The New MacBook Has One Huge Shortcoming

11 Apr 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

Five things we’ve learned from the first MacBook reviews.

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. Early reviews of the new MacBook are in, and the consensus is that it’s probably the most beautiful laptop ever released, bar none – but that it’s somewhat ill-equipped to deal with the realities of the way most people use computers today. But having a laptop from the future is both good and bad. “Using a computer that feels like it fell through a time warp from the future is fun, but if that computer drops through the wormhole without any compatible accessories then there’s going to be some aggravation, too,” writes Jason Snell for MacWorld. 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.

But most also say that they can’t wait to see the model that comes after this one — a sign that there’s still some progress to be made to appeal to everyone. 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.

That’s not necessarily a bad thing, but it’s worth thinking hard about, as you’ll need to also buy at least one adaptor to connect to any accessories you may already use — including your iPhone, iPad or iPod. 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. As Jim Dalrymple of the Apple-focused news blog The Loop says in his (very positive) review of the laptop: “If you know going into the purchase that you are going to connect a bunch of things to your computer, perhaps the MacBook isn’t for you. 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’s nothing wrong with that, but for a lot of people, like me, not having the ports isn’t a big deal.” Many reviewers also noted it’s slightly underpowered — another concession to its size — as compared to the rest of Apple’s laptop line. Mashable’s Christina Warren notes there “can be slowdowns, particularly if I’ve got tons of tabs open in multiple web browsers.” Still, she said the laptop was enough to be her “day-to-day machine.” Battery life may be a problem. 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. One concern I’ve heard raised about the MacBook is that its one port for power and everything else means that you can’t charge while doing, well, anything else. But Katherine Boehret of Re/Code found the MacBook didn’t do well under heavy tests. “[My] harsh battery tests — screen at full brightness, power-saving off, Wi-Fi on to collect email in the background and a loop of video playing on iTunes — got only five hours and 23 minutes before dying.

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. But I do know two things about the new MacBook: This is what the future of laptops looks like, and I want one very badly.” The general consensus seems to be that this is a laptop for those who prize portability over everything else. It seems the best fit is someone who wants something super-light and beautiful, and is willing to put up with its inconveniences to dance on the cutting edge.

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