Updated: The new MacBook: release date, news and features

Updated: The new MacBook: release date, news and features

Introduction, release date and design

Update: Apple has gone and announced the Retina Macbook Air, but skipping out on any prefixes or suffixes, the Cupertino company has named it simply the new MacBook.

As the old adage goes: the best things in life are worth waiting for, and Apple’s long-awaited MacBook has finally been announced and oh, boy is it a doozy. Apple held an event that was almost entirely expected to focus on the Apple Watch, but the Retina display-equipped MacBook Air stole the show for computer nerds.

Apple outgoing MacBook Air machines had excellent battery life and portability, but suffer from poor low-resolution TN displays. The new MacBook corrects this issue with an excellent high-resolution 2,304 x 1440 pixel display, thinner body and much more.

It has certainly been divisive. While the MacBook has been praised for its slender design, crystal clear display and innovative Force Touch Trackpad, a lot of negative attention has been directed at its single USB Type-C port. That prompted us to ask: is the criticism aimed at the new MacBook fair?

Cut to the chase

What is it? A brand new MacBook even thinner than the Air with a Retina display

When will it release? April 10, 2015

What will it cost? Starts at $1,299 (about £1,049, AU$1,799)

Retina MacBook Air release date

We originally hoped that the Retina MacBook Air release date would be announced at Apple’s event back in October, which many thought the company would use to show off the new laptop. But finally after a long wait we finally now know the new notebook will be available starting April 10.

Although it feels like the Retina MacBook Air’s release date should have come and gone by now, factors such as the delayed availability of Intel’s new Broadwell-series processors means that Apple and other laptop makers have had no choice but to sit tight.

The new MacBook

Many of Apple’s rivals in the Windows arena – including Lenovo, Asus and Dell – have now launched thinner and laptops sporting Intel’s Core M Broadwell CPU – and just like that Apple has followed suit.

Digitimes reported that Apple’s supplier Quanta Computer was looking to bring in an additional 30,000 workers to help with production of the Retina MacBook Air, in addition to the Apple Watch. Sources close to the company claimed that the machine would launch in the first quarter of 2015.

Now it seems they were right. Along with going with a 1.1GHz Intel Core M processor, the new MacBook will feature a 12-inch, 2,304 x 1440 resolution display. As expected, the 13-inch model will remain and it has even been upgraded with a 5th generation Broadwell Processor.

Retina MacBook Air design

Apple has succeeded in making MacBook that is both lighter and thinner than the current Air models. The new MacBook measures a 13.1mm thick, a few hairs thinner compared to the 17.3mm thick 11-inch MacBook Air. According to Apple, the new MacBook is 24% thinner and the overall unit only weighs two pounds.

The new MacBook

Despite shaving down the laptop’s overall frame, Apple has still managed to fit a full-size keyboard. the new keys also feature a slightly different butterfly switch for more uniform keystrokes. Unlike most laptops that come with keys sitting on top of scissor keys, the iPhone maker argues its redesigned a keyboard offers a better, "much more precise" typing experience. The keyboard also features LEDs that light each key individually.

The new MacBook

Apple also spared no expense with a new track pad design that does away with the mechanical element found on current MacBooks. While the track pad no longer clicks, it instead has four sensors on each corner to detect clicks. Beyond simple taps, the buttonless track pad senses pressure, which the company demoed by pressing harder on fast-forward button in QuickTime to make the video advance faster and faster.

Lastly, as Apple insiders leaked to a website simply called A Tech Website, the gold Retina MacBook Air has been in the works along with ones decked in space grey and aluminium grey that will all be available this coming spring.

Specs and connectivity

The new MacBook

Retina MacBook Air specs

Aside from the outwardly aesthetic changes of the new MacBook, Apple has also overhauled the entire design of its latest laptop. Starting with the notebook’s logic board, it’s 67% smaller than previous generations. Despite it being the densest circuit board Apple has ever put together, it’s an entirely fanless design thanks to the 1.1GHz Intel Core M processor.

With a smaller logic board, Apple was able to fill in every available space with a newly developed battery that tappers off and conforms to the curved interior of the laptop chassis. Apple said this in effect, has allowed it to increase the battery life of the MacBook to nine hours of web browsing or 10 hours of movie playback.

The new MacBook

Of course, the biggest drawback to the 11-inch and 13-inch MacBook Air has been the display, which tops out at a pixel-resolution of 1,366 x 768 on the smaller model and 1,400 x 900 on the latter. The new MacBook corrects this with a 2304 x 1440 resolution. That’s a bit shy of the pixel-resolution of 2,732 x 1,536, a blog post by Canalys analyst Daniel Matte originally cited, but it’s a big step up from the non-Retina MacBook Airs.

Beyond pure pixel counting, the new MacBook’s display is also a considerable step up in efficiency. By redesigning the screen down to the pixels, Apple was able to create a display with larger aperture pixels for more light to pass through. The Cupertino company claims this has allowed it to use LED backlighting that’s 30% more efficient than the Retina displays on any other Mac.

Retina MacBook Air connectivity

Even the ports – or should we say, singular port – on the new MacBook Pro has been overhauled. Gone are the Magsafe charging connector along with every port with the exception of a 3.5mm headphone jack. In their place is a single USB-C connector, otherwise known as USB 3.1 a smaller and reversible data port that supports everything from video output, data transmission to charging the laptop.

USB Type-C

All in all it follows the trend the Lenovo’s Yoga 3 Pro first demonstrated. Giving a laptop very thin dimensions can leave little room for ports. Jack March (via 9to5Mac) reckoned that the Retina MacBook Air would feature "a noticeably thinner design" that would force Apple to abandon the traditional USB port in favor of the forthcoming reversible USB Type-C connector, which would require an adapter to connect peripherals – an unfortunate, but perhaps necessary trade off.

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