Apple's approach to products and marketing is inherently challenging, it's this that makes it such a love it or hate it company. We've taken a fair amount of abuse, for instance, for our views on the Apple iPhone 3G - particularly myself and my 10/10 review of the said handset. And while it's perfectly reasonable to argue many of the points we feel warrant such high praise, or the importance of things that are missing, clearly the views for and against are that bit more vociferous for it being an Apple product.
So it was with much trepidation that we approached the latest product to roll out of Cupertino, the new 13in MacBook. And let's be straight here, it had a lot of work to do. When the old MacBook launched it was a pretty good machine - or, at least, a "pretty" machine - but it has long been overtaken by a mass of Windows based machines that were lighter, more powerful, more affordable and better built. Indeed, was one to pick out one particular problem with the MacBooks of old, their build quality issues would be it.
Regular complaints, to name but a few have included: discoloured palm rests; poor image quality; warping and poorly fitted plastic panels; easily worn touchpads and even cracking cases. Of course, many of these issues have been addressed in new builds, but that hasn't stopped people from finding all-new issues or encountering the same problems over and over. Clearly it wasn't one of the company's better efforts and it wasn't even especially affordable either.
Affordability or the lack thereof is something the new MacBook shares with its predecessor, but clearly Apple has been thinking hard about the multitude of issues that plagued the old machines. Its answer is the much publicised 'unibody enclosure' that inspired the "brick" teasers. Basically, in an effort to ostracise the issues of the old machine, Apple has pioneered a new manufacturing process where the shell of the notebook is machined from a single piece of aluminium. Thus dodgy plastic panels and cracks should be a thing of the past, since as materials go Aluminium is pretty durable and there's no need to screw together several different components.
No one can deny the end result is visually impressive. Apple has always been known for minimalist design, but the new MacBook takes this to new heights. It's just so effortlessly sleek. Its tapered edges aid the low profile appearance and the unibody construction means it's also very thin, measuring just 24mm at its thickest. Unlike a lot of notebooks, however, this doesn't only apply to a tiny segment at the front of the machine, but the whole notebook, since it isn't wedge shaped. It's just a slab of cold, cool and classy metal and if it were to appear on prehistoric earth, we dare say the apes would probably start cracking heads in the customary manner.