First look: Apple MacBook (12-inch Retina display)

First look: Apple MacBook (12-inch Retina display)
Apple Macbook.

Keyboard

To accommodate a laptop this svelte, Apple redesigned a full-sized keyboard to match this thin chassis.

The keyboard keys are 40 per cent thinner than a conventional keyboard's. Under the keys are stainless-steel dome switches, for better tactile response.

The keyboard has almost no border on the sides. The keys look slightly bigger and are packed more closely than in previous keyboards. So, I was rather apprehensive about how typing on it would feel.

But the key travel felt quite normal and I was able to input text text as quickly and accurately as on my MacBook Air.

In addition, every key felt surprisingly crisp and tactile.

Colours

When I was trying out the gold version during the media hands-on, there were people waiting in line to get their hands on it. Like its iPhone cousin, the gold MacBook might become the most popular version.

However, I prefer the space grey version to match my iPhone 6 Plus. This, after all, is the closest that the new version will get to the black MacBook of old that I so cherished.

Port

With a laptop this thin, something had to give. So, goodbye ports. Only a single USB-C port sits on the left; and a headphone jack on the right.

You will need the USB-C Digital AV Multiport Adaptor ($118), which has a USB-C port, an HDMI port and USB 3.1 port. This is so you can connect the MacBook to an HDMI display and plug in a USB hard drive while charging the MacBook via a USB-C cable.

Design

Apple sets the gold standard again, quite literally this time, for ultra-thin and lightweight laptops with its all-new MacBook.

It comes in silver, space grey and, of course, gold.

Using a logic board 67 per cent smaller than that of the 11-inch MacBook Air and incorporating a fanless design, the all-new MacBook is only 3.5mm thick at its thinnest point and a mere 13.1mm at its thickest.

And it weighs a mere 920g.

When I picked it up, it felt like I was holding a tablet. The new fanless design ensures that no whirring can be heard or felt.

It is amazing that Apple managed to squeeze in the new Intel Core M processor (configurable to dual-core 1.3GHz), Intel HD Graphics 5300 graphics processing unit, 8GB of system memory and solid-state drive storage (up to 512GB) into the all-metal unibody chassis.

Display

The MacBook's display is said to be only 0.88mm thin, the thinnest display ever on a Mac. It is a 12-inch Retina display with a 16:10 aspect ratio and a resolution of 2,304 x 1,440 pixels.

Do not hold your breath hoping for a touchscreen display on a Mac, as OS X Yosemite is not designed for a touchscreen.

During the hands-on, I found the display to be really crisp and sharp. It also has wide viewing angles that retain colour uniformity.

Trackpad

The MacBook uses the all-new Force Touch trackpad. Its built-in force sensors let you click anywhere on it, yet give you a uniform feel and response.

The trackpad also enables a new gesture that Apple calls Force Click. This means that a simple click can be followed by a deeper press, for tasks such as previewing of a file.

An Apple rep showed me how to use Force Click to control the fast-forward speed of a video. It took me about a minute to get the correct feel of it, so that I could control the pressure on the trackpad. I can imagine just how quickly this action can become intuitive.

trevtan@sph.com.sg


This article was first published on Mar 18, 2015.
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