Review: Apple MacBook (2016)
Thursday, June 30, 2016 at 9:08AM
Gadjo Cardenas Sevilla in Apple Beat, Apps & Launches, Breaking news, Buyers Guide, Canada, Gadjo Sevilla, Lifestyle, MacBook 2016, rose gold

By Gadjo Cardenas Sevilla

The most portable Mac retains the thin and light profile that mobile workers and frequent travellers appreciate and becomes  a better vessel for many of  the upcoming macOS Sierra features.

Notebooks and laptops are some of the most important and most personal devices we have today, yet for some reason, these devices seem somewhat stunted in terms of their evolution. Sure, they’re more powerful, new 2-in-1 paradigms have made them versatile for users who want a tablet as well, but for the most part many of the updates and new features seem incremental.

Learning a lot from making iPhones and iPad, Apple created the MacBook to usher in the next phase of personal computing in the notebook and laptop form factor but nothing about the MacBook is common to what’s in the market today.

The entire CPU of the MacBook, including RAM, SSD storage and all the radios, is no bigger than a Hershey Bar, most of the lightweight enclosure is taken up by the display and by batteries. Apple discarded everything it deemed non-essential.

The trackpad emulates a button but there’s no button, the keyboard works like a keyboard but the mechanism’s been wholly redesigned. Ports and their corresponding I/O components have been deleted in favour of one true port which is the only way to get power and wired connectivity into the device. The availability of various colours is another testament to Apple’s desire to make the MacBook as personal as an iPhone or an Apple Watch. 

I’m a Space Grey man, and even like the classic silver model, but there’s a something-something about the gold and rose gold models that many will find appealing. At first, I tried covering the Rose Gold/Pink colour with one of those MacBook cases, but adding bulk defies the purpose of having such a thin and portable device so I just owned the notebook’s unique colour.

This makes the MacBook, which starts at $1,549.00,  both a showcase of Apple’s design and fabrication prowess, as well as a bold push forward to where personal computing, at least on notebooks, is likely headed. It’s not for everyone, that’s true.

There are clear and present pricing as well as performance and port barriers that are deal breakers for some buyers. But for people who spend their days mostly by writing or working on email, immersed in web services and social media, there’s just no substitute for the portability and functionality that the MacBook offers.

The 2016 Retina MacBook comes at a time when a number of PC competitors have decided to release competing products in the super thin and ultraportable market. While many of these notebooks do go thin, they add multiple USB Type-C ports as well as Intel Core i5 or even i7 processors.

The 2016 MacBook the exact form factor as we saw a year ago. Apple has added Rose Gold colour option as well as the latest Intel Core m processors and faster SSD performance and the MacBook now yield an extra hour of battery life.

I tend to switch between a 2013 MacBook Pro and the 2016 MacBook, as both of these have 8GB of RAM, I rarely find any performance bottlenecks, the MacBook is perfect for 85 % per cent of the work I need to do and while it can certainly handle iMovie editing, I’d rather use my Mac Pro for that anyway.

Users who will make the MacBook their only computer need to think what it is they need it for. This isn’t a notebook to consider for serious gaming, crunching hours of video or CAD design.

It’s a great writer’s notebook, a compact programmers tool, and a delightful personal computer that offers the most portable macOS desktop experience. Frequent travellers who have their MacBook tethered to their iPhones for data, have a winning combination of mobile office solutions that can cover most of their work on-the-go.

The MacBook will always be a divisive product. There are people that don’t get it and have a long list of complaints about the single USB port, the high price and the line’s focus on being fashionable. There are also others who swear by the MacBook's strengths, these are users who love notebooks and need a thin and light Mac that can handle most tasks, last all day and who aren’t keen on using a tablet to replicate a notebook’s functions.

For the latter group, the MacBook is a step up from last year’s model. The good news is that there are now various accessory dongles and that can add necessary functionality plus the new Intel Skylake processors give the MacBook some performance parity with MacBook Air models 

Personally, I think the MacBook hits the sweet spot between ultraportable notebook and tablet. I don’t want or need multi-touch on my computer’s display, but I do need a keyboard and the MacBook’s keyboard, is one of the best I’ve used on any device. The larger keys, the butterfly mechanism and low profile make it possible for me to type quickly and accurately.

Using the writing application Ulysses and the new MacBook, I find I have the perfect writing device that can go everywhere an iPad can go, but which offers the  hard drive space and familiarity of the full macOS experience.

There are other MacBook exclusive features that I have gotten used to. These include the large trackpad, the surprisingly loud speaker, as well as the fanless enclosure that dissipates heat effectively. I often type in bed with my notebook propped on my legs and my older MacBook Pro heats up to the point that it hurts my bare skin, the MacBook will get warm but never dangerously so.

The Retina Display is lavish and detailed while being easy on the eyes, using a connected iPhone makes it possible to have a constant internet connection and the size and lightness plus the long battery life make it a dynamite option for working on the go.

The lack of ports was initially a challenge but Apple’s AirDrop technology does a decent job of making up for that and I’ve also invested in various I/O dongles (although, I rarely use them). In the end, the MacBook is clearly an innovation focused product, one that's challenging the norms of mobile computing while pushing many of Apple's engineering and design blueprints forward.

Conclusion


For 2016, the MacBook gets a more capable processor, an extra hour of battery life and more performance parity with the MacBook Air line. Apple has retained the single USB Type-C port and the 420p Facetime camera is still quite low-end on a device that's touted as anything but. 

The most portable Mac retains the thin and light profile that mobile workers and frequent travellers appreciate and becomes  a better vessel for many of  the upcoming macOS Sierra features.

Ratings: 4.5 out of 5

Article originally appeared on Reviews, News and Opinion with a Canadian Perspective (http://www.canadianreviewer.com/).
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