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Apple's 12-inch MacBook vs. Windows laptops: Fight!

Gordon Mah Ung | March 11, 2015
How does Apple's new 12-inch MacBook compare against similar Windows laptops? We dive into the specs.

"Only one USB port that's not common at all on this new 12-inch MacBook? Wahoo! Apple does it again!"

I'm not sure who is actually asking for a reduction in ports on his or her laptops but I prefer more ports rather than fewer--especially common ports. Not having at least one standard Type-A USB port on the laptop itself is a weakness. Sure, there's a dongle adapter to make the Type-C connection play nice, but if you lose that adapter, you're not going to copy a file from a USB drive to your laptop. 

Ask any IT department that issues Macs about lost dongles.

Despite Lenovo's Yoga 3 Pro being thinner than the 12-MacBook at 12.7mm on paper (although I measured it just a tad thicker) has two Type-A USB ports, analog audio, a microHDMI connection, and an SD card reader on its side.

Keyboard and trackpad
Here's an area where Apple looks to have an early advantage over PC vendors. The company said it designed a "butterfly" switch for the MacBook's keyboard instead of using the standard scissor keyboard switch that's been used on laptops for the last two decades. Apple says the switch is more stable and thinner and allows for larger keycaps.

These are all good things and I suspect it's an area PC vendors may have to work hard to catch up. But then, PCWorld's resident keyboard expert Hayden Dingman points out there have been plenty of variations of scissor switches over the years. Razer, for example, has been playing with laptop switch designs and designed two different types of switches for its Razer Blade and Razer Blade Pro. No matter how good a laptop keyboard gets, it'll never be a mechanical keyboard.

The trackpad may also be a competitive advantage for Apple with its feedback system. It's also pressure sensitive, but that's not really new. Synaptic's ForcePad, for example, is one of the trackpads that have been available on PCs for years.

Still, this is one area Apple usually brings its A-game, and PC vendors will likely have to find a way to respond if people report the MacBook's keyboard knocks it out of the ballpark.

The new MacBook is $1,300 with a 1.1GHz dual-core processor and a 256GB SSD, or $1,600 to go to 1.2GHz dual-core processor and a 512GB SSD. All models feature the same 12-inch high-resolution panel and 8GB of DDR3L/1600 RAM.

What does those prices get you in the PC world? Asus Zenbook UX305 with its Core M, 8GB of RAM and 256GB SSD: $699. The Dell XPS13 with 3200x1800 touch screen, 8GB of RAM, 128GB SSD, and more capable Core i5 processor is $1,300. HP's new Spectre X360 with a hulking, Core i7, 8GB of RAM, 256GB SSD, and 1920x1080 screen is $1,150.


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