Why the Revamped MacBook Is Perfect for First-Time Mac Owners

Ben Stegner 16-05-2017

Are you thinking about buying a MacBook? Maybe you’re sick of the privacy issues on Windows and are looking for something different. The macOS platform is enticing, but which machine should you choose?


You could save some money and get the MacBook Air, but that has a lousy screen. And the MacBook Pro is gorgeous, but for everyday use it’s overkill and beyond most budgets.

There’s a third option: the revamped MacBook. Today we’ll look at why it’s the perfect machine for Mac newcomers.

A Gorgeous Screen

Screen resolution Graphic Display Resolutions - What Do The Numbers Mean? [MakeUseOf Explains] Display resolutions can be a rather cryptic business, with multiple standards used to describe the same display resolution in 10 different ways. All of those technical terms tend to change based on the display's purpose... Read More is often what separates a low-end machine from a premium one. Look at the majority of $200–$300 Chromebooks, and you’ll find most of them have a resolution of 1366 x 768. This is poor, and you’ll notice it immediately. Low-resolution screens are blurry when viewed from close up, can’t fit as many elements on the screen, and often require the perfect angle for a clear view.

The MacBook might not be Apple’s most expensive laptop, but you wouldn’t know it from the screen. A brilliant 2304 x 1440 display on the 2016 model looks unbelievably crisp, and colors pop. It looks good from any angle, too.

The 12-inch screen is a great compromise between tiny 11-inch laptops and bigger 13- and 15-inch models. While the new MacBook Pro has a slightly better resolution (2560 x 1600 on the 13-inch model), this alone is not worth the extra money. The MacBook Air is held back by a grainy-looking 1440 x 900 display.


A Fantastic Trackpad and Keyboard

In a laptop this slim, a standard keyboard and trackpad wouldn’t work too well. Thus, you’ll find a few interesting design choices on the MacBook.

First, the keyboard keys don’t necessarily act like you’d expect them to. Instead of having a cap resting on a spring, the “butterfly” design means that the key caps move down in one piece wherever they’re pressed. Combined with a flat design and low travel distance, typing on this keyboard will feel strange at first. But after a week, I was pretty much used to it — and I’m a mechanical keyboard enthusiast Which Mechanical Keyboard Should You Buy? 6 Keyboards for Typists and Gamers While CPUs and GPUs remain essential to computer performance, there's an underappreciated peripheral: the keyboard. Everyone uses keyboards, but few people think about them when buying a new PC. Read More .

The trackpad is full-sized and comes with all the standard macOS gestures Why OS X Works Better with a Trackpad While Microsoft has focused on bringing touchscreen technology to the desktop, Apple has continued to optimize for the more traditional pointer-based approach. Read More like quick desktop switching and window management tools. It also adds a new input method called Force Touch, similar to 3D Touch in newer iPhones Why 3D Touch Might Make You Switch to an iPhone Android fans: we can no longer claim we have the best smartphone. Read More . By pressing harder on the touchpad than normal, you can perform extra actions across the OS. These include previewing links in Safari, quickly opening image files, or looking up word definitions.

There’s also some trickery going on under the touchpad. While it feels like you’re pressing down on it, it never actually travels anywhere. Mechanics also emit the clicking sound you’re used to hearing. While it might not replace your desktop mouse for daily work, this trackpad isn’t lacking in any form.


Slim Form Factor and Stunning Looks

A name like MacBook Air suggests a slim profile, but the 2016 MacBook manages to pull off an even smaller chassis. The whole device is about 13 mm thick and weighs just over two pounds. It’s a machine that’s easy to pick up with one hand and walk down the hall with — or to keep in your bag and forget how light it is.

If you value looks when choosing a laptop, the MacBook delivers. In any of its four available colors, this is a gorgeous machine. Pretty backlit keys add to the lightweight form and sleek aluminium to make a machine that’s as fun to look at as it is to use. There aren’t any fans, so your laptop is quiet and cool even when you’re using it.

The Right Price

MacBooks are expensive laptops Apple Tax: Why Do Macs Hold Their Resale Value? You've probably heard it before: Macs may cost more, but they hold their value. Is this true, and if so why? Read More  and that will never change. But the 2016 MacBook hits a solid price point for what it offers. You don’t have to spend $1,500 for the (lowest-end) MacBook Pro, or compromise with the MacBook Air’s screen to get a lower price.

The MacBook is available in two forms: one costs $1,300 while the other is $1,600. Opting for the more expensive model gets you 512 GB of storage instead of 256 GB, and packs a better processor. Whichever one you need, this model of MacBook arguably offers the best blend of price and performance.


Of course, you can follow our saving tips 5 Ways to Save Money When Buying a MacBook Looking to get a MacBook for cheap? Here are some useful tips for saving the most money when you buy a Mac laptop. Read More or even look for a refurbished Mac How to Buy Refurbished Mac Laptops and Save Money Apple's natural stranglehold on the Mac market means discounts on their hardware aren't frequent. That said, you can get a Mac for less — you just need to know where to look. Read More to get a better deal. I purchased a refurbished 256 GB model on Amazon for $999, which had a battery cycle count How to Check a Laptop Battery's Health by Viewing Battery Cycles Your laptop battery runs through a certain number of cycles before it loses efficiency. If you're curious how many cycles you've used, here's how to check on Windows and macOS. Read More of under 10. It’s basically a brand-new machine for $300 less than retail.

Apple Macbook MLH72LL/A, 12-inch Retina Display, Intel Core m3, 256GB - Space Gray (Early 2016) (Renewed) Apple Macbook MLH72LL/A, 12-inch Retina Display, Intel Core m3, 256GB - Space Gray (Early 2016) (Renewed) Buy Now On Amazon $699.00

A Few Caveats

While we’ve been singing the praises of the MacBook, it’s not flawless by any means. This machine is perfect for a specific way of using it — side or travel laptop — and not your primary computer. If you fit into this profile, the following negatives of the machine won’t affect you as much.

First and most obvious is the lack of ports on the MacBook Should the New MacBook's Single Port Scare You Away? Apple recently revealed the new MacBook, and it's a jaw-dropper — but it also has only a single port. Was this a blunder, or a sign of the future? Read More . To make it so slim, Apple had to cut out the HDMI, USB, and other ports you’re used to having on a laptop. These are all replaced by a single USB-C port Understand USB Cable Types and Which One to Use Why are there so many different USB cable types? Learn the differences between USB connector types and how to buy the best cable. Read More on the MacBook.


While USB-C is the connection port of the future What Can You Shove In a USB C Port? Look closely at the ports on your laptop. If you bought one in the past year, you'll notice a tiny, rectangular port you've probably never used. That's the USB C port. Read More and supports different device types, the reality is that you probably own devices that don’t use this connection. For those, you need one of Apple’s adapters (we recommend buying a used one to save money). The multiport adapter adds a standard USB port, as well as HDMI output.

Combined with the fact that the MacBook won’t let you connect to more than one external display 6 Essential Tools and Tips for Working With Multiple Mac Monitors Do you use dual monitors on your Mac? Make your Mac multiple-monitor setup work better with these top tips and tricks. Read More , it’s clear that this isn’t a main workhorse computer. If you need to connect all sorts of devices to your computer and use three monitors, the MacBook won’t work for you. But if you value portability, you probably won’t need more than the charger and an occasional USB slot, so the adapter is enough.

The other objectively bad part of this machine is the internal camera. It’s only 480p, which is frankly unacceptable in a premium machine like this. Presumably this choice was made to preserve the slim screen profile, but the result is lacklustre video quality. If you regularly use Skype or FaceTime to communicate for work, you need a computer with a better camera (or can substitute your iPhone How to Use Your iPhone as a Webcam: A Step-by-Step Guide Did you know it's possible to use your iPhone as a webcam? Here's a step-by-step guide to setting it up. Read More ). For casually calling friend on the go, though, this will suffice.

In all, the MacBook is built for a specific audience. People who want a slim, attractive laptop with a sharp screen and don’t need many cables or external devices are targeted here. As I’ve argued, this makes it a perfect first Mac. It won’t replace your power desktop or an iMac, but it’s a wonderful travel machine or secondary laptop.

The Best of Mac in an Awesome Package

Now you know what you’re getting into with the new MacBook. It’s not for everybody, but those interested in Apple’s machines should definitely give it a look. There’s no better introduction to the ecosystem. I recently purchased one as a new travel laptop, and I’ve been pleasantly surprised.

If you decide it isn’t for you, take a look at our comparison of all MacBook models MacBook vs. MacBook Pro vs. MacBook Air: Which MacBook Is Right for You? Which MacBook is the best? Our comparison of MacBook Air, MacBook Pro, and MacBook will help you pick the right one for you. Read More .

Related topics: Buying Tips, MacBook.

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