Apple this year introduced several major new pieces of hardware, the iPad Pro, Apple Watch, fourth-gen Apple TV and 12-inch MacBook. Like most Apple fans, the one that had me the most excited at launch was the Apple Watch. I thought Apple Watch would have a huge impact on my daily life, but 8 months in, the new Apple device that’s actually affected by day-to-day technology usage the most is the 12-inch MacBook.
I was incredibly skeptical of the 12-inch MacBook when Apple initially announced it. As someone who types for a living, I was worried about the new butterfly keyboard being less conducive to productivity than the standard scissor keyboard. I was worried that the single USB-C port would prove to be a huge roadblock in day-to-day use. 8 months later, however, I’m entirely sold on the 12-inch MacBook and think it’s the best new product Apple introduced in 2015 and I can’t wait to see where Apple takes it in the coming years. The 12-inch MacBook has renewed my faith in the fact that Apple can still design gorgeous pieces of hardware that actually improve on and fulfill a need in the market.
Before pulling the trigger on the new MacBook, I used a 13-inch MacBook Air. One of my biggest qualms about the MacBook Air was the low-quality display, especially when I made the switch to a 4k monitor at my desk. I used the MacBook Air because I loved the portability and how easy it was to slide in my backpack and take it to and from classes. The performance of the MacBook Air was always good but not great, but I was willing to sacrifice performance for portability. And I still am. I never use my laptop for hardcore video editing, gaming, or anything of that sort. I use it to do research for homework, write things like this article, browse Twitter and Facebook, and listen to music, which the MacBook Air was more than capable of handling.
Then came the 12-inch MacBook. The design of the device (which we leaked months before its announcement) was seemingly unrivaled at the time. With an ultra-thin profile, even thinner than the MacBook Air, the 12-inch MacBook is incredibly easy on the eyes. It features the same tapered design as the MacBook Air, but it starts tapering at a thickness much thinner than the MacBook Air’s.
Unlike any MacBook released in recent years, the 12-inch model was also launched in three color variations: space gray, gold, and the traditional silver. I opted for space gray to match my other Apple products and I have no regrets. The space gray color does tend to show fingerprints and smudges more easily than the traditional silver design, but nevertheless, the aluminum build has held up very well throughout 8 months of usage.
When I first bought the 12-inch MacBook, however, I didn’t immediately get rid of my MacBook Air. I wasn’t sold that the 12-inch screen, Core M processor, USB-C port, butterfly keyboard, and battery life were going to be changes that I welcomed. 8 months later, however, some of those things have grown to be my favorite features about the device.
Coming from a 13.3-inch MacBook Air, which I always found to be the perfect size, I was skeptical of the smaller 12-inch display. That is, until I laid eyes on the gorgeous Retina display. The MacBook features a 2304 x 1440 resolution, which comes out to 226 pixels-per-inch and it’s eye-popping. I was always annoyed by the 1440 x 900 resolution on the MacBook Air and upgrading to the 12-inch MacBook was incredibly welcomed.
The Core M processor was another factor of which I was skeptical. The MacBook Air was never a powerhouse of a machine, but it was always able to get the job done. Despite my skepticism, I decided to go with the base model MacBook, which packs a 1.1GHz dual-core Intel Core M processor and 8GB of RAM with Turbo Boost up to 2.4GHz. 1.1GHz seemed unfathomably slow to me, but I’ve been pleasantly surprised. Like the MacBook Air, the MacBook is in no way, shape, or form a powerhouse, but for me, it’s still able to get the job done. I rarely notice any slowdowns, although they do appear occasionally when I have a handful of windows and tabs running. Playing a video and trying to do too much else is also a recipe for disaster at times.
Like I said, I’m willing to compromise performance in favor of portability and the MacBook is a perfect example of having to do just that. It’s by no means the fastest machine Apple offers and for the price, you’re definitely paying a premium for the sleek, first-gen design.
Like everyone else, I was skeptical of having a laptop with a single USB-C port, but it’s proved to not be as big of an issue as I expected. I’m really reminded that I rarely plug anything into my laptop except a charger. I couldn’t tell you the last time I plugged my iPhone in to sync it with iTunes or plugged in a flash drive. I use Dropbox for all of my file storing needs at this point and all of peripherals are Bluetooth. Obviously, I can’t speak for everyone here and many people have needed to purchased adapters on top of adapters to use the MacBook everyday, but for me, this hasn’t been an issue.
Likewise, the butterfly keyboard and Force Touch trackpad are things I’ve grown used to, as well. At first, the butterfly keyboard is definitely a bit tedious due to the lack of movement from the keys, but now that I’ve gotten used to it, I’m able to type just as fast with it as I was the traditional scissor mechanism keyboard on the MacBook Air. Regarding the Force Touch trackpad, I really wouldn’t have been able to tell that it was a different kind of trackpad technology had Apple not disclosed it. The vibration that you feel when you press is nearly identical to the feedback received from a normal trackpad. I will say that using Force Click is not as useful as I expected it to be. 3D Touch is far more useful on the iPhone 6s than Force Click is on the MacBook due in large part to the more ample screen space on MacBook.
If I had one complaint regarding the MacBook it would have to be its battery life. Apple touts that you can get 9 hours of web browsing from the device, but I don’t think I’ve ever gotten that much life from a single charge. More realistically, I’m getting about 5 to 6 hours on a charge. This is somewhat frustrating because if the MacBook could last a workday – 8 hours – then it would be the ultimate on-the-go productivity machine, but having to worry about your laptop dying a little more than halfway through the day is just an added layer of stress.
In The Future
The good thing about the 12-inch MacBook is that it’s a first-gen product. There’s so much room for the device to grow. Personally, I would love to see Apple work on improving the device’s battery life before it does anything else. As time progresses and battery technology gets more affordable and smaller, Apple will undoubtedly improve the battery life of the MacBook, but in the interim it’s far from great.
I would also like to see Apple add one more USB-C port to the device. With the shaky battery life of the device, it would be much more conducive to productivity to be able to charge the device and still have a free USB-C port. This again comes down to technology within the MacBook shrinking as it progresses.
Finally, Apple, can you please upgrade that horrendous 480p FaceTime camera? In 2015 using a 480p camera should be a crime. When FaceTiming, people can always tell when I’m using my MacBook and when I’m using my iPhone. The quality is just undeniably bad.
2015 was a big year for Apple. The Apple Watch, iPad Pro, and MacBook were all released, as was Apple Music. All of these things have greatly impacted my daily tech usage (Apple Watch maybe less so), but the MacBook is by far my favorite Apple device or service of 2015. The combination of the gorgeous Retina display and ultra-slim hardware design makes the MacBook the best Apple laptop I’ve ever owned.
The MacBook allows for such seamless portability that it’s hard to make the case for ever needing a larger machine. Sure an extra USB-C port and improved battery life would be welcomed, but we have to remember that this is a first-generation product. Apple undoubtedly has some changes up its sleeve.
In a time when many are skeptical of Apple’s design trends and changes, the MacBook proves that the company still knows how to create a beautiful piece of hardware with a premium and elegant feel (and price tag). The MacBook is a prime example of an Apple product that is somewhat ahead of its time, but will gradually become the ‘norm’ for both Apple users and other users. At this point, you’re paying a premium for being ahead of the curve, but it’s undoubtedly worth it.
Filed under: Mac, Opinion Tagged: 2015, Apple, MacBook, Opinion