After 20 minutes of using Apple's new MacBook Pro with Retina Display, I switched back to my own six-month-old MacBook Pro to send an email. But when I looked at its screen, I thought my contact lenses had actually fallen out. For a second I was worried; everything on the screen looked less crisp and less bright. It's not an old machine, but it was really as if an optometrist had switched my prescription, or I'd been forced to use my old glasses. Everything just seemed blurry by comparison.
The biggest upgrade to the MacBook Pro laptop literally meets the eye. But despite its name, the new MacBook Pro with Retina Display has much more than a new, super-sharp 2280 x 1800-resolution, 15.4-inch display. It also has fastest mobile performance parts on the market, improved speakers, and a new selection of ports. Oh, and it still manages to be only .71 inches thick. Impressive indeed, but worth $2,199?
"This is the most beautiful MacBook Pro we've ever made," Apple's Phil Schiller said when he took a curtain off the new laptop this week. And Mr. Schiller wasn't lying. Apple hasn't changed the general aesthetic of the MacBook Pro line since 2008, when it introduced the unibody aluminum design with a glowing Apple embedded in the lid. They haven't wanted to mess with such a well-balanced, clean design.
The new MacBook Pro has one major change, though -- it's much thinner than previous Pros. It is only slightly (very slightly!) thicker than the MacBook Air and a handful of other Windows 7 ultrabooks on the market. (To the naked eye, the thickest part of the MacBook Air actually looks thicker than the new MacBook Pro.) That thinness also makes it much lighter than the other Pros.
The laptop weighs just 4.46 pounds now; .04 pounds less than my 13-inch MacBook Pro but 1.5 pounds more than the 13-inch MacBook Air. Obviously it doesn't feel as light as the Air, but it's much easier to hold in one hand than the 15-inch Pro and most other laptops. And yet, despite its thin stature, it still feels remarkably solid and sturdy.
To accommodate those thinner dimensions, Apple did remove the CD/DVD drive and Ethernet port from this model (they're still available on the 13- and 15-inch Pros). However, it still was able to add some new ports. The laptop has two Thunderbolt ports, two USB 3.0 ports, a 3.5 mm headphone jack, SD card slot, and an HDMI port. It also put one USB port on the left edge and another on the right edge so you don't block the ports when you plug in a mouse or external hard drive.
Unfortunately, they did remove the tiny LEDs from the edge that told you the battery level when the laptop is closed. Apple also changed the charging port, or MagSafe. The new adapter is flatter and because of the new size and shape won't take older versions, which is a bummer if you've accumulated the older chargers or happen to leave yours at home. (Apple does offer a MagSafe to MagSafe 2 converter for $9.99.)