Apple’s latest MacBook sports a shockingly thin frame, improved battery life and a more responsive keyboard. But it also offers just one input-output port — a feature Apple is touting as a step forward, but is likely to cause plenty of headaches for users.
The new 12-inch MacBook uses a new port called USB-C to handle many different functions, such as transferring data between devices, outputting the MacBook’s display and charging the computer. USB-C offeres faster transfer speeds than USB 3.0, and the plugs can be oriented up or down and still work properly when plugged in. The port itself is about the size of a mini-USB port.
That means all those regular USB-compatible hard drives, cameras and other gadgets you have won’t be able to plug into the new MacBook without an adapter. Apple is selling a USB-C-to-USB adapter for $19, and right now there are few alternative options because the USB-C standard is so new.
The price of entry to get the Macbook display on your television screen is even higher. The USB-C-to-HDMI adapter, which also includes ports for USB-C charging and for connecting USB devices, costs $79. As Wired points out, it would actually be cheaper to buy an Apple TV for $69 and mirror the new MacBook’s screen wirelessly to a TV right now than to jury-rig an HDMI connection.
These problems will be less of an issue as more devices begin using USB-C. Google’s new Chromebook Pixel laptop, for instance, is using the same standard. But for now, getting all your electronics to play nice with the new MacBook could be a bit of a hassle.