MacBook Meta-Review: The Laptop of the Future, Just a Liiittle Too Early

By Eric Limer on at

Apple’s newest MacBook is undeniably slick. But with its single port and a processor that’s far from super-charged, it’s also got a few potential pain points. The first reviews are just coming in, and it seems like a shoo-in for Laptop of the Future. Just maybe not quite yet.

Here’s a quick tour of the most important questions and their apparent answers, according to the reviews that are out there so far.

  • Design? Gorgeous, but you knew that already.
  • Performance? This is not a Retina MacBook Air, not by a long shot. It can handle internet browsing and light use just fine, but start editing photos and video and it starts to chug some, and chews through battery.
  • That new keyboard? Weird at first but easy to get used to.
  • Battery life? Not quite the 10 hours it’s rated for, and the new MacBook will blast through battery if you do anything processor intensive or really jack up the brightness on the screen.
  • One USB Type-C port? Welcome to dongle hell.
  • Price? High. Too high? Too high.

All in all, the new MacBook has it’s flaws, but so did the MacBook Air when it came out in 2008, and just look where we are now.

We’ll let you know more when we get our hands on one soon, but in the meantime here are some bits from the reviews already out there.

Wired:

In almost every case, the Internet has replaced our computers as the center of our digital experience; our laptops are just terminals of access, particularly suited to a certain set of tasks. More than any laptop I’ve ever used, the MacBook embraces that: It does a few things as well as it can, and leaves the rest to the Internet. It’s running out a little bit ahead of consumers, but it’s blazing the right path.

... Much like that first Air, the new MacBook is for the future. It’s a vision of our next computer, the one we’ll buy when our Airs or ThinkPads can’t keep up anymore. The MacBook is a work in progress: The processor and the battery will improve, and the price will drop. It won’t take long. The future’s getting here faster than you think.


The Verge:

You are really, really going to want this laptop, even though it’s relatively expensive, starting at $1,299. It’s easily the most impressive laptop I’ve seen since the original MacBook Air. It’s almost unbelievable in every regard. How did Apple make it so thin? What dark magicks make this trackpad work? Is it really going to be fast enough? Why is there only one port? Every one of those questions has an interesting answer, and the mere fact that a laptop can still engender this much intrigue in 2015 is remarkable.

... [But] you see, the problem with the future is that it isn’t here yet. Instead we live in the now, and the now doesn’t have the ecosystem of adapters and wireless peripherals I need to use this laptop with its single port. The now doesn’t have the right processor to power through the apps I need without ruining battery life. And right now, this laptop is far from cheap at $1,299.


Engadget:

Much like the original Air, the new MacBook is expensive, and it’s not for everyone. In particular, it’s for well-heeled shoppers who demand the most portable machine possible, and who also don’t want to compromise on screen quality. That might not be persuasive to would-be Windows users, who have several compelling alternatives, many with equally sharp screens and a bigger selection of ports. But for loyal Mac fans who wouldn’t dream of switching, the new MacBook is by far the lightest-weight machine in Apple’s lineup, especially with this caliber of screen. It’s not for everyone, especially not right now, but if it’s anything like the Air, it might one day become the standard.


TechCrunch:

Apple’s new MacBook seemed like a shift so dramatic that it was bound to cause some discomfort when it was unveiled on stage in March in San Francisco, but in practice the big changes are far easier to embrace than you might expect.

It’s true that for users who treat their notebooks as their sole computers, and who like to plug a lot of things into those computers as a result, this probably isn’t the best option. But for people looking for a mobile Mac to complement their desktop machine, and for those who aren’t sending their whole day on their Macs for work (meaning likely the vast majority of general consumers), this is a future-oriented notebook that is just as effective in the present, too.

Wall Street Journal:

It’s nearly impossible not to be seduced by this MacBook’s beauty, its dazzling screen and perfect trackpad. But don’t give in. Like the original MacBook Air, introduced in 2008, there are too many key compromises—in battery life, speed and port access—for the early-adopter price.

I expect the new MacBook to follow the same path as the Air. Over the next few years, it will improve, and become an affordable, indispensable tool for life in the future. But here, now, in the present day, there are more practical slim, everyday laptop choices. The MacBook Air is the best option all around, the MacBook Pro Retina 13 is a great step up, and PC users can do no better than Dell’s latest XPS 13.