Apple's New MacBook: The Ultimate Portable With Caveats - InformationWeek

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4/12/2015
11:05 AM
Nathan Eddy
Nathan Eddy
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Apple's New MacBook: The Ultimate Portable With Caveats

Apple's latest MacBook, with its 12-inch Retina display and new USB-C port, has drawn praise for its ultra-thin design and typical aesthetic finesse, but the lack of ports should be considered.

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While the bulk of this week's media attention was focused squarely on the Apple Watch, the company also launched a brand new MacBook notebook with a 12-inch Retina display and USB-C port -- Apple's latest in a long line of svelte connecting devices.

The MacBook, which is 24% thinner than the 11-inch MacBook Air, is offered in three colors -- gold, silver, and space gray. It also boasts an Apple-designed butterfly mechanism for the keyboard, which the company says is four times as stable and 40% thinner than a traditional laptop keyboard.

The notebook features the company's Force Touch trackpad, designed with force sensors that allow users to customize the feel of the trackpad by changing the amount of pressure needed to register each click. The trackpad also enables a new gesture called Force Click, a click followed by a deeper press, for tasks like pulling up the definition of a word, checking a map, or taking a look at a file preview.

While there is no doubting the impressiveness of the technical specs --Apple has engineered a razor-thin (just 13.1 mm at its thickest point) machine boasting 14 hours of battery life and no moving parts or vents -- the quest for portability has resulted in some limitations.

Reviews of the device from all corners of the Web have highlighted the MacBook’s precision detailing and lightness -- it weighs less than two pounds -- but Apple’s decision to offer just the one USB-C port left some publications unsatisfied.

"Using a computer that feels like it fell through a time warp from the future is fun, but if that computer drops through the wormhole without any compatible accessories then there's going to be some aggravation, too," MacWorld's Jason Snell wrote in his review. "The new MacBook is one of those Apple products. It feels like it came from the future, and didn't bring its ecosystem with it."

Most publications gave the notebook overall positive reviews, with many acknowledging the limitations that come with designing such a thin machine -- and at least one reviewer who was more than happy to ditch the ports in exchange for all-day battery life.

"If you know going into the purchase that you are going to connect a bunch of things to your computer, perhaps the MacBook isn't for you," wrote Jim Dalrymple of the Apple-focused news blog The Loop. "There’s nothing wrong with that, but for a lot of people, like me, not having the ports isn't a big deal."

[ Read about the Surface versus the iPad air 2. ]

The new MacBook comes with a 1.1 GHz dual-core Intel Core M processor with Turbo Boost speeds up to 2.4 GHz, 8 GB of memory, 256 GB of flash storage, and Intel HD Graphics 5300 starting at $1,299; or with a 1.2 GHz dual-core Intel Core M processor with Turbo Boost speeds up to 2.6 GHz, 8 GB of memory, 512 GB of flash storage, and Intel HD Graphics 5300 starting at $1,599.

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Nathan Eddy is a freelance writer for InformationWeek. He has written for Popular Mechanics, Sales & Marketing Management Magazine, FierceMarkets, and CRN, among others. In 2012 he made his first documentary film, The Absent Column. He currently lives in Berlin. View Full Bio
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tjgkg
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tjgkg,
User Rank: Ninja
5/4/2015 | 11:36:54 AM
Re: We all need to connect some way some how.
Bluetooth would certainly be a good option. Provided of course that the peripherals are bluetooth enabled.
kstaron
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kstaron,
User Rank: Ninja
4/24/2015 | 10:56:45 AM
Missing something
Am I missing something here? Without a port isn't this just an upsized ipad with a keyboard? The point of a computer is to DO something with it, which eventually means putting something on it, or taking something off. Without so much a port for a flashdrive for stuff you want to make sure doesn't get lost in the ether, I might as well take along my ipad which fits in my purse.
jagibbons
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jagibbons,
User Rank: Ninja
4/13/2015 | 1:13:36 PM
Re: We all need to connect some way some how.
If the MacBook has Bluetooth options, that would help with connecting more peripherals, although the battery life will suffer some.
anon5894627580
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anon5894627580,
User Rank: Apprentice
4/12/2015 | 8:00:36 PM
your kidding
No common sense re Apple products.. you are dealing with the technical equivalent of a drug cartel and its products...
CommonSenseOhMy
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CommonSenseOhMy,
User Rank: Apprentice
4/12/2015 | 5:39:17 PM
Re: We all need to connect some way some how.
You do realize you described a Chromebook right? Only the Chromebook actually has ports, and some 10+ hour battery life, and is about 1,000$ cheaper -.-
tjgkg
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tjgkg,
User Rank: Ninja
4/12/2015 | 4:34:47 PM
Re: We all need to connect some way some how.
I wouldn't go that far. At this point laptops are being made for specific niches. This one could be good for someone who is on the road or in college and just needs to connect to the internet and not have a lot of peripherals working off the device. If it has all day battery life then it is good for a long plane ride. But if you need to make presentations or have any need for flexibility, this is not the device for you.
literacyisgood
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literacyisgood,
User Rank: Strategist
4/12/2015 | 2:53:13 PM
Re: We all need to connect some way some how.
" The Ultimate Portable " ???

WTH?

This is a damn netbook.  Its not the best at anything!  Its not the lightest, not the most powerful, doesn't have the best battery life - its not even the most attractive!

And it comes with an insulting lack of ports, like apple just wants to crap on their naive customers.

Apple makes way better computers which are still light and small.  And other companies make way better lighter and smaller comptuers.

The ONLY thing this is good for is you have become sadly dependant on MacOS, and you just really NEED a slightly smaller lighter computer than the other apple laptops, and you are willing to make big sacrifices to get it.

What's wrong with apple these days? 
tjgkg
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tjgkg,
User Rank: Ninja
4/12/2015 | 2:16:19 PM
We all need to connect some way some how.
If you are just using the device on the cloud all the time the external ports are not all that critical. However i do think there should be at least one port. Also you never know if the wireless connection is going to be available or reliable. Or if you are going to use an external mouse. Maybe someday these peripherals will not require a port but will be able to connect through an antenna around the device much like the way wi fi connects.
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