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Apple Solves the "Too Many Ports" Problem With New Macbook

Have you ever been frustrated by not knowing which cable to stick in which port on your laptop? Apple has a solution!

Meet the new Macbook. This 12″ laptop measures 13.1mm thin, weighs 2 pounds, and has just a single USB Type-C port (for both power and peripherals). That’s right, you get to buy all new peripherals! (or an adapter!)sffarcqzvymggrpayqj9[1]

The new Macbook is going to split the differences between the 11″ and 13″ Macbook Airs. It runs OSX on a 1.1GHz dual-core Intel Core M CPU with 8GB RAM and 256GB storage. Screen resolution is the expected 2304 x 1440 (a Retina display) with edge-to-edge glass.

This laptop has Wifi, Bluetooth, a thinner screen, a pressure sensitive touchpad, and an edge-to-edge keyboard. The starting price is $1,399 for the model with the 1.1GHz CPU.

It’s going to ship in April, and curiously enough this new model won’t replace the existing Macbook Air or Pro.  They will stick around so that those who need more ports or CPU power will have options.

And that’s a good thing, because a single port just isn’t enough, IMO.


I have trouble seeing a laptop with a single port as a real working laptop and not an accessory like the iPad. There are times that I’ve had 4 or more items plugged into my laptop, and I can’t imagine the pain of having to cope with the single port on the new Macbook.

Luckily I won’t have to (it’s outside my price range) nor will anyone else be forced to cope. Apple is also updating the MacBook Pro and MacBook Air models starting today. They’re going to ship with 5th-gen Intel Core i5 or Core i7 Broadwell CPUs. The MacBook Pro 13″ is going to also get an extra hour of battery life (for a total of 10) and the new pressure sensitive trackpad found on the brad-new Macbook.

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Paul March 9, 2015 um 2:32 pm

For a lot of writers and students with money though, this is ideal. When you think about it, its Apple’s version of the chromebook but with better reliability, better screen, faster processor and hardware, and a steep price to match. If you lug a laptop around a lot it might be quite tempting (I had a Macbook Air but switched to a Macbook Pro for the screen and graphics card).

Nate Hoffelder March 9, 2015 um 2:53 pm

I would think the Macbook Air met that need. This is going a step too far, resulting in IMO a crippled device.

JJJ is right; this is Apple’s first netbook.

Paul March 10, 2015 um 11:26 am

I’ve been thinking a lot about this over last night, particularly with the comments here. Within a few months I bet we’ll finally see the Apple TV’s everyone has been wondering about that was in that Steve Jobs biography that came out a few months ago. Except they won’t be called Apple TV but will be called 4K Apple Display’s with built in AppleTV.

The reason I bring it up is that one trick you can do with the existing AppleTV is send your screen to it. Hence you don’t need to plug your computer into the screen to get it to work (we use some standard AppleTV’s in the building to do this for powerpoint and conference meetings).

Hence if you don’t need to plug in a display, you don’t need to plug in a hard drive (because its all backed up to the cloud) then surviving without additional plugs has suddenly become a lot easier. All you need is power (and you only need that after 10 hours of use)

Note, I’m not saying this is how everyone will work (you can pry my MacBook Pro out of my cold dead hands) but it will be good enough for a lot of people. I bet we see the Apple displays replaced in April.

fjtorres March 10, 2015 um 11:52 am

Miracast is a standard feature of android and Windows systems these days. There is also a wireless HDMI spec out there. You csn buy WiFi printers cheap and bluetooth mice and speakers.

Wireless is replacing a lot of connections. But not everything.
And making portable users choose between power or peripherals isn’t too customer friendly.

The market will decide.
Maybe there’s enough faithful that will buy the single port vision.

I still think the next Surface Pro ads are going to be fun to watch.

jjj March 9, 2015 um 2:51 pm

Apple’s first Netbook (small screen, mobile class SoC).
And gold is so not tasteless enough ,they really need to go pink next.

Name (required) March 9, 2015 um 3:03 pm

*THIS* is exactly what I have been breathlessly waiting for. This and a ten thousand dollar watch that is going to be hopelessly obsolete thing with a dead non-user-replaceable battery in like three years.

Screw user replaceable battery, upgradeable memory, disk, and other notebook features. Now we have a single point of failure. When the connector wears out or gets damaged … you have a wonderful paperweight. Oh … and let’s not forget the large box for numerous expensive dongles that let you utilize said single port to connect to numerous peripherals.

Nate Hoffelder March 9, 2015 um 3:06 pm

Pfft. It won’t even make a decent paperweight. It only weighs 2 pounds, for crying out loud, and it’s so thin that it could easily get lost in a weekday newspaper and thrown away.


Name (required) March 9, 2015 um 3:24 pm

One more thing …
Said single connector is ALSO used for charging the netbook.
Bravo, Apple.

Let me quote from
The most efficient way to charge a notebook is by connecting a charger to a port. And as long as we were going to include a port for charging the new MacBook, we wanted to make sure it was the most advanced and versatile one available. The new USB?C port puts just about everything you need in a port all in one place. This amazing port provides charging, speedy USB 3 data transfer, and video output in a small, reversible design that’s one-third the size of the current USB port.

If I read the above anywhere else I would suspect that this was yet another "clickwheel" interface spoof by The Onion 😉

puzzled March 9, 2015 um 5:35 pm

So, you can’t use the USB port as a USB port when you’re charging the netbook?

And won’t it take forever to charge (unless they’re charging with massive amps through a 5 volt USB port?

Nate Hoffelder March 9, 2015 um 5:54 pm

There’s an $80 dongle:

And the power issues worry me as well.

puzzled March 9, 2015 um 5:57 pm

So, it isn’t just a single port cubic computer.

It’s a single port cubic computer with an external part. This is a step away from simpler…

Nate Hoffelder March 9, 2015 um 7:54 pm

Basically it’s a laptop with two single points of failure. If the port breaks, you can’t do anything, and if the dongle breaks, you can do almost as little.

Good design, that.

puzzled March 9, 2015 um 5:58 pm

And this is just a USB 3 HDMI video converter, with USB pass through ports.

fjtorres March 9, 2015 um 3:53 pm

Cortana is going to hurt herself laughing.

Patrick March 9, 2015 um 9:17 pm

I’m stunned that Nate’s mythical watch didn’t get a mention today.

Also, how does Apple stay in business without the intelligentsia of this site ever buying any of their products or working in QC for Apple?

I will say this is better than the Chromebook Pixel and worse than a lot of options available on the market…

Nate Hoffelder March 9, 2015 um 9:59 pm

I don’t know how Apple survived this long without heeding my wisdom, but their days are surely numbers. (And that number is 170 billion or so.)

In all seriousness, I snarked about the new Macbook because the design is so extreme that it opened itself up to the snark. And besides, it was funny.

fjtorres March 10, 2015 um 1:07 am

Well, I could be wrong, but I suspect Nate isn’t all that interested in $17,000 watches. Smart or otherwise.

And no, that is not yens, pesos,or bolivars but good old US dollars.

Nate Hoffelder March 10, 2015 um 5:41 am

Actually, I avoided the Apple Watch and a second post on the dongle because it felt wrong to snark on Apple twice in a single day. That wasn’t an explicit editorial policy yesterday, but it feels like a good idea.

And yes, the $17k Apple Watch is deserving of snark.

fjtorres March 10, 2015 um 9:00 am

Gotta spread the snark around.
Plus it would only be fair to wait until May, after reviewers are allowed to actually touch and test the $17K model to snark about it. For all we know, it’ll come with a radioisotope atomic battery for extended use as well as a certificate of authenticity from the Franklin mint.

Mackay Bell March 9, 2015 um 11:18 pm

You’re totally right, as always, Nate! It doesn’t even have a floppy disk! Or a serial port! Or an ethernet connection!

No one is going to buy that thing. I remember when Apple first introduced the iMac without a floppy disk and it was a total failure, as predicted. Then they made the same mistake of introducing an iPad without any connections except for a combo power dock connector that wasn’t even a standard. No one bought that either.

The last thing I worry about with a laptop is weight. The heavier the better. And thin? Since when have people been interested in buying thin laptops?

The only thing I can’t understand is why Apple is the most valuable and profitable company in the world. But one this is certain, it’s doomed now!

Name (required) March 10, 2015 um 2:58 am

Look, you can’t take it all *that* seriously.
As Nate said, it is fun to make a stab at Apple.

Do you know why it is such fun? Because every good joke must contain a grain of truth.
The port IS a single point of failure. And a modern notebook has a number if such points. Especially one that has no user-serviceable parts inside. But the vast majority of people buying this are not going to care, until something breaks or until they are stranded without $100 dongle to connect somewhere.

I am not the target demographics for high-end Apple stuff. If I could I would swap my [home] notebook for an ugly tower where I can install interesting hardware salvaged from trash [at work].

By the way, at work we still buy notebooks with serial ports. You need them in industrial setting – to use serial cable and badly written(*) proprietary software to connect to old control systems.

(*) I say badly written, because if said software was well written then it would be able to work with those USB Serial dongles.

Peter Winkler March 10, 2015 um 1:09 am

I would love one of these. Unfortunately, I bought a new 13″ MacBook Pro Retina last June.

Damn you, Apple! Damn you all to hell!! 🙂

anothername March 10, 2015 um 7:57 am

It will be interesting to see how it sells. For people with more money than sense.

Bob W March 10, 2015 um 8:08 am

I remember attending a Systems Engineering conference over 20 years ago where they were talking about the future of computing and how we had the problem of wire spaghetti (power, video, keyboard, mouse, network, printer …). The future was that everything was going to be through a single cable. It took a long time but we finally got there and all in a compact industry standard port. I think this is a great thing and Apple is just the first to adopt it.

fjtorres March 10, 2015 um 8:52 am

Meh. Apple "solved" the problem decades ago with ADB.

The issue here isn’t the use of a single type of connector for everything; it is the use of a single, non-daisy chainable interface that requires a pricey breakout box to provide the features that competing products offer out-of-box.

fjtorres March 10, 2015 um 8:53 am


Nate Hoffelder March 10, 2015 um 8:59 am

I remember that. It was darned convenient solution for the KB+mouse spaghetti cable issue.

fjtorres March 10, 2015 um 10:51 am

There have been generic USB keyboards with built-in hubs since the days of USB 1.0. The best have ports on both sides for righties or lefties. I used to plug the mouse on one side and the media player on the other. Daisy chaining is really useful.

Nate Hoffelder March 10, 2015 um 11:00 am

I’ve never seen one, but I can imagine how useful they would be (and the hub would only add $3 to $5 to the cost).

fjtorres March 10, 2015 um 11:42 am

That’s exactly how it works out.
They start at $13 and go up to the $100+ range for the gamer-class monsters.

The good name brand models run around $30 with mechanical switch keys.

Just google up keyboard usb hub. Nice pictures pop up.

Bob W March 10, 2015 um 10:13 am

The spaghetti problem was solved through wireless connectivity but this is the solution that was envisioned at the time.

I like the USB Type-C port for a single port solution to provide power and legacy connectivity. It’s not proprietary, 20 V, 5A (100W) and up to 10 Gbps. I’m sure other vendors will be using it.

Nate Hoffelder March 10, 2015 um 10:36 am

USB Type-C is an improvement, it’s just that we want 4 or 5 of them and not a single port.

You know, Apple could have bundled an elegant dock into the power brick without making it too much larger. That would have solved many issues.

puzzled March 10, 2015 um 5:07 pm

But then, they wouldn’t have snagged another $80 from you.

The Absolutely True Story of the Design of the New Macbook (video) ⋆ Ink, Bits, & Pixels March 12, 2015 um 11:08 am

[…] the new Macbook was announced earlier this week, many pundits were amazed that Apple had chosen such an extreme design.  The new Macbook has but […]

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