12-inch MacBook review roundup: The future of the notebook, but USB-C, keys and speed are issues

12-inch MacBook 2015

We originally reported that Apple was preparing to release a redesigned 12-inch MacBook in January and the company made the device official during its Spring Forward event. The 12-inch MacBook doesn’t go on sale until tomorrow, April 10th, but reviews have already started pouring in today.

The all-new 12-inch MacBook has been completely redesigned and is the thinnest MacBook Apple offers. The laptop sports a 2304×1440 resolution display and is just 13.1mm thick at its thickest point. To get the laptop this thin, Apple made compromises and those compromises have made many potential buyers worry. The new MacBook only features a single USB-C port, with Apple encouraging users to use adapters to fulfill their other needs. Performance concerns also arose when benchmarks allegedly emerged from the laptop showing performance on-par with that of a 2011 MacBook Air. You can read our roundup of all the 12-inch MacBook reviews below:

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Angela Ahrendts to retail staff: Encourage customers to buy Apple Watch & MacBook online

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Apple may be revamping its storefronts to promote the Apple Watch, but it won’t be encouraging you to buy one there. Retail head Angela Ahrendts has sent a memo to Apple Store staff asking them to suggest customers use the online store to order both the Apple Watch and 12-inch MacBook. The memo reportedly reflects the fact that store inventory of both products will be very limited when the MacBook goes on sale on Friday and the Apple Watch follows two weeks later.

Ahrendts’ two-paragraph memo aims to put a positive spin on the fact that many customers are likely to be disappointed when trying to purchase the new products, suggesting that pointing them to online purchase will “make their day” …  Read more

How-To: Choose the best stand or desktop mount for Apple’s iPads and Macs

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Apple currently sells more “laptop” than “desktop” Macs, but in reality, most Macs will be used substantially on flat surfaces — desks, tables, and sometimes nightstands. iPads are more lap-friendly, but also tend to get used upright, particularly for watching videos and access in the kitchen. Since I’ve spent a lot of time testing Apple device stands and mounts, I wanted to share what I’ve learned with you, so you can choose the solution that best suits your Mac, iPad, or both at the same time.

Below, I’ve hand-picked options for different types of users, starting with passive MacBook stands such as Twelve South’s BookArc for MacBook Pro ($50). Made from Mac-matching aluminum with gray rubber inserts, BookArc is designed to safely hold a MacBook Pro upright so that its ports and SD card reader are easily accessible. Twelve South also sells a smaller version of BookArc for the MacBook Air, a bigger BookArc for the Mac Pro, and an earthy version called BookArc mod for fans of wood. That’s a rarity, as most Mac and iPad stands are designed to match Apple’s products, as you’ll see inside…

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Geekbench results from 12-inch MacBook show similar performance to 2011 MacBook Air

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Even though the device is not yet available, an early unboxing gave us a hands-on look at Apple’s upcoming 12-inch Retina MacBook this morning, and now Geekbench results (cached) from the device have emerged giving us a look at what kind of performance we can expect from it. As we predicted, the Geekbench process tested the performance of the entry-level 12-inch Retina MacBook, which packs an Intel Core M-5Y31 processor clocked at 1.1GHz with Turbo Boost to 2.4GHz.

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12-inch MacBook gets video unboxing in Vietnam ahead of April 10th release [Gallery]

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The 12-inch Retina MacBook may not be available in stores yet, but Vietnam-based blog Tinhte has already gotten its hands on the next-gen machine. A video posted to YouTube (embedded below) shows the MacBook being unboxed, though it doesn’t seem to be a shipping model, as it won’t boot into OS X. You can see the full unboxing video below, along with a gallery of photos of the computer itself and the accessories that ship with it, including the new charger and quick start guide.

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Review: Kanex’s Thunderbolt 2 Express Dock is a handy MacBook hub with middle-of-pack features, pricing

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As I’ve said before, Thunderbolt 2 docks are a really great idea for MacBook users. Before now, there were three major options: Belkin’s $300 Thunderbolt 2 Express HD DockElgato’s $220 Thunderbolt 2 Dock (review), and CalDigit’s $226 Thunderbolt Station 2 (review). All three are designed for the same purpose — to connect a bunch of peripherals (including hard drives, a monitor, and audio cables) to your Mac with one Thunderbolt 2 cable — and they all have the same core peripheral ports, with small differences to set them apart from one another.

This month, Kanex is entering the fray with the Thunderbolt 2 Express Dock ($250), which looks a lot like Belkin’s dock but is closer in price to Elgato’s and CalDigit’s. Aluminum on the top and bottom with a black plastic core, it has a front-mounted USB 3.0 port with two more on the back, and comes bundled with a power adapter and 3.3-foot Thunderbolt cable. While it doesn’t stand out in any major way from its earlier rivals, it’s competently executed and attractively designed, with some modest feature tweaks that prospective buyers should know about…

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Review: Swapping MagSafe for SnapFit, BatteryBox adds 60Wh of portable power to MacBook Airs, Pros

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Thanks to Apple’s patent on the MagSafe connectors used in MacBook Airs and Pros, the list of third-party external batteries for MacBooks previously began with Hyper’s HyperJuice/HyperJuice 2 and ended with Lenmar’s ChugPlug — not much of a variety. Apple’s legal department chased Hyper for attaching harvested MagSafe connectors to its batteries, and Lenmar chose a workaround, sending ChugPlug’s power indirectly though an Apple wall adapter. Neither solution was ideal. It took until now for a completely different third solution to appear: BatteryBox ($220) from Gbatteries Energy.

BatteryBox is the first MacBook power option I’ve tested that doesn’t require either MagSafe or an Apple wall adapter to function. Since the developers went out of their way to create something that won’t run afoul of Apple’s legal team, there’s absolutely nothing Mac-like about its brick-like rectangular design. And it’s not cheap, priced between the two HyperJuices and higher than ChugPlug, which can now be had for only $100. But it works, adding a 60-watt-hour additional battery to the 38-95-watt-hour cells already inside MacBook Airs and Pros. So if you’re on the road without access to a power outlet and need to add hours of additional runtime to your Apple laptop, this is a viable alternative….

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Inklet plug-in adds pressure-sensitive drawing on new Force Touch MacBook trackpad

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Ten One Design has released an updated version of its drawing plug-in, Inklet, adding pressure-sensitive drawing on the new Force Touch trackpad in all Mac drawing apps, including Photoshop, Lightroom, Aperture and Illustrator. The new trackpad was introduced by Apple on the 12-inch MacBook and 13-inch MacBook Pro with Retina display.

This means MacBook owners with the new trackpad will enjoy enhanced, highly-accurate pressure sensitivity when drawing on the trackpad whether drawing with a stylus or with a finger.

Inklet for Mac adds an icon to your menubar that you click when you want to draw on your trackpad in your chosen app …  Read more

Feature: Becoming the Apple stereotype of writing a novel on a MacBook in Starbucks

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Of all the stereotypes we hear about Apple owners, there is perhaps none so enduring as the guy writing a novel on his MacBook in Starbucks. Well, one November, I became that guy. Fast-forward a few years, and I have a 110,000-word technothriller ready to unleash on an unsuspecting public.

I’d had an idea for a novel years earlier, but I’d initially done what almost everyone does when they have an idea for a novel: absolutely nothing. The gap between having an idea and having a completed novel seemed too enormous to contemplate, especially when it would have to be combined with, you know, working for a living.

But then someone told me about something called NaNoWriMo: National Novel Writing Month. Every November, around 400,000 people across the USA, UK, Canada and a number of other countries around the world attempt to write 50,000 words of a novel. I decided to become one of them–using Apple technology, naturally …  Read more

Happy Hour Podcast 006 | New Apple Watch details, a controversial Steve Jobs flick, and the future of USB-C with Apple

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Welcome to Happy Hour 006. In this episode Zac, Seth, and Benjamin discuss new Apple Watch details and wrap up the need-to-know information, a new controversial Steve Jobs documentary, and the future of USB-C. How will it affect future iOS devices and Macs? The Happy Hour podcast is available for download on iTunes and through our dedicated RSS feed…

Click here to subscribe on iTunes or listen to the episode embedded above.

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