The next-gen MacBook Pro with Retina Display Reviewby Anand Lal Shimpi on June 23, 2012 4:14 AM EST
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- MacBook Pro
Last year when I wrote about the new MacBook Airs I offered two forward looking paragraphs:
What happens from here on out is what's really interesting. Intel has already committed to moving the TDP of its mainstream parts from 35W - 45W down to 10 - 20W. Since the Air is the new mainstream Mac notebook, Apple has already made that move. The performance in this 10 - 20W segment is going to get much better over the next two years, particularly once Haswell arrives.
The Thunderbolt Display is the first sign of what's to come. Moving IO controllers and expansion into the display, and potentially even moving discrete GPUs out of the notebook are all in store for us. Apple is really ahead of the curve here, but it's easy to imagine a future where laptops become a lot more like the new Air and shift to a couple high bandwidth ports instead of numerous lower bandwidth connections.
Perhaps I was being too aggressive in the prediction of a couple of high bandwidth ports. After all, the next-generation MacBook Pro with Retina Display features four such IO ports (2 x Thunderbolt and 2 x USB 3.0). But you get my point. Gigabit Ethernet and Firewire 800 are both gone. The discrete GPU is still present but I suspect even its days are numbered, at least inside the chassis. The personal computer as we knew it for so long, is changing.
The personal computer is getting thinner, lighter, more integrated and more appliance-like. The movement is no longer confined to just Apple either. The traditional PC OEMs are following suit. Even Microsoft has finally entered the PC hardware business, something it threatened to do for years but hadn't until now. Distribution models will change, the lines between different form factors will continue to blur. What was once a mature industry is going through a significant transformation. It’s exciting but at the same time it makes me uneasy. When I first got into this industry everyone had stories of companies with great ideas that just didn’t make it. As we go through this revolution in computing I’m beginning to see, first hand, the very same.
Apple makes the bulk of its revenue from devices that don’t look like traditional personal computers. For the past couple of years I’ve been worried that it would wake up and decide the traditional Mac is a burden, and it should instead be in the business of strictly selling consumer devices. With its announcements two weeks ago in San Francisco, I can happily say that my fears haven’t come true. At least not yet.
It’s been a while since Apple did a really exciting MacBook Pro launch. Much to my surprise, even the move to Sandy Bridge, the first quad-core in a MacBook Pro, was done without even whispers of a press conference. Apple threw up the new products on its online store, shipped inventory to its retail outlets, updated the website and called it a day. Every iPhone and iPad announcement however was accompanied with much fanfare. The MacBook Pro seemed almost forgotten.
With its WWDC unveil however Apple took something that it had resigned to unexciting, dare I say uncool status, and made a huge deal about it. Two weeks ago Apple did the expected and offered relatively modest upgrades to all of its portable Macs, all while introducing something bold.
Apple calls it the MacBook Pro with Retina Display. You’ll see me refer to it as the next-gen MacBook Pro, Retina MacBook Pro, rMBP or some other permutation of these words.
After using it for the past two weeks I can honestly say it’s the best Mac Apple has ever built. And there’s a lot more to it than hardware.
If you were hoping for a 15-inch MacBook Air, that’s not what the rMBP is. Instead it is a far more portable 15-inch MacBook Pro. I have to admit I was a bit let down the first time I laid eyes on the next-gen MacBook Pro, it looks good but it doesn’t look all that different. The disappointment quickly faded as I actually picked up the machine and started carrying it around. It’s not ultra light, but man does it make the previous chassis feel dated.
While I never really liked lugging around the old MBP (and it always made me feel like the old fogey at tradeshows where everyone else had something 13-inches or smaller), carrying the rMBP is a pleasure by comparison. Pictures really don’t do it justice. The impressively thin display assembly or overall chassis thickness look neat in a photo but it’s not until you actually live with the rMBP that you can appreciate what Apple has done here. I carry around a 15-inch MacBook Pro because it’s my desktop, and as such it’s incredibly useful to have with me when I travel. For my personal usage model, the Retina MacBook Pro is perfect.
If your workload demands that you need the performance of a MacBook Pro and your lifestyle requires you to carry it around a lot, the reduction in thickness and weight alone will be worth the upgrade to the rMBP. If you spend most of your time stationary however, you’ll have to be sold on the display and internal characteristics alone. The bad news is if the design doesn’t get you, everything else will.
From left to right: 11-inch MacBook Air, 13-inch MacBook Air, 15-inch MacBook Pro, MacBook Pro with Retina Display
From left to right: 11-inch MacBook Air, 13-inch MacBook Air, MacBook Pro with Retina Display
From left to right: 11-inch MacBook Air, 13-inch MacBook Air, MacBook Pro with Retina Display
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OCedHrt - Sunday, June 24, 2012 - link1) That's probably Canada. It is $1599 base in US for a while now and I got mine for $1100 after tax.
2) Another Canada thing. But I agree, Sony is too inflexible.
3) That is by design. There is a video online with an interview where they explain it. This means you can grab your laptop by the screen and not risk damaging the hinges / screen. If you grabbed your MBP Retina by the display I'd be wary of breaking it.
ThreeDee912 - Saturday, June 23, 2012 - linkThere's more to a computer than its hardware spec sheet.
You can rattle off a laptop spec sheet with a good CPU, GPU, SSD, screen, etc., but if they're not integrated very well with everything else, or have mediocre software support, you can't always take advantage of those specs without some tacky workarounds.
gstrickler - Sunday, June 24, 2012 - link^^^ I'll second that. Also, the right balance of specs matters more than "this spec is greater than that spec".
If the keyboard, trackpad, or display sucks, you'll hate the computer no mater what the specs say. If it's too fragile, or heavy, or cumbersome, you won't want to carry it. If the software is slow and bloated, it won't matter that you've got 8GB RAM and a quad core i7, it can still feel sluggish.
The satisfaction with a computer is far more than just it's specs, or individual components, or even it's operating system. It's having the right combination of everything.
OCedHrt - Sunday, June 24, 2012 - link1) This is dependent on user. i don't care about the 1" vertical, it's really the # of pixels that matter.
2) The previous Z had discrete built in. The purpose of making it external is to achieve the 2.5 lb form factor. Sony once had a 11" 1.6 lb netbook. That is literally the holy grail in terms of weight for a portable laptop. The move to external discrete is really a step in that direction.
3) You can output more than 1920x1080 on HDMI.
4) 15" is too big for me, even at 2.5 lbs. Not everyone wants a huge screen on their lap - that's why I have a monitor on the desk.
5) Yes, at 2.5 lbs and 13", there's limited space for heat dispersion.
maratus - Sunday, June 24, 2012 - linkUnfortunately, Z tops at 1920x1200 through HDMI or single link DVI on the dock station. It was a dealbraker. Now rMBP ability to drive 2x 2560x1600 and 1x 1920x1200 is simply overkill for me, I'm still confused why did Sony stuck with HDMI only and didn't even bother to provide DP, mDP or 2L DVI as a second port.
OCedHrt - Monday, June 25, 2012 - linkThat's typical Sony (Japanese) stupidity.
Chava - Friday, June 29, 2012 - linkThat's typical Japanese stupidity...
Yeah for some reason you thought that was acceptable.
Solandri - Saturday, June 23, 2012 - linkThe chassis isn't thinner than the 13" 2010 MBP (it tapers from 1.0-1.3" vs the MBP's 0.95"). Its other two dimensions are smaller though (12.4" x 8.3" vs 12.8" x 8.9"), and it's lighter (lighter than the 2010 Macbook Air in fact) at 2.9 lbs (some models were 3.04 lbs, never figured out why). Sony managed this by using a lot of carbon fiber and a really thin screen. So it's not as stiff as the solid block of aluminum that the MBP used. But the keyboard bezel is solid aluminum making it very stiff.
Here's the only marketing brochure I could find for the model being discussed (in French):
OCedHrt - Sunday, June 24, 2012 - linkThat's the 2008 Z. 2008. The 2011 Z is a non tapered design:
13.0" x 0.66" x 8.27" (WxHxD)
330mm x 16.8mm x 210mm
The MBP is 50% thicker than the Z. It's understandable given that it is 15" instead of 13".
Freakie - Sunday, June 24, 2012 - linkhttp://www.tomshardware.com/news/sony-vaio-z-quad-...
Here you go. THIS is true innovation. Sony did amazing work with this version of the Z to get all the functionality of a bigger laptop into a tiny package. It is even more impressive when you think about how old, hot, and power hungry the CPU/GPU was back then. Sony has innovated much more in the laptop industry than Apple has, in my opinion. Though I still wouldn't want a Sony like this just like I wouldn't want an Apple like the rMBP (user upgradability and repairability is virtually non-existant, which is an instant deal breaker for me, it was hard enough buying a laptop with a 540M integrated onto the mobo, could never buy a laptop that didn't even let you upgrade storage)
Here's a more detailed teardown: http://translate.google.com/translate?js=y&pre...