By JOANNA STERN, ABC News Technology Editor
(NEW YORK) -- 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 3.5mm 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 adaptor 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.
What has been kept intact, however, is the extremely comfortable chiclet keyboard. It is also backlit, which came in very handy for writing this review on the back of a dimly-lit plane. Similarly, the wide glass trackpad has been untouched. Using it to navigate Apple's Mac OS X Lion operating system was beyond smooth, and gestures like two-finger scrolling and three-finger swipes consistently worked throughout the operating system and software. That is something I cannot say of most trackpads on Windows 7 laptops. (The new Pros ship with OS X Lion, but will be available with the next version -- Mountain Lion -- next month.)
But, of course, you'll be starring at the screen as you work. And it's simply hard to describe the quality of the display in words. Even as I'm writing this review after 24 hours of use, I'm distracted by the crispness of the text and the icons on the bottom of the screen. And I'm continuously tempted to toggle over to YouTube and watch more 1080p clips, which look better on this display than on most HDTVs.
Perhaps the most amazing part about the display though is how crisp things look at every angle; turn the laptop to the side and you will see the same quality and presentation.
That experience isn't uniform across all applications just yet. Parts of the Firefox browser look a bit blurry and text isn't as crisp in third-party browsers as it is in Apple's own Safari, for example. In Safari, websites pop. It's really the type of thing you have to see for yourself, but with this display, images can be downright stunning. You will just want to call friends over to look at what you're seeing.
But just as impressive might be what is inside the laptop. With the screen at 65 percent brightness, the laptop's large battery still lasted six hours on a charge. I was able to work on the laptop for an entire 5.5 hour flight from San Francisco to Newark, and still had 20 percent left when I touched down. On a more grueling video playback test, which loops the same HD video clip, the laptop lasted 5 hours and 22 minutes. That's longer than most Windows 7 ultrabooks, though not as long as the 13-inch MacBook Air, which lasted an hour more on that same test.
All the while, you still get blazing fast performance thanks to the quad-core 2.3GHz Core i7 processor, Nvidia's latest GeForce graphics, 8GB of RAM, and 256GB flash drive inside the laptop. The power of the Pro is probably more than most people will need; the extra graphics and processing power are great for video editing and heavy graphics work, but most people who spend their time running a web browser, email, and some other desktop apps won't get close to challenging the machine's limits. Everything about it flies; it boots in under 20 seconds and resumes from sleep as soon as you open the lid. And if you're looking for even faster performance, you can configure it with a faster processor, more RAM (up to 16GB!), and a larger drive, but you'll spend over $3,000.
And there's the rub. It's pretty clear that the MacBook Pro with Retina Display is one of the finest laptops ever to grace this Earth; it's beautiful to look at in more ways than one. But you do have to pay a premium for what is all around the most premium laptop now on shelves.
Now, if you have the money for a high-end laptop, the answer is simple: this is the one to buy. The blend of the screen, size, and power is unmatched. Those who want something cheaper, and perhaps smaller, can pick up one of the other MacBook Pros or the 13-inch MacBook Air, which likely provides enough performance for most people in an even thinner and smaller package. It really depends on what your needs are.
But do yourself a favor: if you don't have any intention of picking up the MacBook Pro with Retina Display, avoid looking at its screen at all costs -- all that practical advice might just seem, well, very blurry.
Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio
Entries in Retina Display (3)
(SAN FRANCISCO) -- Apple overhauled its popular notebook, the MacBook Pro, with a state-of-the-art, super high-resolution screen. The tech company also updated the Pro and the MacBook Air with the latest processing technology, the company announced today at its annual Worldwide Developers Conference in San Francisco.
Phil Schiller, senior vice president of worldwide marketing for Apple, said both laptop models will feature faster processors, more advanced graphics, larger memory and flash storage and high-speed connectivity.
Like the ultra-slim MacBook Air, the new MacBook Pro will feature a super-thin aluminum case only 0.71 inches thick, and weigh 4.5 pounds.
"It's the lightest Pro notebook we have ever made," Schiller said.
However, the most stunning feature of the new Pro is the one that users will look at the most -- the screen. Schiller announced that this MacBook Pro will have Apple's brand new "Retina Display," an ultra-crisp, super high-resolution screen to rival the one on its newest iPad tablet. Its 2880x1880 resolution (that's 5,184,000 pixels) is the highest of any notebook display in the world.
And what good is a state-of-the-art screen without updated visuals? Schiller said both the MacBook Pro and the MacBook Air will be outfitted with the third-generation Ivy Bridge processor from Intel, as well as a high-speed Thunderbolt port and a new USB 3.0 port, which is 10 times faster than current the USB 2.0.
Graphics will be up to 60 percent faster than with previous processors, Schiller said.
In addition, the MacBook Pro will also have Nvidia's latest graphics card, the GeForce 650M (Apple had used AMD graphics cards in previous models), up to seven hours of battery life and an HDMI port for hooking up to a television -- a first for a MacBook.
The MacBook Air, which comes in 11-inch and 13-inch sizes, will be $100 cheaper now, selling at $999 and $1,199 respectively. But the 15-inch MacBook Pro with Retina Display will set you back $2,199.
The upgraded MacBook Airs and the MacBook Pros will be shipped out today, Schiller said. "No one turns over their entire line as quickly as we do at Apple."
But both new laptops will carry OS X Lion, Apple's current operating system, and not the hotly anticipated OS X 10.8, known as Mountain Lion, the next generation for Mac.
Craig Federighi, the vice president of Mac software, announced that starting today, customers who purchase a new Mac are eligible for a free copy of OS X Mountain Lion when it becomes available next month. Mountain Lion has around 100 new features, many inspired by Apple's iOS for the iPhone and iPad.
Federighi demonstrated how Mountain Lion would provide a unified experience between all of the latest Apple products using iCloud, the company's online storage service. With Mountain Lion, users just have to sign in with their Apple ID and iCloud is automatically set up to sync mail, calendars, contacts, reminders, music, documents and even apps, with a Mac computer to an iPhone, iPad and iPod Touch. So, for example, if you add a meeting to your calendar on your Mac it will appear almost immediately on your iPhone's calendar.
But one of Mountain Lion's coolest features borrowed from mobile iOS is the debut of Messages. This new software is like iChat messaging on steroids. Now you can send messages back and forth to anyone between your Mac computer, iPhone, iPad or iPod touch running iOS 5. You can start a chat on your laptop and then pick it up on your phone.
Mountain Lion will also feature AirPlay mirroring, Federighi said, which will allow users to stream anything that's on a Mac computer to an HDTV wirelessly through the external Apple TV device, as well as Game Center for setting up a gaming network and Dictation.
For Mac users who want to upgrade to Mountain Lion on their current machines, the new OS X system will be sold separately for $19.99.
Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio
(NEW YORK) -- Right now would not be the best time to buy a new MacBook Pro from Apple. Why? Because it most certainly looks like a new version is on the way.
Apple has been rumored for quite a while to be trimming down its 15-inch MacBook Pro, and a few new details give us an idea about what the new laptop might look like. 9to5Mac has heard from its own sources in Apple’s supply chain that the new laptop will have a “jaw-dropping” Retina Display, USB 3.0, and a thinner build: think some place in between the current MacBook Air and MacBook Pro.
“Instead, the new 15-inch MacBook Pro is described as being an ultra-thin version of the current MacBook Pro. Basically, the prototype design is a thinner, yet more robust, version of the late-2008 design,” 9to5Mac’s Mark Gurman reports. Gurman says the laptop will be thinner because it will no longer have a CD/DVD drive. It will keep the unibody aluminum case that the current MacBook Pros and the MacBook Air have.
While the design of the laptop might be similar (though thinner), the part of the laptop you spend the most time looking at is getting a major overhaul — the screen. The laptop will see the introduction of the “Mac Retina Display,” which is said to have a very high resolution. ABC News has similarly heard from its own sources that both the next MacBook Pro and the iMac would be getting very high resolution displays. Apple refreshed its new iPad with a Retina Display in March.
The new laptops are expected to be powered by Intel’s latest processors, called Ivy Bridge. Those processors will be faster than the current generation of Intel processors and improve graphics. However, the laptops will also get a graphics boost from Nvidia’s latest graphics, the GeForce GT 650M card. ABC News has heard the same from its sources, which say Apple will move from AMD to Nvidia graphics chips in this version of the MacBook Pro.
Apple’s plans could become clearer at the upcoming World Wide Developer’s Conference (WWDC), which begins on June 11.
Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio