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Apple's radical 12-inch MacBook Air is the slimmest, lightest Mac ever

Brad Chacos | March 10, 2015
The 12-inch MacBook was redesigned from the ground up and uses a single USB Type-C connector in a quest for revolutionary thinness.

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The spartan redesign also wouldn't have been possible without the cutting-edge USB 3.1 standard and new Type-C connection. This backward-compatible wonder cable does it all: It's capable of delivering 100 watts of power, 10Gbps data transfer speeds (twice that of USB 3.0), and even audio and video signals using the DisplayPort protocol . Goodbye, power cords and Thunderbolt. And did I mention the Type-C connector is reversible, too, just like Apple's MagSafe connector, so you'll never have to fumble with shoving your USB cable in the right way again.

"This is the most extreme, efficient notebook we've ever created," Schiller beamed.

There is a downside to streamlining things down to a lone humble, potent port, as Michael Simon noted in his original coverage of the 12-inch MacBook Air rumors. You're going to need a lot of adapter cables to reproduce the lost functionality of the originals. Sure, Apple's embraced the new USB tech, but the legion of external peripherals and displays currently available haven't. Connecting those Type-C cables to a wall socket or a DisplayPort-equipped monitor will require adapters, and you'll need other adapters to connect to Thunderbolt, Ethernet, or standard USB devices. Want to plug in multiple devices? You're going to need a hub, too.

But that's where Apple's software ecosystem comes into play. Schiller touted that features like Continuity, AirDrop, and AirPlay allow you to wirelessly share data between your Apple devices without ever touching a cable.

The 12-inch MacBook Air will be available in silver, space grey, and--wait for it--gold, on sale on April 10. The $1,300 base model includes 8GB of RAM and a 256GB solid-state drive. A $1,600 model will pack a more powerful processor and a 512GB SSD.

The rest

While the focus was squarely on the new Mac, Apple didn't leave the old Macs untouched. The entire MacBook line is being upgraded to Intel's new Broadwell processors, which offer increased battery life and a modest performance boost over the last-gen Haswell processors.

The 13-inch MacBook Air models will also be outfitted with flash storage two-times faster than before. All MacBook Pro models will also have the faster flash, as well as the new Force Touch trackpad introduced in the 12-inch MacBook Air. The revamped old-school MacBook Air and Pro models are available today.


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