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5 Reasons You Might Want to Skip Apple's New MacBook

It may be Apple's slimmest laptop, but the new MacBook comes with various compromises including a steep price, limited connectivity, and a new keyboard.
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MacBook Gold

The MacBook Air was once the golden child in Apple's laptop lineup. Impossibly thin with curved edges, it set the standard for what an ultraportable should look like. But Apple's iconic notebook is no longer the company's thinnest laptop.

Announced at Apple's "Spring Forward" event, the new MacBook — which appears to be an entirely new category of its own — is thinner, packs Intel's latest chips, and finally boasts a Retina display. (Read more about it here.) Unfortunately, it also packs a costlier $1,299 starting price tag. Before you jump on the MacBook bandwagon, here are some things you should take into consideration.


There's a Cheaper 2-lb Laptop Already on the Market

The new MacBook amazingly weighs 2.03 lbs. and measures just 0.5" at its thickest point. That's a fraction of an inch slimmer than the 0.68" MacBook Air. What Apple naturally failed to mention, however, is that there are already similarly light notebooks in the market today.

Announced in December, the Samsung ATIV Book 9 Ultrabook is 0.46" thick and weighs 2.09 lbs. Its 12.2" screen packs a 2560x1600 resolution and inside you'll also find Intel's latest Broadwell processor. It starts at $1,199.99 for the Intel Core M 5Y31 CPU with 128GB SSD configuration. Yes, that's only $99 cheaper than the base model MacBook, but the Samsung ATIV is far more likely to see deals in the coming months that will slash a few hundred extra off the price as well.

Plus, if you want an even lighter machine, the 13" Lenovo HZ550 claims to be the world's lightest 13" laptop weighing just 1.72 lbs. It'll be available in May for $1,299, which is the same price as the MacBook, but Lenovo is no stranger to regular coupons and it will undoubtedly drop in price.


Expensive Adapters May Be Required

The new MacBook is the first mainstream laptop to use a USB Type-C port. As CNET reports, this port was designed to do away with proprietary power adapters and USB cables, and move to a single solution that works for all devices. However, the MacBook only has one USB Type-C port. That means you'll need an adapter if you plan on connecting anything to your laptop. Apple's adapters will start at $79, which is a significant price for an already pricey notebook. Fortunately, it's an open standard so you can expect to see third-party adapters in the market soon. Either way, you'll need to spend more money if you want to connect devices to your MacBook.


Redesigned Keyboard/Touchpad May Be Troublesome

Apple's new MacBook is roughly 0.5" at its thickest point. To accomplish this feat, Apple had to redesign the MacBook's keyboard. Rather than rely on the traditional "scissor" mechanism, Apple invented the "butterfly" keyboard, which more evenly distributes the pressure on a single key. According to Apple, that means less errors and more precise typing. According to reviewers, it means getting used to a completely different style of typing, one which many reviewers compare to typing on a touchscreen.

Apple's popular touchpad also got a major upgrade. Now called the Force Touch trackpad, it features four sensors that let you click the trackpad anywhere, even along the top edge. It also features a taptic engine that provides tactile feedback, since the trackpad itself doesn't sink in like it used to. Until full reviews are out, early adopters might want to wait before making the jump to Apple's new keyboard and trackpad.


The MacBook Air is More Likely to See Discounts

Although it still lacks a Retina display, Apple's MacBook Air did receive some love yesterday getting an upgrade to Intel's current Broadwell processor. But not only is the starting price lower at $899, the Air is far more likely to see regular, consistent deals as it always has in the past — which widens the price gap between the two computers even more. In the past we've seen a current-generation Air drop to as low as $700 just four months after debut, which means you may end up paying $600 more for the luxury of a slightly lighter, thinner MacBook with more storage.


It's Difficult to Upgrade, With Fewer Configuration Options

This is admittedly an issue for more than just the MacBook; the MacBook Air mentioned above, for example, similarly suffers from limited configuration options, and the aforementioned Samsung and Lenovo options are likely to be difficult, if not totally impossible, to DIY upgrade due to their thinness. Regardless, it's important to keep in mind that you will only have two configuration options when considering the MacBook: one with 256GB of storage and a 1.1GHz CPU and one with 512GB of storage and a 1.2GHz CPU. Both laptops come with 8GB of RAM. Conversely, the still svelte MacBook Pro with Retina offers a lot more flexibility.

Make no mistake, the new MacBook is an engineering masterpiece. But it's designed for a very specific user. And as many of you already know, because it's a first generation product — much like the Apple Watch — you'll see better deals as the laptop's life cycle progresses. At the very least, early adopters should wait for initial reviews, which will paint a better picture of the MacBook's performance, battery life, and overall functionality.


Senior Writer Emeritus

With over a decade of experience covering technology, Louis Ramirez has written for CNET, Laptop, Gizmodo, and various other publications. Follow him on Twitter at @louisramirez.
DealNews may be compensated by companies mentioned in this article. Unless marked as a "Sponsored Deal," the opinions expressed here are those of the author and have not been reviewed or endorsed by the companies mentioned. Please note that, although prices sometimes fluctuate or expire unexpectedly, all products and deals mentioned in this feature were available at the lowest total price we could find at the time of publication (unless otherwise specified).
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18 comments
dealnews-mbonebright (DealNews)
@HeyTiger--
I couldn't agree more. I've used Mac and PC, and I'd much rather have a tricked-out PC that I can upgrade and play around with at will than a Mac I am stuck with as-is. Admittedly, iOS software doesn't need the tending that Windows does, but I'm not bothered by computer maintenance.
HeyTiger
One of the things that always makes me wonder about the average apple fan, they will spend $300 on a laptop and complain about how it failed soooo much faster than their $2000 machine. If you spend the same amount on a PC, you'll have an amazing powerhouse that will last years and years.
Lindsay Sakraida (DealNews)
@Rawmeat We're saying why you MIGHT want to skip it, as some of these reasons cater to specific concerns.

If, for example, you think this is the ONLY way to get a hyper light 2-lb laptop -- as the hubbub around the machine would suggest -- we're merely pointing out that laptops like that already exist, and this isn't actually you're only option. (I'm an Apple fan, but even I can agree that the press has a way of heralding certain changes from Apple as "brand new" when Windows and Android devices have had similar features for months if not longer.) And, that those other laptops are far more likely to see discounts if that's something that matters to you.

Additionally, if you were unaware of what the repercussions are to having this new USB-C port, we're pointing it out. Also, yes, the Air is a lesser machine. But again, we're pointing out that deal shoppers be able to get it for $600 less at some point soon, in which case a buyer might want to weigh what he or she needs.
Rawmeat
@dealnews-bglaser

I think that @tfslayton was expressing sarcasm, since the article seems to be all Apple bashing with repeated support for 2 inferior machines.

Like the article says, this new model has a specific type of user in mind. Is that really a limitation? Other users will invest in the type of machine that suits them best. Isn't that why there are so many manufacturers and models available? My 2009 MacBook Pro is going strong, and my next computer will be a MacBook Pro. The operating system is great, and a Mac won't require replacement for many years.
RacecaR
This "article" is hilarious. Maybe you guys should stick to reporting deals, and spend less time trying to push cheap korean garbage. We're all here looking for deals here, most may think a $1200 laptop seems expensive, however I echo other comments regarding how long these products last with minimal care. A $1200 laptop that lasts 7 years is better than three $500 samsung laptops that only last a third, my 2¢
deltaman
Perhaps the slim, new MacBook could be an "upgrade" for an iPad power-user, but even after spoiling its sleek appearance by bulking-up with an $80 accessory, this new model would be a downgrade for any existing MacBook owner who uses an external display -- since the new MacBook's external video is limited to only mirroring 1080p -- roughly just half that of any other recent MacBook model, and without those current MacBooks' ability to show an extended desktop on an external display. This new model is about "looking good." Mac-users who also need to "do good" all day with their laptop should wait 'til Fall for a real upgrade (hopefully) to a portable Mac which employs Intel's new Sky Lake processor.
Yuniverse
Comparing the Samsung notebook should state the price of $1,399 vs. $1,299. Guess which is cheaper? The new MacBook is cheaper. The $1,199 Samsung only has 128GB SSD and 4GB RAM, while the $1,399 Samsung and $1,299 Apple both have 256GB SSD and 8GB of RAM. Apple has faster CPU(both Broadwell)
bond007taz
I am shocked by an anti-Apple article by DealNews - thank you for not drinking the KoolAid and being real
nagol68
@KindaConfused
On a Windows PC you will see a slow down if you just download everything and let everything continue to run in the background. I have Windows 10 easily running on a PC from 2004, with basically no upgrades, single core 1.7Ghz CPU and 2GB DDR2 RAM.
KindaConfused
Something else to consider- I am typing this on my 2008 Macbook Pro. My wife has bought 3 Windows laptops during this time frame, and is complaining about how unusable her two year old model is. I am running the latest version of OS X, she is working on Windows 7 with twice the RAM I am using. Going to replace the Macbook later this year, as it is finally starting to be a little slow for some software that I use. Value does become a variable in the purchasing equation.
deltaman
Dealnews should stick to reporting "deals..."
sandhudeels
Points #2-4 have some validity. But almost fell off my chair laughing as I read Samsung/Lenovo compared to Apple products. 1) Someone who's looking to buy a Macbook might dither between Air and Pro, Retina or non-Retina but only a very tiny percentage will consider a Windows laptop as an alternative. (2) People buy Apple products not just for the hardware but also because they like/love the software and/or they hate Microsoft Windows.
dealnews-bglaser (DealNews)
@tfslayton

Our sponsored deals are all clearly marked as such. This piece has in no way been sponsored.
tfslayton
DealNews should really put the word "SPONSORED" under pieces like this.
ILMpax
I buy apple for the OS not the hardware. The last time I bought a cheaper windows machine the hardware lasted about 3 years. My current MacBook Pro is 6 years old and I still love the OS and the hardware. If you like windows then buy something that supports windows. Unfortunately I have little choice but I am willing to pay more for a better experience. I have found that most of my windows friends like to config and play. I like to turn on my system and it just works.....
Lindsay Sakraida (DealNews)
@ski522 It's true that Apple buyers are across the board spending more on computers than Windows buyers, and thus they're also WILLING to spend more. But that doesn't mean some of them don't have limits. A $600 difference between two very light Apple laptop options is significant enough to sway some people, myself included.
nagol68
My laptop has an AMD Quad Core 2Ghz CPU, 12GB DDR3 RAM, 768p with 10-point touch, and a 500GB HDD with 300GB on OneDrive. And it only cost $299. That's $1000 cheaper then that Mac, and my laptop has a better CPU, more RAM, and a touchscreen. The only thing it doesn't have is a SDD (But I have more storage) and Retina display, but that's fine with me because I use my 39" 4k TV that only cost me $299. So $598 is what I paid for my entire setup (Less then half the price of the mac book) and does more then the MacBook. So I could've got 4 of these laptops, used a mouse-sharing program to use them all at the same time, and had a laptop that's way better, with $100 left to spend on whatever I wanted.
ski522
Talking price to anyone who buys Apple products is like teaching a pig to sing...you get no where and it just annoys the pig.
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