After a three-year hiatus, Apple relaunched the MacBook line earlier this month in stunning fashion: Available in three brilliant colours, the new MacBooks are the thinnest, most portable, and arguably most beautiful computers Apple has ever made.
But there’s a catch, unfortunately.
Apple redesigned every aspect of the laptop from the ground up: It redesigned the keys, the trackpad, the display, and all the innards, building an incredibly small logic board and surrounding it with clever contoured batteries that can be layered in sheets to maximise all the uneven space within the computer’s frame.
Sadly, to achieve such a simple and beautiful design, Apple needed to make sacrifices elsewhere. In this case, Apple chose to remove every single port from the computer, save one: The new, singular USB-C port works as a power source, USB port, and also support every type of display connection, including HDMI.
It’s a neat idea that’s certainly ahead of its time — USB-C is the latest universal standard for connectivity, and it’s a reversible port, which is nice — but it’s still only one port. And that’s a problem for right now… at least until wireless charging comes along.
As Apple’s marketing VP Phil Schiller said earlier this month, the new MacBook was designed for the wireless world. Between AirDrop, AirPlay, Time Machine, and all the additions in iOS 8 like Continuity, Apple’s software can handle most important actions wirelessly, like file sharing, screen mirroring, backing up, printing, and more. You can also use your phone as a hotspot if you’re not near WiFi.
But, if you want to recharge your MacBook, you can’t do that and plug in an external device at the same time. So if you want to use an extra monitor, or recharge your camera, phone, or tablet directly from your computer, you’ll need to find another outlet.
And, if you do want to recharge your peripherals via your new MacBook, you’ll likely need a USB-C adaptor, since the standard is still quite new. And Apple doesn’t sell those adapters for cheap — so take those costs into consideration.
And, a word of caution: If you have anything plugged into the MacBook — especially if you’re recharging the computer — you need to mind the cord: This is not a MagSafe charger, so if you trip over the wire, the computer may go with it.
“This is the vision for the future of the notebook,” Apple’s marketing VP Phil Schiller said on stage during the unveiling of the new MacBook. “One of extreme portability.”
The new MacBook certainly is portable, but offering only one port for connectivity isn’t helpful for people with many devices that need constant recharging. Google’s new Chromebook Pixel, for instance, offers two USB-C ports, one on either side of the computer, so you can recharge from either side, depending on how you’re sitting.
But, it’s important to note that both the MacBook and Chromebook are early adopters of USB-C, and they’re also both considered “lightweight” computers in terms of handling tasks. So, if you don’t need to buy a new computer right now, and you want a Mac that’s a little more powerful, consider Apple’s other computers, which have recently received minor improvements to speed and efficiency. Also, Apple will likely introduce USB-C to its higher-end computers at some point, and it’s really tough to imagine a MacBook Pro with just one port.
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