Laptops

New MacBook is neither "Air" nor "Pro," but brings the best of both

Apple's new MacBook is lighter, thinner and Retina
Apple's new MacBook is lighter, thinner and Retina
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Apple's new MacBook
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Apple's new MacBook is lighter, thinner and Retina
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Apple's new MacBook is lighter, thinner and Retina

A MacBook Air redesign has been a long time coming, but today Apple delivered. No longer "Air," the new notebook is simply called "the new MacBook," and to say it looks like a big step forward for the product line is an understatement.

The new laptop is lighter and thinner than the existing MacBook Air, with a display that's more in line with the Retina MacBook Pro. The new model's 12-in display splits the difference between the previous 11-in and 13-in options, and includes a sharp 2,304 x 1,440 resolution (that's 226 pixels per inch).

The new MacBook weighs a mere 2 lbs (0.91 kg) and measures 13.1 mm (0.52 inch) at its thickest point (it still has a tapered design, rather than a 100 percent uniform thickness level).

Apple's new MacBook
Apple's new MacBook

Apple's trackpads have long been the best in the business, but the company rethought the trackpad with the new MacBook. It's still made of glass, but instead of the traditional see-saw hinge for clicks, it now uses the "Force Touch" tech seen in the Apple Watch, along with haptic feedback. Apple is also integrating Force Touch clicks into OS X (force-clicking on a name in Safari, for example, will bring up a Wikipedia entry).

The new MacBook is completely fanless, and has a 67 percent smaller logic board. One of the more fascinating tech features is its single port. Located on the back left edge of the notebook, the lone port is good for power, USB (the new reversible USB-C type), DisplayPort, HDMI, and VGA (update: you'll need an $80 adapter for the port to work with either HDMI or VGA, so it isn't as compatible as Apple made it sound). Certainly this port consolidation is playing no small part in the device's thin build.

Apple estimates up to 9 hours web browsing for the new notebook, a little off the estimated pace for the previous 13-in MacBook Airs, and in line with the most recent 13-in Retina MacBook Pros.

Apple's new MacBook
Apple's new MacBook

The new MacBook ships on April 10, and starts at US$1,299 for 256 GB storage and 8 GB RAM. Like the iPad and iPhone, it ships in silver, space gray and gold color options. The previous-generation MacBook Airs and Retina MacBook Pros are sticking around as well, shipping today with some minor updates.

Source: Apple

9 comments
Daishi
Apple listed the CPU as a 5 watt Core M which I think is Intels 14 nm Broadwell. The Mobile Haswell chips were ~15 watts so that probably removed a lot of heat allowing them to go to a fanless design. Even though Broadwell is only slightly faster the power savings numbers are pretty impressive. I don't have a need for my laptop to be only 13.1 mm but the updates are still mostly impressive. With as much as things are being miniaturized I wonder if the Mac Mini will ever transition to a desktop class processor.
Bob64
What, no touch screen? Apple seems to be running out of innovative ideas. Their new smart watch seems to be fairly boring too. The emphasis on smallness over battery life is also going to put a lot of people off. The wow factor seems to be missing. Apple seems to be heading back to the days of expensive products that aren't any better than the competition. I predict the apple bubble will be starting to deflate soon. Microsoft seems to be coming up with more exciting products recently, surface, hololens, and one OS for all platforms.
Mike Malsed
Not really much of a step forward. First, yes, it's Broadwell, but it's the mobile version, while the Dell and Lenovo comparables are using the standard version which is significantly more powerful while not using a whole lot more power. Second, loss of the magnetic power connector is a huge step back. That power connector has saved innumerable laptops, and the "normal" power connectors are well known as the most vulnerable part of a laptop (it's what gets the most wear and tear, aside from droppage) - the old mag connector was a perfect fix for that. It's why the Surface has its own version of that. Third, one port? And one for which we have seen no peripherals? That's the only way to get HDMI - spend another $80 for a dongle? Big step back. The Dell, Surface and Lenovo all have mini HDMI as well as USB. . . Sure - it'll be claimed as a huge leap forward and on the leading edge. . . but it's a step back. Fourth, Apple is now trailing with the display. Sure - it may have a smaller bezel than previously, but it's HUGE compared to what's out now. Anyone seen the XPS13's bezel? 1/3 the size of this. Disappointed.
Alex Stelling
Bob64, you guys have been predicting that since Windows 3.11! Also why would I want to use a touch screen? With a mouse I get to keep my elbows rested. I tried the horrible 8.1 with a touch screen, it sucked so bad.
christopher
This new machine is the slowest and weakest in the MacBook family with the least number of ports, aka, most dismal compatibility. Literally nothing you already own will plug into this. I think the "best of both worlds" headline needs a serious re-think. The "best" on the Pro is speed, screen, ports, multi-display prowess, memory, and storage, and the best on the Air is battery life, size, and weight. This lesser new baby borrows a couple of features from it's siblings, but for the rest, which are the majority, it is nowhere near as good.
pvisser
The single USB is the reason i did not buy a Surface and wont buy this one either. The two i have on my MB Pro is already too few. Plus you need the $29 usb-c to usb adaptor... Unless it is backward compatible, this port will go the same way as the thunderbolt port: in the rubbish bin. It is already dropped on the new MBs. Less power, fewer ports, no Iris graphics. Very thin and light is useless if it does not perform. I think the quest for thinner and lighter should stop and change to more performance. Seriously, a 1.2 kgs or so laptop is small enough, no?
Mestengo
The Disappointing Continues. When my current MacBook Pro finally dies I plan to bite the bullet and go to the crappy MS world for a less expensive, but eminently more flexible laptop with, oh-my-god, a touch screen.
Aloysius
I think this is the first iteration of the new MB air. In the next two years, the New MB and the MB Air will probably merge features with the New MB gaining more power and better camera. MB Air will then be discontinued, with the New MB taking over as the low-end MB. I wonder what the future with Thunderbolt will be. Will it continue as the high-end/ full-speed port for "pro" macs (MBP, Mac Pro, Mac Mini Server) or will Apple just throw in the towel and switch to USB-C for all of its products. With the touch screen fetishism, Tim Cook got Apple to produce the phablet iPhone 6 and 6 Plus, after years of Steve Jobs' preference for the standard iPhone screen. If there's enough demand for touch screen, Tim Cook's Apple will produce one. From Tim Cook's perspective, it's probably just a matter of using the MS world to stoke up demand for touch screen. When demand is high, then and only then, will Apple swoop in with a touch screen laptop/ PC.
Sven Ollino
Great comment Aloysius! I am sure there is a market for the new MB. It sounds like a great travelling companion for most. Power-users will stick to their MBPs, Thinkpads and Latitudes. I don't understand those of you who whine about it. Do you also whine about cold weather in Antarctica?