Apple has designed a MacBook that’s almost a tablet

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The new MacBook is an iPad with a keyboard.

That may be the best description of the new Apple laptop design, based on Apple’s launch event on Monday. At a mere 13 millimeters thick and weighing just two pounds, it approaches the iPad’s portability and is just as spartan, sporting only a solitary connector.

Consumers tired of trying to shoehorn their iPad into a laptop (i.e., do real work on their iPad) may have finally found the ideal replacement.

The new MacBook will replace the iPad for some people, according to Andy Vandervell, an editor at Trusted Reviews. “If you’ve ever bought a keyboard for your iPad and found that experience frustrating, the new MacBook is the perfect tonic,” Vandervell told

That sentiment is echoed by others.

And Apple’s Philip Schiller pretty much made this point during Apple’s launch event on Monday.

“It’s the most extreme…notebook we’ve ever created. This is a vision of the future of the notebook. One with extreme portability,” he said. The only thing it’s lacking is a touch screen but that’s always been a no-go for Apple on its MacBooks.

Now, the bad news. Some hands-on previews indicate that the new MacBook – albeit aesthetically stunning – may also have some of the shortcomings of products that try to straddle both categories.

Take the keyboard. Typing has always been a challenge for really thin designs. Dell took a crack at this with its ultra-thin XPS 11. To get the laptop as thin as possible (some might say as thin as a tablet with a keyboard), Dell opted for a touch keyboard. But that wasn’t well received.

Ditto for Microsoft’s Touch Cover keyboard for its early Surface tablet-laptop hybrid models.

Now, a few hands-on reviews of the new MacBook indicate the keyboard may be a weak point, saying it falls short of the MacBook Air’s.

“I am still trying to understand who are they trying to target with the new MacBook,” Gurpreet Kaur, an analyst at market researcher Gap Intelligence, told “Maybe this is their answer to [Microsoft’s] Surface?”

Then there’s the starting price of $1,299. That’s $400 more than the entry price for the 11.6-inch MacBook Air. (Which, by the way, isn’t that much heavier at 2.38 pounds.) That puts it in the elite product category and rules out cost-conscious consumers.

Because we’re talking about Apple, however, none of the criticism above means the new MacBook will be a failure. Probably far from it. Millions of consumers will get used to the keyboard and accept the fact that the laptop has one connector port.

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