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Review: 12-inch MacBook First Impressions

I’m going to have to do a few smaller posts about the 12-inch MacBook as I just don’t have the time to get a full review up all in one go.

First off, we got this MacBook from Hong Kong. I got family to buy it there and bring it back. This makes it considerably cheaper than buying it in South Africa. It is still not cheap but that did help. I also opted to buy the HDMI/USB/USB-C adapter at the same time.

I got this laptop for my girlfriend to replace hers that was taken during the robbery. She initially wanted the Space Grey one but settled on the Gold because there was no stock of the Space Grey. The reasons I opted to spend more money on this MacBook over a MacBook Air 11-inch are:

  1. The aspect ratio of the screen. The 11-inch Air is 16:9 and the MacBook is 16:10. That extra height makes all the difference in the world in usability.
  2. The retina display. The displays on the Air aren’t good. Retina displays are.
  3. The weight. The lighter the better. Especially for an ultra-portable.
  4. Design. This thing is beautiful.

Other things like the battery life and storage are pretty much the same between the two models.

The trade-offs would be power and price. Realistically you can use the new MacBook for light development work but it isn’t ideal. It benchmarks about 20% less than my 2012 13-inch Retina MacBook Pro. I’ll update you guys on the performance once I use it a little bit more.

My initial impressions are: “HOLY SHIT, this thing is beautiful.” That is almost everyone’s reaction when they see it for the first time. That is followed with “Wow, it is so light!”

As for how using it is going, the force touch trackpad is amazing. It is better than I could have ever imagined but in such a strange way. You don’t actually notice it at first. It just works normally. Then slowly but surely you work the force touch features into your workflow. It is not only better than existing trackpads, it is by far the best trackpad.

All the reviews I read said that the keyboard was the weak link and “you might get used to it.” I was convinced I would think otherwise, however I did not. It is the laptop’s weakest point. It is not unusable but it isn’t as good as a standard Mac keyboard. I know Apple knows that this new keyboard isn’t as good. If it was, they would have added it to the refreshed MacBook Pros. They added force touch trackpads to those.

The retina display is as you would expect, beautiful. I now officially don’t own a non-retina device. (A lot got stolen to achieve this!)

I think Apple’s greatest achievement with this 12-inch MacBook is setting very high but carefully managed expectations and then beating them. I think you’ll find very few unhappy MacBook owners. I knew its biggest faults going in and I’m still really happy with my purchase. That for me is a good sign.

I’d give it an 8/10 because I had to buy an adapter and because of the keyboard. Everything else is perfect. Let me know your thoughts in the comments below.

[Image TheVerge]


  1. Thanks @Byron. Nice intro. I’d like to get your impressions on the new MacBook as a development machine?

    • Byron Tudhope

      4th September 2015 at 09:15

      It is just a touch under powered. If you really want to use it, pay more for the 1.2ghz version. Otherwise it is good for basic development.

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