It’s not as flashy a release as the much-anticipated Apple Watch, but the new MacBook is a boundary-pushing notebook for Apple. It eschews most cables in favor of wireless connectivity, delivers sharp visuals, and is a testing ground for new interactive technologies. The MacBook is Apple’s vision of the notebook of the future.
Slim and Bright
The first thing you’ll notice about the MacBook is its impressively streamlined size. The 12-inch Retina display is housed in an enclosure that’s a mere 13.1mm thick and weighs just 2.03 pounds. It makes the 13-inch MacBook Pro look like a behemoth and even looks slim next to the MacBook Air.
At 13.1mm the MacBook is almost 30 percent slimmer than the MacBook Pro.
This is the first MacBook Air-style laptop with a Retina display, and the screen looks absolutely brilliant. At a resolution of 2304 x 1440, you never really see a pixel. But even with the high-resolution display, the screen is still on the small side. I often found myself sizing browser windows so small that websites would contract to their alternate tablet view. You can adjust the scaling to replicate a standard 1440 x 900 display, but that’s still not giving you much room to move.
It’s great that the MacBook is also extremely lightweight, especially when it’s in a bag or tucked under your arm. But the lightness sometimes makes the notebook hard to steady on your lap. It has a tendency to bounce around as you type, without any noticeable center of gravity. And because the computer is so small, I found it difficult to place on my knees without squeezing them together uncomfortably.
The MacBook shines on a table but is wobbly on your lap.
I averaged about 8 hours of battery life with the new MacBook, which isn’t bad for such a small package carrying a bright, dense screen. It’s a little less than Apple says the MacBook can muster, and I did find myself double-checking that I had my charger before leaving my apartment for work; otherwise things started to get dodgy come 5 p.m.
One Port to Rule Them All
The MacBook’s svelte case has a surprising lack of openings. On the right is a single headphone port, and on the left is an oval-shaped one called USB-C. The MacBook uses that port for power and to connect to displays and various USB peripherals.
The single USB-C port acts as the source of power and the notebook’s only connector for peripherals.
Photographer: Stephen Pulvirent/Bloomberg Business
USB-C might eventually be standard (and it’s technically superior to USB 3 in almost every way), but for now you’re stuck using fiddly dongles for more common USB 2 and 3 devices and for SD cards. I can’t believe I still have to use the word “dongle” in 2015. Apple’s ideal scenario is that we all use Airdrop to move files and access everything external through cloud and streaming services. Unfortunately, we’re not quite there yet. The MacBook might help usher in the wire-free era, but it’s going to be a pain in the meantime. Still, consider Apple’s elimination of the optical disc drive with the original MacBook Air: When was the last time you wanted to load a disc into your laptop?
Read more at BLOOMBERG.COM