Apple MacBook review (2016, 12-inch): The best ultraportable around

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When I first laid my eyes on 2015’s MacBook, it was a sight to behold. For me, it was very clear that this was the direction the laptop market was going in; seriously svelte, lightweight yet some decent performance to back it up. This was the laptop you could carry around with you all day and have zero issues with.

The thing is, that 2015 MacBook was marred by a particularly drab flaw. That Core M processor just wasn’t good enough for me. That MacBook felt more like a companion for your desktop rather than your sole work device and it and myself never really hit it off. Speed to the present, though and there’s a new MacBook in town, and I’ve fallen in love with it already.

The MacBook is back, and it’s more impressive than ever. Keeping everything I loved about the original (that super-thin chassis still makes me swoon) but plonking a faster core M processor inside as well as faster RAM and a speedier SSD.

I want to preface this by saying that if you’re someone who demands a lot of raw processing power from their machine, this still isn’t something for you. For that, you need to turn your attention to Apple’s recent MacBook Pro refresh, with its touchbar impressive internals able to cater to any demanding workload. The bog-standard 2016 MacBook is for light on the go use you see, and it’s a killer.

Apple MacBook review: Build quality

I’m pleased to say that nothing has changed on the outside. The MacBook’s 13.1mm thick aluminium chassis is a thing of beauty and, one year on, this laptop has lost none of its initial impact. As soon as you pick it up, you realise how thin and light it really is. Weighing just 920g, this is a laptop I can comfortably hold by one corner without fear of dropping it. 

Despite its slim figure, build quality hasn’t been compromised in the slightest. This is Apple at its very best, as it’s made a gorgeous metal chassis that can withstand the day-to-day pain of being carried around in a bag. Even though the screen is just 1.8mm thick, the strong, aluminium back means there’s very little flex. Tapping on the back won’t send any ripples through the LCD, either.

There is one change this year: Apple has introduced a rose gold version, adding another colour to last year’s gold, silver and space grey models. Of course, whether you’re a fan of rose gold will be a matter of personal preference, but the colouring is subtly done and it means you can now match your MacBook to your iPhone, Watch and iPad.

Apple MacBook review: USB-C

When the MacBook was first introduced last year, the one thing that really stood out was it only had two ports: a 3.5mm headphone port and a USB-C port. So, one year on, does this really matter? Not so much. USB-C is a clever and versatile connector that both charges and, via adapters, supports regular USB devices and even displays. The connector is reversible, too (unlike regular USB), making it easier to plug in the cable. While Apple has its own range of adaptors, the best thing about a standard like this is that you can easily buy cheap third-party adaptors instead and save a little cash.

Apple Macbook 2016 ports

That said, you will have to get used to using adaptors as part of your daily work cycle. For example, with no built-in SD card slot, you’ll need to use an adaptor to plug in a separate card reader to get photos off your camera. Likewise, you can’t charge the laptop and have other devices connected at the same time, unless you buy an adaptor that allows this, of course. For me, this is more of a minor inconvenience, as day-to-day, the lack of ports isn’t something that particularly bothers me: most of my files are stored in the cloud and it’s rare that I have to plug anything in, but this may not be the case for other users. Continues on Page 2

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