The new Apple MacBook Pro with Retina display takes a new look at high-end notebooks. Clearly aimed at video editors, photographers and graphics professionals, the new Retina screen offers an incredible 2880 x 1800 resolution at 220 pixels per inch. That's over 5.1 million pixels in total, three million more than an HD TV.
Optimised applications and software look beautifully smooth and clear. The operating system, its bundled apps and other Apple packages have already been optimised, and third party software will be optimised over time; Photoshop and AutoCAD are already in the pipeline.
The new notebook is extremely thin and light, but a few sacrifices have been made to facilitate this. As you'd expect from a high-end Apple laptop aimed at professional users, it's very expensive, with prices starting at £1,799 in the UK and $2,199 in the US.
The Apple MacBook Pro with Retina display's new screen is breathtakingly good. Text is beautifully smooth, and graphics brilliantly realised. Images are so detailed that with Dock magnification on, you can read the writing on the TextEdit icon.
Comparing a web page viewed in Safari, which is already optimised for the Retina display, with the same page in Chrome, which isn't, makes Google's browser look really shoddy. In actual fact, it's no worse than it is on a normal MacBook Pro screen, but the Retina display makes it look poor when side-by-side.
The MacBook Pro with Retina display is incredibly light; it's actually lighter than the 'regular' 13-inch MacBook Pro. At 1.8cm (0.71 inches) high, it's only a single millimetre thicker than the MacBook Air at its thickest point.
With a seven-hour battery life and 30-day standby, it's a great laptop to use on the move. We're grateful Apple has boosted its USB ports (both of them) to USB 3.0, too.
Given its power and capabilities, the MacBook Pro with Retina display was never going to be cheap. But with the more affordable 2.3GHz model costing £1,799/$2,199 and the top-of-the-range 2.6GHz notebook priced at £2,299/$2,799, you should think long and hard about whether you can justify spending so much. That's not to say it isn't good value for money; it's just very expensive.
A few sacrifices had to be made due to the ultra-thin and super-light form factor. There's no room for a hard drive. Solid state storage offers considerable speed and battery advantages, although capacities are lower.
There's no optical drive; if you want to use DVDs and CDs on your MacBook Pro with Retina display, you have to resort to Remote Disk or invest in an external drive. There wasn't enough room for Ethernet or FireWire 800 ports either, although there are optional adaptors to use these connectivity protocols with the notebook's two Thunderbolt ports.
Few configuration options are offered, especially for the cheaper model, where you can only add more memory as a custom option. And after-market upgrades are almost impossible.
Is the MacBook Pro with Retina display the future of Apple laptops? Quite possibly. With solid state storage getting cheaper, the decline of optical drives' significance and the outstanding speed and versatility of Thunderbolt ports, it seems clear that Apple's notebooks will ultimately use the thin and ultra-portable format pioneered by the MacBook Air and now followed by this high-end MacBook Pro. But the high-cost Retina screen could take a long time to trickle down throughout the range.
The 15-inch MacBook Pro with Retina display is a truly an object of desire. It packs incredible power, and its screen puts other notebook displays to shame. It might be a notebook like no other, but its price may well limit it to high-needs professionals.