|Stats: 280 members, 5,919 topics. Date: January 23, 2017, 9:03 pm|
A year or so after Apple introduced the MacBook as the future of notebook computing, the company is refreshing its thinnest (13.1mm) and lightest (2 pound) laptop. The latest MacBooks, which like their immediate predecessors start at $1299, gain sixth generation dual- core Intel Core M processors, bolstered Intel graphics, faster flash storage and what Apple claims is an extra hour of battery life. The computers still have 12-inch Retina displays.
Last year’s MacBook was a head turner, a svelte machine built around an all-aluminum unibody enclosure. The new model follows suit, though there’s now a rose gold color model just like on some on iPhones and iPads. The other color options for the MacBook, same as last time, are gold, silver and space gray.
HOW IT FEELS
While the design of the MacBook earned kudos for Apple, I didn't embrace every decision Apple made. The good: Apple managed to cram a full-size backlit near edge-to- edge keyboard into what is a very compact keyboard, accomplished through a "butterfly mechanism" that Apple said was 40% thinner than than the "scissor" type keyboard approach that is typical.
At the same time, the keyboard’s different feel took some getting used to and would not appeal to everyone. The keyboard on Apple’s MacBook Air had more “travel." I’ll be curious if I’m more receptive to the keyboard on this new MacBook once I get a chance to test it out—though in fact it should feel the same.
Apple also built a “Force Touch” trackpad into the previous MacBook, and that feature too took a bit of trial and error as well—the basic idea is that the amount of pressure you apply when clicking the trackpad leads to different outcomes. For example, applying extra pressure on a word a webpage may let you quickly summon a definition or synonym for that word. Pressing down hard on an address might open a map.
There’ve been rumors that Apple might use Force Touch technology inside the actual keyboard—an Apple patent reveals that the company has designs on just such a pressure-sensitive solution. Under such a scheme, there might no longer be physical keys, at least as we know them, allowing the machine to be even thinner. That could conceivably happen at some point, but Apple stuck with last year’s keyboard design, and for that matter the overall design, on this new model.
That also means that MacBook still only has a headphone jack and a single USB-C type connector. Apple took some grief a year ago because while USB-C is versatile and an emerging standard, having only that one connector left people who rely on standard USB accessories out of luck, unless they bought pricey adapters. While that is still the case, Apple points to a broader ecosystem now for USB-C options.
The new computers go on sale today. The $1299 model comes with 8GB of memory and 256GB of flash storage. A step up model with the same memory but double the storage and other beefed up specs goes for $1599.
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