Consumer Reports Slams New MacBook Pros

Jerry Bellison, Consumer Reports:

Apple launched a new series of MacBook Pro laptops this fall, and Consumer Reports’ labs have just finished evaluating them. The laptops did very well in measures of display quality and performance, but in terms of battery life, we found that the models varied dramatically from one trial to another.

As a result, these laptops are the first MacBooks not to receive recommended ratings from Consumer Reports.

Consumer Reports embarrassed itself during the iPhone 4 “antennagate” story, but they’ve long rated Apple’s notebooks highly.

For instance, in a series of three consecutive tests, the 13-inch model with the Touch Bar ran for 16 hours in the first trial, 12.75 hours in the second, and just 3.75 hours in the third. The 13-inch model without the Touch Bar worked for 19.5 hours in one trial but only 4.5 hours in the next. And the numbers for the 15-inch laptop ranged from 18.5 down to 8 hours.

That’s absolutely bonkers. You expect minor variance from one run to another, but not like this. Either something is seriously wrong with these new MacBook Pros, or something is seriously wrong with Consumer Reports’s testing (or both).

Once our official testing was done, we experimented by conducting the same battery tests using a Chrome browser, rather than Safari. For this exercise, we ran two trials on each of the laptops, and found battery life to be consistently high on all six runs. That’s not enough data for us to draw a conclusion, and in any case a test using Chrome wouldn’t affect our ratings, since we only use the default browser to calculate our scores for all laptops. But it’s something that a MacBook Pro owner might choose to try.

This is crazy too. Whatever the benefits of Chrome are, everyone knows it’s an energy hog. There is no way that using Chrome should result in better (and more consistent) battery life than Safari.

Friday, 23 December 2016