Early-2016 MacBook Review Roundup: Faster, Battery Lasts Longer, but Still Only has One Port
Posted by Evan Selleck
It’s been over a year since Apple released the first 12-inch MacBook, and those initial reviews came in it painted a picture of a beautiful computer with a keyboard, and a single port, that would probably be perfect if it had more ports and was faster.
Well, Apple’s back with the early-2016 MacBook, and they’ve changed a few things up. Namely, the newest member of the MacBook now comes in a Rose Gold color, matching plenty of other Apple products in hue. More than that, though, the new MacBook also offers a boost in speed, according to Apple, and even lasts an additional hour on its battery over last year’s model.
It still only has one USB Type-C port, though.
The reviews are starting to come in, and they hold true in a lot of ways from last year’s model. The MacBook is still a gorgeous design, and its keyboard is pretty great with a learning curve. The Retina display is great to look at, and it’s a portable dream machine. However, that single port may still be a deal breaker, even if the speed boost is a welcomed addition.
Here’s how some reviews break it down:
“How similar is the updated MacBook to last year’s model? Put it this way: I was strongly tempted to assign it the exact same score. In the end, I decided it deserved a slightly higher number as a way of acknowledging the extra hour of battery life and considerably faster disk speeds. Other than that, this is the same machine I reviewed 12 months ago. It keeps everything I enjoyed the first time, including that crisp Retina display and comfortable keyboard. But it also has the same problems — namely, a lack of ports and battery life that, while decent, still trails other thin and light laptops, including Apple’s own MacBook Air.”
“One thing that isn’t quite resolved: dealing with the single USB-C port. The ecosystem of accessories and adapters is getting better (and safer), but you should budget a hundred bucks or so for adapters to go alongside the $1,299 (for the base model) you will spend on the laptop itself. (And futurists take note, Apple’s USB-C implementation doesn’t support the full Thunderbolt spec you can get on some Windows laptops). I’m starting to see more cables and drives that directly work with USB-C without the need for an adapter, so that helps clear out a pocket in your bag if you can find them.
Really, if you want power, get a MacBook Pro. And if you want the best all-around utilitarian MacBook get an Air. Or — actually — don’t do either if you can wait a little bit. The MacBook might be all new, but everybody’s expecting the rest of the Mac lineup to get updates as the year drags on.”
“The MacBook is a beautiful computer that’s designed for those who want the most portable desktop experience possible with an Apple device. Its lack of ports can be limiting — for some, that may be impossible to overlook. And, as is usually the case with Apple, the MacBook isn’t exactly a bargain. Samsung’s ATIV Book 9 offers similar hardware with a sharper screen and more ports for $100 less. It’s also nearly as light as the MacBook, weighing 2.09 pounds versus Apple’s 2.03 pounds. Still, the MacBook’s design and portability won’t disappoint Apple fans, so long as you don’t mind going all-in on USB Type-C.”
“With a handful of subtle improvements, the updated 12-inch Apple MacBook is more of a mainstream machine, but remains a few tweaks away from being the best laptop on the market.”
“Evaluated on its own terms separately from the complaints of power users, the MacBook is a fine ultraportable laptop. The new model improves on the old one in the ways that will matter most to people who are currently using an 11- or 13-inch MacBook Air (or something older) and want to step down to something thinner, lighter, and quieter. If you mostly use your laptop as a laptop without connecting it to a bunch of external monitors and peripherals, the MacBook acquits itself reasonably well, though I still think it would have greater appeal if it was more versatile.”