Apple's new MacBook Pro with Retina display takes a new look at the high-end, pro-user notebook. Launched at the Worldwide Developer's Conference 2012 (WWDC 2012), it breaks with numerous traditions and leaves behind several legacy technologies.
Although the Apple laptop shares a lot of features with the entry-level MacBook Air range, it gives a high-end performance and reinvents the pro-level notebook for graphic artists, photographers and video editors.
The new Apple MacBook Pro's most exciting new feature is, of course, the Retina display. With a 2880 x 1800 resolution at 220 pixels per inch, it crams over 5.1 million pixels into its 15.4-inch screen. That's over three million more than an HD TV.
The pixel density is so high that at normal viewing distance, your eyes can't distinguish between individual pixels, so text and images look really sharp and clear. According to Apple, it's the world's highest resolution notebook display.
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Looking at a perfectly good monitor or notebook after using the Retina MacBook Pro can be a painful experience. Screens you were happy with before look second rate when you've seen the Retina display. Take a trip to your local Apple store or stockist and have a play on a MacBook Pro with a Retina display, then take a look at an iMac or non-Retina notebook. The difference is astonishing.
Of course, you only get the full benefit from a Retina display while using applications that have been optimised for it. Unoptimised apps are upscaled to prevent their tools and text appearing really small. They look fine until you compare them to optimised applications.
Open a web page in both Safari (optimised) and Chrome (not optimised) on the Retina MacBook Pro, and Google's browser looks really tatty next to Apple's. That's not to say it's actually tatty. Compare it to your regular screen and you see an upscaled app is no worse. But Retina-optimised applications are so clear and crisp they make everything else look shoddy.
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Naturally, more and more software will be Retina-optimised over time. OS X 10.7 Lion and its bundled applications are optimised already, as are iPhoto, iMovie and, of course, Aperture. New versions ofPhotoshop and AutoCAD are in the pipeline, and no doubt games developers will want to get the most out of the new display too. Diablo 3 has already been optimised - we hope more will follow.
As well as the Retina resolution, the display also benefits from a revised design. The LCD glass is now directly integrated into the unibody casing, with the cover glass dropped. This gives 75% less reflection, and 29% better contrast.
It's also thin. Very thin. The new MacBook Pro with Retina display is 25% thinner and 1.1lbs lighter than the 15-inch late 2011 MacBook Pro. It's even slightly lighter than the 13-inch last generation MacBook Pro, and almost as thin as the MacBook Air.
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A few changes had to be made to accommodate this ultra-thin form factor. The MagSafe power connector has been slimmed and renamed MagSafe 2; adaptors are available if you want to use your old power supply units or the Thunderbolt display.
See the new Retina-ready MacBook Pro side by side with the 2011 version, to compare:
The Ethernet and FireWire 800 ports proved too big to include, but Apple has released adaptors that fit the notebook's two Thunderbolt ports. The SDXC card reader is retained and an HDMI port has been added, and the two USB ports are now USB 3.0.
Like the similarly-thin MacBook Air, the new MacBook Pro with Retina display dispenses with the optical drive, and uses solid state storage instead of a hard drive.
Being a high-end luxury laptop, with prices starting at £1,799 in the UK and $2,199 in the US, the MacBook Pro with Retina display also boasts some impressive specifications.