Word on the proverbial streets is that Apple is in upgrade mode and high on the list is the MacBook Pro line, obviously due for some thinner, lighter, faster love from Cupertino’s engineers. Over a year ago Apple set the trail for ultra light notebooks with the 2-pound MacBook, the thinnest, lightest, but not most powerful ever.
That crown probably belongs to the 12.5-inch screen Asus Zenbook 3 which is, as you would expect from the copycats, thinner, lighter, and faster. Somehow Asus managed to cram an Intel i7 CPU into the Zenbook 3 which gives it roughly the same power as a 15-inch MacBook Pro.
Rich McCormick with known details (the Zenbook won’t show up until later in 2016; just like Apple’s new MacBook Pro line).
The laptop will come in three colors: Royal Blue, Quartz Grey, and — just to really drive home the Apple comparison — Rose Gold. A ZenBook 3 with an i7 processor and a 1TB solid state drive will be available for $1,999, in Q3 this year, or $1,499 with a 512GB SSD.
Thinner, lighter, faster than a MacBook, but with a higher price tag, yet, ostensibly as powerful as a larger MacBook Pro.
That’s the nature of the industry. Thinner, lighter, faster.
Already, the new MacBook is so thin and light as to feel fragile, a feeling which matches the lack of power available in the MacBook Pro line with i5 and i7 CPUs. When does this trend end?
iPhones are thinner, lighter, and faster every couple of years. The iPad Pro models are thinner, lighter, faster (admittedly, the lighter 12.9-inch iPad Pro feels heavier than the heavier MacBook model) but serve different groups of Mac users. The MacBook is the ultimate in simple, sporting a single USB-C port, while today’s MacBook Pro line bristles with connectors from full-sized USB 3 to HDMI to DisplayPort.
Will Apple do away with extra ports in the Pro models? If so, the only differentiation might be price tag, CPU, and GPU.
What I find interesting about the online comparisons between Windows notebooks and Mac notebooks is the absence of a comparison of OS X vs. Windows 10. Hardware specifications are compared and contrasted ad nauseam, but it’s as if customers care only about hardware, and software is all the same. It seems to me that hardware is mostly the same, and the key differentiators are overlooked.
Generally speaking, Apple’s notebooks are slightly more expensive than comparable hardware running Windows PCs, but seldom do reviewers attempt to compare usability between Windows 10 and OS X. Why not? Comparing specifications of thinner, lighter, faster is easier than comparing a more subjective analysis of each operating system’s respective strengths and weaknesses.
One question on the hardware side that isn’t discussed, is ‘How thin and light can these notebooks get?’ There must be a limit that stretches beyond usability. the 9.7-inch iPad Pro weighs less than a pound, sans keyboard. Add half a pound or so to the 12.9-inch iPad Pro model. Add a keyboard and even the iPad weighs about the same as the new class of thinner, lighter, faster notebooks.
So far, thinner and lighter hasn’t reached the threshold of flimsy and fragile but we can’t be far from that level. How thin is too thin? How light is too light? And with Apple setting the trend and competitors working feverishly to top Apple’s hardware specifications, where does it end?