The new MacBook: A wafer-thin wonder
THE first thing you notice about the new MacBook is how ridiculously thin it is.
When it first arrived, I thought Apple had sent me an iPad to review by mistake.
Opening it up, you almost feel like it might snap because it is so light and wafer thin.
This is one ultra-portable notebook - something designed for the road warrior who doesn't want a whole lot of extra baggage - or a standard USB port.
The new MacBook is just 13mm thick and weighs 920 grams (less than a kilo), compared with 17mm and 1.35 kilograms for the MacBook Air and more than 1.1kg for the Surface Pro 3 with its keyboard.
It features a 12 inch screen with 2304 x 1440 pixel resolution which is more than adequate for surfing the web, watching videos and doing the odd bit of work.
The standout feature is the new Force Touch track pad - especially in the super cool gold colour.
It is an engineering masterstroke.
The full-size keyboard is exceptional to use with generous button sizes.
The keys use a new butterfly mechanism instead of less accurate scissor mechanism.
The keyboard also features a brilliant backlit display which is superb for night-time use.
There is LED under each key. These LEDs are calibrated for uniform brightness, so every key and character looks clear and sharp, with minimal light around the keycap.
The keys have almost no travel when you press them.
But I find them very easy to use - and probably quicker to type on.
So reviews have suggested they left the user a little 'cold' but I didn't find it much of an issue.
The track pad is the real innovation star, though.
It uses the same taptic engine technology featured on the screen on Apple's Watch.
When the MacBook is turned off, there is absolutely no give at all in the track pad.
But once it is powered, it responds in a way that you think you are physically pressing it down, even though you are not.
This is done through electromagnetic effect that adds vibrations to the pad to make you think it is moving.
Depending on how hard you press, you can trigger different responses within your applications.
For example, if you are watching a movie, you can quickly speed up the fast forward by pressing it harder.
The technology is such that you could 'feel' when you have lined up an element in photo or image editing. You can also use it in drawing or painting applications to put down thicker lines by pressing harder.
The MacBook, which starts at $1799, is powered by a 1.1GHz Intel Core M processor with 4MB shared L3 cache. It is configurable to 1.3GHz dual-core Intel Core M processor (Turbo Boost up to 2.9GHz) with 4MB shared L3 cache.
It has 8GB of 1600MHz LPDDR3 on-board memory with either a 256GB or 512GB flash storage.
Interestingly it is the first Mac notebook ever without a fan.
Since the Intel Core M chip draws only 5 watts of power and therefore generates less heat, Apple says no fan or heat pipe is required.
It also has no standard USB port - instead just a 3.5mm headphone port and a USB-C port - which can connect to optional adaptors to do things like connect with standard USB or HDMI for video.
Apple believes that with more people using Cloud-based servers to store their stuff, you won't need all the plug-ins and cables.
Some won't be convinced on that one.