After a week of feedback, I realize I unintentionally sent the wrong message when I said I wasn’t buying the new MacBook. It’s true; I’m not, and I haven’t changed my mind for all of the reasons I gave. However, for the majority of people looking for a new laptop, it is probably the perfect machine. Here is the ultimate litmus test: If I were buying a laptop for my parents, my in-laws, my friends, or anyone else I know who is a casual computer user and who trusts me, what would I buy? It would be the new MacBook, hands down. Why so?
- Battery Life. Nine hours is a very long time for casual use. It’s due in part to the low power Intel Core M chipset (Intel’s Broadwell 14nm technology), as well as the copious amount of battery capacity that Apple has crammed into the case. If surfing the web, email, and light document work are the primary things you do, you’ll be pleased. Business users will find it easily carries them through extra-innings business meetings and long plane flights.
- Size and Weight. At 2 lbs. and 1/2” thick, it doesn’t get any more convenient than this.
- 12” Retina Display. Just the right size for casual use. Very crisp and easy on the eyes, and it fits on any table in the house. It also fits nicely on an airplane tray table in coach, even when the joker sitting in front of you leans the seat way back 12 seconds after reaching 10,000ft.
- Capacity. 8GB of RAM and 256GB flash storage (base model) are just right. The flash technology is actually faster than what Apple currently uses in their top-of-the-line Mac Pro. In NASCAR parlance, this is a “quick” machine.
- One port. The thing I probably railed against the most in my previous post – the lack of USB and Thunderbolt ports – is a strength for the casual user. There is no chance of plugging the wrong thing into the wrong place, jamming a connector in upside down, or snapping off a misfit connector. Since all connectivity is wireless, plugging in a power adapter and headphones are really all that’s needed most of the time. For those relatively few times when a digital camera or other USB-only device needs to be attached, the $19 USB-C to USB adapter fits the bill nicely. In Corporate World, the lack of an internal wired ethernet port might still bristle the in-house IT staff, but that seems to becoming less and less of an issue with time.
- Longevity. My first laptop was a TRS–80 Model 100 (I still have it). I’ve been buying these things for a very long time, and my observation is that Apple machines tend to live longer lives than Windows machines. This is a function of both price, meaning you get what you pay for, and design. We’ve got a couple of circa 2008 MacBooks in our family, one even running Snow Leopard, that still serve just fine for casual use. We’d feel comfortable giving them away to good friends. Back in the our family’s Windows days, old machines always got pitched or stored. Giving one of those away could lead to being un-friended, or worse.
- It Just Works. Yes, it’s Apple fanboy time, but my experience has been that this statement rings mostly true. If you serve as your friend’s and family IT support team, the number of support calls you will receive will drop dramatically, possibly even approaching zero. Practically guaranteed. They will be happier because they don’t need to make another uncomfortable call. You will be happier as well. Everyone wins.
- Value. Taking all of the above together, it’s hard to beat the value at $1,299. ($1,599 for the 512GB flash model).
To be clear, I Really Like the new Macbook. A lot. For almost anyone except high-end power/pro users, it is currently the Mac to buy, in my opinion.