Apple MacBook: Are 12-inches enough for the modern digital nomad? - Stuff

Apple MacBook: Are 12-inches enough for the modern digital nomad?

Right, Apple, we have to talk about this naming thing. It was kinda cute when you started with the iPod and the iPhone but now you’re just getting weird. There’s been a MacBook for a while, and a MacBook Pro and Air and… now we have this thing — the new 12-inch MacBook, which is officially just known as the Apple MacBook.

There’s just a lot of explanation involved in telling anyone — including customers — that this MacBook is the super-thin 12-inch new MacBook that uses Intel’s Core M processors, a teeny tiny motherboard and a whole great big chunk of RAM to get its speed on. We’re used to shorter designations than that. But… it doesn’t change the fact that Apple have made made one mighty impressive portable piece of hardware here.

Sleek Lines And No Weight

Macbook FrontOkay, now that we’ve gotten over Apple giving their products inconvenient names (Seriously? Apple Watch? Do you call your dog, Dog, too? Okay, we’ll stop), let’s take a closer look at the Apple MacBook. As mentioned, it’s a 12-inch sliver of nothing that feels like it’ll take a few seconds drift down to the ground like a page of foolscap if you drop it.

Okay, perhaps not that featherweight but it’s light enough that you’ll forget that you’ve brought it with you. That’s literal, too, because 920 grams isn’t a lot for a laptop. It wasn’t that long ago that it was average for a tablet. There’s still somehow space for a large Apple trackpad, done the way only Apple knows how, and the keyboard — which you’re going to either love or hate.

There are only two ports to speak of, a headphone jack on the right hand side (when facing the screen) and the USC Type-C connector on the left which acts as charge space and general dogsbody, though most likely it’s going to connect to a hub. Unless you’re really fond of swapping cables around.

Every Bit In Place

Macbook EdgeIt weighs less than a kilo, it’s only 13.2mm thick at its thickest point and has a 12-inch, 2,304 x 1,440 resolution screen that looks absolutely gorgeous. So far the Apple MacBook sounds like it’s verging on being the perfect laptop (for a specific purpose, that is). What else is hiding in there?

The model that we stole from our editor and publisher Toby when he wasn’t looking came with the Intel Core M-5Y51 processor which runs at 1.2GHz. RAM and storage are 8GB and 512GB respectively — the latter in solid-state form — and, since Apple put this particular combination together, you know it works faster than expected.

The Performer

Macbook KB ActualJust how much faster? We roped in the standard benchmarking tools to find out. We ran this little thing through Geekbench 3 and came back with scores of 2,400 (single-core) and 4778 (multi-core). If you were to stack the Apple MacBook up against the Asus Zenbook UX305, which nearly matches it spec-for-spec, you’ll find that Apple’s hardware has posted the better score. We’ll be doing a proper comparison soon, but the MacBook’s better performance might have something to do with the fact that it’s not running Windows 8.1. As usual, OS X just breezes along like it was born to this configuration.

Another area where the MacBook performs is the battery — you’ll scrape a full work-day of constant use with enough battery left over for someone to muck around watching videos in the car in traffic for an hour. If you’re driving this is still possibly, but strongly discouraged. The MacBook Air’s battery is still better, but that one’s not packing the MacBook’s excellent (and higher-resolution) display.

Where you might find the performance somewhat wooden is the trackpad and keyboard. The trackpad is great, though there’s almost no tactile feedback, a ‘problem’ only in the sense that I’m used to a bit of give while clicking. The same is true of the keyboard; only the lightest of touches is needed to get a key through its full travel range. For someone used to thumping a mechanical keyboard with glee to hear the noises it makes, this can be unnerving.

Verdict

If you had to pick a portable PC for generalised office work, internet use and video, you have to cast an appreciative eye in Apple’s direction. They’ve combined a lengthy battery, more-than-acceptable performance (unless you’re looking to do some gaming) and a splendid screen into a single laptop — one that is less than 1.5cm thick and under 1kg in weight. This is the laptop for the digital nomad who spends more time untethered than they do plugged into peripherals or desk bound. It’s the future of the notebook, only it’s here right now. And it’s only going to get better.

Good

  • Apple's screen
  • It's barely there (in a good way)
  • Battery lasts ages

Bad

  • Keyboard might throw you
  • That single USB-C port could get irritating
9

Amazing

Stuff South Africa's online editor and print assistant editor, Brett Venter has churned out more words on more titles than most journalists will in a career. He's kind of shy.

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