Last year, Apple announced the 12″ Retina MacBook ultraportable. Today, the machine got its first update. There’s a lot of things you’d expect and others that are a little surprising. Let’s take a look at what the 2016 model brings.
The 12″ is based around a 2304 x 1440 Retina display. This doesn’t change neither does the casing itself the difference is what’s inside. The Broadwell Core-M has been traded out for its updated Skylake Core M3 counterparts. The new CPUs share the same clock speed, but are a bit more powerful. According to Apple, the new Intel Integrated HD 515 graphics are a not insignificant 25% more powerful than the HD 5300 of last year. The chips are also more efficient offering an additional hour of run time now between 10 and 11 hours. The flash storage has been upgraded to a faster PCI-E standard and system memory is now 1866mhz.
For I/O, you still have two options: a 3.5mm headphones jack and a one-size fits all USB 3.1 Type-C jack. Many, including myself expected this port to be upgraded to Thunderbolt 3 with Skylake. That will presumably happen with updated MacBook Pros later this year. However, given the tasks this Core M-powered machine is expected to perform, one could argue that Type-C was good enough.
Pricing and configurations for the 2016 MacBook are the same as the 2015 models starting at $1299 for the base model. You can still order your MacBook in silver, space gray, and gold with fan favorite Rose Gold adding the fray for 2016. The MacBook’s predecessor, the MacBook Air also received a minor refresh with all 13″ models now coming standard with 8GB of memory.
Imagine a 12.5″ Windows 10 tablet with a 6th Gen Silverlake Core M CPU. Now imagine that that tablet has a dock for a keyboard. At this point you have a standard 2-in-1 with maybe a little more kick with the Core M instead of an Atom. Now add Thunderbolt 3 to that mix to make it compatible with high end storage & I/O devices. Next, let’s use some of that Thunderbolt 3 bandwidth for an external discreet graphics card. You have machine that goes from bit tablet to mini-workstation. This isn’t theoretical or a concept, Acer is actually nuts enough to build this and they’re calling it the the Aspire Switch 12 S. They have my attention.
As I said in the opener, the Switch 12 S has a 12.5″ screen with a pair of options: 1920×1080 Full HD or an option Ultra HD, yes as in 4K, display at 3840 x 2160. 4K on something that can be used as a tablet is utterly insane. Either option has Gorilla Glass 4 with further Acer enhancements to maximize viewing angles and reduce eye strain. They’re flanked with Dolby-Premium compatible speakers Acer is calling True Harmony. Power is provided by the aforementioned 6th generation Intel Core M though Acer did not specify which ones. For I/O you have two full size USB 3.0 ports, Micro-HDMI, MicroSD, and your standard 3.5m audio jack. Its also has a 720P front camera and a 3D Intel Realsense R200 on the back. Memory is either 4GB or 8GB and you can have 128 or 256GB of solid-state storage. Its super light too weighting under 2 pounds as a tablet and just over 3 with the keyboard dock. Speaking of said dock, it uses Smart Hinge gold connections that secure magnetically while providing 6gbps transfer speeds and charging the keyboard. In other words, its designed to be a tablet when its a tablet and a laptop when it’s a laptop. For other accessories, that afore mentioned optional external graphics haven’t been fully fleshed out as for as details, but it’s coming. It won’t make the Switch 12 S a gaming PC, but it will give it a boost for gaming and professional graphics work.
The next two questions are pretty obvious: When and how much? Its be available next month, February 2016. but the exact date has not been released. Pricing for the base model is a very affordable $999, but it’ll go up from there once you add the really intriguing options.
Acer has come with a really intriguing option that lives in multiple worlds. Hopefully The Acer Aspire Switch 12 S will live up to its great promise.
Apple today updated two of its top of the line Macs, the 5k iMac and 15″ MacBook Pro with Retina Display. Both are relatively minor refreshes that tweak the already existing lines.
The new iMac, which was launched in its 12″ 5k incarnation last fall, comes in a much more affordable price. The initial model debuted at $2499 and today a new lower end version with a 3.3ghz Quad Core i5 CPU can be had at $500 less at $1999. It also comes with 8GB of memory and a 1TB hard drive as well the Radeon R9 M290 graphics. The original top of the line model receives a $200 price drop to $2299. That features a 3.5ghz Quad Core i5 CPU and R9 M290X graphics. If you were looking for other changes like USB Type-C, you’ll have to wait for the next generation.
The 21.5″ which was last refreshed in June of 2014 and Non-5K 27″ iMac last touched in September of 2013 were not updated along with the 5k models.
15″ Macbook Pro Retina
The 15″ Retina MacBook Pro was also updated with some of the features found on the new MacBook and updated 13″ model. The updated machines feature the new Force Touch trackpad, faster PCI-E x4 SSD drives, and new Radeon R9 M370X graphics chip in the higher end model. The battery has been tweaked to be slightly larger. This has the side effect of bumping the battery life from 8 hours to 9 hours.
What does not change are the CPUs. While the new 13″ has 5th generation dual core Broadwell chips, the 15″ retains 4th generation Quad Cores at 2.2, 2.5ghz, and 2.8ghz. These are the exact same chips as the 15″ updates launched 10 months ago. Apple isn’t alone. Intel hasn’t shipped 5th generation Quad Cores to anyone yet. Since the Intel graphics are on-die, it also retains the Iris 5200 Pro integrated graphics.
General configurations and the $1999 and $2499 price points remained unchanged from last year.