The new Apple Macbook is definitely a nod to the future. It combines the concept of wireless inter-connectivity, minimalist design and a multi purpose port into a beautiful looking portable machine. However, the question remains over whether having one port that does everything is a practical design decision in terms of everyday use for the users.
Who are these users?
People who will be using the new Macbook machine, will be similar to those who already use either ultrabooks or Macbook Air machines. They want portability, long battery life, reasonably good display, a decent keyboard and a “good enough” processor for general computing. Another class of people who might buy the new Macbook could be people who are already using their iPad or tablet for simple creation tasks, such as creating documents, simple photo editing, video editing, and others.
Generally, people buy a notebook because they need to input large amounts of text or are more comfortable using a device with a keyboard. While convertible devices are quite nice concepts, often the execution is not quite hitting the mark for me. Many devices like Microsoft Surface show some very promising features, but they generally are heavier, have shorter battery life, have small screens or lack comfortable keyboards. With Microsoft Surface in particular, it seems that it does not really replace a notebook for me, as the kickstand design means that I have to rest it on a flat surface when I want to type using its keyboard.
With the Macbook Air, I could comfortably type with the notebook perched on my lap (kind of like a laptop, really) and I don’t have to worry about the device tilting backwards because my knees don’t have extensions to support the kickstand. This is why I am partial to the Macbook Air and other ultrabook concepts. I own a Macbook Air that I purchased way back in 2012 and it has served me wonderfully over the years. The build quality is exceptional and the keyboard, while not the best I have used, is certainly amongst the best in its class. Above all, what I cherish the most about all my Apple-made portables is the best trackpad in any portables that I have ever used.
What do people do on a Macbook Air
Having a laptop that can virtually go anywhere with you without weighing you down is one of the best aspects of owning a Macbook Air. I can take it to the library for writing tasks, I can take it to a lecture hall for presentations and amongst many other uses, I can also take it to a photo or video shoot. The very portable machine has afforded it many uses where other full-sized laptop could be considered cumbersome.
The decent (my definition and yours may vary widely) processing power means that I have used it for some media-related tasks, such as editing photos in Photoshop, design work in Illustrator and even some lightweight video editing, 3D modelling with Blender and Sketchup and UI prototyping with applications such as Adobe Fireworks.
I feel that what makes my ultraportable machine super useful is the keyboard and the assortment of ports available. The various ports such as Thunderbolt, USB ports (one for mouse and one for storage?) and charging port have all been used at the same time and the SD card slot has certainly come in handy quite a few times.
The new Macbook
The new Macbook is a visionary decision on Apple’s part. It is a manifestation of a vision when data transfers will happen mostly wirelessly (wireless flash drive anyone?) and a lot of storage will live in the cloud. The laptop of the future does not need a lot of ports. The single USB port could also disappear when Apple or other manufacturers use wireless charging.
In the (near) future, our notebook computers will become more like our smartphones and tablets, where data will enter and exit the device via some form of network connectivity. However, until that vision becomes the norm, we all still need USB ports to store and transfer data, perform backups, share files and many other purposes.
The new Macbook will face a lot of criticism from both the rest of the notebook industry and end users. It will be very much like when the first Macbook Air was released. For the new Macbook to become the norm and the design to copy, it will take a lot shorter than the time it took the Macbook Air to become a de-facto industry standard in laptop design.