Apple’s 2015 MacBook pretty, but not for everyone
With much hesitation, I purchased the entry-level MacBook just after midnight on April 10. It was equipped with a 1.1 gigahertz processor, 8 gigabytes of memory, 256 gigabytes of storage and cost approximately $1,300.
My initial doubts—which were later proved wrong—about Apple’s (AAPL) smallest laptop were focused on the device’s inner hardware. Would the Core M processor be fast enough to keep up with my work load? And, is it possible to live with only one USB Type-C port? The port—which is used to transfer data between notebooks and other devices, charges your Macbook and connects video output—is one of several new features included in the redesigned laptop.
Consumers will need to purchase a USB Type-C cable to use the port, which is similar to the Lightning cable iPhone’s and iPad’s switched to a few years ago. However, unlike other Apple products, the Type-C cable isn’t proprietary to Apple and an open standard that any third-party company and accessory manufacturer can build to and incorporate into their device. If you’re wary about buying expensive Apple cables for your laptop, there are other more affordable options available.
The only two instances during the week where I actually had to use the USB connection for something other than hooking up an external monitor or charging my MacBook, was when I transferred photos from my digital camera and synced music from my iTunes library to my iPhone. A task more and more WiFi-enabled cameras and music streaming services are able to complete these days, decreasing our reliance on cables.
My first experience with the keyboard, which is 40 percent thinner than previous models, induced skepticism when I tried it out in March. I wasn’t sure if the new ‘butterfly’ mechanism, which claims to make the keyboard more stable, was going to provide for a smooth typing experience.
As it turns out my skepticism was unfounded. I felt right at home with the keyboard, taking almost no time to adjust to the minimal amount of time it took to move from key to key. My only complaint about the keyboard focuses on the arrow keys. I found my fingers getting lost when trying to find the much smaller up and down arrows; keys I never realized just how much I relied upon until using the new MacBook.
The Force Touch trackpad is an upgrade over the standard one found on other MacBooks, but not something I’ve found to be significant. As developers begin to integrate Force Touch into apps—allowing you to press harder on certain elements to elicit different actions— the feature will become more useful, but at this point in time wasn’t an exciting (or incredibly useful) feature.
Right now, I primarily use Force Touch to highlight a word and bring up OS X’s dictionary application. It’s a task I can do on any other Mac by tapping on a word with three fingers.
As I began installing apps and setting up various online services, I noticed random pauses and a slight stuttering-like delay. It became clear I was pushing the MacBook to its limit, but at no time did it stop performing a task.
The moment when I noticed the most obvious slowdown was while editing a video in iMovie. Photos, video thumbnails and transition elements were slow to show up at first. After letting the program get up to speed for a minute or so, iMovie ran smoothly and to normal standards.
There’s no denying the new MacBook is a looker. Between it’s unbelievably small footprint, crystal clear 12-inch display and the ability to order one in the same color as your iPhone — it’s a little too easy to immediately fall in love with it. But, when it comes to computers it’s what’s on the inside that counts. Unfortunately, for most, the MacBook’s hardware just isn’t going to cut it.
The new laptop is more like an iPad in terms of portability, ports and performance; it just happens to run OS X instead of iOS. For some, like me, that’s more than enough, but others will be left wanting more from this Apple notebook.