The "New" MacBook - My Review
So here we are ladies and gentlemen. Who would've thought many years ago that computers would get THIS small. We were all blown away by the original MacBook Air and thought it couldn't get any thinner, but it did. Now, I know that many companies have been making super-slim Windows laptops for a few years now, but I have seen, sold and owned a few and have generally hated them all.
I have owned a rMB Pro for 3 years and began to look for a replacement, which is when Apple introduced the 12" MacBook. Smaller, lighter, retina display, similar battery life and in different colors. The whole one port thing did throw me off, but I wanted it. I waited it out and I finally got the opportunity to buy one. I have owned it for all of 24 hours now, but I have already put it through its rounds.
First things first, is this a laptop, a netbook, a franken-iPad? Should it carry the MacBook name, is it the Airs pretty twin, the rMB Pros smaller brother, what is it? Well, it's all of the above. It has little bits and pieces of everything I mentioned above. Now we all know that it carries the Core M processor, and it's small form factor has surely limited battery life, but what is the real world experience like?
Lets start by saying that this thing is absolutely GORGEOUS. I mean honestly, there is nothing out there I can think of that can look this good (as far as a laptop is concerned.) I opted for the Space Gray since I own a SG Watch and iPhone 6 and it is just absolutely stunning to look at. Its slim profile, rounded edges and relatively small size just grab your attention.
Good looks out of the way, I am convinced this machine is meant to be used as your regular every day basic-intermediate users laptop. It will not do well in video editing and running multiple desktops can really put a strain on it. However, if you are a regular user like me who just does a lot of web browsing, writing, researching and also carries their laptop around a lot, then this is your guy.
The Core M and its integrated 5300 graphics are really put to the test and this is very noticeable sometimes when you're doing CPU intensive work. Also, with the retina display, things can get a bit choppy from time to time. It is nothing that interferes with what I do on a regular basis, but still noticeable. It will however play 1080p video very well, even if it's being sent to an Apple TV while you browse the web on the MacBook itself.
If we begin to look at one of its handicaps we can find a weakness. Yes, I'm talking about its USB-C port. It's ONE and ONLY USB-C port. I personally don't plug in a lot of devices into my computers, but I do tend to use my Mac to charge my iPhone or Apple Watch (or both) so I was left scrambling last night to find wall outlets to charge them in the meantime. The accessories are out there, and if you look at items besides those made by Apple, you won't break the bank at all. However, with only ONE port, you are put into a bit of a tug of war. Do you get the USB-C to 3-5 USB adapter, the USB to HDMI dongle or do you charge the MacBook?
One solution I saw online was a neat little device that expands your one port into multiple ports. It gives you an SD card reader, multiple USB ports, a mini display port and even doubles as a battery pack that can charge your MacBook or an external devices. The downfall? It's still in kickstarter stage and won't ship until October. So I guess I will be buying the above adapters separately in the meantime, and figuring out the charging part later.
Even if you are using up that one port, battery life is adequate and as I stated before, about the same as the rMB Pro. Keep in mind though, I am coming form a late-2012 rMB Pro. I would get about 9.5 - 10 hours on a regular basis on that thing, and I'm now at an expected 10 hours battery life as I type this review with 87% battery left. Even if it comes up slightly lower than my old rMB Pro I can say it's way better battery life than what you'll get with its Windows counterparts. I had a Samsung that didn't even muster out 6.5 hours before it was crying for the charger.
All in all, the new MacBook is awesome as an iPad replacement, or even a regular MacBook replacement, the latter being heavily based on what you use it for. This machine is no screamer, but it is also no slouch. It works wonderfully with day to day tasks, gets amazing battery life, looks great and is compact enough to fit anywhere.
However, with a price tag of $1300, unless you really want a super compact laptop, I'd go with a rMB Pro and call it a day....
Note: I'm sure many are wondering about the new keyboard and touchpad on this MacBook. As far as the keyboard is concerned, I am still trying to get used to it. Having spent the past 3 years typing on the old style keys, this is turning out to be a lot harder to get used to than I thought. I haven't lost typing speed, but I am noticing my hands getting tired rather easily. I'm not sure why, but it may be associated with the fact I have to force my fingers to type lightly since there isn't as much travel in these new keys.
As for the trackpad, I haven't made much use of the whole "Force" touch thing. Maybe as time goes on I will get more use out of it, but for now it is just like any other track pad on a Mac. One thing that does trip me out is realizing that this pad isn't actually moving, it's just vibrating to TRICK me that it is. Turn off that vibration, and you begin to question everything else in your life...