The new MacBook isn’t for you, it’s for the future 

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Macbook 1
The new MacBook probably isn't for you. Photo: Apple
Photo: Apple

The new MacBook is one of the most impressive pieces of technology Apple has unleashed in five years. It boasts a Retina display, USB-C, butterfly-hinged keyboard, Force Touch trackpad and terraced batteries. All crammed inside a body that’s smaller than the MacBook Air, made possible by a new fanless processor.

Despite being an unapologetically gorgeous piece of hardware, the new MacBook’s biggest weapon — the fanless processor — is also its greatest weakness.

Apple has placed the new MacBook in a category most people shouldn’t even consider buying, and that’s OK. The new MacBook isn’t for you and me, it’s for the future.

At $1,299 for the baseline model, detractors have noted the weak processor is designed for tablets as much as PCs and won’t be powerful enough to handle most normal users’ needs.

The new MacBook Air comes in two configurations, each with 5th-generation Intel Broadwell processors, which are optimized for battery life over processing power. The $1,299 model has a 1.1GHz dual-core Intel Core M chip. The $1,599 model has a slightly faster 1.2GHz dual-core Intel Core M. The chips feature Intel’s Turbo Boost technology, which can bump speeds to 2.4 GHz and 2.6GHz, respectively. Turbo Boost is like overclocking on demand. The processor jumps to its highest performance state when activated by the operating system. Early benchmarks show the new machines are on par with last year’s MacBook Airs; but there’s a slim hope the next version of Yosemite will be optimized for these new machines and we’ll see a small performance bump.

Not everyone needs supercomputing power in a laptop; if you don’t, you’re probably not willing to spend $1,300 on a notebook. If you do have that kind of money, the 13-inch Retina MacBook Pro is a better value, with more power, bigger screen and the same price tag — and it weighs just 1.48 pounds more.

Macbook 2

The new MacBook is a lot like the original MacBook Air that launched in 2008 with an ungodly thin unibody case, weak processor, minimal storage and one USB port. It was the thinnest, sexiest notebook ever created and came with a price tag to match: $1,799.

At the time, you had to be insane to buy the MacBook Air, and rival PC execs had a blast taking shots at it. Yet just two years later, Apple released the 11-inch and 13-inch versions priced at $999 and $1,299, choked out its competitors, and is now the only PC maker gaining marketshare.

The new MacBook seems like a setup for the same kind of play. Like the original MacBook Air, the new MacBook only makes sense right now for rich business execs and people that love gold. Once the tech advances and the price drops, Apple will be taking a chunk out of sales that would have gone to Chromebook, Surface Pro and other affordable, ultralight tablet/PC hybrids.

Ports are so last decade. With the impossibly minimalist new MacBook, Apple is setting us up for a future when notebooks are as thin and portable as tablets, and most of your processing power is used by your Web browser. That future’s not here yet for me, but it is for millions of average computer users, so Apple will still sell millions of the gorgeous 12-inch MacBook in the first quarter.

For the next few years, the MacBook Air will remain the best value for most Mac users, but don’t be surprised if the vision of the new MacBook completely replaces the MacBook Air line in the next two or three years.

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42 responses to “The new MacBook isn’t for you, it’s for the future ”

  1. Dave Payne says:

    I think this is spot on. It seems a bit nuts at the moment – only for rich enthusiasts with bad backs… But Apple do this all the time – get rid of apparent functionality that in time you don’t miss. Optical drives, for example…

  2. Tim LeVier says:

    I can’t even tell you how many times I’ve been saved by the MagSafe Power Plug. My computer would have gone flying at least 8 times in the last 2 years. That’s the biggest loss with the move to USB-C. The 2nd hurdle I find, is the lack of even a card reader for MicroSD. GoPro cameras and similar are fairly popular right now. By not including a MicroSD port, Apple is going to find out if people are willing to part with with other gadgets (gadgets Apple doesn’t even make) or if they’ll find a large niche market.

    • NotReallyHere says:

      I would have bough it in a second if it had 2 ports (one on each side) to allow using external devices without that silly adapter, which is just a joke.

      Otherwise a quite interesting concept.

      But it shows how much Ivy have to say…

      • Steve Sheehan says:

        So, after some thought and needing to realize apples position on this.. This is to be an “entry model” just as the original MacBook was however many years ago. If you wanted a higher power CPU or needed more connectivity, you went PRO. As more and more people are using iPhones as a main camera.. any one who needs a memory card from a GoPro is probably needing more power to run video editing SW or photoshop and not for this system. So yes it is new tech but as the title of the story said… “The new MacBook isn’t for you, it’s for the future”

      • andrewi says:

        It’s a bit sad that that is what Pro in the realm of Apple has been reduced to. In the PowerPC era, the million dollar recording studios of the world would have 4 networked G5s, each with multiple $8000 HD cards in them to run their 256 track mixers. Apple’s professional acumen was solid as a rock. When they moved to Intel it got even better, with more power, proper support for nearly every piece of hardware, and Mac Pros that were absolute powerhouses.

        And yet lately, Pro is being absolutely steamrolled. Mac Pro’s with no internal expansion, guaranteeing that no truly large studio will use them without adding significant latency and having to buy much more security (Kensington locks or not, putting $20k worth of hardware on a desk is far less safe and secure than inside a Mac Pro case) and now a Pro laptop means one that actually has a port, assuming you don’t plan on timesharing your portable hard drive with your charger when you’re at home. Which I don’t.

        Now it’s Pro to have something that was and is commonplace, and I do believe Apple will change the world as it has done before. Some will say it’s for the better, but this time I will really have to disagree.

        To add insult to injury, it’s $1200.

        This would have been great if it had 2 ports, fantastic if it had 4. But once again you insult the competent with this. It doesn’t even have a thunderbolt slot. What, you want everyone who loves you to fork out an extra $30 per device plus the device price to replace their Firewire stuff with Thunderbolt equivalents, then do the same switcheroo, but this time buying $80 adapters, and finding a USB-C hub that will let me charge the device at the same time as connecting my TB raid and USB SD Card reader?

        Sure, it’s just for this laptop, you say. You can buy a MacBook Pro, you say. Just you wait. The MBP will have two, the iMac 3 and the next Pro, 4. I’m not stupid.

    • CelestialTerrestrial says:

      I got that Newer Snuglet MagSafe device which keeps the connection a little more snug. It’s a great little device and it freaking works. While I love MagSafe because of it’s design, I’ve been in many situations where it unplugs just a little too easily and the Snuglet makes it just a little more difficult to unplug. I would highly recommend that device.

      I’m sure there will be USB-C based card readers, which is how you’ll probably have to do it. I don’t use MicroSDs as I’ve lost them or they became unrelable, so that’s not a big deal for me.

      I can’t wait to try the keyboard, that does look interesting.

      Even for Samsung, they seem to be getting rid of MicroSD cards on their new smartphones they just announced. Hmmm. Maybe Samsung sees the writing on the wall for MicroSD cards and they are a large mfg of them. :-)

      I’m sure GoPro cameras might have to go another route than MicroSD cards because if you want to capture high speed high resolution video, MicroSD isn’t fast enough. Look at the high end BlackMagic, RED, etc. 4K cameras that can capture 60fps, they use SSD instead. They require high capacity and high speed storage. Maybe Apple’s working on a future GoPro killer that doesn’t use MicroSD cards…

      Remember, what they/we use now is going to change as things progress.

      I see MicroSD cards as the future floppy drives and look where they went?

      • Tim LeVier says:

        Well, I’m a bit of an aficionado for Chinese made DashCam’s which almost exclusively use MicroSD’s. Even if Apple kills GoPro, these things are a niche that won’t go away (but could easily be killed if Apple ever knew what a gold mine they sat on.)

        Their obscurity is good because if they ever went mainstream, you might have legislatures decide they need to be required as well as end up with police creating rules about how they think they own the footage captured…but I digress…

        My point is that I’ll probably always be a MacBook Pro consumer going forward. I’ve got the 2013 Pro Retina that’s nearly as thin and light as an Air. I’ve dedicated myself to be on a 4-year refresh cycle where I then hand down my last computer to my wife for the next 4-years and her 8-year old machine goes away. If in 2017 the MacBook Pro doesn’t have a built in card reader – I’m gonna be pissed. Will I get by? Yes – but I’d rather not have another accessory in my back pack. I’ve already got a 2 TB drive, a PS3 controller, a Kindle, a GoPro, a DisplayPort to HDMI cable, a USB to Lightning cable, a USB to Micro USB, a USB to Mini USB. But I guess one more thing won’t hurt at all…..

      • CelestialTerrestrial says:

        What I’m thinking is that Apple may not be killing GoPro, I think it’s the situation where 4K at 60fps might be what kills MicroSD cards. If Samsung, a large mfg of MicroSD cards, is already showing signs of MicroSC cards going away on 4K devices for the simple reason that they don’t have the capacity and speed required to accommodate 4K @60fps video playback/capture.

        If there is more 4k video capture cameras that want to do high fps, then they ALL have to switch away from MicroSD cards. GoPro included. I just mentioned Apple may be working on something to go after GoPro and in order for them to do that, they have to figure out how to make a similar product with better capabilities and 4K @60fps would be part of it if they did. Obviously, the iPhones/IPads currently don’t do 4K @ 60fps but that doesn’t mean that the next or a future generation iPhone/iPad won’t. It’s a matter of cost, battery life, etc. Samsung is already doing 4K video, but not at 60fps, it’s just a matter of time when they will and you need high capacity and fast storage beyond MicroSD cards.

        I honestly don’t see a need for MicroSD cards for myself since I already leverage wireless transmission of files from one device to another. I see Samsung recognizing that microSD for smartphones isn’t needed either.

        It’s nice if they do have a reader, but you can always buy an external reader to use on those rare occasions and connect it through USB-C, etc. How often do you actually plug in a MicroSD card to transfer data on a laptop?

      • andrewi says:

        There will be a new class of SD card for the 4K@60fps conundrum just as there was with Class 10. Guarantee it. For consistency’s sake it will probably fit the SD/MicroSD form factor so its backward compatible. Something Apple know little of.

    • apptoday says:

      We use GoPro with Bluetooth and it records directly to an iPhone or MacBook. No need for memory cards

  3. Steviec says:

    I’d have to wholeheartedly agree. Although cheaper than the Air when it was first introduced, the placement of the product feels the same, flanked by existing Macbooks and sporting somewhat underpowered specs. Give it a couple of years and it’s very likely to take over the Air’s current role. I hope the colors make it to the other products as well! Space grey is undeniably sexy.

  4. Matt says:

    2-3 years good Byers the Air (by the way I think the current Airs never get retinas screens). We will be left a MacBook (super thin like we saw yesterday in a couple of screen sizes) and some version of the Pro line (couple of screen sizes)–won’t need the Pro with Retina Screen qualifier because there will be no non-retina devices.

    • jonathanober says:

      Just like the retina moniker took over the ipad. I wouldn’t mind the new Macbook for my wife as the air is beneath her needs but a Pro is overkill for horsepower and price.

  5. steve miller says:

    Magsafe power connector gone! Don’t trip on your power cord unless you can afford to replace your broken $1300 or more Macbook.

  6. Jonathan says:

    Let me say this first. The space grey is F’ing sexy!! I mean i was just drooling!!!! However ill stick to my silver macbook.
    Second, im a bit iffy on the USB-C i really like my mag safe, but i am also very careful in terms of making sure its not in the way of someone tripping over it!
    I was really holding on to replacing my 3 year old macbook air, but i think ill go with a 13″rMBP for now, and hopefully in another 3 years, the Macbook will be much more powerful. Cause at this point, thats the only thing that really ruins it for me.

    • NoNonsense74 says:

      Absolutely agree ! The space grey is to “die for”. My only wish would have been just one more usb C port on that puppy and a core i5/7 option. Completely understand that that will cause the weight to increase and fans to swoosh. I am talking like an old person but, its just too ahead of its times and honestly, I love mag-safe way more. I guess, or my hope is macbook pro comes in space grey (hopefully) with as is power and ports. Thats enough for me to go buy one asap

      • andrewi says:

        It’s not too ahead of it’s time and you’re not talking like an old person. It sucks. Many people are missinnthe big difference between the G1 Air and this. People actually used the connectivity that the Air had, even if it only had one port. There are no USBC peripherals on the market right now, so not only is the laptop useless without an adapter, that adapter is also luxuriously priced.

  7. john says:

    Big disappointment that this lacks features that the Surface Pro has had for years. Not flaming or bashing, but this is a non starter.

  8. RickyWW says:

    Everything I do with my Macbook Air is WiFi, cloud storage, and Blue-tooth. I think this one would suite me just fine right now.

  9. Matt Hone says:

    The design and build quality are absolutely fantastic, it looks gorgeous and fits in with Apple’s “make it thin, make it beautiful” philosophy. But it is outrageously expensive for those specs. Looks like I’m still priced out of joining the OS X crowd. I’ll be sticking to Windows as my main PC for a little while longer…

  10. CelestialTerrestrial says:

    It’s a basic needs portable computer where you have a high quality screen, etc.. If you need more power, bigger screen, etc. etc. then you would be better off going with a higher end model.

    I’m not too keen on the lower level processor just to get rid of the fan. I have a 13inch MBPR and it’s pretty damn quiet, the fan has never bothered me.

  11. ENTJ says:

    I don’t like what I’m seeing out of Apple: Aperture not supported, Photos is crap, No usable ports on Macbook, Watch requires iPhone. They’ve lost their way.

  12. CelestialTerrestrial says:

    I think this laptop should have a power connector because we always need power on a laptop and we shouldn’t have to constantly plug and unplug other ext devices to provide power. That’s a deal breaker for me.

    • andrewi says:

      If you’re talking about music servers in a professional environment, then it lacks the power to either run software or stream video from software that is offsite.

  13. Guest says:

    I’m sorry, but “it’s not for you it’s for the future” schtick is pure bullcrap. Apple has gone too far this time. One port? Seriously? It’s death by 1000 cuts with all the $40 dongles that you have to buy. I’m a big Apple supporter and I agree with the majority of what they do, but this is too much.

    Guess I’ll be going to a Windows machine when my MacBook Pro dies. Can’t imagine having such a limited, inflexible product where I’m dependent on expensive add-ons for basic things.

  14. Bruno Azevedo says:

    i have fear of the future :(

  15. Gendy says:

    No, it isn’t for me, it’s for my wifey, who wants the gold version *immediately*.
    Apple knows who this is aimed at, and it’s NOT impoverished professional internet trolls and knob-head YouTubers called Kevin7897.

    • andrewi says:

      She probably does, until she tries to plug something into it and discovers that it will cost her $80 per item and she can’t charge it at the same time.

  16. Costa K says:

    Finally, an article that “gets” what this laptop is on about.

    I’ve wondered if this machine would work for me but right now it won’t. But over the past year, I’ve barely used my DVD drive, a USB thumb drive, never used Ethernet or the SD card slot on my laptop. As such, I’m starting to wonder what my next machine will be and what the future of laptops will be.

    And as per usual I think Apple has already introduced us to it in the new MacBook.

  17. Barzuma says:

    Yup. Apple is slowly transitioning from the MBA format to the New Macbook format. Partly due to the still low performance of the technology, and partly to assuage their users, they (IMHO) are doing it slow, perhaps taking 2 years or so to gradually increase the NMB’s performance to take over the MBA slot.

  18. NoNonsense74 says:

    So, if you see my previous posts, I am a die hard apple fan and I still am, however, the new Macbook, somehow disappointed me honestly. I was envisioning how it can be put to use and I thought very hard. Presently own 15″ 2014 macbook pro..which is great for its size in all respect. The colors and finish of the new macbook are out of this world. But to put it to practical use will be a problem. The power and ports are both missing. This essentially is a Mac Chromebook… “the chrome-book” that I have dissed so much. I am sure it will sell, but even my iPad is more practical than this one (today). I am sure it will work as superb status symbol, but, the moment I want to import photos from my SD card (DSLR) or render a movie on iMovie, charge and import files from USB stick at the same time, I would be looking to sell it off (as soon as I get over the beauty of finish) :( Folks?

  19. Aryno Wyrth says:

    This isn’t the Mac for me, but the woman in that photo at the top? I’d buy her one if she asked me.

  20. Николай Иванчев says:

    The author has no idea what he is talking.. Long time Mac user but any attempt to sell shit for gold is just pathetic.
    The lack of ports.. If Sever was alive he would fire the whole team that came out with this abomination

  21. Matt says:

    The benchmarks are for the Macbook Pro and Air not the Macbook….. Re-check.

  22. Wierdninja says:

    Even though I think it’s a nice laptop, I think it is also not worth the money Apple is asking for it. The MacBook Air is definitely the better buy, retina or not. Lack of ports, abandoning thunderbolt, underpowered CPUS and 480p for the camera. No MagSafe is a mistake here too. The loss of the glowing Apple is another thing I don’t like, even though it is a minor point. In some ways I think Apple has lost its direction. Jony Ives minimalist design philosophy is really getting in the way of the hardware. Look at the Mac Pro. You need wires everywhere, instead of having everything neatly inside the case itself. That’s not the Apple way of old that I loved. I think Jony Ives has way too much say, and, it shows. I really miss Steve Jobs.

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