The new MacBook

Apple’s latest laptop debuts April 10. It’s not a MacBook Air or a MacBook Pro, although those lines continue on. The new laptop is simply a MacBook. It has the Retina Display like a MacBook Pro but it’s much smaller. Even slimmer and lighter than the MacBook Air.

If you don’t need a Retina Display, a MacBook Air is still a good choice. If you're expecting to do heavy-duty photo or video work or like a larger display size, you’ll probably want a MacBook Pro. But if you’re looking for the thinnest, lightest laptop that’s still powerful enough to do real work, a MacBook is for you.

The new MacBook is an engineering marvel. It comes in 3 colors (including gold) and tapers from ½” at the back to about ⅛” at the front edge. It weighs in at just 2 pounds. And it sells for just $1299. One more thing will probably surprise you: there’s only one port. As in… one… single… port. It’s used for connecting everything from drives to displays, even charging the laptop.

The reason the MacBook has only one port isn’t because Apple is doing it on the cheap. It’s a sign of the millions Apple poured into making this design possible. Apple is taking everything they’ve learned from building incredibly small and dense iPhones and applying it to a laptop.

The logic board that powers this laptop is so small it could fit in an iPhone, although there wouldn’t be any place to put the battery that drives that beautiful 12 inch Retina Display. 

Compare the new logic board to the MacBook Air’s board (already much smaller than competing notebooks) and you’ll appreciate Apple obsession with miniaturization.

Apple is driving technology in a new direction with this product. Most cheap Windows laptops are still huge hulking pieces of plastic. Meanwhile, Microsoft insists their Surface tablets can convert into something sorta like a laptop. But with Apple it’s no compromise. You get a durable aluminum laptop that can run any Mac software (and Windows with Parallels). Not just multitouch but an innovative Force Touch trackpad. Keys that are actually bigger than any other laptop. Even the battery lasts all day. (Those black things that fill the interior of the MacBook? All batteries.)

With the latest 802.11ac wi-fi and Bluetooth, you’ll rarely need to connect peripherals. And when you do, you’ll use the most versatile port ever created: a tiny USB-C connection. That’s not some crazy Apple idea. It’s the new worldwide standard. LaCie already has hard drives with this port, and it’s likely to replace the mini and micro USB on most small devices from every manufacturer. And it’s backward compatible, so all the billions of USB devices out there today will work with the right cable or adapter.

USB-C has some distinct advantages. It’s as fast as the original Thunderbolt, and can handle hard drives, printers, external displays and networking. And it’s bidirectional – not only is the plug is reversible, but the same port can charge a connected device (like an iPhone or Watch), but even the laptop itself when you connect it to a power outlet.

Although there’s only one port on the MacBook: you can divide that port into multiple ports with an adapter. Apple will sell one adapter that connects USB-C, traditional USB-A, and a display. That’s one little adapter to connect all of them simultaneously.

This new port may stir controversy, but it reminds me of 1998 when many people made fun of the first iMac. “Where is the floppy? Where are the parallel and SCSI ports? What the heck is a USB? What a toy!”

Some people are so used to “bigger is better” that they can’t get their head around the fact that the world has just changed.

As usual, Apple is the one who changed it. It will just take a few years before the rest of the world catches on.

Check out the short design video that explain the groundbreaking technology in the new MacBook. And two great articles on USB-C, from arstechnica and CNET.

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