Talking tech since 2003

All eyes were on the Apple Watch reveal at the company’s “Spring Forward” event earlier this month. However, Apple also presented its latest laptop, the new MacBook. It’s not an Air, and it’s not a Pro; it’s an entirely new product line. It’s also not cheap, with a price tag starting at $1,299.

So are the new features worth it? Maybe, maybe not. Let’s break down the new MacBook features to see whether or not you should open your wallet.

A Tactile and Visual Treat

The new MacBook is 13.1 millimeters thick and it weighs in at just two pounds. It’slighter than MacBook Air with all of the superior features of the Retina display. The new MacBook’s redesigned, wafer-thin Retina screen delivers the same amazing visuals with a 30-percent increase in power efficiency.

macbook-new-keyboard

Jony Ive and his design team created a flush keyboard for the new MacBook — to eliminate millimeters of thickness — which means flatter keys. However, the keys have a good feel and springiness, even though they’re flat, thanks to a newly designed butterfly and aluminum dome mechanism beneath each key.

Additionally, the new trackpad uses a newly designed electromagnet to deliver tactile feedback as your fingers travel across the surface. The trackpad is also larger, allowing you to keep your hand in a more natural position while you make movements. The whole design screams iPad, and while it might take some getting use to, it’s nothing a new user can’t handle.

No Traditional USB Port? No Problem

usb-cMany security experts have clamored for computer-makers to nix the USB standard altogether because of the dangers of a firmware infections. In theory, an attacker could insert any USB device into a computer, transmit the firmware infection, and plant malware that would be tough to eliminate.

Users who feel paranoid about these infections can put tape over their USB connectors, but if you need your only connector for charging, then your computer is always vulnerable. However, these infections are still in the proof of concept stage. Unless you’re keeping state secrets on your MacBook, you’ll get sufficient protection if you purchase antivirus for Mac software.

To save space, the Apple team designed the new MacBook with a single C-connector port that works for charging and data transfer. You’ll have to purchase an adapter to hook up your standard USB drive, VGA, and HDMI connectors to your MacBook, but it’s not that inconvenient to pick up an adapter for $17.99. Plus, other laptops, including Google’s new Chromebook Pixel, have switched to Type-C connectors.

After an outcry when the first iMac came out without a CD burner, Steve Jobs capitulated and added one in 2001. Then, once Apple released the MacBook air, it began doing away with CD and DVD players altogether. You don’t need them in Apple’s ecosystem; you use iTunes for much of your content. Apple’s decision to not include a traditional USB port might make some people grumble just as its elimination of CD and DVD players in iMac. In reality, thanks to cloud computing and better Wi-Fi, you’ll be needing these ports less and less.

Look, Ma: No Fan

The first Macintosh debuted in 1984 as the first mainstream computer with no fan. The always mercurial Steve Jobs felt that fan noise distracted from the computing experience. Thanks to Intel’s new Core M chip, based on Broadwell architecture, the new MacBook operates without a cooling fan. It’s a noise-free computing experience — if that’s the sort of thing that bothers you.

Another advantage of the Broadwell-style chips is that they’re more power-efficient. This efficiency, along with the new MacBook’s revamped battery design, makes the new battery 35 percent more efficient, according to Apple.

However, if you wait until the fall to purchase your new MacBook, you might get a model that has a newer Core M chip built on Intel’s Skylake architecture. Skylake is expected to be even smaller, lighter, and more power-efficient than Broadwell while keeping its cool just as effectively.

Do You Need One?

If you’re a designer who wants the unbearable lightness of Air coupled with an incredible display, get the new MacBook; just be aware that it’s built more for lightness than speed. Even better, wait until fall to see whether the new Skylake-based Core M chip improves the new MacBook’s performance. For most users, $1,299 is a lot to spend just because something’s new and shiny.


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