Apple launches thinner lighter MacBook

Today Apple launched a brand new MacBook and spent a lot of time talking about its construction. It is thinner and lighter than any previous MacBook, although the MacBook Air could hardly be called thick and heavy.

When laptops were 8kg and were several inches thick, any model that was thinner and lighter was a big deal, but a few millimetres and grams off something that is already thin and light is not a big deal.

Apple should stop flogging the thin and light horse, it’s dead.

What about the specs then? As standard you get 8GB of memory, which is double what you get in a base MacBook Air, although 8GB is an optional extra. You also get a 256GB SSD (solid state drive), which is again double what is in the base MacBook Air, although 256GB is an option.

MacBookThe screen is 12in, which is smack in the middle of the MacBook Air range, which comes in 11in and 13in sizes. It is also a retina display with a resolution of 2304 x 1440 pixels. That is 226 pixels per inch. It actually scales to the 13in MacBook Air’s resolution of 1440 x 900 pixels though.

So far, so good. More memory, more storage and more pixels in the base model. And it is available in silver, gold and space grey.

The processor is a 1.1GHz dual core Intel Core M processor that turbo boosts up to 2.4GHz. At this point in time, about 15 minutes after the new MacBook launched, I don’t know how this compares to the MacBook Air’s 1.6GHz Intel Core i5 with turbo boost to 2.7GHz. A 2.2GHz Core i7 with 3.2GHz turbo is a MacBook Air option too. From the specs it sounds like the new MacBook is less powerful, but clock speed isn’t everything and benchmarks are required to see which is actually faster.

The graphics in the new MacBook is Intel HD Graphics 5300, but the MacBook Air has Intel Graphics HD 6000. Usually higher model numbers indicate better performance. Does this mean the new MacBook is graphically slower? Bear in mind that there are many more pixels to paint on its screen too. Benchmarks are needed again, but it does raise questions.

An unusual feature, probably because it is so thin, is the single port. A USB-C port is used for everything – charging, display, and presumably USB devices too. You are likely to need multiple adapters if you need to plug in more than one thing, such as a power cable and USB drive.

At first sight, the new MacBook does not appear to be that much better than the current MacBook Air, unless you value thinness, lightness and a retina display above all. The Air is thin and light anyway, which is why it is called the Air.

The new MacBook is a fantastic work of art, design and engineering. It is amazing how Apple has crammed a computer into something that is so thin, small and light. The problem is that there is no place for art on my work desk or in my laptop bag. I need a powerful tool that gets the job done, so this is not for me.

Here are the specs of the new 12in MacBook and a similarly priced 13in MacBook Air. Which model do you prefer?

MacBook
Price: £1,049 (US $1,299)
Display 12in 2304x1440 retina
Graphics: Intel HD Graphics 5300
Processor: 1.1GHz Intel Core M (2.4GHz turbo)
Memory: 8GB 1600MHz RAM
Storage: 256GB SSD
Ports: USB-C

MacBook Air
Price: £1,079 (US $1,299)
Display: 13in 1440x900
Graphics: Intel HD Graphics 6000
Processor: 1.6GHz Intel Core i5 (2.7GHz turbo)
Memory: 8GHz 1600MHz RAM
Storage: 256GB SSD
Ports: 2 x USB3 , Thunderbolt, power, SDXC card slot

 

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