Apple reveals the new ultrathin 12-inch MacBook laptop

The new device is Apple's thinnest laptop ever and includes Retina Display, a new touch-sensitive trackpad and a new port for data transfer and charging in a single connector.

Ben Fox Rubin Former senior reporter
Ben Fox Rubin was a senior reporter for CNET News in Manhattan, reporting on Amazon, e-commerce and mobile payments. He previously worked as a reporter for The Wall Street Journal and got his start at newspapers in New York, Connecticut and Massachusetts.
Ben Fox Rubin
4 min read

Apple CEO Cook shows off the new MacBook laptop Monday. Apple

Apple on Monday unveiled its newest MacBook, a super-thin and light device that could help it keep demand going for its sleek but high-priced Mac computers.

"We challenged ourselves to reinvent the notebook," CEO Tim Cook said at a press event in San Francisco. "And we did it."

Apple has already been growing faster than the rest of the personal-computer industry, but it needs to keep enticing customers to its Mac laptops and desktops to draw revenue from more areas than just its blockbuster iPhone business. The new device could help it do just that by bringing together many features that have long been on peoples' wish lists for the MacBook line, especially by offering more laptops with higher-resolution displays.

The new MacBook includes a 12-inch Retina Display, with just over 3.3 million pixels. It's also the first MacBook without a fan, and it uses Intel's new low-power Core M processor, which allows for longer battery life and a thinner design than past generations of similar Intel chips. Other devices using Core M, which is less potent than Intel's Core i-series chips, include the high-end Lenovo Yoga 3 Pro laptop and the Dell Venue 11 Pro 7000 tablet.

Apple executive Phil Schiller introduces the new MacBook at Apple's press event in San Francisco on Monday. CNET

The device is 24 percent thinner than an 11-inch MacBook Air laptop, previously the company's thinnest laptop. It's 2 pounds and 13.1 millimeters thick, compared with the 2.38 pound 11-inch MacBook Air. A 67 percent smaller logic board allows for more room for the battery, which now offers up to nine hours for wireless Web browsing. The device starts at $1,299 and ships beginning April 10 in three colors: silver, space gray and gold.

The trackpad has been upgraded to include touch response for the first time, using Apple's Force Touch technology, which can sense a range of pressure from a light click to a deeper press. These different types of clicks allow users to do different things. For example, a deep click -- called a "force click" -- on a word in a Web browser will call up a connected Wikipedia page.

Also, a new port, called USB-C, supports charging, video output and downloads from another device, such as the iPhone or iPad, all from a single connector. The USB-C port is also reversible, so can be plugged in with less hassle. The USB-C standard isn't specific to Apple, so it should appear in more devices in the future.

The keyboard is thinner, and more precise and accurate, Apple said.

Additionally, the MacBook Air was upgraded with a faster Intel Core i-series processor, but still won't include a Retina Display. The 13-inch MacBook Pro, which already included Retina, got a bump up to a faster Core i-series processor and the new trackpad.

The Mac line, Apple's original business, has been overshadowed for more than a decade by the company's newer products, from the iPod music player to the iPhone and iPad. However, in 2014, the Mac -- Apple's third largest business -- enjoyed a revival, with revenue rising 12 percent to $24.1 billion, helping make up for sagging sales of iPads, the company's second biggest business after iPhones.

Watch this: Apple reveals the new 12-inch MacBook with Retina Display

The Mac's growth follows a broader trend of personal-computer sales stabilizing last year, after roughly two years of weaker sales as consumers shifted their spending from PCs to tablets. Since those tough years, consumer spending has returned somewhat to PCs, thanks in part to lighter and thinner designs for laptops and the rise of laptop-tablet hybrids with detachable keyboards. That improvement has at least slowed the notion of the "post PC" era, where people may use smartphones and tablets almost exclusively, instead of desktops and laptops.

To maintain growth, Apple has been updating the processor speeds and display resolution on its Macs. In October, it revealed its newest iMac desktop computer, the 27-inch iMac with Retina 5K Display , finally bringing its higher-resolution Retina Display technology to the device.

Bringing Retina Display to the MacBook Air has been expected for years. The light, slimmed-down Air laptop was first introduced in 2008, but has missed out on getting bumped up to a Retina Display since that technology was first brought to the iPhone 4 in 2010. That higher-resolution screen also hit the iPad and MacBook Pro laptop line in 2012.

The new MacBook could give Mac buyers more reason to upgrade their laptops, and help Apple keep up demand against PC leaders Lenovo, HP, Dell and Acer. Apple became the No. 5 PC maker in October, edging out Asus for the spot, with its price cuts and increased demand in mature markets helping Apple consistently outgrow the market, according to researcher IDC.

Apple's new 12-inch MacBook has Force Touch trackpad and USB-C port (pictures)

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