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It’s big news whenever Apple announces new products and now Apple’s bestselling consumer notebook receives the long rumored major redesign that is no doubt, another stunner. Just when you thought Apple couldn’t make the previous generation MacBook any better, they come around and offer this aluminum and glass beauty that is even thinner, lighter, and more powerful than before. Now that Apple has brought its renewed MacBooks ($1299 starting) and MacBook Pros ($1999 starting) even closer together by offering the same design, engineering, and -for the first time on the MacBook – aluminum body to both notebook lines, the once straightforward consumer and pro-line product differentiation is slowly fading away. Is this the best MacBook to date? Is it safe to call the MacBook, the MacBook Pro “mini”? Read on.
The new MacBook and MacBook Pro make some significant strides in the design department. First, the MacBook for the first time, joins the MacBook Pro in offering an all-aluminum body, ditching the white polycarbonate plastic that once defined the consumer line. In fact, both machines look pretty much identical to each other – offering a black glass bezel screen and black “chiclet-style” keyboards to reflect the new Apple design direction first introduced with the current iMac and iPhone. It’s a stunner for sure. The exterior borrows cues from the MacBook Air using tapered edges that trick you into thinking it’s even thinner than it already is. The magnetic latch opens and closes the display with buttery smoothness and without mechanical parts. Aa satisfyingly solid “thunk” can be heard when closed. Available in the more expensive $1599 model are LED backlit keys – a first for the MacBook.
Aside from the switch to a fully aluminum casing that replaces the now-defunct white plastic and/or black matte finish of the previous generation, Apple is touting its new manufacturing process as a technological and engineering breakthrough. Using a full slab of aluminum to construct the MacBook and MacBook Pro, not only does this revolutionary process create a body and chassis that is much stiffer with no flexing, these new notebooks use less mechanical screws, parts and pieces to construct together, and thus allow Apple is able to achieve a lighter and thinner product. The result is a notebook that is so clean and so sleek looking in design, it’s devoid of any evidence of screws to piece it together and without any vents, confirms that this new design doubles as an effective heatsink.
While it’s nice to see the MacBook now offer the same look and materials as the MacBook Pro, Apple may now run the risk of cannibalizing sales of its own pricier MacBook Pros, as they both look almost identical to each other and features-wise, the line between the two is blurring. Call it the MacBook Pro mini if you will in appearance, Apple has revolutionized a new way to build quality notebooks that are also environmental friendly.
Size and Weight
Impressively, the new MacBook is even thinner and lighter than before,achieving a thickness of only .95 ” – the same as the new MacBook Pro. At 4.5 pounds, the new MacBook is 1.5 pounds lighter than the outgoing model with weight evenly distributed across thanks to its unibody construction (read: less parts). At 12.78″ x 8.94″, the new machines are pretty much identical in dimensions to the last generation models.
Love it or hate it, Apple has now transitioned its entire Mac lineup to the retro-looking “chiclet-style” keyboard with the new MacBooks. Rather than color match the keys with the aluminum body, Apple’s new design direction employs the use of black keys to give the notebook an interesting design contrast. The downside of having black keys is noticeable fingerprint smudging from oily fingers; At least it won’t look and get dirty like the older white MacBooks. Aesthetics aside, the full-size keyboard is a real pleasure to type on with very solid and satisfying clicks. The keys may be flat and spaced out, but it’s oh-so-comfortable to type on with just the right amount of key travel and spring action. The higher end model also offers LED backlit keys for the first time on a MacBook – once again, blurring the lines between the MacBook and MacBook Pro in features.
With a gorgeous 13.3″ LED-backlit LCD screen fully encased beneath a black bezeled glass, the MacBook’s display is stunning to look at even when powered off. The glossy finish makes colors really pop and adds to its enhanced vibrance, but at the cost of massive glare, making outdoor viewing difficult. Indoor viewing is not as bad, but reflections abound so be mindful of viewing angles and tilt adjustments. At first glance, the display seems identical to the previous MacBook screen with the same 1280×800 native resolution, but thanks to the new LED-backlighting, the display is evenly lit across the screen and noticeably brighter than the previous generation models. Watching movies was a real treat even though you’ll find yourself seeing your own reflection in lighted areas. But when compared to the MacBook Pro’s larger screen, the MacBook’s picture quality is still inferior and you’ll notice the contrast and blacks drop out when viewed from an angle – The MacBook Pro’s, on the otherhand, looks great at any angle. This is a big reason why Apple would like for you to pay the extra money to go Pro for the better screen. A built-in iSight camera is included as well like before on the top of the display.
Buttonless Glass Trackpad
Apple once again leads the competition by offering zero buttons…no really! Apple has created the first “buttonless” trackpad built entirely of glass that also includes multi-touch technology. The entire trackpad is essential a button in itself where pushing down creates a solid click to confirm depresses. While it takes getting used to at first, the trackpad actually turns out to be very intuitive with a smooth glossy feel. The MacBook Air introduced 3-finger scrolling and the MacBook and MacBook Pro now offer 4-finger multi-touch scrolling for calling upon Expose and Spaces functionality. While quirky, you’ll soon appreciate the wonders the new glassy trackpad’s buttonless design provides.