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Hands on with the Retina MacBook Pro

Jason Snell, Macworld.com | June 12, 2012
The new, Retina-display-bearing MacBook Pro was in our offices Monday afternoon. While we'll start lab testing it and getting our review going, I got a chance to poke and prod it for a few hours. Here are some quick initial impressions.

The new, Retina-display-bearing MacBook Pro was in our offices Monday afternoon. While we'll start lab testing it and getting our review going, I got a chance to poke and prod it for a few hours. Here are some quick initial impressions.

First off, this disclaimer: I've been using an 11-inch MacBook Air for so long now, it's very hard for me to judge a 15-inch laptop. It feels enormous to me. But fans of the current 15-inch MacBook Pro will notice that this new laptop is actually quite a bit thinner than the current model, a bit lighter, and slightly narrower.

That all said, this is in many ways the 15-inch answer to the MacBook Air. Gone is the optical drive, spinning hard drive, FireWire port, and Gigabit Ethernet jack of past models; instead, it's all solid-state storage, Thunderbolt and USB 3 ports, and HDMI.

On the right side of the case, there's an SD card reader, an HDMI port, and a single USB 3 port. Compare this to the previous MacBook Pro, which offered nothing but the slot-loading optical drive.


Right side of the Retina MacBook Pro (top) and 15-inch MacBook Pro.

The left side, meanwhile, features a small assortment of ports. There's the new MagSafe 2 connector (about which more in a bit), two Thunderbolt ports, a USB 3 port, and a headphone jack.


Left side of the Retina MacBook Pro (top) and 15-inch MacBook Pro.

And then there's the display, a mindblowing 2880-by-1800-pixel screen that looks like a 1440-by-900 model--except for the fact that there are four pixels for every one on the older display. Just as on the iPad and iPhone, a retina display offers incredibly smooth, clear text and images with startling detail. It's quite funny to view a Final Cut Pro interface with roughly a quarter of the screen taken up with a video preview, only to realize that the video is playing back at full, native 1080p resolution with plenty of room to spare. Pictures are similarly sharp. Web pages display with crisp text but, as on the third-generation iPad, most images on those pages are noticeably jaggy.

 


A small portion of the MacBook Pro interface at full resolution.

 

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