2018 MacBook

The MacBook is an extremely small, thin, light weight computer for students and travelers. It’s Apple’s entry level laptop, build for extreme portability and long battery life…which demands some compromises.

The size of any laptop’s screen dictates the physical size of the laptop itself. Those accustomed to large desktop screens, or the screens of 15″ or even 13″ laptops may feel a bit confined with the 12″ MacBook screen, but in return you get a laptop that’s smaller than a sheet of letter sized paper, and only .5″ thick at its thickest point.

We prefer computers that are upgradable as you needs grow, but this model is permanently configured with 8GB of RAM and either 256 or 512GB internal storage. It’s not upgradable…it’s replaceable.

The MacBook has limited connectivity built-in. It has a single USB-C port and a headphone jack. The USB-C port is used for charging, connecting external devices like hard drives, printers, and scanners, and connecting external displays.

There are a couple of red flags here.

• With only one USB-C port, if you plug in the charger, there’s no place to plug in anything else.

• Very few external devices currently available come with USB-C connectors yet. Most external devices (external drives, wired printers, scanners, monitors) come with standard USB, VGA, or DVI, HDMI, or DisplayPort connectors.

What this means to you is that if you plan to connect anything to your MacBook, you’ll likely have to spring for a USB-C docking station…an external box that plugs into the USB-C port, has a place to plug in the charger, and also provides standard a selection of standard ports. For example, the IoGear Compact USB-C Docking Station with PD Passthrough, GUD3C023.

It seems to us that carrying a docking station or several adapters defeats the purpose of having such a very thin computer, which is why we think that as configured, this is a computer for travelers and students.

Experience shows that 256GB of storage is rarely enough for a laptop. Between pictures, music, videos, programs, and your documents, you may find yourself out of space pretty quickly. For that reason, we think it’s worth paying $1599 for the high end model. It gives you 512GB of storage, and a slightly faster processor.