Why I'm taking a chance on the new Apple MacBook

The port thing isn't a big deal – if you do it right

MacBook

In the absence of U2, Apple's contentious choice of iPhone 6 launch partner, the new MacBook emerged as the real rock star at the Apple Watch event in San Francisco.

Like U2, a band that at one time would stage the most unforgettable shows without the use of pyrotechnics, lasers and other modern arena tricks, the new MacBook impresses in a similarly effortless, breathtaking manner.

It didn't need to be slid out of an envelope to emphasise its thinness, as Steve Jobs did with the original MacBook Air in 2008; Tim Cook's reaction said it all.

Cook, a man who will have accompanied Jony Ive at every stage of the new MacBook's development, waved the machine giddily in the air with the incredulous look of somebody who had seen it for the first time. Yes, as CEO of Apple he's meant do that, of course he is. But if you're into what the new MacBook is offering, like I am, you'll have found it hard not to feel the same.

MacBook

A calculated risk

I've been waiting for what feels like an age to replace both my 11-inch MacBook Air and 13-inch MacBook Pro with Retina with a single ultra-portable laptop with a high-resolution display.

The Dell XPS 13 caught my eye, and while Windows 10 looks great, I need OS X and Windows on one machine. On paper, the new MacBook fits the bill, but waving goodbye to two machines that have served well for years will not come without risk.

One of the most talked about aspects of Apple's new machine is the USB Type-C reversible connector, located on the left-hand side, that allows one peripheral (or a charger) to be connected at any time. Compared to having separate ports for USB, HDMI, DisplayPort and others, this move appears to be a backwards one. It's not – and here's why.

Apple MacBook

On any day I will sit at my 11-inch MacBook Air with a USB mouse plugged into its right-hand USB port and a monitor connected via DisplayPort. On the left-hand side I'll have the power connected and sometimes earphones. When I sit down at the laptop I have to plug all of those things in, and when I take it somewhere else I have to disconnect them. It isn't exactly a smooth transition.

With a single-port MacBook I can leave all of those connections plugged into an adapter, meaning I only have to remove the adapter itself. Quick and easy. At my other location, which could be an office, I could have another adapter with my peripherals already connected, ready to go. I know what you're thinking, and you're right, at first coughing up a pretty penny for multiple adapters won't be fun but third-party ones, as always, will come onto the market at a much more affordable price.

This won't take away the fact that I'll need an adapter on the road, and I agree that carrying around an adapter is inconvenient compared to having ports on the MacBook itself. But just as Apple removed the optical drive from the MacBook Pro to make it much slimmer and more portable, I'm willing to make the trade-off.

To get the most luxurious, featherlight, achingly-thin laptop the world has ever seen, I am willing to carry an adapter in a case when travelling.

Standing resolute

If anything, I'm less impressed with the new MacBook's scaling options. I was quietly hoping that Apple would somehow manage to fit the new machine with a display that "looks like" the 1,680 x 1,050 option when scaled, but it peaks out at 1,440 x 900.

Granted, it's insanely sharp, but it still only offers the desktop space of the 13-inch MacBook Air. It isn't a huge problem as apps like SwitchResX should once again allow me to use higher resolutions without sacrificing (much) image quality.

It remains to be seen whether new features like the redesigned keyboard and trackpad will be an improvement on the (almost perfect) MacBook Air's. But on balance, I'm prepared to take the risk and switch to the new MacBook in spite of its deficiencies which, weighed up, don't seem too bad at all.

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