Get ready to kiss the MacBook Air goodbye, and say hello to more MacBooks

“Trying to predict the future of technology is a risky endeavor at best, and never more so when attempting to do it with one of the most secretive companies in the field,” Ben Lovejoy writes for 9to5Mac.

“But never let it be said I don’t ‘fess up when my predictions don’t pan out,” Lovejoy writes. “Two years ago, I reckoned that the MacBook Air and Pro ranges would have merged by now. When the MacBook Air was first launched, it made a lot of compromises to fit into that slim casing. But over the years, the Air got more powerful and the Pro started to make similar compromises in pursuit of a sleeker form-factor. Both went SSD, both went non-upgradable RAM, neither had an optical drive, neither had an Ethernet port.”

“It seemed to me then that the differences between the two ranges would continue to dwindle until there was really nothing to separate them. But as things turned out, Apple had one surprise in store for me,” Lovejoy writes. “The MacBook Air wasn’t the end of the company’s ambitions when it came to making a laptop as slim as humanly possible. It of course launched an even sleeker model, the 12-inch MacBook.”

Read more in the full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: 13- and 15-inch MacBooks, the 12-inch MacBook’s big brothers, would be mighty tempting, but we’ve already been through this with the MacBook Air and chose the 11-inc because the number one time on our list when it comes to portable Macs is – drum roll, please – portability. (That said, we’d have to see and test ’em all first before we could decide for sure!)

28 Comments

    1. The 13” Air is still the role model.

      When the 12” takes over that leading position in terms of mock up and refinement procedures at the very design stage with his highness j.i., you might expect the next true Macbook to launch by the end of 2016, octobre to be more precise. But if the gfx performance does not outpace an iPad at all, because the CPU and GPU do not really work hand in hand, the display is a game killer.

      My name is Chuck LoneStar and I posted this crap just for you.
      Macbook Pro supports gameplay in a way you would not expect, because they say so, but it does really well, the framerate is high enough and the work you do on the other desktops and VMs does not have to be interrupted.

      One true advantage of working on a Mac is its excellent capability of smart handling tons of workload at the same time.

  1. Well, you won’t get an arguement from me. My MacBook air runs well in all environments, while I often struggle with the iPad to do anything that is complicated.

    And the 11 inch is perfect for travel, students, and is not any bigger than an ipad with a keyboard.

  2. The two above comments are absolutely true. BUT — do you remember, when Apple released the first MacBook Air, it was the same story? Overpriced, underpowered, and confusing to everyone. Two years later, the MacBook Air became the most popular MacBook ever, as Apple was able to beef up the specs considerably and even lower the price.

    I see the MacBook following this same path. In a couple more years, the MacBook will be extremely enticing to many people.

    1. And added ports.

      That’s the thing with the argument. It’s two sides of the same coin. The MacBook Air added performance and ports while also getting slimmer and lighter. The MacBook isn’t significantly smaller or lighter than the MacBook Air, but under performs and lacks ports.

      We can say that it will grow into something more useful over time, but the reality is it isn’t there for many of us, while the MacBook Air could’ve met more people’s needs had they designed something that was more of a cross between the two – a MacBook Air with a 12″ Retina all the ports and performance and let it shrink over time.

      1. Your comments show me that you neither own nor use a MacBook. The MacBook is both smaller and lighter than the MacBook Air weighing in at 2.03 lbs compared to the MacBook Air’s 2.38 lbs (11.6″ screen) or 2.96 lbs (13.3″ screen). That’s 14.7% and 31.76% lighter respectively than the MacBook Airs. The MacBook is also already retina screen, which apparently you failed to notice at 2403 x 1440. Did you think readers would not know that? The MacBook is 0.52″ at it’s thickest while either of the MacBook Airs are 0.68″ at their thickest. . . a 23.5% difference in thinness.

        I do already own both a late 2012 13.3″ MacBook Air and now a MacBook and I do not notice any appreciable performance hit between the two. . . and intact the MacBook seems quicker and “snappier” of the two. It has become my general use computer at this point.

        I think you are blinded by spec sheet myopia. . . and have not even tried using the MacBook. . . thinking because the processor has a slower clock speed than the MacBook Air, it must therefor be less powerful than the older Macbook Airs. You forget it can burst to 2.4GHz if necessary.

        1. Specs numbers aside I had a room full of people hold up and play with both the rMB and MBA, when asked which one was light, most incorrectly guessed the Air.

          Prior to putting putting the rMB next to my MBA, I couldn’t have told you which was smaller.

          The reality is the MBA is about an inch wider, which while apparent when placing one on top of the other, it offers absolutely no advantage. It doesn’t fit any better in my pocket, it’s not any easier to carry, it’s an absolutely trivial, and mostly imperceptible difference in weight and size, while the disadvantages a rather huge.

          “The MacBook is also already retina screen, which apparently you failed to notice”

          I don’t think anyone ever has failed to notice that. You’re missing the point entirely here. It’s not that the rMB has a Retina display, it’s that Apple didn’t upgrade the MBA to Retina. It’s not that the rMBA won’t meet anybody’s needs, it’s that the product that could’ve been would’ve meet more people’s needs while being imperceptibly or at least irrelevantly bigger. And that’s not to compare it to the MBA, but the MBA Apple didn’t produce because they made the rMB.

          Apple could’ve produced a new rMBA that utilized the space saving technology of the battery, keyboard and component consolidation and had something that was still lighter and smaller than the existing MBA, but instead, they went too far and created something that doesn’t meet the needs of a lot of users. That, still lighter and smaller MBA, would’ve resulted in ZERO people saying, “Well, I like it, but it’s just too darn bulky and would weigh me down”. Not one person on Earth would’ve said that with a straight face.

          I do already own both a late 2012 13.3″ MacBook Air and now a MacBook and I do not notice any appreciable performance hit between the two”

          That’s an incredibly low bar. You’re comparing one of the lowest end models of a 3 year old Mac and *you’re* not noticing a difference.

          I’ve spent some time with the MacBook, and it’s performance is lacking for my needs as compared to the MBA. The fact is, it performs worse than many 2010-2011 Macs.

          And again, that’s perfectly fine for some people, but for *many* people, it’s not going to meet their needs, at a trade-off in size/weight that for many is either imperceptible or irrelevant.

          I think you are blinded by spec sheet myopia”

          Which is funny because you’re going on and on with specs in regards to size and weight as opposed to hearing, understanding or even verifying that most people can’t easily tell the difference in weight between a 11″ MBA and rMB and likewise find the size difference irrelevant.

          “thinking because the processor has a slower clock speed than the MacBook Air, it must therefor be less powerful than the older Macbook Airs.”

          OMG please, are we in the 90s? Did you really just go there? It’s even funnier because right after you say that with absolutely zero basis for thinking that’s what I thought, you then go to make the same megahertz myth fallacy…

          “You forget it can burst to 2.4GHz if necessary.”

          Ok, if you want to go all megahertz myth here, even the MBA 11″ can boost to 3.2GHz. But it doesn’t matter because the i5 and i7 in the MBA (11″ or 13″) are both significantly more powerful than the Core M in the rMB.

          There’s no getting around this. Try doing a time test on encoding video, or any other processor intensive task. Try decoding H.265 video which we’ll all be migrating to in a year or so.

          Now maybe you’re not doing much with your MacBook, and maybe you don’t care that performance demands increase over time and that the rMB will become performance obsolete with the equivalence of a 2010-2011 Mac, but for many people, this, plus the higher price, plus the lack of ports, resulted in the MacBook not meeting their needs… as compared to what Apple could’ve done with a rMBA.

          TL;DR: If it meets your needs, great, I’m happy for you, but you’re either fooling yourself or grossly missing the point if you think Apple couldn’t have produced a Mac with much broader appeal by updating the MBA to Retina and incorporating many of the space saving technologies found in the rMB.

          1. If you are “encoding video on a MacBook” doing any such task on these computers, you’ve selected the wrong tool. These are not intended for such use. For the target markets they are perfect for what they are intended. If you want fast number crunching computers, you don’t select light weight, portables. Get the MacBook Pro at least. Sheesh

            1. That’s BS. I do video encoding all the time on my MacBook Air. That’s because, while not as powerful as the MBP, it’s significantly more powerful than the rMB. You seem incapable of thinking of performance as anything other than a binary classification.

              More so, the size and weight difference of a MBA 11″ versus the size and weight difference of a MBP 13″ is vastly more significant than the difference between the rMB and the MBA 11″, while the performance difference between the MBA 11″ and MBP 13″ is nearly as significant as the difference between the rMB and the MBA 11″.

            2. Yes, are you not even paying attention here? The rMB has a performance level of a low-to-midrange Mac from 2010-2011.

              That’s fine for someone with simple basic needs, but not only will it not meet the needs of many people today, but it won’t have the usable longevity compared to any other available Mac. Likewise, a single port is fine for someone with little need to plug stuff in, but for anyone who does, the elegance of design and portability is ruined by the need for docks/adapters.

              Your link was broken, but I’m assuming you’re linking to any number of user satisfaction surveys showing high marks for the rMB. If so, you’re totally missing the point.

              It’s not that the rMB is a bad computer for the subset of people who’s needs are met with it, it’s that the needs of far more people could’ve been met with what Apple could’ve produced with a rMBA along with the space saving technologies incorporated in the rMB (battery, keyboard, logic board consolidation).

            3. You are treating the MacBook as if were a Mac for ALL users, but it isn’t. Nor was a MacBook Air a Mac for all users. As very pointedly told you, Apple makes the MacBook Pro available for that purpose. I really do not think you are the one paying attention. . . not at all. You seem to think that all Macs should be all powerful. Actually, the “subset of people” you mentioned is the vast majority of users while the users you are talking about who need heavy duty computing power are NOT the users who ever should be looking at purchasing a light weight super portable notebook for those purposes. Your complaint is ridiculous. It is akin to complaining that a .22 long rifle pistol is incapable of bringing down an elephant when it is not the caliber or type of firearm one should ever consider for hunting elephants.

        2. I’m bringing this back up to this level in the thread so it’s easier to read.
          “You are treating the MacBook as if were a Mac for ALL users”

          No, I’m not. I specifically said, “It’s not that the rMB is a bad computer for the subset of people who’s needs are met with it” I’ve made a point of saying something similar in every single comment. Hence, the pay attention comment.

          “You seem to think that all Macs should be all powerful. “

          No, I’m saying, and I’ll repeat this again as I have in every comment, that some people are going to be fine with the power of what was a low to midrange Mac from 2010-2011. However, even those with the lowest power needs will find that the rMB will become obsolete and not meet their needs sooner than any Mac Apple has released in a very long time (since the original MacBook Air).

          Now here’s the thing…

          What exactly did Apple trade off for that 4-5 year head start on obsolescence?

          To answer that question you have to take a look at what the MacBook Air 12″ could’ve have been if they gave it a Retina display and the space saving technologies developed for the rMB.

          The answer is that it would’ve been imperceptibly heavier and irrelevantly bigger.

          Go to an Apple store and ask them, “how many people think about the MBA 11″ and the rMB and decide to get the rMB, not because of the Retina display, but because it’s so much smaller and lighter than the MBA?”

          The fact is, they’re both so roughly matched in weight, that when passed around in a room, people couldn’t definitely state which one weighed more and only when comparing them right next to each other could people notice the size difference. Given one and then later given the other, many thought the MBA 11″ was smaller.

          Really, the weight difference and size difference is worth being 4-5 years behind in power?

          “Actually, the “subset of people” you mentioned is the vast majority of users while the users you are talking about who need heavy duty computing power

          That’s BS. First off, it’s a strawman since I’m not talking about heavy duty power. I’m talking about low to midrange power of current computing as compared to 2010-2011.

          Again, you might be fine, and others might be fine with low to midrange 2010-2011 power, but don’t pretend it’s anything more than that (like with you silly “it can burst to 2.4GHz” comment).

          Additionally, don’t pretend the rMB meets the needs of “a vast majority of users”. The fact is since 2010 the vast majority of Mac buyers have been buying something more powerful than the current rMB.

          the users you are talking about who need heavy duty computing power are NOT the users who ever should be looking at purchasing a light weight super portable notebook for those purposes.

          Why?

          The fact is, somewhere between a 2010-2011 low to midrange Mac and a 2015 Mac Pro exists an entire line up of Macs including MBAs which are far more powerful than the rMB. Just because someone needs something more powerful than a 2010-2011 low to midrange Mac doesn’t mean they don’t also need a light weight ultra portable. And again, the MBA hits this spot on.

          The size and weight difference between the MBA and the MBP is extremely significant. The size and weight difference between what an rMBA could’ve been and the rMB is not significant or relevant at all, while the performance gap is HUGE.

          It is akin to complaining that a .22 long rifle pistol is incapable of bringing down an elephant when it is not the caliber or type of firearm one should ever consider for hunting elephants. “

          No, it’s not akin to that at all. It’s more akin to the fact that Apple made a decision to reduce size and weight insignificantly at the expense of power and ports, resulting in a device that will inherently become performance obsolete faster than any other Mac they’ve released in a very long time, while at the same time greatly restricting the number of customers who’s needs would be met with it due to sub-par performance and lack of ports.

          1. The size and weight difference between the MBA and the MBP is extremely significant.
            13.3″ MacBook Pro, 3.48 Lbs., 12.32″x 8.62″, 0.71″ thick.

            Surprise, the 13.3″ MacBook Air at 2.96 lbs., 12.8″ x 8.94″, 0.68″ thick is 0.52 lbs lighter, but it’s 0.48″ longer, and 0.32″ wider than the 13.3″ MacBook Pro, although it is 0.03″ thinner. So you are mostly wrong about that.

            1. Why are you comparing the MBA 13″ to the MBP 13″. The comparison is with the MBA 11″ to the MBP 13″.

              The whole point is that Apple could’ve updated the MBA 11″ and made something more broadly usable if they hadn’t gone for such insignificant and irrelevant size and weight reductions but instead maintained a balance of portability and performance.

              The MBA 11″ is 2.38 pounds compared to the MBP 13″ which is 3.48 pounds. That’s a difference of 1.1 pounds which is much greater than the .35 pound difference between the rMB and the MBA 11″… it’s more than 3 times the difference! Worse, the rMBA that Apple decided not to make would’ve benefited from the technologies present in the rMB so the difference would’ve even been less than the .35 pound difference.

              Likewise compare size with overall cubic volume:

              The rMB fits is 457cc.
              The MBA 11″ is 576cc or just 118cc greater than the rMB
              The MBP 13″ is 1,238cc or 662cc greater than the MBA 11″

              So, going from the MBA 11″ to the MBP 13″, you’re talking about a weight difference that is more than 3 times the difference between a rMB and an MBA 11″ and a size difference that is 5.6 times as great.

              But the performance gap between the MBA 11″ and the MBP 13″ isn’t that significant. Depending on configuration, they overlap each other, while the rMB is far behind.

              Again, the MacBook might be a great computer for you, but your bias is clearly clouding your judgement when you think Apple’s line up makes sense given the last round of refreshes and the introduction of the MacBook which significantly underperforms the less expensive MBA.

            2. Because YOU claimed the difference between the MacBook Pro and the MacBook Air was extremely significant. I quote YOU:

              “The size and weight difference between the MBA and the MBP is extremely significant. The size and weight difference between what an rMBA could’ve been and the rMB is not significant or relevant at all, while the performance gap is HUGE.

              I just showed you it was NOT extremely significant. I used Apple’s own specifications to hoist you on your own petard and shot you over the horizon.

            3. What’s funny is that you just responded to my comment pointing out your idiocy in using the MBA 13″ instead of the MBA 11″ which what I was obviously talking about in the quote. Even if that quote was unclear, it was an idiotic comparison to use the MBA 13″ in comparison to the MBP 13″ when talking about a significant size and weight difference.

              And now you comment, completely oblivious and ignoring the point and act like as if there isn’t a significant difference because you used “Apple’s own specification”.

              Hey dummy, you used the wrong specs for comparison.

              Get over it, and address the point… as clearly presented in my previous comment, there’s little size and weight difference between the rMB and the MBA 11″ relative to the huge size and weight difference between the MBA 11″ and the MBP 13″. Further, that point is even more extreme when you consider what Apple could’ve done with a rMBA using the tech they did introduce in the rMB.

              At the same time, there’s a huge performance difference between the rMB and every current model of Mac. The tiny size and weight reduction (and I’m comparing it to the MBA 11″) is extremely negligible compared to having to go back to 2010-2011 low to midrange Macs in performance.

              Next time try addressing the point instead of burying your head in the sand and repeating what you knew you were obviously confused about. Otherwise, you just look like an idiot who is failing to justify their overpriced rMB purchase and knows deep down inside that the price-to-performance and price-to-obsolescence is one of the worst Apple has had in quite a while.

  3. I think “ultra portability” is overdone. Anything under 3lbs is highly portable in my view and the current 13″ Pro at 3.5lbs comes pretty close. My iPhone is ultra-portable, anything I have to put in a bag is less so.

    My 13″ Air (2.97lbs) is the best computer I’ve ever owned. Sure I’d love a 14″ Retina screen within the same footprint, but losing 0.5lbs of weight to sacrifice ports and probably have a slower processor aren’t worth it to me, especially if the base model costs $1499 (the 12″ starts at $1299).

    1. Love my 13″ rMBP as well. Replaced the aging ’11 MBA 13″ which had served me so well for 4 years and I believe I’ll be very happy with it for at least another 3 years. At 3.5 lbs, it really isn’t much more than the 13″ Air and now I have the iPad Pro to take around for most mobile needs so the MBP is more of a desktop machine driving a 27″ display. Now if Apple would only release a new rThundebolt Display…

      1. rMBP 15″
        iPad
        iPhone
        and 3 mac minis at home “tethered” to the earth
        (wife has iMac24 and needs no more)

        every job i need to do is covered, and have not needed to go “ultraportable” with the added requirement of “ultrapowerful”
        those that do can pick their compromises……

  4. Apple’s laptop lineup is a mess. It’s time for a rethink.

    There is room in the lineup for at least 4 models, and Apple might as well ditch the “Pro” differentiator since it’s obvious that Apple no longer cares if one is a business user:

    11″ ultraportable MacBook with at least 2 USB-C ports
    13″ beginner level MacBook with 2 USB-C and MagSafe
    15″ MacBook with 2 USB-C 1 Thunderbolt or DisplayPort, user upgradeable RAM expansion, PCI slot, and optional removable battery or 2nd hard drive, and 3 options for intel Core i5 and i7 chips
    17″ MacBook with everything the 15″ MacBook offers plus 10+ hour active use battery life and upgradeable RAM, GPU

    It is unacceptable for Apple to continue prioritizing thin consumer-grade sealed hardware versus high performance machines with features like Touch ID which are highly desireable for the big spenders, businesses, and researchers who need more bang for the buck.

  5. The Macbook is currently Apple’s best selling model, with the 13 Pro second. Most people do not need a Mac to do heavy duty stuff like video editing or photshop, 80% of comsumers use them for Email, web, some light photo editing in photos and word processing.

    The exact same target market for the ipad!!!

  6. I was all ready to upgrade to a new 17″MBP and they discontinued them, so I stayed with my 2010 model until I finally threw in the towel and bought a 5K iMac (& an ups). Now I hardly touch the MBP, though I run the 10.11.2 betas on an older Aluminum 17″MBP. After a 27″ screen, even 17″ feels cramped.

  7. Bought a new MacBook Pro 13 in Early November.
    Looked at the iToy (1 Port MacBook)
    Looked at the Airs and saw no Retina Display.
    Bought the closest thing to a real computer, you know with ports and a decent CPU.

    Still not pleased with vampire video on a laptop north of $1,500.

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