For the last 9 months, many of the major PC vendors have been asking what Apple had up their sleeves when it comes to updating the MacBook and, more specifically, the Macbook Air. It has been about 18 months since Apple refreshed this line and everyone knew it was due, at the very least, for a Broadwell update from Intel applied to all MacBooks.
Although I had heard from the supply chain six months ago Apple had a 12 inch notebook in the works, very little news had leaked about a possible small but thin and light MacBook until it was announced today.
In the meantime, Dell introduced a stellar new 13” notebook that is very light and thin and Lenovo, HP and others also have new ultrathins in their line.
However, as I am sure they suspected, Apple has pretty much reinvented the truly thin and light notebook with the new 12” Macbook with Retina display, which integrates an Intel Core M processor in a motherboard so small it takes up only a tiny space on the back of this new laptop. Its fanless design is due to the 5 watt Core M processor and some clever engineering from Apple. The keyboard is a full size keyboard and uses a new type of mechanical key half the size of the keys in current MacBook Airs. The new terrace contoured battery cell has 35% more battery capacity, giving it all day battery life, yet its design still allows it to fit in this very thin (13.1 MM at back and 5.1 MM in the front) ultra thin laptop.
For road warriors, this is the ultimate laptop. At 2 lbs, it weighs about the same as my iPad with the Zagg keyboard combo I use often. In fact, when I played with it, it actually felt like I was using the iPad with a Zagg keyboard but without a touchscreen but the full Mac OS experience. At least for me, this would be a very cool laptop to toss in my bag and keep with me all of the time and use as my primary computer.
Early on, I had the 11” MacBook Air but found the screen too small so I switched to the 13” model. But surprisingly, the 12” screen with no bezel makes it feel much larger than a 12 inch screen. I could easily use it instead of my 12″ MacBook Air to do all the tasks I normally do on a laptop.
However, for many people a screen this size is just too small. Which is why the 13” and 15” MacBooks and MacBook Airs sell so well over the 11” model. I also think that, while the CORE M is a excellent processor for this model, if you need more processing power in a laptop then the new MacBooks and MacBook Airs with Broadwell would be a better option.
What this new fully redesigned MacBook will do will make all other makers of ultra thin laptops go back to the drawing board and try to copy Apple in the same way they tried to create MacBook Air-like products just to compete. I see this new MacBook being the gold standard for ultra-thins. While the new ultra-thins by the major PC vendors are competitive, Apple’s design is by far the best implementation of this concept and all others will be compared to it when it comes to design, form and function.
My guess is Apple has a winner with this new MacBook and it will be a godsend for students and road warriors alike who must have a computer with them at all times and want no compromises.
After I played with this new MacBook, I began to wonder why Apple may also be doing a 13” tablet as some rumors have suggested. In my case, my iPad and the Zagg keyboard served as a pseudo laptop for me but I can see me switching completely to the MacBook 12” now and using the iPad more for tablet-like browsing and apps, instead of light productivity. I suppose we won’t know any time soon what Apple is thinking about regarding a larger iPad since rumors say it will be delayed to this fall.
If Apple does bring a 13” iPad to market, it will be interesting to see how it is positioned. I had planned to get one and use a Bluetooth keyboard with it and make it my pseudo laptop. But with the new MacBook 12″ model, I would not even consider that anymore unless it had some unique productivity features that made it different from other tablets. This is one that is hazy to me and will be interesting to follow.