Rendered helpless by its sex appeal.
Apple’s new Retina-spec’d MacBook Pro is more than just the desirable screen its name suggests. Instead, Apple has addressed all four of the key areas we look toward in a laptop upgrade: screen, speed, battery life and portability. On the outside, you'd be forgiven for mistaking this for a MacBook Air, given its ultrabook-qualifying form factor of 18mm thick and just a touch over 2kg in weight.
On the feature front, it’s also taken a few cues from its smaller brother, finally dropping the (almost) redundant optical drive and implementing a much-needed port shuffle. The left side now houses the power port, two Thunderbolt/DisplayPort sockets, a single USB 3.0 as well as the audio jack, while over on the right is a second USB 3.0 port, a long overdue (and full-size) HDMI output as well as an SDXC flash card reader.
As gorgeous and beautifully sharp as it is, don't let the Retina display's big numbers confuse you -- it's all about pixel density. As with the Retina iPad, by default the increase in pixel count doesn’t give you any extra screen real estate. Apple's default resolution is 1,440 x 900, it's just that you now get four pixels for every one when compared to the older displays. Digging through the preferences reveals some built-in scaling options for either larger text or more real estate, but then performance issues and some third-party applications and browser rendering issues start to arise.
The inside of our 15in review model boasted a 2.6GHz Core i7, 8GB of DDR3 RAM, an Nvidia GeForce 650M graphics chip and a 500GB SSD. It not only chewed up and spat out every hardware test we threw at it, but also happily chugged through some sessions of Diablo III (even at the screen’s native 2,880 x 1,800 pixels) until the battery finally gave out just into the four-hour mark. That’s impressive.
Annoyingly, it's now virtually impossible for users to upgrade their machine as their computing needs shift. Presumably to help it squeeze into its tiny shell (or just to lock the hardware firmly into Apple's iron fists), the battery is glued in and the RAM is soldered onto the logic board, making both irreplaceable or upgradable. While it’s not a total deal-breaker for the average user, it does suggest Apple has a finite lifespan in mind for this laptop. If you’ve got an eye on future-proofing, you'll therefore need to spend more money upfront to get it.
Pros : A wafer-thin, incredibly fast ultrabook with a gorgeous screen.
Cons : Expensive at this spec, RAM not user-upgradable.
Verdict : 9 out of 10. Editor's choice.
From: Apple | Price: $3,199.