Notwithstanding its visual appeal, the new MacBook is also a fantastic object to handle. Its metal finish manages to feel smooth and textured at the same time, making it incredibly tactile, while ports are kept to a minimum to ensure there aren't too many jarring holes and protrusions. Nowhere is this tactility more apparent than in the huge multi-touch enabled touchpad. Finished with a glass layer it's the smoothest and most frictionless touchpad we've ever used. It's so smooth that it can send shivers down your spine…
Anyway, more important than the visual impact of this design, the build quality is in a completely different league to the old MacBooks. Of course, this is just an objective evaluation, but everything about it feels infinitely firmer and more reassuring, to the point that we're confident it could survive some hefty bumps and scrapes. Vitally, the new glass touchpad and metal construction shouldn't be so vulnerable to simple wear and tear, so hopefully unlike old MacBooks the new models should still look good after a year or two.
We wish we could say the same about waterproofing, but Apple appears to have done nothing on this front apart from fit new models with Liquid Submersion Indicators to prevent fraudulent claims from people who have had a bath with their laptops. Not that we have a problem with protecting against fraud, but even a minimal amount of protection would be better than nothing at all. Thus, even if the new MacBooks approach a more professional level of durability, there are still limitations.
Still, it wouldn't be fair to say this without adding that few consumer orientated notebooks can offer much more and there are plenty of other improvements to enjoy; one being the new LED backlit display. Now this is hardly a new development in notebook computing, Sony has been using them for years since the TX Series (see: Sony VAIO TX1P) and its replacements the TZ and TT Series, while the recent Z Series (see: Sony VAIO VGN-Z11WN/B) has a particularly stunning example. But being late to the party is better than not arriving at all and this effort is a very good one.
It's very bright and sharp, produces colours with decent accuracy and vibrancy, while the viewing angles are also very good. Black levels could be better, but they're still pretty good and are enhanced by the glossy glass panel that stretches right across the black surround to create a seamless bezel. This rounds off the overall look of the machine exceedingly well, creating a nice counterpoint to the silver metal finish, though anyone who prefers an anti-glare screen will be sorely disappointed.