The 12-inch MacBook with Retina display is a marvel of engineering. It packs the power of macOS into a tiny chassis that weighs just two pounds. You can carry it and an iPad before you reach the weight of the 13-inch MacBook Pro.
There are, of course, trade-offs when it comes to such a small machine. The single USB-C port is a show-stopper for many, as is the under-powered — but fanless — Intel CPU.
The fact that compromises are needed to make notebooks thin and light is nothing new. Over the years, Apple has made several bold moves in this direction. Three really stand out.
The Apple world may be talking about the HomePod a lot in the wake of WWDC, but it's not the first time Apple has tried to reinvent home audio.
In 2006 — just a year before the iPhone appeared — a slightly-under-the-weather Steve Jobs introduced the $349 iPod Hi-Fi.
Every once in a while, an Apple device comes along that sticks around for a while without an update.
Jokes about the "current" Mac Pro aside, one such device that comes to mind for me pretty quickly is the iPad 2, introduced back in March 2011. It was finally taken off the market three years later.
While that doesn't seem remarkable today, it was an eternity when it came to iOS devices at the time. The iPad 2 was one of the first devices Apple kept around to fill a lower price point on its product matrix.
But let's not get ahead of ourselves quite yet.
Last month, I took a look at the Clamshell iBook G3, the most colorful notebook Apple ever made.
The Clamshell saw just one speed bump, and was replaced in less than two years. The second-generation iBook introduced the form factor most people think of when they think of the notebook:
Close your eyes and picture a Mac laptop. It has a small screen in a case unique among a sea of PC notebooks. It runs without a fan, and has impressive battery life. The trackpad is smooth and the keyboard is responsive.
Now open your eyes. Is this what you had in mind?
Let's talk about the original "Clamshell" iBook.
Over the last 37 years, Apple has shipped 46 different models of standalone display.
The first was the Apple Monitor III, a green phosphor CRT built for use with the ill-fated Apple III.
image via Wikipedia
The Apple Monitor III kicked off a long line of displays, but it's not all that interesting. Let's take a look at some of the standouts in a sea of forgettable beige products.
"The Mac mini is BYODKM," Steve Jobs said, in front of a crowded and slightly confused audience at Macworld 2005.
"Bring your own display, keyboard and mouse," he continued. "We supply the computer, you supply the rest."
The Mac mini was designed to lure switchers to the platform. A new customer could simply unplug their desktop PC and hook a new Mac mini up to their existing peripherals.1
The original machine started at just $499, making the Mac mini the lowest-cost Mac Apple has ever sold.
This year, Apple has exited the external display business and is rumored to be discontinuing its AirPort wireless routers.
These developments have left a bad taste in many users' mouths, but 2016 isn't the first time Apple has shuttered an entire product line.
By my count, there are five major categories of products or devices that Apple has abandoned over the years.
The current MacBook Pro line is a little bit of a mess. Even after brushing aside the last-generation machines that are still for sale, the current offerings are confusing. Both 15-inch models come with the Touch Bar, but only two of the three 13-inch models offered do.
That $1,499 non-Touch-Bar-but-still-in-the-new-skinny-case 13-inch MacBook Pro is what I'm typing on right now. It's a great little laptop. The screen is gorgeous, battery life is great and it's more than fast enough for what I need when I'm not in front of my 5K iMac.
It's a weird machine, though. I'm sure Apple left the Touch Bar — and two Thunderbolt 3 ports — out solely to hit the price point, which is already higher than the model it replaces.
My guess is that this MacBook Pro will either drop in price or be replaced in the future as the Touch Bar trickles down.
Until then, it's in the ranks of some other modern-era Macs that were caught between other products or different eras of hardware design. Let's look at some other examples.