Apple's New Super-Thin 12" Retina Macbook Uses One USB-C Port for Everything
If you've joked about Apple removing all the ports on a computer sometime in the future, they've just about done it.
You might be wondering why every Apple announcement gets some attention here, but creatives still flock to Apple in crazy numbers (plenty of NFS staff included). Unfortunately, that also means we're likely to deal with whatever insane thing Apple has come up with for you to actually use the device. Besides the new Apple watch, which will start at a "sort-of affordable" $350 and go all the way up to a "don't even bother" $17,000 18-Karat Gold version, they also announced new computers today, refreshed Macbook Airs and refreshed 13" Macbook Pro, and a new 12" Macbook with a fanless design, full-size keyboard, and 2304 x 1440 Retina display.
Here's The Verge with a hands-on the new 12" model:
And the specs:
- 12" IPS LED Screen with a resolution of 2304 x 1440 (16:10)
- 1.1GHz up to 1.3GHz dual-core Intel Core M processor
- 8GB of 1600MHz LPDDR3 onboard memory
- 256GB or 512GB PCIe-based onboard flash storage
- Intel HD Graphics 5300 (Supports up to 3840 x 2160 on an External Display)
- USB-C Port for Charging
- USB-C Port Has Native Displayport 1.2, Can Also Have VGA, HDMI, USB 3.1 with Optional Adapters
- 802.11ac Wi-Fi wireless networking;IEEE 802.11a/b/g/n compatible
- Bluetooth 4.0 wireless technology
- 480p FaceTime camera
- Speakers/Dual Microphones/Headphone/optical digital audio output
- Battery Life: 9 Hours Wireless web & 10 Hours Movie Playback (75% Screen brightness)
- Dimensions: 0.14–0.52" x 11.04" x 7.74"
- Weight: 2.03 lbs.
- Silver/Gold/Space Gray Colors
- Availability: April 10th, 2015
- Price: $1,300 - $1,600
The screen is a huge upgrade from previous models in this range, and while it has an unusual resolution, at least it's at the level of full HD or beyond. The computer is also capable of sending out 3840 x 2160 to a UHD monitor, but it's unclear how well 4K videos are going to play considering the processing power has been lowered to account for the thin and fanless design.
This computer really is the new Macbook Air (since it's thinner and lighter), though they've gone with the simpler name likely because it's the flagship device for the lower end (Macbook Pro is still for the beefier heavy-duty laptops). While the new computer seems incredibly thin, they've taken out a lot of the basic functionality. Whatever Apple does, they are sure to make people go a little crazy, and this new model has just one USB port that doubles as a charging port. If you rarely need to plug anything in this seems like a great option, but doing literally anything else requires an accessory cable, and if you don't want to carry around a bunch of those, it will cost you $80 for one with HDMI, USB 3.0, and USB-C.
Unfortunately the move to USB-C as the charging connector means it loses its Magsafe functionality. If the cable gets yanked in the wrong way, it's not going to just pop out harmlessly like other Macbook models. It's unfortunate that they couldn't have built in the functionality to one of the breakout cables, but it will be just like plugging in your iPhone or iPad (and in fact the new power cable is just a USB-C that plugs into a big brick like the iPad does). The one positive is that it will lower the cost when a cable breaks, as you'll only have to replace the USB cable, and not the whole thing.
Apple is clearly trying to innovate in this space, but as always many of us will complain about the changes and still move to the new computer anyway. In their quest to go ultra-thin they've removed functionality out of the box, but if you're a user who is mostly surfing the web and has wireless peripherals (and can edit or do whatever else from the main hard drive), you probably won't care that it can't do much without the breakout cable.
As far as video is concerned, I don't expect this to fare all that well for editing, especially as the clock speed is pretty low, and it's the lower-end Intel Core M. It will probably be fine for light video duties, but it's going to be a laptop more for light users or people who want something easy to carry around, but need the functionality over an iPad. The screen should be nice for watching videos at least.
Other Macbook Updates
As far as the 11" and 13" Macbook Air, they've all been upgraded to newer generation Intel processors maxing out at a 2.2GHz dual-core i7. They've also got updated graphics and both got Thunderbolt 2. Here's a quote from Apple:
Today the popular 13-inch MacBook Pro with Retina display, 11-inch MacBook Air and 13-inch MacBook Air all received significant upgrades,” said Philip Schiller, Apple’s senior vice president of Worldwide Marketing. “The 13-inch MacBook Pro has been updated with the latest processors, more powerful graphics, faster flash, longer battery life and the all-new Force Touch trackpad. We’re also bringing the latest processors and graphics, and faster Thunderbolt 2 to the 11-inch and 13-inch MacBook Air, as well as up to two times faster flash to the 13-inch MacBook Air.
The updated 13-inch MacBook Pro with Retina display also features fifth generation Intel Core processors up to 3.1 GHz, with Turbo Boost Speeds up to 3.4 GHz, faster integrated Intel Iris Graphics 6100, and flash storage that is up to two times faster, with throughput up to 1.6GBps.* In addition, the 13-inch MacBook Pro with Retina display now delivers up to 10 hours of battery life and up to 12 hours of iTunes® movie playback.**
The updated 11-inch and 13-inch MacBook Air now feature fifth generation Intel Core processors up to 2.2 GHz, with Turbo Boost speeds up to 3.2 GHz, integrated Intel HD Graphics 6000, and Thunderbolt 2, delivering up to 20Gbps, twice the bandwidth of the previous generation. The 13-inch MacBook Air also features faster flash storage that is up to two times faster than the previous generation.
Also the 13" Retina Macbook Pro battery life has increased to 10 hours. All of the refreshed Macbook Air/Pro models are shipping right now in the Apple store.