Open up the box up and just like with numerous Apple machines we’ve seen in the past, you’ll quickly see a sleek metal thing sitting in front of you. This time, however, there’s a difference, with either a choice of silver, gold, or space grey available, making your decision a little more difficult.
We chose the space grey just to be different, and because gold doesn’t suit this reviewer specifically. Plus space grey has a look and feel of gunmetal grey, and that’s a look and style we just mesh with.
Out of the box and into your hand, the typically professional built-to-survive look and feel that Apple generally impresses into every product it makes is still here, and possibly more so because the MacBook is such a thin and sleek piece of kit, with a slightly thinner take on what the MacBook Air has going for it.
There’s the slope down the side, the severely thin triangular edge, with virtually no ports in this machine, sort of like the first generation of MacBook Air, only even less so.
Specifically, there’s one port for your headphones, and one for everything else, and we’ll get to this later on, but this one port — the USB Type C port — is a new standard aimed at making charging and data transfer faster and more uniform across the board.
Start using the system and you’ll find a surprisingly decent system performance, which is curious because we anticipated that it wouldn’t be stellar, but we’re surprised it’s as good as it is, only exhibiting a few slowdowns when we started to overload the overall system.
We need to note that this isn’t a high-end system, and some might want to see the MacBook as a slightly more revamped luxury edition of a netbook, because it’s not far off. Granted, the Intel Core M inside is a little more potent than an Intel Atom system-on-a-chip processor, but not by much, since this is — like the Atom — a processor made for mobile use (hence the “M” in the chip’s name).
As a result, this isn’t your Photoshopping computer, nor is it really made for any games or graphically intensive work; rather, it’s the opposite, made for people who like to work on office-y activities, such as writing documents, dealing with spreadsheets, checking email, surfing the web, and a bit of coding if you’re into that.
And if you’re into any of those things, the MacBook will totally suffice, providing solid performance for things that don’t try to tax the processor too much.
In our test, we were able to run note writing app Evernote, book writing app Scrivener, and about ten tabs in Google Chrome before we started to see a bit of resistance and slow downs when we tried to scroll, and these weren’t terribly heavy.
Start to throw more apps and more tabs into the machine and it’ll likely respond with some more slowdowns, though at one point over the weekend, we were able to keep a few more apps running as well, and beyond a bit of lag in switching into each app — slowdowns lasting only a few seconds — the machine handled itself fine.
Overall, better performance than we expected, but try not to tax the machine significantly with the sort of things you might do on a MacBook Pro, or your experience with the super slim MacBook may not be such a nice one.
Then there’s the keyboard, which is interesting, and not just because Apple has changed the font it uses for the letters (yes, we noticed).
It’s more than that.
For starters, it’s flat, or practically flush with the metal on the computer casing, which is unusual for Apple — hey, it’s unusual for any computer company — because normally there’s a bit of raised space, not much, that reveals the keys to be a little higher than the surface they sit on.
But the MacBook is about keeping everything slim and thin, and because this product is about going for a new level of those adjectives, Apple has had to reinvent the keyboard mechanism, switching from the regular and taller scissor mechanism under the keys to a totally new butterfly mechanism which has less height and does pretty much the exact same thing.
Essentially, it translated to less height, but still enough travel to work with your fingers, and if you’re used to a good keyboard, you’ll find the result here works a charm.
The keys have also been redesigned to be bigger with less space between the lettering on the island-style keyboard (known as “chiclet” to some), and Apple has even matched the size of the regular wireless keyboard, providing the 13 inch keyboard in a 12 inch space, which also helps, as it means you don’t have to relearn everything.
We need to note that Apple makes some of the best keyboards in the world, and we always enjoy our time typing away on Apple computers, as the company tends to throw in some of the best hardware from this department.
In fact, laptop keyboards generally rate best from Apple and Lenovo, so it’s nice to see that Apple hasn’t dropped the ball here, even with this new design.