This Is The Unbelievably Thin, Beautiful, Strange New MacBook


Apple’s latest MacBook isn’t a spec update. It’s not an incremental upgrade. It’s a totally different machine, for a different kind of person. It’s kind of ridiculous.

First of all, it is incredibly, impossibly thin. I’ve been using a MacBook Air for years, and this 13.1-millimeter, 2-pound device feels like something completely other. It’s amazingly sturdy for being so thin, too. The screen, the 2304 x 1400 display that I wish desperately would have also come to the Air, is lovely. It’s the biggest upgrade this device offers, honestly: once you start using a Retina display it’s hard to go back.

In every way, this is a thing of beauty; it’s no wonder Apple spent so much time talking about the engineering behind it. Everything about the MacBook is about beauty, whether it’s the single USB-C port on the left side that is the only port on the entire device save for a headphone jack on the right, or the new colors—Gold, Space Gray, and Silver. The Gold is actually much more handsome than gaudy, but the Space Gray is my favorite of the options. It’s dark and sleek, and so, so very thin.


But then you use it, and the feeling changes a bit. For all the talk about the new butterfly keys, the new, better keyboard, I immediately hated the feeling of the keys. There’s basically no travel, no movement—it’s not that different from tapping on a touchscreen. I initially felt the same way about the new Force Touch trackpad, which is in most ways the same as ever, except for the new ability to sense different levels of pressure placed on it. For a minute, it was hard to get just right. I kept pressing too hard, or not hard enough, trying to select a word and get it to pop up a Wikipedia page for Kelly Slater, or to show all the Numbers documents I had open by mashing on the app icon. But after a minute, I figured it out, and quickly fast-forwarding through a video or looking something up on Wikipedia is actually quite easy. The keyboard may well be the same thing, but it doesn’t give a great first impression.

It runs quite well, actually, for a device powered by a Core M processor and with no fan inside. Based on a few minutes of web browsing, typing my name over and over in a Pages document, and poking through Numbers, it seems like this device is up to the tasks for which it is clearly meant. It’s not for gaming, it’s probably not for editing video, but it does the basics really well.

It’s hard to say for sure without using the laptop more, which we’ll do as soon as possible, but for the moment the new MacBook feels a bit like the Apple Watch: it’s beautiful, a status symbol I’d be desperate to show to everyone I know and kind of already want to frame. But it’s expensive, it’s a little underpowered for such an expensive laptop, and it feels a little like it might be a device without a market beyond the curious and the early adopter. But good lord is it beautiful.

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