Recently, a rumour circulated that a new 12in iPad was in the pipeline. It wasn’t; what somebody had clearly espied wasn’t a bigger iPad, but the 12in screen sans keyboard of this, the latest MacBook. The 2015 incarnation is so thin, as well as lighter than the current 11in MacBook Air, it’s no wonder it was mistaken for an iPad. It is – simply put – the most beautiful laptop ever made. That beauty resides in a combination of the uncluttered minimalism, the feel and the functionality of a full-on luxury product – but one, and here is the great Apple paradox, that is mass produced.
I take laptops very seriously. When I buy a MacBook (every three years), it will sit in front of me for 10 to 15 hours a day for work and play. So you should know that after a week with the press sample, I have ordered the top-specification, £1,419 model. There are, however, a few things I should point out if you too are mesmerised by its loveliness.
Firstly, the new-style short-travel keyboard is not for everyone. I love it, and I type with two fingers and a chimpanzee’s lightness of touch, but you may not, so try it in store. Secondly, all that uncluttered minimalism introduces two iElephants into the room. The first is that technically this top-tier MacBook isn’t quite as fast as my three-year-old, top tier MacBook Air. I don’t see the difference being noticeable in use, though.
The bigger issue is that the new MacBook has only one tiny port, of a new type called USB-C. At my desk I usually have a charger and six USB accessories plugged in at once, so the MacBook’s new visually spare look could work out pretty inconvenient. Apple is not getting involved in making multiport hubs, but several suitably stylish ones should be out from third-party makers shortly – one of which allows you to charge the computer and attach 11 standard USB accessories to that single USB-C port. If that sounds highly unlikely to work, I’ve tried and managed to charge the MacBook and run four gadgets simultaneously, so the USB-C does seem kind of magic.
One more thing (as Steve Jobs loved to say): the MacBook is so advanced that you can’t discover its joys without help. So now there’s a downloadable instruction book called MacBook Essentials; it’s free from the Apple iBook store and well worth reading.