So, having dissected pretty much every aspect of the new MacBook, how does it stack up? One thing that’s crystal clear is that this is a quantum leap of an improvement over the previous MacBook. Be it in design, functionality, performance, build quality: it’s simply a better machine. Even the small things, like the speakers, are noticeably better, offering surprisingly good volume and clarity for a small machine, running cool and quietly, too.
Yet clearly this is a machine that, for better or worse, sticks to all the usual Apple tenants – succeeding and failing for familiar reasons. Starting with the successes, it looks simply stunning – so much so we’d dearly love to turn the Design score up to 11. In terms of durability and appearance, Apple’s new ‘unibody enclosure’ is an absolute triumph and if other companies were to copy this method, you’d hear no complaint from us.
This is matched with a fantastic multi-touch touchpad, another idea that needs to be stolen, a great screen, an excellent keyboard and Apple’s typically brilliant operating system. Throw in nVidia’s excellent integrated graphics chipset and the Photoshop CS4 GPU acceleration it brings and you have some pretty compelling plus points to consider.
And then there are the ‘buts’.
Clearly price is a massive stumbling block. Even the base model is nearly a £1,000, a price that precludes a large majority of buyers, and though Apple is still selling the White MacBook, it’s still not that cheap and given its chequered history, hefty weight and the presence of something fundamentally better, a sensible purchase it isn’t. Connectivity, meanwhile, is particularly restrictive. Any PC user is bound to baulk and the lack of flexibility and even Apple users will be dismayed at the lack of FireWire or a compelling alternative. Only the ability to output to a 30in monitor is worthy of cheer, but even that comes at a heavy price.
What we have then is a product that’s unlikely to win over too many sceptics. It’s simply too fundamentally Apple-like to do so. But if you’re already an Apple user and are looking to upgrade, then you should start saving now. Lack of FireWire excluded the new MacBook is better in pretty much every way and if you’re already Apple-minded, is well worth the premium.