Last week the Internet was awash with news of Apple’s latest addition to their laptop line, the MacBook Pro with Retina display. Following recent trends, the company has managed another world first – this time claiming the world’s highest resolution notebook display.
Not only is the new MacBook an object of desire for those with out-of-whack priorities the world over but it’s also an important step forward for the notebook computer. Retina display aside, there are a few other big changes to the company’s mobile powerhouse that are just as exciting.
It was bound to happen sometime, considering that the iPhone, iPod Touch and most recently iPad have been equipped with high-resolution displays, now the MacBook Pro gets the Retina treatment. The main advancement here is pixel density, the result of squeezing that new 2880×1800 resolution into a 15” housing.
The result is more than 5 million glorious pixels, virtually no aliasing (providing you’re using Retina-ready apps that is) and a viewing experience that’s unlike any other. If you’ve seen the latest iPad, you’ll know what to expect except on a larger scale.
When Apple first gave their tablet computer an industry-changing display there was much talk of other manufacturers following suit. Expect similar things from Ultrabook manufacturers as they scramble to produce viable alternatives for those wanting Mac quality and style in a decidedly Windows flavour.
If you really don’t like Apple’s products, instead allying yourself under a Windows flag, you can still be grateful for last week’s announcement as it’s now only a matter of time before other manufacturers start squeezing more and more pixels into regular-sized displays.
How many hard drive failures have you had to endure? If the answer is “none” then consider yourself lucky. Hard drives are notoriously fragile bits of kit, relying on a physical platter on which data is stored. This spins at very high speed, and much of the work is done by an arm that reads and writes data – physical, moving parts.
The new MacBook lines only come with solid state disc options. Solid state storage does not rely on moving parts or an easily damaged physical platter on which to store your data. This means that damage through bumps and drops is unlikely and that speed is unmatched.
The MacBook Air has long been a startlingly fast little machine considering its rather moderately specced innards. Much of that speed comes from the SSD storage, which vastly reduces read and write times, speeding up just about every operation you perform. Now that the new MacBook Pro Retina models only come with an SSD option, expect to see Apple completely phasing out of old-style hard drives over the next few years as the technology becomes more and more affordable.
Being somewhat of a luxury item, the MacBook line has been updated with the latest Intel processors that use the new Ivy Bridge architecture. This is the next generation of Core i CPUs, and provides advancements in both efficiency (drawing less power) and on-board graphics among other improvements.
The on-board graphics chip is not all you’ll be relying on for video editing, 3D rendering or gaming as every new MacBook Pro comes with the GT650M, a mid-level graphics card based on the latest Kepler architecture from nVidia. With 1GB of DDR5 memory, the card stacks up pretty well against the competition.
If there’s one thing that speaks for the gaming potential held by the new Retina MacBook Pro it’s the fact that Apple chose to use Diablo III to show it off. Coincidentally we’ve already published an article about why this is impressive.
One thing Apple weren’t singing and dancing about at WWDC last week was the demise of the 17” MacBook Pro. The choice to only offer a new line in 15” flavour, and to limit the mid-2012 non-Retina notebooks to 13” and 15” sizes reflects a change that’s been in the winds for a while now.
The popularity of the MacBook Air speaks volumes about the consumer idea of the perfect laptop size, with the 13” Air model being way more common in the wild than a 17” Pro. The thinner form factor offered by the new Retina models offers a good compromise between screen size, power and portability.
For a short while the 17” MacBooks will still be available (with the previous hardware configuration) from retailers who still have them in stock. Whether Apple intend to make another is still unknown but it seems to be unlikely . Most people won’t bat an eyelid at the news, but those who will are bound to feel a sense of sadness that they can no longer order their preferred brand of laptop, running their preferred OS, in their favourite (admittedly gigantic) size.
The latest MacBook Pro with Retina display is a force to be reckoned with, and in terms of specification and raw power so are the non-Retina Macbook models. While the price won’t resonate well with everyone, the build quality and performance will take some beating. As it stands, the MacBook Pro Retina is a one-of-a-kind piece of kit and that is currently reflected in the price.
Have you ordered yours? Will you? Retina or non-Retina? Online or Apple retail?