New Macbook: light, fast and loud!

I’ve had my new Macbook for a few weeks now and have been using it solidly throughout. It’s mostly for work, because when I’m at home, I generally use an iPad. And as my job takes me various places – it’s definitely not as 9-to-5, desk-based role – having a light, reliable laptop is a basic prerequisite for staying productive.

It’s incredibly light and thin – and I say this as a former owner of an 11″ Macbook Air. Even in a protective case, it’s hard to tell if I have it in my bag or not. I’ve had to double-check I haven’t left it behind me on more than one occasion. It’s eye-catching and has been the cause of many of random conversation with strangers in airports and train stations. It’s just an attractive little machine.

Despite this svelte profile, it sounds amazing. With the advent of Apple Music, I’ve been using it regularly to listen to music, as well as podcasts via Pocket Casts. The sound of this thing is just far too clear and base-y to be real. I expected tinny, distorted sound, but I’ve been pleasantly surprised at just how nice it is to listen to.

I’ve found it to be fast and responsive too. I’m finally used to the keyboard – which is still pleasingly responsive and noisy. I don’t do anything too demanding on this laptop, so maybe I’m not the person to tell you to get it. The most it does on a typical day is wrestle with Office for Mac, Mail, Safari, Twitter and Evernote at the same time. And it does it admirably. I don’t do anything like produce music or edit videos (despite what almost every single ad from Apple would suggest) and I’m not sure it would be as nippy around those kinds of demanding operations.

But for what I need, it’s more than adequate. It’s light, it’s fast and it makes more than enough noise. And the battery is epic. I get more than a working day out of it, which is a must given the flexible nature of my working environments. Power outlets aren’t always available. And I don’t want to end up like this guy!

Any downsides?

Well, I’m still getting used to the USB-C port. Yes, my rational brain says it makes sense. Just like when they stopped including floppy drives. But emotional mean misses the standard USB ports and the flexibility they seemed to offer.

I’ve had to get a special dongle to allow it to charge, host a USB-based bluetooth remote and a VGA projector at the same time. It works just fine, but represents one more thing to carry around. It also means I’m far less likely to be in a room with someone whose laptop has the same charging cable or ports. But a small price to pay for joining in with a step-change in technology.

In summary, I’m really delighted with this excellent little laptop.

  1. I have to say I agree with your conclusions. I finally managed to get my grubby mitts on a Space Grey 512GB one – after a bit of a kerfuffle whereby John Lewis’ website allowed me to think I’d bought one until it subsequently transpired that they had sold the one I ‘had in my basket’ due to a delay in processing payment on the credit card. This didn’t come to light until after they’d ringfenced the money on the card and given me what looked like an order confirmation page… only to tell me the following day that they were out of stock again…

    Anyway, having finally managed to get hold of one, I love it to bits. I have found that there are ways to slow it down – running two different web browsers simultaneously will do it, particularly if one of them is Firefox and it’s got lots of tabs open with little flash animations. After a while the processor gets a bit warm and starts throttling back to let its brain cool down. But in more normal usage it just gets on with the job. I think the combination of 8GB of memory and the clever memory management which OS X does (compressing blocks of memory on the fly to avoid paging if it can) is a major factor in its freakish zippiness, given the relatively low powered processor.

    The slightly scary thing is that I have an iPad Air which I use with a Logitech ultrathin keyboard cover. And the 12″ Macbook is actually lighter than that combo, despite being a considerably more capable machine. I haven’t had to check it’s in my bag yet, but I certainly noticed the weight difference between the new machine and my old macbook when carrying everything in one bag for an overnight stay recently. I’m sure the next version of the Macbook, once USB-C has bedded in (and particularly given the recent news about the future of USB-C and Thunderbolt convergence) is going to be a complete game changer.

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    1. I’ve noticed multiple browsers also slowed down my old Macbook Air, especially Chrome – which also drained the battery like no tomorrow. So I’ve only got Safari on this one. Glad you managed to get one eventually.

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    2. Possibly of not much assistance but due to bandwidth constraints, I set FF to only run flash with an option+click. It’s been amazing as it didn’t just stop auto-playing videos but loads of other annoyances, which didn’t eat up bandwidth so much as provide something for me to ignore.

      You may like to try this: http://www.ghacks.net/2013/07/29/firefox-24-restore-click-to-play-per-element/

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      1. Flash is just pure evil and the sooner it is killed off and replaced with a less damaging and battery-hogging technology the better! 🙂

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