Conclusion: Do you want a computer or a status symbol?
At the end of the day, we’re left feeling a sense of internal conflict about the new MacBook.
On one hand, this is a wonderful evolution of the MacBook Air with a gorgeous 12-inch screen, fantastic battery life, and all the goodies that come with the latest release of OS X Yosemite. This laptop is the perfect choice if you’re looking for a Mac that can run all the OS X apps that you need for work and play, includes a keyboard, has all-day battery life, and is only marginally larger than an iPad.
Unfortunately, the MacBook falls tragically short if your needs go beyond the items listed above.
The future of laptop ports and peripherals may indeed belong to the new USB Type-C standard, but most of us are still living in the present day. You can buy a USB-C to USB adapter so you can plug in standard USB devices, or you can buy a USB-C to HDMI or VGA adapter so you can connect an external display, but the bottom line is that you need to use adapters and hubs to connect the basic devices that many people consider essential to computing at home or work. At the very least, Apple should have included the USB-C to USB adapter and a HDMI or VGA adapter at no additional cost inside the box with your new MacBook.
The Intel Core M dual-core processors (both the 1.1 GHz and 1.2 GHz options) allow the MacBook to deliver exceptional battery life, but the tradeoff is less-than-impressive performance in CPU-intense activities. Apps require more “bounces” from the Dock before launching to the desktop and activities like processing Photoshop filters or editing HD video clips for YouTube take noticeably longer than on the previous-generation 13-inch MacBook Air (on par with a $500 Windows 8.1 laptop from 2014 with a 4th generation Intel Core i5 processor).
The keyboard and touchpad are better than nothing if you’re comparing the new MacBook to an iPad, but even a $400 Asus Transformer Book T200 has a better feeling keyboard depending on who you ask, and the Asus benefits from a touchscreen interface that the MacBook lacks. Honestly, when we consider that Apple revolutionized touchscreen computing with the iPad, we simply don’t understand why Apple didn’t add a touchscreen to the new MacBook.
In short, if you want a Mac that runs OS X, delivers great battery life, and has a beautiful Retina display then the new 12-inch MacBook is a solid choice. However, if you can live without OS X, just about any Windows-based laptop priced between $400 and $1,000 will deliver a laptop experience that is “as good” or “better than” this $1,300 overpriced beauty.
- Gorgeous 12-inch Retina display
- Thin, light, and feels solid
- Wonderful battery life
- Bright keyboard backlight
- OS X (why you buy a Mac in the first place)
- Excellent integration with iOS devices
- No touchscreen. Come on, Apple.
- Single USB Type-C port limits desktop/office use (adapter not included)
- Polarizing keyboard typing experience (shallow travel, limited feedback)
- Average processor performance (slower than expected)
- Worthless 480p webcam
- Overpriced for what you get