my TV using HDMI (wireless screen mirroring is laggy and unreliable). So for this case, I’m forced to shell out more money regardless.

            I don’t mean to sound bitter (well maybe I am just a little) or to attack your opinion, I’m just venting. Apple has really disappointed me this year. Glorified dongle producing company.

            • Mark says:

              You’re not going like what I have to say and I’m trying not to sound like an Apple fanboy here but its hard not to since I’ve been a mac user since their beige macs and I’ve kinda grown to understand trust Apple’s philosophy. so i am an apple fan boy even though i don’t like using that term.

              Your mouses uses a USB-A receiver, thats not Apple’s fault, thats yours. Get a new mouse that uses bluetooth instead of using old tech. Its like wanting Apple to keep a VGA port just so you could connect it to your computer monitor. You’re going to have to change all your accessories anyway, unless you’re still using a scanner with a SCSI port or a firewire zip hard drive? Obviously not, you’re most likely using a USB 3.0 hard drive and then next phase of drives are all USB-C. It’s eventful so you could hold out as long as you want… by using their USB-C to A dongle or get a new drive that uses the new port.

              Majority of the people don’t need HDMI, don’t need a CD drive and don’t need an ethernet port, so why should Apple include things that the majority of the people don’t use? I would rather they remove the HDMI port if it means a slimmer laptop. Yeah sucks for you but not for me.

              Apple likes to take decisions for people. They believe they know best and make the decision on behalf of everyone so you don’t end up with a Trump. A lot of people absolutely hate that and a lot of people are fine with it.

              Using a dongle every now and then isn’t a big sacrifice and its definitely not the end of the world.

              • Dun says:

                Apple, it just works. I orgasmed at how easy it was to pair my AirPods to my iPhone. I had a second orgasm when i realized that thanks to iCloud my iPad pro and MacBook pro were both using my AirPods automatically too. Apple, it just works!

              • Yousuf says:

                Get outta here with your logic. I didn’t come here to be convinced, I came here to rant!

                Seriously though, you make some good points and I understand where you’re coming from. I guess I just really like my old MBP, and want one just like it but with upgraded specs.

                Since it’s looking like I need to upgrade my home “ecosystem”, how do you usually watch downloaded media on your TV? Like if you have a movie file that you downloaded on your laptop, how do you put it on the TV?

                • Mark says:

                  Since this comment thread is gonna end any second now cuz i have a limit of 8 nested comments, i’ll answer your question below in a new comment

  5. PK says:

    Great review, thanks for clarifying some of my questions before I order one. Ports are not an issue with this either: http://mashable.com/2016/12/24/device-fix-macbook-dongle/#fGK.ky5QEZqZ

    • Mark says:

      there are so many options already available on Amazon. for $50 you can get a dongle that has usb ports, hdmi, sd card slot and a micro sd card slot. but i got my Apple USB-C to Type-A dongle from Xcite for like KD1.900. Think they had priced it wrong by mistake so lucky me since its $9.99 in the US.

  6. Burhan says:

    I agree with Mark’s review; if you are already invested in the OSX/iOS eco-system, it is an incremental upgrade.

    Here are my opinions for someone upgrading from a previous generation macbook pro (and not the macbook air, as is the case with Mark)

    Each macbook pro upgrade has been a technology leap forward; so much so that these laptops easily outlast anything else out there. My original 2010 Macbook Pro 13″ is still going strong (it needed a battery replacement, that’s all). This is because the upgrade gave it so much more lasting power.

    This upgrade to the macbook pro though – feels like there is something missing. The larger trackpad, okay – was the previous trackpad too small? Here as I type this on a 15″ macbook pro the trackpad doesn’t seem like it needs to be larger. On my 13″ its even more so.

    Okay they increased the color gamut on the screen and its now brighter – unless you are working side-by-side with the older generation, you will not really notice this difference at all.

    They changed they keyboard – this is a personal preference; I have played around with the machine at the Apple Store and although I can type almost as fast as I can on the “old” style keys, the new keys will take getting used to as they have almost zero travel. The upside is, they aren’t as soft as the one on the older macbook pro.

    From a performance / hardware specs standpoint, the new generation is a minor upgrade. In fact, the older generation is faster in some applications. However, if you are the kind of person whose work depends on raw CPU horsepower, you don’t need me to tell you about the performance numbers; you probably already know what you need.

    The 13″ and the 15″ have the same number of Type-C ports; however not all the Type-C ports are the same. Only the 15″ can drive dual 4K displays thanks to its dedicated GPU.

    Then there is the touch bar. Once the novelty of it wears off; you’ll realize that this is one of those innovations that really needs a killer application – its a solution looking for a problem.

    I am still waiting for a killer application for the touch bar to see the value in it. As a developer, it is more annoying right now than useful.

    Should you buy it?

    1. If you have a macbook air, yes – its a great upgrade.
    2. If you have a macbook pro from last year, or the year before – its not worth the upgrade.
    3. If you have a macbook pro that is more than 3 years old – it is worth the upgrade, but you’ll want to max out the specs.

    If you are a Windows user; then you need to consider shifting to a new platform and by the standards of Windows laptops, macbook pros are not cheap. They do, however, last longer so you end up saving money in the long run (by not having to replace the laptop as often).

    • Mark says:

      Yeah exactly, the touch bar needs a killer app, but even without a killer app some basic things with it need to get sorted.

      Currently if the app doesn’t support the touch bar, the touch bar is 80% blank with just the 4 or 5 main buttons on the far right and esc on the far left with nothing in the middle. When an app doesn’t support touch bar it should automatically expand to reveal all the regular keys you would have there (screen brightness, keyboard brightness, etc..)

      InDesign and Illustrator both don’t support Touch Bar yet, Photoshop does but I want to be able to choose the buttons like I use “Save for web” a lot, or copy into place, or a specific crop ratio etc.. right now can’t do any of that.

      Chrome doesn’t support Touch Bar yet, Safari does but I don’t use Safari.

      Touch Bar is still kinda buggy, like when I am in the enter url field in Chrome, Touch Bar changes to display font formatting options.

      I’ve been waiting for a bunch of fixes to Car Play and apple hasn’t done them I’m hoping because the MacBook Pro is so much popular they’re actually going to get this shit working right and not ignore it like with Car Play.

  7. Mark says:

    Yousuf: Regarding watching media on my TV, i have multiple options.

    My primary method is PLEX on my Apple TV. I have a synology server running Plex and Sonarr and they work really well together to automatically download the latest shows and add them to my plex media library.

    I alsoI have KODI which used to be my primary method but now I use as backup when Plex and AppleTV can’t process DTS properly for the movies.

    I also have FireStick and that has Plex as well but its slower than my AppleTV.

    In your case instead of connecting your laptop to your TV, you could wirelessly beam video from your laptop or iphone to an AppleTV device thats connected to your TV using AirPlay. You don’t even need a new AppleTV, it even works with the old ones. That way you could continue to use and browse your laptop while its also streaming video to your Apple TV (i assume with HDMI your laptop would be located next to your tv and not on your lap)

    • Yousuf says:

      Thanks for the write-up, very helpful!

      I really must be stuck in my ways, because I’ve never even heard of PLEX, Sonarr, or KODI before this. Definitely have to look into them. If you’re able to write an in-depth post about your home set-up, it’ll be greatly appreciated.

      The only problem with wireless streaming for me is that my internet connection is horrendous. Low speeds and very unstable. I think I have THE worst internet in Kuwait (and that’s an official challange). I have a chromecast, and I can rarely use it because of the horrible wifi.

      Guess I gotta look into getting an Apple TV, as well. I’ve been resisting for the longest time, but it looks like I wont be able to hold out any longer.

      • Mark says:

        you don’t stream from your laptop to your TV over the internet, you stream over your home wifi connection so even if you don’t have internet it still works. So basically the way it would work is this.

        – You have ghostbusters.mp4 on your laptop
        – You connect your laptop to the TV as a secondary screen using AppleTV and AirPlay
        – You then basically have to screens your laptop screen and your TV, you double click the file ghostbusters.mp4, it opens your video player, you then drag the video player onto the tv and thats it, you have your TV playing your video file what you’re free to browse on your laptop

        Regarding your internet connection, you need something decent like 4G or WiMD if you want to stream Netflix or Hulu.

        • Yousuf says:

          Makes sense.

          Believe me, I’ve tried all internet options.

          – Zain 4G: 1-2 Mbps at best. It works fine when I’m outside my house, but speed drops significantly as soon as I’m indoors (even though the signal doesn’t become weaker when I’m inside… not really sure why that happens). My phoneline is from Zain, and I get 4G+ with decent speeds while indoors, but that doesn’t transfer over to my router for some reason.

          – ISP: They claim that the block my house is in can get speeds of up to 10 Mbps, but the phonelines in our house can only support up to 1 Mbps at best.

          – WIMD: House too low (1 floor), so the tower is blocked off by the neighbor’s house (why on earth do you need 3.5 floors?!)

          – Ooredoo: this is what I’m currently using. Works pretty well, but is very unstable. It disconnects (and the router restarts on its own for some reason) every time I try to use chromecast. I assumed this would be the case for Apple TV as well, but I might have to test it.

          VIVA is the only option I haven’t tried, but I don’t expect different results.

          That’s why my friends and I affectionately call my house “The Black Hole”.

          Regarding your first point, what you’re saying is, in theory, if I get a wireless router (on its own, not connected to any ethernet cable) and connect both devices to it, I should be able to stream the .mp4 file from my laptop to the Apple TV?

          Side note: Does smartDNS work with Hulu like it does with Netflix?

          • Mark says:

            Try getting another better router for the ooredoo or check and see if there is a firmware upgrade for it?

            In regards to the home wireless. Yes if you get a wireless router and connect both devices to it you can stream the mp4 from your laptop to appletv. but you don’t need to get a wireless router because you already have the ooredoo one. so even if your ooredoo signal is weak it wouldn’t effect your internal network.

            and yes smartdns works with hulu and netflix and amazon video, i use all three.

      • Mark says:

        Regarding my home media setup, it’s too technical for a post plus it would be sorta promoting piracy which i dont want to do. But my setup is the following

        Synology DS1511+ (I think it has 20TB or something now not sure)
        I’ve installed Sonarr, Plex Media Server and a torrent downloader on the Synology which is basically my home server.

        Sonarr is a software (available for macs as well i think) in which you add your favorite shows and the software will track them so when a new episode is out it will automatically download the torrent, unrar the files and organize it in the proper folder as well as rename the file correctly.

        Plex Media Server on my Synology scans my TV Shows and Movies folder every 30 minutes for new content. When it finds new content it then proceeds to download the movie poster, cast details, rating, synopsis etc.. and then make it available to my Plex Media Client on my AppleTV, web browser or iPhone.

        So Plex Media Server installed on my server, and Plex clients installed on my devices. I can for example connect to Plex on my iPhone from work right now and watch something I have on my hard drive at home.

        I have Plex installed on my AppleTV but sometimes it has issues with DTS sound. So I have KODI (previously called XBMC which was stands for xbox media center which originally started life on the original Xbox) installed on a small Acer Aspire http://248am.com/mark/personal/first-impression-acer-aspirerevo/

        • Yousuf says:

          This is awesome, man, thank you so much for all the detailed info!

          I just have a couple more questions, and that’s it I swear :).

          How crucial is the Synology device for the whole setup? Can I run the same setup from my laptop instead (Sonarr and Plex Media Server included), or do I need a dedicated server for it?

          Does the Plex application have issues with DTS, or is it the Apple TV? Is there a reason you have KODI on a separate Acer device? Can you not install it on your Synology?

          • Mark says:

            In my case very crucial because I hoard tv shows and movies. I have everything on the Synology. My friend on the other hand has everything set up on his macmini so it could be perfectly fine for you but how big is your hard drive? 1tb? unless you delete stuff then you’re gonna run out of space quickly.

            Plex is great for handling and managing large amounts of movies and shows. if you’re just downloading one movie at a time and deleting them when u r done then plex is over kill.

            AppleTV has issues with DTS not Plex. KODI is a client so you cant install it on synology because the synology isn’t connected to my TV, its basically a hard drive.

            Before AppleTV and Synology I had XBMC running on the Acer, and now I still have it just dont use it as much. I think there is KODi on AppleTV not sure but even if its there I would still have the same sound issues sometimes like I do in Plex (i would imagine)

            • Sam says:

              Just a recommendation as you are anyways downloading series and movies which is piracy and also using Netflix, Hulu,HBO, DnsProxy, VPN, and money on storage devices etc just download MovieBox HD and Playbox HD app on your apple devices and vola you saved a hell lot of money from both these apps as its Free.
              You get all shows no need of different apps and different subscriptions, stream same as you do for Netflix or Hulu, also you can download the video content within the same app and no DnsProxy no Netflix issues of USA content etc…
              Quality you can choose it supports 720p
              Supports AirPlay also.

  8. Burhan says:

    Yousuf:

    The default router that comes with Zain/Ooredoo/VIVA (all use the same router from Huawei) is not designed for streaming of content; there is a lot of technical reasons why but the simple way to understand it is that there is only one beam (signal) and its shared by every device connected to the router; and when you are streaming content, you want a dedicated chunk of that signal so that your video doesn’t stutter – and these routers cannot support that.

    The best thing you can do for your home network is to buy a dedicated wifi router – use that and configure your router that came from the ISP to work like a dumb modem. This will create extra bandwidth in your home network – and also will prevent hangups and other slowness as these dedicated wifi routers are optimized for streaming and handling multiple devices.

    So setup a media server or to watch movies on your home TV, you need to do the following:

    1. Download the movies and store them somewhere (how you do this, I leave it up to you)
    2. Convert them to a format that your TV can understand
    3. Play them on your TV

    The easiest way to do this is; if you have a smart tv (as most TVs now are smart TVs)

    1. Connect your hard drive directly to your TV
    2. Click the “source” button on your TV
    3. Browse the folders on your hard drive.
    4. Play the media.

    Advantages:

    1. You already have everything – no need to buy or configure complicated software/hardware.

    Disadvantages:

    1. Your TV will not be able to play everything and you won’t be able to enjoy additional features like automatic subtitles, etc.

    The next step up is to get a dedicated computer or server which is permanently connected to the TV. This machine is then connected to your network and downloads your content automatically. It will then convert it to the format that the TV can understand, and (depending on the software it is running) may also be compatible with your TV remote!

    One such software that enables this is KODi (you can also buy small dedicated computers that are configured with KODi and a remote control online, for example here: http://osmc.tv)

    What Mark has is sort of a big boys version of this; he has a dedicated machine to store all his media (the Synology) and this machine also runs software to automatically download and update his TV shows; plus just like any other respectable geek he has a bunch of streaming dongles and doodads (AppleTV, Fire Stick). These are specialized devices that connect to your TV via HDMI, then connect to the Internet via WiFi and allow you to stream content directly from the Internet to your TV. Think of it like giving your Smart TV a software upgrade.

    This can easily turn into a multi-part tutorial / blog post; and there are tons of options out there catering to every need and budget.

    • Mark says:

      My brother has a ooredoo wireless router though and he streams onto apple tv without issues. My parents also have an ooredoo wireless router and my mum streams youtube videos from her ipad to the apple tv without issues as well as netflix.

      • Burhan says:

        It will stream fine, but if you have a lot of devices needing the same bandwidth, that’s when you will have issues. For me (zain router) when streaming Grand Tour my other devices on the same wifi, even when accessing local resources (in other words, no Internet involved) will lag. As soon as I turn off streaming things are back to normal again.

    • Yousuf says:

      This is great, thank you so much!

      The “easy method” you described first is how I have it set up right now, except I use my ps4 as the media player instead of the TV since the ps4 supports .mkv format as well (although it does not support DTS, that’s why I’ve been connecting my laptop directly). I asked about Mark’s setup to understand how I can get around the whole USB-A/USB-C issue. Both my TV and the PS4 don’t have USB-C, and they’re not going anywhere anytime soon, that’s why I wasn’t convinced with having a USB-C hard drive (plus I lose dongles waaaay to frequently). Before this discussion, I didn’t think a wireless setup was feasible for me, but I’m starting to think otherwise now.

      I guess my first step towards transitioning to a USB A-free setup is to get an Apple TV. At the moment, I don’t think I have enough media content to justify purchasing a Synology. I might split it with my siblings if they are able to stream the content using Plex from their homes (content for all!).

      “The best thing you can do for your home network is to buy a dedicated wifi router – use that and configure your router that came from the ISP to work like a dumb modem. This will create extra bandwidth in your home network – and also will prevent hangups and other slowness as these dedicated wifi routers are optimized for streaming and handling multiple devices”

      – Do you have any relevant links you can share so I can understand how to do this? This might solve the issues I have and alleviate a lot of the stress that this causes.

      @Mark: All things said and done, I guess not having any USB-A ports isn’t that bad lol.

      • Mark says:

        Dude if you have a PS4 you can install Plex on it!

        • Yousuf says:

          !!!

          No need for Apple TV, then! I don’t know why I didn’t think of asking that.

          However, I had previously tried to use a media server with the ps4 (Vuze: torrent client + streams files to various devices) and it wasn’t having it. Lags too much, and sometimes the files wouldn’t open at all. I don’t know if that’s because Vuze sucks, if it’s an issue with the ps4, or if it’s because my internet sucks (my bet’s on this). I guess since that failed attempt, I’ve written off this option completely. Plex might be a more refined program that does the job better. I’ll have to experiment a bit. Along with trying Burhan’s suggestion below. Can’t wait to get back home and try all this out.

      • Burhan says:

        No links really, just pick a dedicated router from x-cite or blink; turn off the wifi on the router that came with your ISP, and connect the ISP router to the “internet” jack on the back of the WiFi router with a network cable.

        That’s about it.

      • meh says:

        An Android TV device will solve all your problems.

  9. Animatedude says:

    “My biggest issue with the MacBook Air was the screen, not because it didn’t have a retina display which I could care less about,”

    I can’t believe i have just read that! are you serious?! i think it’s either you wear glasses or maybe blind.

    And what amazes me is that you actually design and edit stuff, so you need the retina display more than i do.

    Retina Display is the most important part of Macbook and Macbook Pro over Macbook Air.

    My recommendation: from someone who loved and used the 11” Macbook Air for years, i couldn’t wait to upgrade to the 12” inch Macbook (which comes with Retina Display!).

    Skip both the new Air and Pro, and get the 12” Macbook , it’s the ultimate portable Laptop.

    Thank you!

    • Mark says:

      what does a retina display have to do with design? my iMac at work has a retina display, my imac at home doesn’t, both are 27″ and both have the same screen real estate space.

      So could you explain why the retina display is so important and how it helps with design?

      I guess if you’re blind and need to be 5cm away from the screen retina display might be beneficial.

  10. Animatedude says:

    Oh man, are you comparing 27” iMac screen to 13” now?

    and you want me to explain to you why retina display “is so important”?

    LOL

    I love you Mark but please don’t write anything about Apple ever again

    The importance of Retina is not just for designers, any regular user would spot the difference and can’t go back

    Obviously, retina on Macbooks is more noticeable on a Macbook than an iMac…I’ll leave that for the Pros to explain to you why.

    Ever since the Apple put a retina display on Macbook Pro ( I think it was 2012, wasn’t?), this is the first time i read a comment about someone who doesn’t care about retina!

    Put your old Macbook Air next to any Macbook Pro with Retina (event the old ones!) , and if you find yourself not caring about retina, there’s nothing i can tell you.

    • Mark says:

      I’m comparing 27″ retina with 27″ non retina, read my comment. You clearly have no clue what retina is since you still haven’t given any reason to why it’s important for designers. As I mentioned I used both retina and non retina 27″
      iMacs daily and there is no advantage with retina when it comes to daily workflow.

  11. Animatedude says:

    NO! read my comments carefully

    I meant you are comparing the importance of retina on a 13” to the importance of retina on 27”.

    Obviously, if you use a 27” iMac , you will not be bothered much if it’s non-retina or retina as much as if it’s on a smaller screen like 13”.

    On a small screen like 13” it’s very noticeable to the average user, the average user wouldn’t want to go back after comparing them for like a min.

    Let alone if you design or edit some work….

    get it?

    Someone get a blackboard, please!

    • Mark says:

      I have a retina MacBook now, I had a non retina before, there is no advantage. you also still haven’t given 1 advantage either. All you can say is it’s sharper and that’s it.

      So stop saying if you design and edit work it’s important, unless you want to give an example along with that statement on a benefit.

  12. Animatedude says:

    Obviously, a clearer, sharper display for someone who designs or edits stuff is more important, i don’t think i need to mention that statement man!

    • Mark says:

      How is it important? You make it sound like one screen is blurry and other are sharp. You can’t tell a Retina display from a non retina when using it at normal distance…

      • Animatedude says:

        You might want to discuss this with other ppl to check how you probably alone in this.

        The difference is HUGE. i mean for me on a 11” Macbook Air (which i loved so much) the difference is huge and i use laptop on a normal distance. On 13” Macbook it’s less noticeable.

        I didn’t even get the same reaction when i upgraded from 24” cinema display to 5K iMac!

        • Mark says:

          I think you’re mistaking retina for brighter more vibrant screens but retina just means a higher pixel density, which is why you can’t really tell the difference unless you stick your face on the screen. the fact you think the difference is huge definitely means you’re mixing up retina with something else.

          as someone who uses a 27″ retina and non retina display every day and as someone who moved from a 13″ non retina to a 13″ retina display just recently I can tell you that i can’t tell retina and non retina apart. the new screen on my macbook pro is a much better screen but mostly because of other tech and not retina itself. as a designer a retina display doesn’t really do much, i actually find it more difficult to work with because everything needs to be double the pixel size for me to be able to view it the same size on screen as before.

          This is why Adobe have included a “low res” mode for Photoshop which is what I use. I run Photoshop with low res mode on so that I don’t need to double everything else.

          • Animatedude says:

            No i understand what’s Retina and i understand what other stuff you are talking about….

            I understand it’s all about pixel density (hence that’s why it’s more noticeable on a smaller screen (iPhone, iPad mini and Macbook Air, than on an iMac)

            and that’s why i would buy any retina Macbook Pro even as old as the 2012 first Macbook Pro with retina display over any other Macbook with no retina display (e.g. Macbook Air).

            It’s OK we have different eyes, but again ask other Macbook users to see where you stand.

  13. Nasser says:

    People really are blowing this USB type C and the MacBook Pro/MacBook situation way out of proportion to be honest.

    Honestly, I have the MacBook that has 1 (!) USB type C port, but I use just one dongle that has all the other ports I need, and it really is not an issue at all. Like if you are paying all that money for a laptop, pay 50$ for a dongle and call it a day. I know some people will say “But I paid so much I shouldn’t have to pay more for a dongle”. Man, if you want the best laptop in the world? Just pay for the dongle.

    I dont care what people say about Windows machines, they’re not good as any Mac

  14. Animatedude says:

    I feel the same way, i use the the 12” Macbook, and it’s enough for me

    However, i expected all this hate for the new Macbook Pros. Ask me why?

    Well, Apple didn’t refresh the Macbook Pro for a very long time, longer than the usual cycle. Many of those who were desperately waiting for a new one, expected something like the previous generation with updated thunderbolt, more updated ports, updated everything with same or lower price points. They were more than happy to pay for the same price of an updated machine with updated ports.

    Instead they got this ports less Macbook Pro they never asked for , with a touch bar they were never looking for , and price points above their expectations.

    Solution: Apple should’ve released updated Macbook Pros with the same but updated ports , along with the new Macbook Pros, for an easier transition like they always do.

    Instead, they released an entry thin Macbook Air, and called it Macbook Pro without touch bar, which alighted a lot of ppl

    Collection of mistakes here that served no one. All of them will be solved by next year for sure.

  15. Burhan says:

    Retina just means higher density display; it is a measure of how many dots per inch there are on the screen.

    For the average user, it makes no difference because everything is scaled properly.

    For people who deal with a lot of text (like developers) it means that at a normal distance, you don’t need to “zoom” the font size in order to read it without having to squint or move closer to the screen.

    For designers and other creatives, retina just means that the user interface elements (if your application is compatible) will be scaled in such a way that they appear sharper at normal sizes; however, the item you are producing or working on for example, an image in Lightroom – it has absolutely no affect on that – not surprising then that for a design-focused user like Mark, retina or non-retina doesn’t make that much of a difference.

    If you really want to see the difference “retina” (or rather, bad scaling) has on the user experience; try using an external “non-retina” monitor. You will see immediately that the scaling factor has jumped if you drag a window from your laptop screen to the external screen. Windows is especially horrible with this; os-x has this part figured out very well.

  16. Mark says:

    Quick update: turns out with BetterTouchTools which I already have installed I can create custom shortcuts and buttons for the Touch Bar. So although Chrome doesn’t support it yet I created my own short cuts. Still working on it but here is a screenshot of what I’ve got so far https://twitter.com/mark248am/status/820615230157889536


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