Here's a crazy surprise I didn't expect: my 13-inch MacBook Air felt big and clunky after I went back to it. And make no mistake, the MacBook Air is itself a wonder of engineering. Yet compared to the new MacBook it felt like a heavy, kind of ugly throwback with a mediocre screen. I really didn't want to go back to that Air. But I still went back.
You see, the problem with the future is that it isn't here yet. Instead we live in the now, and the now doesn't have the ecosystem of adapters and wireless peripherals I need to use this laptop with its single port. The now doesn't have the right processor to power through the apps I need without ruining battery life. And right now, this laptop is far from cheap at $1,299. But if history is any guide, all of those problems will go away — and more quickly than you probably expect. When they do, I'll be using this MacBook. The MacBook. Hurry up, future. Hurry the hell up.
Apple’s new MacBook seemed like a shift so dramatic that it was bound to cause some discomfort when it was unveiled on stage in March in San Francisco, but in practice the big changes are far easier to embrace than you might expect. It’s true that for users who treat their notebooks as their sole computers, and who like to plug a lot of things into those computers as a result, this probably isn’t the best option. But for people looking for a mobile Mac to complement their desktop machine, and for those who aren’t sending their whole day on their Macs for work (meaning likely the vast majority of general consumers), this is a future-oriented notebook that is just as effective in the present, too.
I expect the new MacBook to follow the same path as the Air. Over the next few years, it will improve, and become an affordable, indispensable tool for life in the future. But here, now, in the present day, there are more practical slim, everyday laptop choices. The MacBook Air is the best option all around, the MacBook Pro Retina 13 is a great step up, and PC users can do no better than Dell’s latest XPS 13.
This is the notebook for people who love their iPad but want something with a real keyboard and a bigger screen. It's a great second computer to complement an iMac or a larger MacBook Pro. And the MacBook might be the ideal "student" computer — I would have killed to have something this thin and light in college. The most important thing about the new MacBook, to me, isn't necessarily what it is now, but what it represents. In five years, the sea of MacBook Airs and MacBook Air-style machines we see now at Starbucks will be replaced by machines that look more like the new MacBook. This is the future.
this new MacBook will also be the right fit for a smaller segment of a public than the more universally useful 13-inch MacBook Air or Pro. But those who can work with the limitations -- primarily a lack of ports, shorter battery life, performance that's not suited for pro-level photo and video editing, and a shallow keyboard that takes some getting used to -- will love its sharp display, slim and light body, and responsive touchpad. My primary caveat is this -- if history is any guide, you can count on a near-future generation of this laptop boosting its utility by doubling the number of USB-C ports to at least two. So like many new technology products, it may be worth waiting for the next version, even if having a 12-inch, two-pound gold MacBook right now will make you the coolest kid at the coffee shop.
With the new keyboard and trackpad innovations, lust-inducing industrial design, and impressive downsizing of internal components, the MacBook feels like a an important next step in the evolution of portable computers. But this machine isn't for everyone, particularly those who expect extremes from their devices. Still, if you prioritize style, need something ultraportable, and don’t mind trading power for a crisp and clear Retina display, then the perfect computer may have arrived.
Ultimately the new MacBook feels like a first-generation product—a very good first-generation product, but a first-generation product nevertheless. It's got some promise and a couple of major shortcomings and you don't need to be the first person who takes the leap into the Brave New Future it represents. I use an iMac as my primary computer and a 13-inch MacBook Air when I’m sitting on the couch or in a café or on a plane, and perhaps 90 percent of the time this MacBook can replace the Air without issue. If this is going to be your main computer or only computer or if you’re one of the bare handful of people who use Thunderbolt for something, it’s hard to recommend.
Much like the original Air, the new MacBook is expensive, and it's not for everyone. In particular, it's for well-heeled shoppers who demand the most portable machine possible, and who also don't want to compromise on screen quality. That might not be persuasive to would-be Windows users, who have several compelling alternatives, many with equally sharp screens and a bigger selection of ports. But for loyal Mac fans who wouldn't dream of switching, the new MacBook is by far the lightest-weight machine in Apple's lineup, especially with this caliber of screen. It's not for everyone, especially not right now, but if it's anything like the Air, it might one day become the standard.
The new MacBook will begin shipping Friday, April 10 through the Apple Online Store, Apple’s retail stores and select Apple Authorized Resellers. MacBook comes with a 1.1 GHz dual-core Intel Core M processor with Turbo Boost speeds up to 2.4 GHz, 8GB of memory, 256GB of flash storage and Intel HD Graphics 5300 starting at $1,299 (US); and with a 1.2 GHz dual-core Intel Core M processor with Turbo Boost speeds up to 2.6GHz, 8GB of memory, 512GB of flash storage and Intel HD Graphics 5300 starting at $1,599 (US).