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When Apple created major buzz around a new product in the past few years, it was almost always an iPhone or iPad. That’s why it’s so refreshing to see the world ooh and aah about an Apple computer again, the MacBook Pro With Retina Display.

It certainly looks great on paper — a cutting-edge laptop loaded with the latest tech and a jaw-droppingly sharp screen. But does it really deliver the goods?

The answer isn’t just yes. It’s “oh, baby.” Within minutes of taking our review sample out of the box here at the Mashable offices, a crowd of staffers gathered around to see what visions the glorious 2,880 x 1,800 retina display would show them.

It didn’t disappoint. After setting up the laptop and putting it side by side with a six-month-old MacBook Pro with the same-size screen, the difference was apparent to anyone with eyes.

Also apparent: How crazy thin this machine is — just 0.71 of an inch thick, or 0.03 inch thicker than the 13-inch MacBook Air. However, it’s a mite heftier at 4.46 pound to the Air’s roughly 3 pounds.

If you’re used to the Air or some of the sleeker Ultrabooks like the Dell XPS 13, the retina Pro’s is still a size class above. However, it’s still significantly less bulky than the regular Pro, and still fits in the same bags. laptop repair Westlake Village laptop screen repair.


Feasting Your Retina


Back to that screen. Perhaps surprisingly, the first thing you notice is the deeper colors, not necessarily the sharpness — although that becomes clear when viewing photos with lots of detail. Browsing through the Flickr feed of the NASA Goddard Space Center, the crowd could see those extra pixels working to show, say, the wispy clouds in satellite shots of earth.

Virtually all images were displayed with more vibrant colors and better contrast than on the older Pro.

It’s not just photos that benefit from the extra pixels, but text and iconography as well. Everything from the system fonts to app icons to the galactic background image looks sharper, with better contrast.

After I connected the retina Pro to an external (non-retina) Acer monitor, it became something of a game to drag windows from one screen to the other, watching the images and text magically transform as they crossed from edge to edge, becoming crisper and more affecting.

When you venture outside Apple apps, however, the experience isn’t so improved. Sometimes it’s actually worse than what you had before. Text in third-party web browsers like Chrome and Firefox appears jagged and pixelated because those apps aren’t rendering for retina resolutions.

Although those app developers will issue updates that will address those issues (Google is already doing so with Chrome), it emphasizes how new this screen tech is. Eventually, ultra-high-resolution displays will become more common. But for now the retina MacBook is an outlier, and early adopters will pay the price in non-optimized apps, at least for a while.

There’s one way around that issue, of course: Just stick with Apple apps, which appear to be all retina-ready. iPhoto (see the screenshot below) and Aperture in particular take tremendous advantage of the screen, and if you can bear to browse the web with Safari (and judging by the browser stats for Mashable readers, you can’t), your eyes will be satisfied.

It actually got me surfing with Apple’s browser for more than 5 minutes for the first time in years.

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It’s worth noting that by default, the retina display scales the screen so everything is the same size as it would be on a regular MacBook Pro. If you really enjoy squinting, though, you can use the streamlined display settings to make more use of your pixels. Everything will appear smaller, but you’ll get more on the screen, and the processor can handle it.


The Power of Pro


That processor, by the way, is an Intel third-generation (Ivy Bridge) quad-core Core i7, with a clock speed of either 2.3 or 2.6GHz (Turbo Boostable to 3.3 or 3.6GHz). It’s augmented by a discrete graphics processor, an Nvidia GeForce GT 650M with 1GB of dedicated memory (the laptop itself comes with 8GB, though you can configure it with 16GB at purchase).

That’s some serious power, but the retina Pro really needs it to drive all those pixels, particularly for graphics-intensive exercises, like video editing.

In addition to the meaty processing power, the new Pro has another performance advantage: a solid-state flash drive for storage. Since the drive doesn’t have moving parts like a hard disk has, the laptop can “lift” data off the drive faster, adding to the speed of the machine.

Just what can you do with that kind of power? We aimed to find out by re-creating a demo that Apple reps showed us: playing four simultaneous full HD video streams in Final Cut Pro X and making live cuts between them.

We made sure all the streams were all uncompressed 1080i files at 60 frames per second, cued them up, then watched for any stuttering or other problems. Check out the results in this video:

In our test, all the clips played just fine in the inspector window, never tripping up as we made rapid-fire cuts between them — an impressive feat. Apple says this is one of the abilities the solid-state drive bestows, and that the retina Pro is the only machine that can play four full-HD clips simultaneously.

The flash drive also speeds things up when copying files, but even better in that regard is the upgrade to USB 3.0. The retina MacBook Pro isn’t alone in getting better USB — all of Apple’s new laptops have it (native support for USB 3.0 comes hand-in-hand with Intel’s Ivy Bridge processors).

Still, it’s a welcome change, as is relocating one of the ports to the right side of the chassis, à la the MacBook Air. Laptop repair Westlake Village laptop screen repair.


Connectors & More


USB 3.0 and flash storage are a great combo, though its benefits will be best realized with USB 3.0 devices. When I tried offloading a big 3.84GB file from the most common thing users will likely use — a USB thumb drive — it took an 7 minutes, 3 seconds. That was better than the old MacBook Pro, which took almost 10 minutes, but not as awesome as you’d think.

Although the improved USB ports are on all MacBooks now, the retina Pro boasts a connector that isn’t: a full-size HDMI port. This is the first time an Apple laptop has included HDMI, and Apple says it’s because its customers demanded it.

It’s pretty obvious why — to watch video services like Netflix on a big-screen TV. Apple may have been reluctant to include HDMI until now to avoid subverting its own Apple TV box. Could the appearance of HDMI on the retina MacBook signal that Apple isn’t as concerned about that anymore, possibly because it has bigger plans for the living room?

We’ll leave that question unanswered for now, and instead say that the HDMI connection is welcome and worked well upon connection to one of the Sony TVs here at the Mashable offices.

Generally, you’ll probably want to mirror displays when connecting to a TV (see the pic below), though that will letterbox the screen on the pro to a 16:9 ratio while you’re connected.

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Rounding out the jacks on the new Pro are an SDXC card slot (technically capable of reading cards up to 2TB, though cards have only gotten as big as 128GB) and two Thunderbolt ports — the fastest connector available on Apple gear. Those are where you’ll connect external monitors, drives and those adapters for Ethernet and FireWire, both of which do not appear on this machine.


The MacBook Transformed


Which leads to an important factor: You’ll definitely need some accessories to enjoy the fruits of a full-featured laptop. Besides those adapters, you’ll likely need an external optical drive for the few times you’ll want to read an old CD-ROM or burn a DVD. Be prepared: Your final price tag will likely be more than you thought.

Also, the MagSafe power adapter is a different design from the regular MacBook Pro. Since the retina Pro is so thin, it had to be flattened a little, plus it discards the L-shaped connector on the recent Pros with more conventional plug design that came before it and is still used by the Air. That means older power adapters are incompatible with the new Pro — an important detail if you have an external Apple display that also powers your machine via MagSafe (Apple does sell an adapter, however).

Other changes MacBook Pro veterans will notice: The power button has a new home, right where the Eject button for the DVD drive used to be (no need for that anymore). There are also some curious omissions: First, the rarely-used Audio input is gone — there’s just a solitary headphone jack now. Also absent are the handy battery-status button, its accompanying LEDs, the sleep indicator and the infrared sensor. You sacrifice a lot to have a thin body, apparently. Thankfully the keyboard is still backlit.

You can see some of those absences in the photo below, which shows the MacBook Air, Retina Pro and Pro, all stacked together (more comparisons in the gallery).

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The speakers in the retina Pro have clearly been given some vitamins, although users probably won’t notice until they cue up Spotify or iTunes. Listening to Ahead by a Century by the Tragically Hip on both machines, it was easier to pick out the individual voices among the band members on the retina MacBook, and the soundstage felt wider overall, with deeper bass.

Helpfully, the fan is whisper-quiet.


The Return to Apple’s Core


Taking a step back, it’s beautiful to see so much cutting-edge technology put into a laptop: The latest processors, discrete graphics, high-speed connectivity, up to 16GB of RAM, a flash drive that can be as massive as 768GB — and of course that ultra-high-res screen.

Such a package comes with a price: It starts at $2,199, and that’s just with 8GB of RAM and 256GB of storage. It should really be called the MacBook Pro With Retina Screen And An Eye-Popping Price Tag.

You get what you pay for, though, and in this case it’s a ticket to the future. More than even Intel has done with Ultrabooks, Apple has, with the retina MacBook Pro, drawn a dividing line between old laptops and the ones we’ll be using in the coming years.

With retina, it’s effectively obsoleted all of its other laptop designs and given its customers — and competitors — something to aspire to.

Putting the stunning retina display aside, you’ll probably be able to find a Windows machine that can beat it on an individual feature, be it speed, connectivity, convenience or storage. But as a package, nothing offers what this machine does.

That kind of focus on the breadth of experience is Apple’s bread and butter, and it’s good it see it applied full force to the category it helped invent: the personal computer.

MacBook Pro With Retina Display

The MacBook Pro With Retina Display is Apple’s new flagship MacBook, boasting a quad-core processor, flash drive configurable up to 768GB and an ultra-high-resolution display. It performs extremely well, but carries a high price tag. It’s also curiously different from its MacBook Pro cousin in some ways. Laptop repair Westlake Village laptop screen repair.

MacBook Pro With Retina Display: Photos and Screenshots

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