The "New MacBook - My Review

Discussion in 'MacBook' started by neurodave, Jul 13, 2015.

  1. neurodave macrumors member

    Joined:
    Jul 3, 2013
    Location:
    Jersey City, NJ
    #1
    So here we are ladies and gentlemen. Who would've thought many years ago that computers would get THIS small. We were all blown away by the original MacBook Air and thought it couldn't get any thinner, but it did. Now, I know that many companies have been making super-slim Windows laptops for a few years now, but I have seen, sold and owned a few and have generally hated them all.

    I have owned a rMB Pro for 3 years and began to look for a replacement, which is when Apple introduced the 12" MacBook. Smaller, lighter, retina display, similar battery life and in different colors. The whole one port thing did throw me off, but I wanted it. I waited it out and I finally got the opportunity to buy one. I have owned it for all of 24 hours now, but I have already put it through its rounds.

    First things first, is this a laptop, a netbook, a franken-iPad? Should it carry the MacBook name, is it the Airs pretty twin, the rMB Pros smaller brother, what is it? Well, it's all of the above. It has little bits and pieces of everything I mentioned above. Now we all know that it carries the Core M processor, and it's small form factor has surely limited battery life, but what is the real world experience like?

    Lets start by saying that this thing is absolutely GORGEOUS. I mean honestly, there is nothing out there I can think of that can look this good (as far as a laptop is concerned.) I opted for the Space Gray since I own a SG Watch and iPhone 6 and it is just absolutely stunning to look at. Its slim profile, rounded edges and relatively small size just grab your attention.

    Good looks out of the way, I am convinced this machine is meant to be used as your regular every day basic-intermediate users laptop. It will not do well in video editing and running multiple desktops can really put a strain on it. However, if you are a regular user like me who just does a lot of web browsing, writing, researching and also carries their laptop around a lot, then this is your guy.

    The Core M and its integrated 5300 graphics are really put to the test and this is very noticeable sometimes when you're doing CPU intensive work. Also, with the retina display, things can get a bit choppy from time to time. It is nothing that interferes with what I do on a regular basis, but still noticeable. It will however play 1080p video very well, even if it's being sent to an Apple TV while you browse the web on the MacBook itself.

    If we begin to look at one of its handicaps we can find a weakness. Yes, I'm talking about its USB-C port. It's ONE and ONLY USB-C port. I personally don't plug in a lot of devices into my computers, but I do tend to use my Mac to charge my iPhone or Apple Watch (or both) so I was left scrambling last night to find wall outlets to charge them in the meantime. The accessories are out there, and if you look at items besides those made by Apple, you won't break the bank at all. However, with only ONE port, you are put into a bit of a tug of war. Do you get the USB-C to 3-5 USB adapter, the USB to HDMI dongle or do you charge the MacBook?

    One solution I saw online was a neat little device that expands your one port into multiple ports. It gives you an SD card reader, multiple USB ports, a mini display port and even doubles as a battery pack that can charge your MacBook or an external devices. The downfall? It's still in kickstarter stage and won't ship until October. So I guess I will be buying the above adapters separately in the meantime, and figuring out the charging part later.

    Even if you are using up that one port, battery life is adequate and as I stated before, about the same as the rMB Pro. Keep in mind though, I am coming form a late-2012 rMB Pro. I would get about 9.5 - 10 hours on a regular basis on that thing, and I'm now at an expected 10 hours battery life as I type this review with 87% battery left. Even if it comes up slightly lower than my old rMB Pro I can say it's way better battery life than what you'll get with its Windows counterparts. I had a Samsung that didn't even muster out 6.5 hours before it was crying for the charger.

    All in all, the new MacBook is awesome as an iPad replacement, or even a regular MacBook replacement, the latter being heavily based on what you use it for. This machine is no screamer, but it is also no slouch. It works wonderfully with day to day tasks, gets amazing battery life, looks great and is compact enough to fit anywhere.

    However, with a price tag of $1300, unless you really want a super compact laptop, I'd go with a rMB Pro and call it a day....

    Note: I'm sure many are wondering about the new keyboard and touchpad on this MacBook. As far as the keyboard is concerned, I am still trying to get used to it. Having spent the past 3 years typing on the old style keys, this is turning out to be a lot harder to get used to than I thought. I haven't lost typing speed, but I am noticing my hands getting tired rather easily. I'm not sure why, but it may be associated with the fact I have to force my fingers to type lightly since there isn't as much travel in these new keys.

    As for the trackpad, I haven't made much use of the whole "Force" touch thing. Maybe as time goes on I will get more use out of it, but for now it is just like any other track pad on a Mac. One thing that does trip me out is realizing that this pad isn't actually moving, it's just vibrating to TRICK me that it is. Turn off that vibration, and you begin to question everything else in your life...

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  2. teerexx52 macrumors 68000

    teerexx52

    Joined:
    May 1, 2005
    Location:
    Florida West Coast
    #2
    Nice review. Thanks What did you find that added sd card and such?
     
  3. zhenya macrumors 603

    zhenya

    Joined:
    Jan 6, 2005
    #3
    Nice!

    It trips me out that my MacBook has better specs in every way than the still very functional 2008 iMac running primarily as a home server/occasional workstation. Faster cpu/graphics, more RAM, faster and much larger hard disk, more pixels. Amazing.
     
  4. Dark Void macrumors 68030

    Dark Void

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    Jun 1, 2011
    Location:
    Cimmerian End
    #4
    7 years is a long time. ;)

    Thanks for time to write this up OP, hopefully some will find it useful!
     
  5. neurodave thread starter macrumors member

    Joined:
    Jul 3, 2013
    Location:
    Jersey City, NJ
    #5
    https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/nonda/get-your-macbook-ports-back

    That is the unit I mentioned. It is beautiful, especially considering it looks like it belongs with the MacBook. But being backed up until the fall, I had to go a different route for now. Best Buy sells an Insignia branded USB-C to USB adapter very similar to Apples offering for $14.99. I purchased one today, and it's doing the job.
     
  6. mtruland macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Jul 2, 2015
    Location:
    New Hampshire
    #6
    My biggest gripe with the new Macbook is the USB-C port. While the average consumer may not need all the ports, I just can't tolerate having to carry and adapter to do anything with the laptop. I'd rather spend a little more and get a 13" rMBP.
     
  7. zhenya macrumors 603

    zhenya

    Joined:
    Jan 6, 2005
    #7
    The adapter you have to carry weighs less than 1oz. You'd rather carry around a rMBP that weighs an extra 1.5lbs to save having to pack an adapter for occasional use? Really now, how often are those ports in use on a laptop when you are out and mobile with it?
     
  8. JackieInCo macrumors 601

    Joined:
    Jul 18, 2013
    Location:
    Colorado
    #8
    It's why the 13" and 15" MBPs exist, right? I wanted all the ports and never considered the current MB with it's single port.

    I have an ether port adaptor connected to a thunderbolt port, a 4TB USB drive and my lightning cable attached to the other USB all the time.

    I have the 15" 2015 MBP. It rarely if ever, will leave my house.
     
  9. mtruland macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Jul 2, 2015
    Location:
    New Hampshire
    #9
    I use the USB ports very frequently when mobile. It's not having to pack the adapter that bothers me as much as the chance that I could forget it at home and be unable to use USB devices on the go.
     
  10. zhenya macrumors 603

    zhenya

    Joined:
    Jan 6, 2005
    #10
    I can see that being a problem for some people - I think my wife would have issue with this computer that she would otherwise love because of that. For me, I have a dedicated backpack that my computer and accessories travel in. The adapters always go back into the same place in that bag, and I would verify it before leaving the house for any trip where I might rely on them. I've never forgotten a charger in nearly 15 years of intense business travel; I'm not likely to forget this adapter either.
     
  11. neurodave thread starter macrumors member

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    Jul 3, 2013
    Location:
    Jersey City, NJ
    #11
    I take it to work pretty often or sometimes to a coffee shop or a friends house to write or browse the web. The only time I really use the USB port, is when I am doing something to my iPhone or accessing a thumb drive. I got the $15 adapter from Best Buy and so far so good. One port does throw you off at first, but for someone like me, it's not a big hassle.
     
  12. tbirdparis macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    May 30, 2015
    #12
    I can totally see how the need to be conscious of having adaptors within reach could be a problem for some users. The profile of this machine makes it pretty tempting as a sleek work tool for people who give presentations, or who frequently are in different environments for work. But this kind of user might also be likely to run into a number of potential connectivity situations - VGA for a projector, older types of USB if someone shows up with only a USB key containing files and no other option, HDMI and so on. Sure, if you're in this kind of work you probably are already used to having your bag kitted out with connectors you might need, especially if you are often in PC dominated workplaces. But I can see how this machine adds a layer of difficulty to this rather than taking one away.

    For a customer like me though, who intends to use it purely as a sidekick personal machine with only a subset of my actual work involved, it makes more sense. I already have a Mac-only environment at home and at work. Up till now I've been too lazy to bother with airdrop when there's a USB key lying around but now I will be "encouraged" to use the alternatives more and that's a workable thing for me. I thought initially that I would absolutely have to buy at least the standard dumb USB-C to USB-A adaptor but now I'm not so sure I even need it. We'll see. Glad I didn't add one to my order because I saw a lot of people's deliveries got held up waiting to add the adaptor to the shipment...mine's taking long enough as it is!
     
  13. zhenya macrumors 603

    zhenya

    Joined:
    Jan 6, 2005
    #13
    A user with a MacBook Air or even a MacBook still needs to travel with adaptors in the above scenario though. Apple sells a single adaptor that covers all of those needs, so it's not a terribly strong argument to me.
     
  14. tbirdparis macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    May 30, 2015
    #14
    No I don't think it's a particularly strong argument either. However, with an Air or a Pro you get a few ports and nothing to stop you from charging whenever you want. I can imagine some users who might do, say, long lectures or presentations and who are used to just being able to be lazy about how they organise their data or whatever... So for them, turning up with a bunch of stuff on a USB external drive, plugging in to a projector with a VGA adaptor (that of course they would have) and also just keeping the computer plugged in to power all day just in case they forgot to charge the night before.. that kind of thing is just easier I guess when you have more of a standard array of ports to work with. Takes a little more thinking, investment in the right extra bits and pieces and some adjustment to how you work in order to pull it off with a rMB. My point is, it's been this way for a while and people are used to it so for some users it might take a while to get their head around doing it a different way, or indeed deciding that it's worth the hassle for them over just getting a 13" pro. For customers like me, this kind of thinking won't even come up because I really just don't need to plug anything in, for this machine anyway.
     
  15. throAU macrumors 601

    throAU

    Joined:
    Feb 13, 2012
    Location:
    Perth, Western Australia
    #15

    Yup, exactly...

    If you're working like that, you're doing it wrong - it's not really how modern apple laptops are intended to be used.

    Any of the apple laptops should be able to do either a full day of reasonable use, or at least half a day of continuous use. So you charge over night, the laptop and you break for lunch (when you can/could charge it if needed), etc.

    Storing non-archive data on external drives is a mugs game. Buy sufficient internal storage.

    If you're an apple shop, buy an appleTV and use it for wireless display on projector or whatever. Transfer things via airdrop, dropbox, or network file share.

    The actual NEED for ports mostly isn't there any more, so long as you change the way you work. Eventually people will catch up :D

    That said, i have a pro for the ports :D (well, mostly the retina display, but...)
     
  16. Evolution2015 macrumors newbie

    Evolution2015

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    Oct 9, 2015
  17. Max(IT) Suspended

    Max(IT)

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    Italy
    #17
    are you going to resume every old thread on this matter ? :confused:
     
  18. Psyfuzz macrumors 6502

    Psyfuzz

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    Dec 5, 2014
    #18
    Solid review, though I haven't got one I'm really excited to see what becomes of this product line in the future.

    The one port would surely be annoying, and I have no issues with packing a dongle in my bag - I just wish Apple stuck one in the box with the unit :/ It'd certainly make it easier to swallow.
     
  19. boltjames macrumors 68030

    boltjames

    Joined:
    May 2, 2010
    #19
    Congrats! I've had my RMB since May and am still amazed by its size and performance. And since you mentioned Windows, I'm a Windows guy, I don't use OSX at all, it's been nothing but Windows 10 for me and it's awesome. Sony was the best Windows hardware producer, they exited the business, thank God Apple made the MacBook Windows-friendly.

    The adapter is tiny and lightweight, probably weighs and takes up less mass than the HDMI cable or USB peripheral you wish you could connect to it as you travel. Too many people make a big deal out of the single USB-C port. It's what enables the ultra-slim design, it's what keeps the cost down, and it's what gives tremendous battery life. It's one of the notebook's best features.

    BJ
     
  20. boltjames macrumors 68030

    boltjames

    Joined:
    May 2, 2010
    #20
    If Apple packed a dongle in the box the notebook would be $75 more expensive. Not good.

    If Apple put all the ports on the RMB to begin with it would get as thick as an Air and would be $100 more expensive and lose an hour of battery life. Not good.

    I bought this notebook, in part, because Apple finally got the balls to get rid of all this crap. I must have spent 15 years dragging around an SD Card port in my notebooks and never used them, ever. USB ports, HDMI ports, VGA ports, they all add weight, they all hurt battery life, they all have high licensing royalties, and we live in a world where they are practically obsolete.

    The $75 dongle is the world's smallest docking station. It's a good thing for those who need one in an office environment. For those who don't, they get the benefit of the slimmer design and lower price.

    BJ
     
  21. Psyfuzz macrumors 6502

    Psyfuzz

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    Dec 5, 2014
    #21
    We don't know what the added price would be if they included one in the box, let alone if they would have increased the price at all - it doesn't cost them $75 to manufacturer and hypothetically if the price was $30 more per Macbook unit and included a dongle in the box I doubt many people would complain about the price nor would the '1 port' criticisms be nearly as strong - $30 at the type of price range this laptop is within doesn't mean a whole lot.

    I appreciate how bold Apple were in trying to move away from other IO, but as it stands either offering no access or restricting access to other IO options through a paywall is a tad too aggressive considering standards like USB and HDMI are still widely used, in 5 years this approach could've been fine but we're still in a transitionary period where physical storage and connections are still ubiquitous - even within other Apple products such as the USB > Lightning cable etc.

    Hypothetically, if Apple included a dongle in the box their initial message of moving away from traditional physical IO would still hold - the added inconvenience of using a dongle is extremely minor but enough to push people away from using a USB drive and towards iCloud drive for example (we can't underestimate people's desire for the path of least resistance when performing tasks). Consumers would have no real grounds to get annoyed at the one port, would have access to a lot of standard IO if they needed it and Apple's push towards a wireless based ecosystem would still gain momentum - it'd be a win win even with Apple upping the price a bit to cover their expenses.
     
  22. boltjames macrumors 68030

    boltjames

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    May 2, 2010
    #22
    It's not just manufacturing cost, there are royalties due for each port that add up quickly, as much as 10% of the cost of the product goes to the HDMI group, the USB-A group, the USB-C group, the VGA licensor, etc. And since the quantities of these being ordered are small compared to the types of volumes you'd see for an iPhone accessory Apple doesn't get the same scale savings from the factories. Margins on notebooks are very thin, usually not greater than 20%, so on a $1300 retail Apple is only making $260 so throwing in your hypothetical $30 vig would reduce profits down to 17%.

    "Throw the accessory in the box" sounds good in your head but in reality isn't that simple.

    Apple doesn't design a major product without it being able to live for 5 years, especially notebooks, so you're spot on- in order for the RMB to fit in by the time 2020 rolls around it needed to be released in 2015 with just the single port.

    USB and HDMI and VGA are used 90% of the time on a workstation's desktop, plugged into a monitor, a keyboard, a mouse, an external drive, a backup, etc. This is a world-class PORTABLE machine, it's why it exists, so if someone chooses to bolt it to a desk and chain it to a host of peripherals that's cool, but a dongle is needed, it's not going to fly to make the RMB thicker and heavier.

    Your argument is for a computer that already exists. If you want a notebook that is the ultimate in portability, it's the RMB. If you want a notebook that is the ultimate in power, it's the Pro. If you want a notebook that is a bit portable and a bit powerful, it's the Air.

    If you want ports and portability, get the Air. You don't bastardize the RMB, especially in form factor as it's the basis for its existence.

    BJ
     
  23. Psyfuzz macrumors 6502

    Psyfuzz

    Joined:
    Dec 5, 2014
    #23
    You're putting words in my mouth:

    I don't want more ports natively on the device, I don't want more power, I'm happy with the portability of the current rMB, I have zero issues with the current form factor, I don't want to make the device thicker/heavier - I simply would have preferred Apple would have put a dongle in the box as it'd ease in the transition between current IO options and future wireless solutions as in my opinion the current option was a tad aggressive for where we are technologically.

    As far as the Air goes it's inferior display just makes it a no go.
     
  24. boltjames macrumors 68030

    boltjames

    Joined:
    May 2, 2010
    #24
    Gotcha.

    Methinks Apple knew that anyone who could afford a $1,600 notebook wouldn't blink at a $75 adapter. I'm not aware that anyone decided against the RMB because of the incremental expense so it's a bit of a silly topic on all counts.

    BJ
     
  25. mathpunk macrumors regular

    mathpunk

    Joined:
    Jan 31, 2015
    #25
    I don't really agree - I have had my rMB since August, and I still don't have any use for the $75 adapter. I got the USB adapter at the time of purchase, and that's all I've ever needed, but I don't even use that much. I'm glad I didn't have to pay extra for the included adapter(s). I think in a short amount of time, USB-C may be much more widespread and I won't need any adapters anyway, unless I want to plug into a projector. When I bought the rMB I thought of it as a computer from the future rather than the present.
     

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