First thoughts & Design
Like most of us on a Monday morning I start my week in the morning rush by visiting a favourite café of mine for a coffee. I get myself a table, sit down and go to get my MacBook. Except this week is different, I’m not carrying my 15-inch MacBook Pro, but rather the all new 12-inch MacBook, and right away I’m going to say it’s a big change for me and I mean that in a good way.
Within the first few minutes of sitting down at the table the waitress walks by, pauses and says “congratulations … your MacBook! It looks amazing”. I have to say I was a little caught off guard at how quickly It took for someone to make a comment. Maybe it’s to do with how sleek it looks, or the colour catches her eye – being the first MacBook which is available in three colours, not just the traditional silver. I’ve chosen the Space Grey version, it really makes the MacBook stand out, but you also have Gold and Silver to choose from.
The entire MacBook is made from one piece of aluminium which keeps it super light but super strong. In fact it’s the lightest Mac at just 940 grams and happens to also be the thinnest at 1.31 cm tapering down to just 0.35 cm at the front. Looking at the side the thickest part of the MacBook is about as thin as the headphone jack, the one we’re all used to seeing from our iPhones. It’s crazy thin, and it’s definitely approaching the thinness of an iPad.
All of this really does show as I’m finding it extremely comfortable to carry around. I’m impressed with the level of detail gone into the design, the colour is even all the way around, it feels sturdy, and strong – even the screws under the MacBook match the colour I’ve chosen.
The keyboard is a important factor on a notebook, it’s important to be able to type easily and comfortable. This very review you’re reading now has all been typed from the MacBook. I’m happy to say I’m finding it a pleasure to type on.
Apple incorporate a full size keyboard into their MacBook Air and MacBook Pro models, the good news is it’s also here on the New MacBook.
The keys are 17% larger on a 40% thinner keyboard assembly
The keyboard on this MacBook has, in the words of Apple, been “re-imagined”. Firstly, the keys are 17% larger on a 40% thinner keyboard assembly, while each have their own separate LED light, which automatically light up in a dark environment. The mechanism under each key has also been completely redesigned using a new ‘butterfly’ style mechanism meaning when I hit the key from the centre, or from the very edge, the entire key presses down evenly.
Another area of the MacBook Apple have paid close attention to is the Trackpad, which happens to include a new feature called ‘Force Touch‘. This is going to change the way you can interact with your favourite apps, and by far has been the best trackpad I’ve used.
I can click anywhere on the Trackpad and it will register my click, but with Force Touch it also registers how hard I’m pressing, and while doing so gives me ‘Haptic Feedback‘ in what feels like a small tap to my finger. It really is quite amazing once you get the hang of it and I’m discovering all sorts of ways I can use the Force Touch feature:
- Scrolling through a video fast or slow depending on how hard I’m pressing.
- Pressing on a word in Safari will bring up Wikipedia, or the dictionary.
- Touching on a link will show a preview of the web page in a small window.
It’s the future of the trackpad with developers able to incorporate Force Touch into apps with some already including it in drawing apps, DJ Music apps and more.
Productivity & Apps
One of the most productive working days is Tuesday, a day I spend most of my time working on documents, spreadsheets, emails and a range of other apps.
Useful apps already installed and ready.
I was off to a great start for the day because all the apps I needed were already installed on the new MacBook, meaning I could get stuck right into what I needed to do. While setting up my new MacBook I was able to log into my iCloud, meaning all my files and documents I’ve worked on from my iPhone, MacBook Pro automatically synced across.
With the purchase of every Macbook, including this model, you get the latest version of OS X plus a range of free Apps designed from Apple including:
- Document creation apps (Pages, Numbers & Keynote)
- Creative apps (Photos, iMovie & Garage Band)
- Others including iTunes, Mail, Calendar, Maps and more.
Uni, Sharing & Battery Life
Group assignments at University are no surprise to just about all of us who study, whether it’s at school, uni or TAFE. Especially with group assignments this often means sharing files.
To get such a thin profile Apple have not included many ports we’re used to seeing. There’s no SD card slot traditional USB ports, HDMI, etc. Rather, we’re given just two, the headphone jack and a USB-C port. The small USB-C port on the side does everything including data (for external hard drives, etc.), video out, but it also happens to be your charging port. USB-C is relatively new and it is not exclusive to Apple, meaning you’re soon going to see other devices and accessories using this type of connectivity.
For me personally, I didn’t have an issue with the limited ports, as all my work is in iCloud, but it did mean sharing files via a USB stick was not an option. Sharing files is not impossible thanks to AirDrop, a feature which allows you to wirelessly share files from Mac to Mac, even to iPhone and iPad. At the end of the day this MacBook is designed to be ultra-portble, and is ready for the wireless world, much like our iPhones and iPads. This streamlined version of the MacBook finds its place comfortably among Apple’s other range, including the MacBook Pro and Macbook Air.
University and notebooks brings me to one thing: battery life. We all know the pain when we realise we’re on 5% usually running to find a charger or power is soon followed. I really wanted to test the battery in the new MacBook so I decided to not bring my charger at all. The result? Let’s just say I never had to run to find a charger.
Battery lasted me my entire day.
Apple say we’re given about 9 hours of wireless web browsing, a figure I’m happy to say is indeed true in real world testing. However, playing a game or running more intensive tasks such as Photoshop will drain the battery quicker.
Listening to music is something I do nearly all the time I think It’s fair to say its something just about all of us do, for this reason I wanted to touch on music in this review. I also wanted to cover it because as you may know Apple announced their all new streaming service recently called Apple Music which I covered just a few weeks ago which will be available on the New MacBook built into the pre-installed iTunes app.
The New MacBook has a head phone jack on the side; I was able to plug my Beats headphones in (which muted the speakers) to listen to music via iTunes. Bluetooth is also built into this MacBook meaning you will be able to wirelessly connect to any Bluetooth enabled speaker or headphones.
Just above the keyboard Apple have built into the New MacBook stereo speakers, at first I was skeptical on how loud they’d be given how small the MacBook is, but I found them to be quite loud. Even while listening to a song full volume in iTunes I found it to be clear with no distortion.
Photo Editing & the Retina Display
The weekend is finally here so I’m off for a road trip with my iPhone for photos – photography is a favourite hobby of mine so I have to say I’m pretty excited to see how they turn out. Coming home from my day trip there’s two things I noticed: the first being every photo I took from my iPhone wirelessly transferred to the Photos app on the MacBook thanks to iCloud, and the second how detailed my photos looked on the Retina Display.
Everything is so detailed – text ‘pops’ out, lines are sharp & photos are super clear.
I wanted to wait for this day to highlight the Retina Display in this review because you really notice how great the display is while viewing photos. The photos I’ve taken look extremely sharp and highly detailed, from every individual hair piece to grass blades.
The New MacBook is the first ultra-thin notebook from Apple to get such a high quality Retina display, while at the same time using 30% less power than Retina displays in other Apple products.
Everything is so detailed – text ‘pops’ out, lines are sharp & photos are super clear and detailed all because unlike other displays you cannot define the individual pixels to the naked human eye. My 15-inch MacBook Pro too has a Retina display however I right away noticed how much brighter the Retina display in the New MacBook appears.
Final thoughts & the Apple Online Store
The first time I saw the MacBook in an Apple Retail Store I had a “wow” moment. You’ll really love the look of it right away; at the end of my first week I still have that wow feeling – I appreciate how much engineering and clever design has gone into it.
At the end of the day the design is there, Apple really have revolutionised many areas from the new keyboard, to the ultra thin Retina Display, to fitting such a long lasting battery in something almost as thin as an iPad.
If you’re after an ultra portable notebook that features a truly stunning design, is very easy to carry around, has great battery and Apps ready to go than this notebook will be a excellent choice that will make you very happy for some time to come.
It isn’t the notebook for everyone, though, if you can’t quite let go of all those peripheral devices. The MacBook Air or Pro may be a choice you’re more comfortable with, depending on what you need from a laptop. If you require intensive tasks such as CAD, rendering, or you’re a professional video editor, the MacBook Pro would be a better choice because of its greater performance, bigger display options, and available ports.
The New MacBook is available in two configurations, with the only differences being the storage size.
The entry level starts at 256 GB which is a decent amount to begin with for $1,799; you can go even further to 512 GB storage for $400 more at $2,199. With both models you’ll be able to select from Silver, Space Grey and Gold.
This brings me to the common question of which model to buy? Well for most of us the entry level 256 GB is more than fine, it will store literally thousands and thousands of photos, many movies (a full HD movie from iTunes is about 6-7 GB), and if you’re a fan of Netflix and other streaming services you don’t really need to worry about storage because the movies do not take up space on your device and you’re not downloading the movie in full.
You can purchase the New MacBook from the Apple Online Store with free delivery, plus a few extra options along the way including AppleCare, which gives you extra warranty. A range of accessories are available, and you even have the option to upgrade the processor inside from 1.1 GHz to 1.3 GHz if you want extra performance.
What you’ll love:
- Ultra thin design
- Long battery life
- Quality Retina Display
- Free built-in apps.