Ralph von der Heyden

04 August 2015 by Ralph von der Heyden

Review of the 2015 Apple Macbook

TL;DR

Many people turned up their noses on the new 2015 Macbook specs. My first reaction was "skip", after reading the specs and trying the keyboard. Now, I'm loving it.

Looking for a new machine

The timing for the 2015 Macbook model was as right as it gets. My Macbook Air was almost written off, and I was looking for a new machine. Using a MacBook Pro at work, I was about to buy a beefy machine of that kind for myself. Enter the introduction of the new Macbook. Size and screen seemed tempting. But as a developer, can you deal with that rather slow CPU, a new kind of keyboard and a touchpad sans mechanical click?

Trying it out

In order to find out, I tried one in the Apple Store Hamburg Jungfernstieg. What a gorgeous little thing it was! Such a slim body. So lightweight. A brilliant 12" screen. Next, I tried the keyboard, and my sentiment flipped to the opposite. I could not really write on the keyboard. I missed keys, I pressed the wrong keys, I wasn't even able to touch type three consecutive words correctly. In my mind, I marked the 2015 Macbook as unsuitable for me.

Grieving about it

Yet, I could not get the compact form factor and the screen out of my mind. So I read reviews to find out if the new keyboard was something you could get used to. And indeed, reviewers had the same feeling as I did. The keys of the new keyboard have a lot less travelling distance while being pressed, so it takes some getting used to. But it's all fine after some weeks, they said.

Getting one

So, I put all my prejudice aside, and ordered one. Could this little beauty work for me?

The keyboard

Most important, the keyboard is great. It took a week or so to get used to it, but now I like it even better than the old Apple keyboard. In fact, keys on the old keyboard feel all wobbly and inaccurate once you get used to the new thing. After trying the keyboard for the first time, I thought "No way they can put this in their Pro line machines!". Now I'm thinking "I hope they'll put this in ALL of their machines!". That said, there is still room for improvement. I think Apple could increase key travel distance just a little bit on their thicker Macbook models. But the precision and larger surface area of the keys just feel great.

The trackpad

I did not even realize that there is no mechanical click. Force touch seems nice, but I'm rarely using it. No big deal compared to the previous trackpad.

The CPU

Performance is ok with the new Macbook. I have the 1,3 GHz version, and it's faster than my 2012 Macbook Air. That being said, I rarely had performance problems with my Macbook Air. I'm using the machine for software development, photo editing (Lightroom) and general tasks like web browsing, document editing etc. No issues so far.

The screen

What a gorgeous little screen! Finally retina resolution in a compact portable MacBook! Mirroring is visible, but negligible. You can even use it outside in good weather, as long as you keep in the shadows.

The battery

I only use the Macbook for a couple of hours each day, and I need to charge like every 3 days. Sounds legit. Charging works way faster than in my previous Macbook Air, but maybe that is because the battery was worn out.

The lack of Magsafe

I can live with it. On my desk, there's no danger of pulling the little thing off. Anywhere else I use it, I don't plug it in. Really, I thought this was a bummer, but until now, no big deal.

The lack of ports

I bought both the USB-C-to-USB-A adapter, AND the USB-C-to-USB-A/HDMI/USB-C adapter, throwing another 120 EUR or so at Apple. I don't even have use for HDMI, but I need to be able to plug in a hard drive and charge the machine at the same time, simple as that.

You have to know, I'm a hardcore laptop only user. I don't have any external screens, keyboards, mice or anything. Just the laptop, and I have everything I need to work. I once even gave a talk about it, although it is a bit outdated.

The lack of ports or card readers may seem disturbing at first, but I think it's a good thing. On the road, you rarely plug in anything but your headphones. And at home: Imaging plugging in just one port, just the one little thing, and being done with the stuff that most people have on their desks:

  • power
  • keyboard
  • mouse
  • external screen

It does not get more practical than this. If you are using an external screen, it can probably serve as an USB hub, too. This means no bigger mess on you desk than usual.

Conclusion

I don't regret buying the 2015 Macbook model. It really is a great little machine. You may want to wait for the next upgrade, which will probably provide a more capable CPU and bigger RAM. If you don't need a beefy CPU, you'll be just fine.