New MacBook review roundup: Ahead of its time? (+video)

11 Apr 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

Apple Watch buyers are pretty grumpy to hear delivery date pushed to June.

Reviewers praise the new MacBook’s design, keyboard, and trackpad. The new MacBook is out today, if by “out” you mean “pretty much in hiding.” You can order one online, but if you were hoping to actually get one in your hot little hands today, you may find yourself disappointed. And that’s exactly what’s been happening around the globe so far as pre-ordering kicked off for the Apple Watch, the company’s first brand-new product in five years.

At its “Spring Forward” media event last month, Apple announced a new vision for its MacBook laptop: a thinner screen, brand-new trackpad, edge-to-edge keyboard (a feature which hasn’t been present on a Mac laptop since the PowerBook G4 released a decade ago), and a single port to handle charging and physical connections. I have spent the morning calling around to every Apple Store in the Bay Area, and they have all explained, very politely, that I can place an order online or over the phone, but I can’t actually go to the store today and pick one up. MacRumors reported that models available for delivery of the watch on April 24 have “quickly sold out,” and is keeping a running tally on the order dates for each model. I wound up placing an order for a space gray base model, with the earliest home delivery time of April 16–20, including a $10 rush shipping upcharge. Without that fee, the quoted window for free shipping to my home was April 20–22, and if I opted to have it shipped to a store to pick up, the estimated pickup day was April 22.

The ordering process has been limited to online — Angela Ahrendts, Apple’s AAPL, +0.43% senior vice president of retail and online stores, and other honchos probably didn’t want to see a major scrum, not to mention snakey lines around the corner for their arm candy. Silver MacBooks were showing the same delivery estimates as of this morning, but the gold version had already slipped to “3 to 4 weeks.” (I was only looking at the base models, nothing upgraded or built to order.) Display models are available at many stores, according to the Apple Store employees I spoke to. “You’re more than invited to come on in and take a look,” one rep told me brightly, then launched into a spiel about the features and benefits. Much of that beauty has to do with just how insanely thin and light it is.” The MacBook weighs just two pounds, making it almost a pound lighter than the 13-inch MacBook Air and about a pound and a half lighter than the 13-inch MacBook Pro. TechInAsia reported that Tokyo’s dedicated Apple Watch Store sits right next to a swanky department store and Cartier, surrounded by women’s high fashion. The Verge’s Dieter Bohn wrote, “the essential friction and ‘clack’ that make up any great keyboard is still here, just different than what I was used to.

I can bang away on this thing or type more softly, and both feel completely satisfying.” Reviewers also found the MacBook’s glass trackpad satisfying to use, although many wrote that its more subtle click feel took a day or two to get used to. Reviewers were somewhat harsher in their assessment of the MacBook’s single port: a lone USB-C jack on the laptop’s left side, accompanied by a headphone jack on its right. “Here in 2015, the majority of us still require two or three ports for connecting our hard drives, displays, phones and other devices to our computer—not to mention a dedicated power plug,” wrote Ms. There aren’t very many USB-C devices on the market right now, and an adapter that allows the user to plug in HDMI, legacy USB, and USB-C devices to the MacBook costs $80 from Apple. “Apple’s real bet is that you won’t need that port for much of anything,” writes David Pierce at Wired. “Ditch your external hard drive, the USB-C port begs … forget about your second monitor, because look at this screen!” The MacBook featured a “tiered” battery that crams more power into a smaller space, with the goal of letting people use the laptop all day without needing to charge it.

In fact, that’s why the screen is 12 inches — it matches how much space the keyboard needs. (The screen, incidentally, is stunning — compared with MacBook Air’s lower-resolution screen. If you watch video or fire up intensive programs such as Photoshop, however, that number drops to six or seven hours – which means you shouldn’t leave your charging cable at home. It’s odd to have only a single USB-C port in 2015, but by next year USB-C devices will be much more popular and we’ll again be able to borrow charging cables from strangers. The MacBook follows largely in the footsteps of the MacBook Air, which also cut out some features considered “essential” when it debuted in 2008, but which is now a standard for laptops. Speaking of power, I got eight to 11 hours of battery life on a single charge, which is impressive given that the high-resolution screen requires more power than regular screens.

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