Apple MacBook shows off Intel Core M, new battery technology

A highly integrated design and new processing technology allows Apple to make a thinner and lighter MacBook

The new MacBook is a 12-inch model that has been re-designed in many ways to improve efficiency and user comfort, and it looks to be better than the Air. Apple claims that it's just a shade over 13mm at its thickest point (24 per cent thinner than the 11in MacBook Air), and that it only weighs 920g. This has been made possible due to a higher level of integration and miniaturisation.

A key enabler to the thin and light nature of the new MacBook is Intel's Core M CPU, which has allowed Apple (and many other manufacturers) to shed the weight and noise made by cooling fans. The MacBook has no vents or fans, and no moving parts at all, making it a silent operator.

With Core M, power consumption also goes down, and this is also a theme throughout the MacBook. Its Retina screen, which has a resolution of 2304x1440 pixels, also has redesigned pixels that feature a larger aperture. The claimed result is a screen that can consume 30 per cent less energy than previous screen technology at the same brightness level. Additionally, the redesigned screen allows for the lid to be thinner.

Redesigned screen technology has enabled the lid to be thinner.
Redesigned screen technology has enabled the lid to be thinner.

Other areas of the MacBook that have been redesigned are the keyboard, touchpad, and the battery cells. All have been made to fit perfectly within the dimensions of the notebook and its unibody metal construction. The keyboard has full-sized keys and defines the width of the notebook from edge to edge, while the touchpad takes up the space from the front of the notebook up to the keyboard.

Individual LED lights sit behind the bigger keys.
Individual LED lights sit behind the bigger keys.

Both components have new mechanisms that aim to make the user experience more comfortable. The keyboard now uses a butterfly mechanism with a stainless steel dome switch, rather than a scissor mechanism, which allows for a more uniform press and keys that don't wobble when they are hit at their edges. Individual LEDs have been installed for each key, which is claimed to save space, and also to produce a more precise backlit scene.

The new key mechanism on the right is said to provide a sturdier typing experience.
The new key mechanism on the right is said to provide a sturdier typing experience.

For the trackpad, Apple has done away with the 'springboard' style hinge mechanism of previous models, and instead implemented a 'force' pad that allows taps to be made and registered anywhere on the pad. It detects not only taps, but the force of taps, which opens up new gestures in the operating system -- for example, a force tap can preview a file without opening it. Apple's electromagnetic Taptic engine has been installed, allowing tactile feedback to be produced for the taps.

The new Trackpad uses force to detect clicks all over the pad, and there is a Taptic engine to provide tactile feedback.
The new Trackpad uses force to detect clicks all over the pad, and there is a Taptic engine to provide tactile feedback.

In addition to taps, the new Trackpad can detect force, allowing new gestures to be made.
In addition to taps, the new Trackpad can detect force, allowing new gestures to be made.

Battery life is said to last all day, with quoted figures such as 10 hours for iTunes video playback. All the spare space in the base has been given to batteries, and Apple engineers had to come up with a way to make use of all the height within the base, too. A terraced design using stacked battery sheets was created in order to produce asymmetric cells that can fit precisely in the unibody metal base.

Sheets making up a terraced battery design.
Sheets making up a terraced battery design.

A terraced battery fitting precisely inside the MacBook's body.
A terraced battery fitting precisely inside the MacBook's body.

A highly integrated design, dominated by batteries, with the motherboard and touchpad being the only other parts.
A highly integrated design, dominated by batteries, with the motherboard and touchpad being the only other parts.

Around the edges, there are no vents, and there is only one port (along with the headphone port). It is a USB-C, reversible connector that can be used for the power connector, external storage, and external displays. Wireless connectivity is by way of 802.11ac, 2-stream Wi-Fi, and Bluetooth 4.0. The antennas are consolidated in the base, rather than snaking up the lid. Wireless charging hasn't been introduced yet, but is sure to come with Intel's next generation of processing technology.

A reversible USB-C connector is the only port.
A reversible USB-C connector is the only port.

The USB-C connector enables all of these functions through the same port.
The USB-C connector enables all of these functions through the same port.

The Apple MacBook with Core M processing will be available in two configurations that vary only in CPU speed and storage size:

•12in Retina display •Intel Core M: either 1.1GHz with 2.4GHz Turbo Boost or 1.2GHz with 2.6GHz Turbo Boost
•8GB of 1600MHz low power DDR3 RAM
•256GB or 512GB PCIe based
•Intel HD Graphics 5300
•802.11ac Wi-Fi
•Bluetooth 4.0
•USB-C port (for charging, USB 3.1, DisplayPort 1.2, VGA, and HDMI)
•480p FaceTime camera
•Built-in stereo speakers, dual microphones, headphone jack
•39.7 Watt-hour lithium-polymer battery

Optional adapters need to be purchased for the VGA and HDMI capabilities.

The price for the 1.1GHz version with 256GB of storage will be $1799. The price for the 1.2GHz version with 512GB of storage will be $2199. It will begin shipping on 10 April.

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