Last week’s WWDC keynote saw the launch of iOS 6, as well as a rejig of Apple’s entire Mac line – including a brand new MacBook Pro with a thinner body, souped up specs and a Retina Display.
I’ve been testing it out for the last week and – quelle surprise – it’s amazing. The thing is, it’s so good it’s making the internet itself look bad.
How so? You see, Apple’s screen is jaw dropping. 2880×1800 pixels over a 15.4-inch panel is a lorra lorra pixels. And much as I don’t like to bandy around phrases like Retina Display (Sony’s “Reality Display” is just as offensive to my sensibilities), it’s still worthy of the crowing Apple executives carried out last week on stage.
I spent a few days working on the new MacBook Pro, then tried to go back to my 2009 15.6-inch MacBook Pro. It’s hard. It looks grainy. It offends me now. Which is ridiculous, but there you are.
Using Apple’s first party apps rejigged for the Retina Display is a wonderful experience. Writing on it in a full screen app is glorious, like typing onto a sheet of paper in a typewriter, only with the option to press delete.
Basically, almost anything that doesn’t involve images looks amazing. But that’s a big problem for browsing.
Head over to any website outside of Apple.com, and you’ll quickly see what I mean. What looks like a crisp, sharp homepage logo on any well-designed site becomes a blurry mess. Sure, zooming out solves this problem, but you’ll then require a microscope to read any accompanying words.
Flickr’s homepage image now makes me want to wretch. The Bing homepage picture has more artifacts than the British Museum. Logos at the bottom of emails all look awful – and instinctively make me think less of the company. Favicons, the small image many browsers show on a tab or in the bookmarks menu, look like a nostalgic reference to the 8-bit era. The drop down menus on other browsers themselves, such as Firefox, are almost difficult to read.
It sounds petty, but if you’re a heavy user (If you’re even considering the new MacBook Pro, you must be – if not, feel free to give us some of your monies) you’ll notice this over and over again, and long for a solution.
Fortunately, this should eventually cease to be a complaint. Most Mac apps will get updated in time. Google Chrome’s Dev channel already has Retina Display support. As for the images themselves, well, Apple.com is a perfect example of the future. Load it up on the new MacBook Pro (or new iPad) and you’ll see it render the images in a resolution that wouldn’t look amiss on most screens – but after a second or two of buffering, will sharpen. How soon that will become the norm however remains to be seen.
A pricey prize
If you can tear yourself away from the screen for a minute, physically, the new MacBook Pro is a delight. It’s remarkably thin, though not quite the radical reinvention of the 2008 unibody design Apple made it out to be: indeed, when the screen is off and the lid opened, it looks almost identical. The only changes are a less sharp groove below the trackpad – you no longer run the risk of slicing open your thumb whenever you go to open your computer.
Here’s the bad news though. It is powerful. Almost too powerful – ludicrously so. Intel’s Ivy Bridge processor (My test model had a 2.6GHz Core i7) can handle everything you throw at it. Apple was keen to demonstrate to me how it can handle multiple HD video feeds all on the screen at once, and that’s great… If you want to edit video.
And therein lies the crux. While the 13-inch MacBook Pro might not be for pros (Just people who want a portable machine with more storage and battery life than the MacBook Air), the new MacBook Pro sadly is.
Let’s be honest: £1,800 quid is a lot of money to spend when a MacBook Air is even smaller, and more than capable of anything you can throw at it provided you’re not a professional video or image editor (or gamer, but seriously, why are you buying a Mac if so?).
I’m more excited about this technology trickling down through the MacBook line. There are already rumours that a 13-inch new MacBook Pro with a Retina Display is being readied for October. I can’t wait for when the MacBook Air gets it, even though it means it’ll be time for me to sell my kidney on the black market.
Hopefully by then, the internet won’t look so bad on it.