Apple has announced a new MacBook Laptop that is even thinner and smaller than the MacBook Air, but more powerful than the iPad.
The new 12-inch MacBook ditches all the traditional ports in order to slim down to a super-thin 13.1mm in thickness. To get it that small, Apple has re-engineered the keyboard, the trackpad, and the screen, as well as other aspects within the new model, which will simply be known as the MacBook.
We've handled one at Apple's launch conference in Berlin, and it is thin, light, and highly portable. Like the iPad Air 2, which it clearly gets its heritage from rather than the MacBook Air, the device features a 12-inch Retina display that is noticeably crisper than the Air. The bevel has been reduced too, and while not disappearing almost completely like the new 13-inch Dell XPS, it is now black and thinner than the earlier MacBook Air.
Beneath the screen - which is a 2304 x 1440 resolution Retina display - is the new full-size keyboard that stretches from left to right. It's the one element that has determined the size of the whole device and Apple has tried to not waste any space. As it's full-size it remains easy to type, although a new key mechanism means that the keys are stiffer, rather than allowing for the usual travel like on the usual MacBook keyboard. We had no trouble typing, however would associate the experience more with an iPad keyboard than the MacBook keyboards we've used.
Also new is the large trackpad to the front, which adopts technology as found in the new Apple Watch. Adding a new pressure-based gesture to the mix, rather than the reassuring "click" or a normal trackpad, you'll now get a force feedback experience - meaning you can press down further on the trackpad for different results. Apple calls it Force Touch, which is akin to a three layer button click.
Hover over an address or a URL in Apple Mail, for example, and you'll get a preview or a map. It took us a couple of goes to get the hang of it - partly for fear of breaking it with too hard a press - but like all new gestures introduced over the years we are sure it will become second nature to many, and serves to help educate people how to use the Apple Watch.
On the port side of things, there aren't any. Well, not really, instead it's a USB-C port to handle everything and a 3.5mm headphone jack on the other side. Otherwise Apple has ditched the MagSafe connector, it's much flaunted Thunderbolt (Apple display owners you can't use your monitor here), Ethernet (admitted long gone from the Air), the SD card slot, and full-size USB slots. Instead this one new socket can do it all, including charging; shame there's not a second USB-C on the opposite side to cater for charging whilst doing anything else needing a physical port.
Presumably a bag of adapters and connectors so you can connect all your old kit - but such adapters are hideous white plastic things that you'll resent. That's the price of going supposedly wire-free. We look forward to the iPhone Lightning-to-USB-C cable upgrades.
Inside the new MacBook is powerful, although not MacBook Pro powerful, but good enough for most people. It comes with a 1.1 GHz dual-core Intel Core M processor with Turbo Boost speeds up to 2.4 GHz, 8GB of memory, 256GB of flash storage and Intel HD Graphics 5300. Those wanting more punch can have a 1.2 GHz dual-core Intel Core M processor with Turbo Boost speeds up to 2.6GHz, 8GB of memory, 512GB of flash storage and Intel HD Graphics 5300.
Key to those specs is the Intel Core M technology. It's fanless, meaning the 12-inch MacBook is the first fanless Apple MacBook. That ought to mean silent technology - not that we could hear in among the rabble at Apple's press conference. Having seen other Intel Core M Windows 8.1 machines we're sure that will be the case.
The tapered unibody design also means traditional batteries wouldn't have had much space, so Apple has re-engineered the batteries into terraced contoured "sheets" in order to get them to squeeze into the majority of available space. We've only used the device for a matter of minutes, but the claim is for around 10-hours per charge.
Finally there is the colour. Gone are the days of just silver, now there are the iPad's slate grey and gold options in the mix too. The gold is, well, really gold and shows others you are confident. Maybe overly. It's a lot of gold for a boardroom or a train so make sure you're the kind of person who can carry it off.
The new MacBook is out on the 10 April. Prices start from £1,049.
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