This is how many new MacBooks I want. I want all the new MacBooks. Give me the new MacBooks.
I’m conflicted on the Apple Watch announced today at the fruit company’s early morning event, especially since I already have a very nice (and very round, BTW) LG G Watch R. But the other big announcement, a new MacBook for the everyman, has me completely head over heels.
We all forgot about the mid-range MacBook when Apple split the Mac line into Air and Pro, but for a long time beforehand the MacBook was the Apple laptop for the average user. It wasn’t as expensive as more powerful laptops, but it was powerful enough for those everyday uses, and it was designed just right to make it an easy choice for anyone considering a new notebook. The new MacBook continues that trend, but bundles in a bunch of innovation at the same time.
I really like futuristic technology, and I’m happy to make compromises so I can have it — et voila, new MacBook. The real Big Thing about Apple’s new MacBook is that it has a USB Type C. Type C is an entirely reversible plug, like Apple’s Lightning on the iPhone and iPad, and it’s a unified standard that allows faster USB device charging, higher data transfer speeds and DisplayPort 1.2 high-def video output. We’re moving towards a wireless future filled with Bluetooth and AirPlay and Chromecast and Wi-Fi and 4G, but physical connectors are still super-handy and one unified connector just makes sense. That’s exactly what Thunderbolt was meant to be, but it ended up only appearing on more expensive devices.
I jumped on the USB 3.0 bandwagon early, but obviously that was backward-compatible with 2.0 (since it used the same plug) where the new Type C standard is not. A second Type C port on the new MacBook, too, would have been nice, but we can’t have everything, right? I’m guessing the next MacBook will have exactly that, on the other side of the laptop, to suit all the southpaws or the power users. That’d tie in nicely with the whole forced-obsolescence narrative that Apple conspiracy theorists around the world like to spout.
The new MacBook, too, at 13.1mm thick, doesn’t have an internal fan to expel heat — because it doesn’t need one. That’s because inside, you’ll find an Intel Core M processor — a 1.1GHz Core M-5Y51 in the base model 256GB SSD plus 8GB RAM MacBook, and a slightly gruntier 1.2GHz Core M-5Y71 in the 512GB SSD variant. Those new Intel chips are part laptop and part tablet, with some incredibly low-power processing components that hugely increase battery life without significantly impacting performance over an equivalent mobile Core i3 or i5.
Here’s a bit of background. In this job, my computing demands are moderate. I don’t need a fire-breathing overclocked quad-core Core i7 with 32GB of RAM — as nice as that might be — but similarly I just can’t make do with a low-powered iPad or Android tablet or an Intel Atom netbook. I do know that I can get by with a Core M device, having spent more than a fortnight working off the Lenovo Yoga 3 Pro and Toshiba Portege Z20t. Core M, for browsing the Web and writing articles for Giz and editing photos in GIMP and Lightroom, is more than gutsy enough while absolutely sipping on battery.
At the moment, I carry around an iPad Air 2 in my everyday satchel, because its weight doesn’t really bother me at all. I did the same with my LG UltraPC. I intend to do exactly the same with the new MacBook. Plenty of other people will do the same, because it’s a super-portable 12-inch screen in a 13.1mm-thick chassis that, if the previous MacBook Air is any indication, will feel even thinner and lighter than those numbers suggest. And having a laptop with you to actually use is half the battle, right?
Here’s something else worth considering — the new MacBook is 920 grams, and therefore technically fits in under the 1kg threshold of the Personal Electronic Devices limit for a gadget that can be used during take-off and landing. It certainly isn’t the first laptop to fit in, but it’ll definitely be the first to sell widely and to a mainstream audience, so you might actually start seeing it on passengers’ laps on your next inter-city flight. It’ll be out in Australia on April 10 for a 256GB starting price of $1799, although there’ll be a step-up 512GB model for $2199.
We’re checking with CASA whether the new MacBook, as well as other superlight laptops like the LG UltraPC and international Samsung ATIV Book 9, will be allowed, or whether their generally sharp edges and designed-to-be-sturdy metal chassis — as well as the fact that you have to have them open and flat to actually use them — would preclude them from being covered by that PED gate-to-gate good-to-go list. Stay tuned. [Apple]