“Laptop of the future – Apple style”
Apple has been at the forefront of many technological changes in recent times – the iPhone revolutionized touchscreen phones and the iPad made tablets cool. When the iPad first came out, it had plenty of detractors solely because it lacked a USB port – something which was unseen till then. With the new iteration of the MacBook, Apple is looking to “redesign” the laptop space, and what it features is as important as what it leaves out.
The 2015 edition of the MacBook is one of the lightest and thinnest and notebooks ever and to create it, Apple has decided to do away with the usual array of ports and connections in favor of one – yes, one – USB-C port. The new MacBook also features an overhauled keyboard and touchpad, and only weighs less than two pounds.
USB-C is a new standard which allows USB connectivity, charging and video output through a single port. While versatile, you are fairly limited with what you can do since there is only one port. Moreover, if you want to, say, connect a USB drive or your iPhone to the laptop you will have to buy a USB-C-to-USB adaptor separately. This could work out to be an expensive proposition, especially considering that the laptop itself costs $1,299. And if you do get an adaptor and connect the USB device, you won’t be able to simultaneously charge the laptop.
I’m sure there are plenty of people out there who won’t mind the lack of connectivity. So, let’s get on with the rest of the review.
Even though there isn’t a lot new about the styling – it retains the aluminum unibody design – the 2015 MacBook is one of the better looking laptops available. It is much smaller than any other Apple laptop and the plastic hinge which was seen in the Air has been replaced with a metal one. This significant change elevates the design, so much so that with the screen closed, the laptop can be mistaken for an iPad.
The biggest design change is that, for the first time, Apple is offering different color choices. Apart from the usual silver, the MacBook is also available in space-grey and gold.
It shouldn’t come as a surprise that screen quality is truly excellent. The 12-inch Retina display has a resolution of 2304×1440. The IPS panel is able to produce 101.8% of the sRGB color range – the Lenovo Yoga 3 Pro has 99.3% and Dell XPS 13 has 97%. Color reproduction is extremely accurate as well – leaps ahead of the 13-in MacBook Air.
The display is the brightest in its class – better than the Air, XPS 15 and the ASUS ZenBook UX305 – and even though the screen has a glossy finish, it is easy to see in bright sunlight. Viewing angles are close to perfect and there is very little sign of color degradation.
Keyboard and Trackpad
Despite space constraints, there is a full-sized keyboard on offer. Apple has redesigned the keyboard to make it really flat. Keys have a travel of just 0.5mm (around 1.5mm on a normal notebook), and even then, it is quite easy to type on. This can be attributed to the new butterfly mechanism that the MacBook uses which is supposed to be better than the usual scissor switch. Compared to the Air, the keys are larger by 17% and have deeper curve. It feels a bit stiffer as well.
The MacBook uses an extremely accurate and responsive Force Touch trackpad which has haptic feedback to give the impression that you are clicking, without the pad actually depressing. It does take a while to get used to, but the fact that the feedback is the same no matter where you press helps immensely. The trackpad’s sensitivity can be adjusted to meet your requirements too. It also has an additional Force Click feature which can be used to quickly perform various functions such as getting website previews or word definitions in Safari.
The starting configuration comes with a 1.1GHz Intel Core M CPU, 8GB RAM and a 256GB SSD. The Core M is not as powerful as Core i5-s found in many ultraportable laptops in this class, but is still good enough for most everyday applications. Moreover, it doesn’t require a fan for cooling, which helped in creating a slim profile.
It managed to return decent scores in most benchmarking tests. The GeekBench3 score of 4,631 was marginally better than the 4,623 of the ASUS UX305 which is also a Core M device. Devices with a Core i5 on board had better scores such as Dell XPS 13 (5,653) MacBook Air (5,393). But, compared to these devices, the 2015 MacBook has a really fast SSD which managed considerably high data transfer speeds (254.5MBps).
Apart from casual tasks, the best this device can do is video editing. It is not quick, but manages to get the job done. The integrated Intel HD Graphics 5300 GPU couldn’t even attain a playable framerate of 30fps in World of Warcraft (27fps @ 1280×800).
Apple claims that energy efficiency has increased by 30%, and it shows. In our battery test, it lasted for a shade under 9 hours, which is fairly impressive. This is much better than the Dell XPS 13 (7:43). But, battery endurance is not as great as the non-touch XPS 13 (11:42), ASUS UX305 (9:38) and MacBook Air (12:20).
- Excellent design and construction
- Fast keyboard and touchpad
- Brilliant screen
- Nice sound
- Good battery life
- Only one USB-C port