The new MacBook and future-shock

Some weeks it feels like timeliness isn’t one of the qualities that I am aiming for at this site. Only 17 days after the Apple event, I thought it was time to write about the new MacBook.

In an alternative universe where Mark Gurman doesn’t exist, this computer would’ve been seen as an amazing device. It is infeasibly thin and light with a great screen and tiny, tiny logic board. But we knew all about it months ago and some of the novelty has been diminished.

There are also other computers that are a similar to this tiny MacBook. Lenovo has the new Yoga 3, it is similarly thin but half a pound heavier and but with the benefit of a larger screen hi-res screen. Asus has the Zenbook UX305, which seems to have very similar specs to the Yoga. Even Dell is in this market with their new XPS 13 (also 2.6 lbs), and of course there is the Surface Pro 3 (2.4 lbs with keyboard, 1.76lbs without) or the new Chromebook Pixel (a hefty 3.3 lbs). [Sorry about the use of pounds, sometimes it’s hard to find metric weights and measures from US-centric sites.]

Apple’s MacBook is lighter than all of them (although you need to add the keyboard to the Surface Pro 3 to get it above 2 lbs). It’s is also more underpowered than most of them with the Core M processor and a single USB-C connector.

There has been a lot of noise in the tech media about the limitations of the new MacBook. Only one port, only USB-C, only Core M. Less space than a Nomad. But these complaints entirely miss the point.

This is the ultimate in thin and light laptops. It has limitations but those limitations make it what it is. These limitations are how you create a 2-pound laptop. For many people it will be too expensive or too restricted. But there will be others who will love it.

When talking to people about the Apple products announced in March there is muted excitement about the Apple Watch. Meh, they say. People are excited that it exists but don’t see any need for it in their life (yet…). The MacBook is creating real excitement amongst regular people. Maybe they can’t see the need for it in their life but given sufficient spare cash, they could probably see the need.

For many people, the Mac is now a viable replacement for a PC. In an internet connected world where a computer is used for web browsing, word processing, and storing photos and music, a Mac is just as useful as a PC and has been for years. This MacBook is perfect for many users where those everyday tasks are the only tasks performed.

It is less ideal for someone doing video editing and programming work, like me, but even for those tasks the SSD and small size are definitely a bonus, even if the Core M processor and lack of ports are not.

There will always be people who are scared by the future and will complain that change is wrong. They were loud when the iMac shipped without a floppy drive. They were there when the original MacBook Air shipped without an optical drive and only one USB drive. And they are very loud now that the new MacBook is announced with only one USB-C port that doubles as a charging port.

If this computer doesn’t work for you, don’t buy it. But don’t make a fool of yourself by claiming that it’s the worst computer ever just because it doesn’t work for you.