What does a reinvention look like? If you’re the new MacBook: thinner everything, from display to keys to touch pad, plus re-engineered innards that operate smoother and more efficiently than any MacBook before. Oh and one more thing – you come in gold.
One of the major announcements at Monday’s Apple event was the new MacBook, which chief executive officer Tim Cook says Apple entirely “reinvented.”
He began by saying Apple engineers tweaked nearly every aspect of the former MacBook to bring it to the next level. And by "everything," he meant just about everything. Did you know your keyboard needed retuning? Or that your trackpad could add an extra click? Apple engineers are on it. Here’s a look at the key updates Apple made to its newest MacBook.
Measuring in at 0.51 inches thick, the latest MacBook is 24 percent thinner than its predecessor, and weighs just two pounds, making it the lightest MacBook ever made. This was done by downsizing and re-tooling pretty much everything from bezels to batteries.
Using a slow-motion video of someone typing, Apple executive Phil Schiller pointed out that over time the current “scissor” mechanism that helps keys spring back up once hit can lead to wobbly keys that wear down over time. So Apple entirely changed the mechanism, switching to a “butterfly” spring that distributes the weight of a finger hitting the key more evenly, which will ideally lead to longer keypad life and more accurate typing.
Each key is now four times more stable and 40 percent thinner than before, but each key cap is 17 percent larger, says Apple. Each key also has an individual LED light, allowing for brighter typing in dim lighting. The bezels next to the keys are almost entirely gone, meaning the MacBook's width is about that of a full-size keyboard.
Apple also created a new track pad. The track pad has layered sensitivity, so now you can click anywhere on the track pad, but the force of the click is what determines what features the track pad unlocks. Previously, if you wanted to click something to reveal further information, say to double-check event information on Apple's calendar, you would press the bottom half of the track pad to click. Now, you can press anywhere on the track pad with a little extra oomph, and that will select what you need – Apple calls this “force touch pad.” You can adjust the sensitivity of the pad as well, depending on how hard or soft you tend to click. The track pad will also have tactile response, meaning it will vibrate in accordance with what is on the screen.
One of the toughest things about trimming a product's size is how to save space while improving functionality. The device features Intel's Core M processor running up to 2.9 GHz, but uses only 5 watts of power. It also includes 8GB of RAM and 256 gigabytes of storage, as well as 802.11ac and Bluetooth 4.0 so the device can be largely wireless.
All this fits in what Apple says is its densest logic board ever, about 67 percent smaller than its predecessor. How did it trim down? It no longer has a fan, which took away a lot of the bulk and means the machine will run almost silently. (No word on how the machine will handle heat now that there's no fan.) Apple used the opened up space to pack the MacBook full of batteries, including a new “contoured, terraced” battery that fits to the thin shape of the device. Apple says this means the new MacBook can run for 10 hours of iTunes video or nine hours of Web browsing.
When you do plug in, the MacBook connects through a tiny USB-C cable that handles connections to mouse, larger screens, and power cables. This all-in-one jack is great for Apple's slim design, but could be a hassle if you like to attach multiple peripherals.
Display and efficiency
The new MacBook has a 12-inch 2304x1440 pixel "Retina" screen that is 30 percent more efficient than before. In fact, Apple says this is its most energy-conscious notebook ever, with an Energy Star label.
Aesthetics and price
Yes, you can now get a MacBook in gold. The exterior is all-metal but will come in classic silver, space gray (black), and a gold tone, very similar to the gold debuted on the iPhone 5S. The new MacBook starts at $1,299, and the next level up with extra storage and power will go for $1,599. It will begin shipping April 10.
What about the other MacBooks?
Those get an upgrade too. Both the MacBook Air and 13-inch MacBook Pro with Retina will get faster processors, and the 13-inch MacBook Pro will get the new force touch track pad. The updated versions of both MacBooks will ship immediately.