New MacBook: why it'll make you forget your MacBook Air

Stunning. Light. Expensive. Thin

Apple CEO Tim Cook showed off the brand new MacBook at the company's Spring Forward event in San Francisco in March, and it's attracted plenty of interest from buyers and tech industry analysts alike now that it's on sale.

Apple executives certainly seem to be in love with the redesigned, super-slim MacBook - but what makes it stand out for the crowd? These are the main reasons you'll be tempted to pay the steep ticket price.

1. The way it looks

The Macbook certainly has a lot going for it in the looks department.

Just look at it: no other laptop is going to get as many admiring glances as this one when you open it up at your local coffee shop. It looks like one of those artistic renderings that come out alongside most of the Apple rumours these days: very attractive but not physically possible.

Well, the new MacBook is physically possible and very much real. "Can you even see it?" asked Tim Cook on stage at the Yerba Buena Centre in San Francisco, and he was only half joking. The 12-inch 2304 x 1440 resolution Retina display looks gorgeous and is only 0.88mm thick (the thinnest display ever made for an Apple computer.

The keyboard has been given an overhaul as well, both in terms of its edge-to-edge appearance and the way it actually works: a new 'butterfly' mechanism means typing is as smooth as silk and individual LED lights for each key equate to more even illumination when the lights go down.

2. Its portability

Portability is one of the key selling points of the new Apple MacBook.

Unless you're editing video or playing a first-person shooter, computer specs don't carry as much weight as they used to - and the actual weight of your laptop has become far more important. That's why the MacBook Air was such a sensation when it appeared in 2008: no one cared what was under the hood because it fitted inside an envelope.

The new MacBook is attempting to perform the same trick. Weighing 900g and with a thickness of 13.1mm, it's even lighter than the Air (1.08kg and 17.3mm if you're comparing). That might not sound like a huge difference but the iPad has proved how those saved millimetres can really affect the experience of carrying something around all day.

And speaking of all day, that's how long the battery will last for, depending on what you're doing (Apple says it can handle 10 hours of video playback and 9 hours of web browsing). You can take it on the move all day without running out of juice or straining your shoulder.

3. It has USB Type-C

USB Type-C is upon us.

A lot has been made of Apple's decision to restrict the MacBook's ports to just one USB Type-C socket, doubling up for both data and power, but it's indicative of our new wireless age. With Wi-Fi so ubiquitous and the MacBook's battery life so strong, most of the time you won't have anything to plug in at all. Remember the furore when DVD drives were phased out of laptops? Not so much of an issue any more.

USB Type-C brings with it compatibility with USB peripherals, chargers and display standards including DisplayPort, HDMI and VGA. Then there's the most important consideration of all: the plug is reversible, so you don't need to worry about slotting it in the wrong way round. Finally!

USB Type-C isn't just about versatility, though - it charges devices and transfers data more quickly than ever before, and will gradually be coming to all makes and brands of laptop over the next few years. What's more, it can charge up a laptop and transfer data at the same time.

4. It's the future of computing

Force Touch is one of the new laptop's most important innovations.

One day all MacBooks will look and work like this. While the internal specs of the device might be on the disappointing side, the new laptop is a forerunner of what will come after (just like the MacBook Air was). Sir Jony Ive has called it "the best MacBook yet", and while he's prone to the occasional bit of hyperbole, it shows what high regard Apple holds this ultra-slim laptop in.

You can expect some of the innovations introduced with the new MacBook to roll out elsewhere, like the Force Touch trackpad (that relies on pressure rather than the traditional clicks) and the fanless design that means the laptop is always completely quiet. This will become the norm in a few years.

Sign up for a new MacBook and you get the future right now - even if it is rather underpowered compared to some of Apple's other machines. It doesn't come cheap and later versions will be much faster, but it's likely do to for laptops what the iPhone did for smartphones, setting down a new standard for others to follow.

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