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Review: The new 12-inch MacBook is a laptop without an ecosystem

Jason Snell | April 10, 2015
The new MacBook is the future of Apple laptops. The Force Touch trackpad, Retina display, and 2 pound weight make up for the MacBook's weak keyboard and slower performance, but not everyone can live on...

By using the Intel Core M and packing in a whole lot of battery, Apple claims that the MacBook boasts "all day battery life." Of course, these things are relative--editing a Logic Pro project will suck the battery out of even the hardiest laptop. But in general, I was extremely impressed with the battery life of the MacBook.

During my testing I tried to spend as long as possible between charges, and was continually surprised at how little the MacBook was draining its battery. I spent most of a workday with the MacBook in my living room and at a nearby Starbucks and didn't get close to running out of battery.

It will take a long time to break old-school laptop users out of the habit of constantly seeking a power plug in order to avoid "range anxiety," but if there's a laptop that can do it, it's probably the MacBook.

Bottom line
The MacBook is a gorgeous piece of hardware. The Retina display is excellent, and I'm really loving the Force Touch trackpad. The keyboard is more of a hit-or-miss affair; if you're someone who is particular about your keyboards and spends a whole lot of time typing, it may be a deal-breaker.

This is a laptop that will serve its audience well. That audience is one that prioritizes size, weight, and stylishness over compatibility and ports and computing power. I'd say that this isn't a laptop for power users, but I don't think that's true--there are whole classes of "power users" who don't actually need more power than the MacBook can provide.

But if your workflow includes lots of USB flash drives and external hard drives, if you've invested in Thunderbolt hard drives or displays, or if your work really does require 16GB of RAM and the very fastest processors around, the MacBook won't be a good fit. Fortunately, Apple's isn't ceasing production of the MacBook Pro--and it offers all of that and more.

As a longtime user of the MacBook Air line, I look at the MacBook with a mix of excitement and trepidation. This is the future of Apple's thin and light laptop line, as well as a warning that we're about to enter a transition period for devices as Apple begins to embrace USB-C. And ultimately that's the trade-off here: To get the cutting edge technology, you've got to deal with the incompatibilities and limitations that go with it.

People who are willing to deal with the pains in order to get their hands on a product like this, you know who you are. It's waiting for you. The rest of the world will catch up, in time.


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