MacBook Overview Updated April 11, 2017

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December 2010 - April 2017


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Originally released April 10, 2015 and last refreshed April 19, 2016, the all-new MacBook ($1,299 and up from the Apple Store) is the thinnest and lightest Mac laptop ever made. It’s also the first MacBook to be offered in four color options: classic silver, space gray, gold and rose gold.

Currently offered only with a 12″ screen, it represents the future of Apple laptops. Following a refresh in April 2016, it now includes a 2304×1440 (226ppi) Retina display, 8GB of RAM and up to 512GB of SSD storage, coupled with ultra-low-power Intel Core M processors. The base model includes a 1.1GHz dual-core Intel Core M chip with an Intel HD Graphics 515 GPU; and upgraded models offer to 1.2GHz dual-core Intel Core m5 or 1.3GHz dual-core Intel Core m7 processor with Turbo Boost up to 3.1GHz.

With a redesigned chassis that’s only slightly wider than the keyboard, the new MacBook’s 0.14″–0.52″ thickness was achieved in part by dropping all external connectivity ports save for a 3.5mm headphone port and a new reversible USB-C port, which can be used for power, data connectivity, and video output. Most of the MacBook’s connectivity is handled wirelessly with 802.11ac and Bluetooth 4 support. It promises 9-10 hours of battery life depending on how the computer is being used.

A redesigned Force Touch trackpad now can sense multiple levels of pressure rather than just one, using four pressure sensors and a haptic feedback pad to replicate the clickiness of a traditional trackpad. Additionally, the keyboard has been completely redesigned to retain the expected clicks, precision, and travel of conventional keys, while cutting their depth and width to fit the chassis. An ultra-thin top lid has only enough depth for a 640×480 FaceTime camera, a compromise for the smaller size.

Just like the first-generation MacBook Air, the new MacBook is aimed at users whose computing needs don’t demand incredible horsepower, yet benefit from a slim, light chassis with a really nice screen. Though you’ll do better in raw dollar terms and power by buying a comparably priced 13″ Retina MacBook Pro, you’ll have nearly twice the weight to carry around (2.03 pounds versus 3.48 pounds) and a larger footprint to manage. The choice of which is best for your needs will be highly personal.

Current Lineup:

  • MacBook (12-inch, Early 2016)

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MacBook Stories April 11

AAPL: 141.63

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Apple’s decision to go all-in on USB-C on the 2016 MacBook Pro machines hit significant resistance from those who would need to purchase multiple dongles to connect to their existing accessories. The company responded by offering discounts on a range of USB adapters and cables, first to the end of last year and later extended to the end of March.

Those deals are now gone, however, so here’s a roundup of some decent alternatives …

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MacBook Stories April 10

AAPL: 143.17

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Apple has fallen to fifth place in a Laptop Mag survey of the best and worst current laptop brands after previously taking the top spot for several years. Factors like premium price points and limited port options contribute to Apple’s overall drop in the results, although Apple’s quality tech support is a redeeming factor, the survey says.

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MacBook Stories April 6

AAPL: 143.66

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MacBook Stories March 23

AAPL: 140.92

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As perhaps further evidence of Apple exploring ways to make its entry-level products more affordable, a patent published today describes using an iPhone as the brains of a MacBook-style dumb terminal. As usual with patents, the language is dense, but the illustrations make clear the concept.

An electronic accessory device, comprising: an operational component that provides an output to a user; a housing carrying the operational component, the housing having a recess; and a control interface coupled to the operational component and configured to receive a control signal from an electronic host device when the electronic host device is positioned within the recess and coupled to the control interface, wherein the electronic accessory device is inoperable without the electronic host device being coupled to the control interface.

The idea itself is not a new one, and is similar in essence to a currently-available HP product …

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MacBook Stories February 24

AAPL: 136.66

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In 2015 we reported on an issue with MacBook Retina displays that were seeing problems with the anti-reflective coating wearing off, which came to be known as ‘Staingate.’ Although some customers experienced the issue as early as 2012, Apple started covering the repair free of charge in 2015. Now, it seems that Apple has extended this coverage even further… expand full story

MacBook Stories February 6

AAPL: 130.29

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[Update: We’ve heard from two readers who recently ran into an issue where using the USB-C to USB-C cable does not work with this display and the 2016 MacBook Pro. Unfortunately, in one case, different cables and support from HP and Apple also didn’t provide a solution. Please share below in the comments if you have experienced the same or something similar.]

If you’ve decided to pass on LG’s UltraFine Display there are only a few other options when it comes to 4K USB-C displays. Jordan covered the best choices back in November and now all of these displays are available (with varying degrees of stock).

There are a few compromises that come along with the $500 ENVY 4K display compared with options like Lenovo’s ThinkVision X1 or LG’s 27UD88-W, but I decided to try HP’s ENVY 27 with price, design, and specs hitting a good portion of my wish list. Keep reading after the break to hear about my first week with this new display.

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