It’s no secret that Apple has mastered the art of design, and with every iteration of their product line, they continue to wow with small and often subtle changes that contribute to an overall feeling of amazement when interacting with their computers. Each and every piece and part has its own place in the end result, and everything feels like it should be there, rather than needed to be there.
With the latest MacBook and MacBook Pro, Apple “Redesigned. Reengineered. Re-everythinged.” their way into one of the most stunning laptops ever built thanks to a new unibody construction that begins life as a single piece of aluminum, and ends as a computer that has been machined down to the micron, thus reducing size, weight, complexity, and opportunity for failure.
Even things like the thickness of the display don’t escape the watchful eye of Apple’s designers, as they opted to use LED backlight technology across their entire notebook line, rather than the CCFLs that are standard for the industry. In addition to the fact that they take less space to create the same amount of light, LEDs reach maximum brightness instantly, unlike CCFLs, which take time to warm up.
It’s also no secret that Steve Jobs has a thing for buttons, and specifically the removal of as many buttons as possible, so for the latest version of Apple’s trackpad, they’ve removed the buttons entirely and replaced them with a trackpad that is itself the button. Users can click anywhere on the trackpad and it will register as a click, allowing for new ways of interacting with the computer through Multi-Touch gestures that had never before been possible.
Think no part is too small to escape revision? According to Apple, designers worked on hundreds of versions of the thumbscoop (the indentation that allows you to open the display) before they got it right.
If the scoop is too deep, you put too much pressure on the display to open it. If it’s too shallow, you struggle to open the display. It may seem incidental, but if the thumbscoop is well designed, it makes the difference between a bad experience and a good one.
How important was it for Apple to get the thumbscoop right? They examined their options under an electron microscope until they were happy that they had gotten it just right.
The sleep indicator light?
During the CNC process, a machine first thins out the aluminum. Then a laser drill creates small perforations for the LED light to shine through. These holes are so tiny that the aluminum appears seamless when the light is off.
A light when you need it and nothing when you don’t?
That’s what I call attention to detail.
And don’t think that just because Apple is obsessed with perfection that they’re willing to let the environment take a hit as a result of their designs.
In addition to being brighter and thinner, LED backlighting is also mercury and arsenic free, and uses 30 percent less power than a CCFL display. The circuit board? Now polyvinyl chloride (PVC), brominated flame retardant (BFRs), bromine and chlorine free.
Even the packaging has been optimized, with a reduction of 37 percent when compared to previous generations. Fewer trees used for boxes and less fuel used for transportation means a healthier environment, and when all is said and done and it’s time to upgrade to the latest and greatest, almost every part of the new MacBook line can be recycled.
Is it perfection?
Probably not, since I’m sure they’ll find ways to improve their products and their processes in the future, but until then, Apple’s laptop line is a design force to be reckoned with.