The New MacBook, First Impressions.

After a five week wait, my New MacBook has finally arrived!

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After seeing it at my Apple Watch try-on, I was more impressed by the New MacBook than the Apple Watch. See my post about the Apple Watch here.

Being a person who travels for a living, portability is important to me. I’ve been hauling around my 15 inch MacBook Pro for three years, and it’s getting heavier over time. In the past I’ve used the MacBook Air as my primary computer, and in many ways it’s been my all time favorite. I went with the 15 inch MacBook Pro mostly for it’s Retina Display. The MacBook Air still doesn’t have one.

Enter the New MacBook with it’s Retina Display. The New MacBook is barely larger than an iPad and weighs just 2 pounds. Could it fit my needs?

Online reviews of the New MacBook have been all over the map. Everybody loves the size, trackpad, and screen. The keyboard and single USB C port are getting more negative marks. The performance of the new Intel Core M chip is optimized for low power rather than processing speed. Performance lags when using high demand apps compared to faster more power hungry processors.

The question becomes, then, just what kind of computer user am I? Am I a true “Power User” who needs the absolute highest performance, do I really need all this performance potential? Let’s see. I don’t edit HD videos. I haven’t opened Photoshop in six months, or Light Room for that matter. These days I take most of my photos on my iPhone 6+. I use my laptop mostly for web browsing, Email, and listening to music. And I do write the occasional Blog post.

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First Impressions

Wow! This thing is small and light. With it’s case closed it could be mistaken for an iPad. It’s only 1/2 inch thick and weighs a fraction over two pounds, 2.03 lbs to be exact. Somehow, they’ve engineered it so that the bottom stays down when opening the case using the cutout below the trackpad. Yet the display stays put when adjusted. Apple must engineer the drag on the hinges  to an insane tolerance. That, and the general fit and finish give the impression of quality and attention to detail. In my opinion, this computer sets a new high mark for Apple’s industrial design and execution.

The Retina Display is gorgeous with bright saturated colors. Contrast seems better than my old Retina MacBook Pro with blacker blacks and brighter highlights. Being an Apple Retina Display, the native resolution of 2304 x 1440 is down sampled to a variety of settings. I’m using the “more space” setting which “looks like 1440 x 900.” This is the highest resolution available and text, while small, is readable. Native resolution is not available, and would probably be too small on the 12 inch screen. Regardless of choice, images open in the native resolution on a Retina Display when viewing or editing.

The keyboard has gotten a lot of attention in online reviews. Not everyone likes it. The travel of the keys is reduced by about half compared to previous Apple keyboards. It’s noticeable, but not a big deal, to me, and I can type just as fast as on my old MacBook Pro. In a day or two I can’t imagine it making any difference. Each key has it’s own separate LED backlight so there’s a lot less spill of light between the keys.

The new Haptic Trackpad feels exactly like the older Mac trackpads with a noticeable click when pressed. The trackpad doesn’t move at all, the “click” is synthetic. It’s provided by a “Haptic” transducer. A harder press gives a “Force Click” which gives additional trackpad gestures. Force Click a word in a document and the dictionary pops up defining the word. In Safari a Force Click opens a preview of a link. The Haptic Trackpad is starting to pop up on other Mac models now and will soon become the standard.

So far, the battery life seems very good. It goes down less than ten percent per hour browsing the web and writing this post. Inside the case it’s mostly battery, the circuit board is tiny. The Intel Core M processor is designed to maximize battery life.

Having had my MacBook for less than a day, these are just my initial impressions. Time will tell and I’ll update my review after a few road trips.

 

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