Technology continues to March forward each year providing transformations in new levels of power, performance, conveniences in computing. 2015 surely is no different. Apple will soon make available a familiar but yet radically different design for the computing paradigm. Apple’s new dictate for computing will become either a love or hate situation. As you might guess I am referring to Apple’s soon-to-be released Macbook next month.
So what are the issues? And, why a love or hate sit
uation? Let me first provide a brief overview of what this new product is about.
- Apple introduces a brand new slick, svelte design. At 13.1 mm thin, this new MacBook is actually thinner then the current MacBook Air, not to mention the ‘real estate’ footprint is also considerably reduced. The keyboard extends right to the edges of the case.
- The Macbook weighs in at less then 1 Kg. This is light! It is an awesome accomplishment, to be able to carry around a complete computing device and yet not even been a full kilogram. You might be more willing to grab it for on-the-go computing.
- Port simplicity
- One single port! You can’t really get any simpler then that. Multiple ports go by the way side. So does the magsafe port for power, the HDMI port, the standard USB ports, all of them! The Macbook sports one single, new and emerging, USB-C connector. This connector is very similar in size and functionality to the current lightning connector used in iPhones and iPads. It can be inserted either direction as well. It is only a tad larger compared with the size of the lightning connector.
- Power longevity
- Because it employs the latest Intel Broadwell-M processor, and it’s unique performance / battery enhance features, one can expect to have about 10+ hours of available use. This should satisfy most people that will want to do on-the-road computing, assuming that most people won’t need to sit in front of a computer screen for more then 10 hours in a day.
- Retina Display
- The display will be awesome and easily trumps the Macbook Air in this respect. To have a 2304 x 1440 retina display screen, in such a compact, slender, form factor that makes the display vastly improved over the Macbook Air which is Apple’s one line up still stuck at non-retina resolutions.
- Doing away with the internal fan, and employing only solid state components, the Macbook Air operates completely silent. This, along with it’s super slender profile, it might be regarded as an iPad with attached keyboard and OS-X support.
Love it or Hate it ?
Whether you will love or hate Apple’s new definition for computing going forward comes down to two fundamental issues:
- (1) objectives (need, desires, wants)
- (2) budget
What tasks do you want to accomplish? Do you desire extreme portability? Do you have the budget to purchase it?
This is surely not a Macbook Air as it trumps the Macbook in terms of power and performance. And, it surely is not a Macbook Pro. Apple is (re)introducing a lineup name it has since put to pasture for awhile now. That is, the venerable, entry-level ‘Macbook’. It could possibly be regarding as an iPad ‘Pro’ with a keyboard attached and supporting OS-X. If the intention is to just accomplish basic computing tasks like browsing, email, or perhaps photo edits, the new Macbook should be quite adequate. If you plan to do video editing, DNA modelling, run VMs of Windows, etc., this is NOT the machine. The Macbook Air, especially the one just announced with bumped up specs, will be a better choice although without retina display.
Another consideration and perhaps more important, is the lone, single port design. Also, that lone port is the new, emerging USB-C connector. For those unaware, USB-C is the future-cum-present of USB connectivity. Apple is taking a risk (as with many things) by being an early adopter and incorporating this port into the design of it’s about-to-be-released Macbook. Apple is not alone. Google has also incorporated the same USB-C, x2, in it’s latest incarnation of the Chromebook, Pixel 2.
One other cool thing about USB Type C is that it can support other types of communications and connection technologies both natively and via adapters. So, potentially you’ll be able to use a Type-C port to connect your computer to a monitor, to a wired Internet connection or to older devices and drives that use ports like FireWire or Thunderbolt. And it’s backward compatible, so you can – with the help of adapters – use it to connect to your older USB-based gadgets, although you won’t get the same superfast speeds as you’d get with newer ones.
There are multi-function port adapters. The port can also transmit power, up to 100 watts. So, even the current Macbook Pro with it’s 85W charger can be easily charged over the new USB-C protocol. It will support video out to external 4K displays utilizing a USB-C to HDMI adapter. The basic function of supporting I/O to external devices of course goes without saying. At 10Gbps, It will is superior to current USB3 being twice as fast. And having the ability to support multiple functionality, means USB-C has the potential to reduce the various ‘spaghetti’ cable entanglement we all know so well. Having such versatility via a single connector / protocol design is quite awesome.
But, a single port design is a problem, or inhibition to say the least. It means, you will only be able to do one function at a time, unless you opt for multi-functioned adapters. They exist but Apple, will charge a premium to get one. For example, a USB-C to HDMI, USB-C cable is going to cost an added $79.00 USD just for a converter adapter. Being that USB-C will see rapid adoption, I believe the price of these converter adapters will become available at much more reasonable pricing. Nevertheless, having such a svelte, slender design at the outset, only to become encumbered by adapters, sort of defeats the purpose of getting the Macbook in the first place.
I intend to sit on the fence as I do with most first generation products and wait it out. I will gauge market reaction. I will watch market reaction. Also, considering that I want a product that can also handle video post production work, virtual machines of Windows, Ubuntu Linux, etc., I am hesitant to spring for this new Macbook. I have a gut feeling Apple will release a Macbook Pro in the fall or in time for Christmas that will not only incorporate multiple ports of the new USB-C connector, but will also be based on the next generation Intel Skylake processor. But for those who are attracted to portability, slenderness, lightweight design, and their computing needs are basic, then this upcoming Macbook might be just your ticket. They will be available in the same colors as the current crop of iPhones. Space Grey, Silver, Aluminum. You will be able to check them out in person this coming April 10th (2015 for the record).
Visit Apple’s website dedicated to this product for more detailed information.