Retina Display MacBook Pro Reviews: Critics are Raving

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The reviews are in for Apple's MacBook Pro with Retina Display, and you can probably guess what they say.

Critics are thrilled by the ultra-thin, fairly light, power-packed Apple laptop, with its 2880-by-1880 resolution “Retina” display. What's not to like about a MacBook whose individual pixels can't be told apart by the human eye?

There's that nagging issue of price -- the new MacBook starts at $2,199 and scales up to $3,749 -- but that's easy to overlook when the laptop is on loan from Apple. Besides, Apple has a way of getting people to fork over an arm and a leg for its latest gear.

Want to bask in the critics' raves? Here's a roundup of MacBook Pro with Retina Display reviews:

Retina Display

ABC's Joanna Stern starts off with astonishment over the display:

“After 20 minutes of using Apple's new MacBook Pro with Retina Display, I switched back to my own six-month-old MacBook Pro to send an e-mail. But when I looked at its screen, I thought my contact lenses had actually fallen out. For a second I was worried; everything on the screen looked less crisp and less bright. It's not an old machine, but it was really as if an optometrist had switched my prescription, or I'd been forced to use my old glasses. Everything just seemed blurry by comparison.

This new display has other benefits beyond a clearer picture, as Engadget points out:

“Viewing angles are expanded compared to Apple's other high-end displays, so the annoying drop in contrast that happens from odd vantage points is all but abolished. Contrast, too, is boosted and, interestingly, glare reduced. Yes, this is still a glossy display and no, there still isn't an option for matte glass. But, Apple promises a reduction in glare here from previous Pros.

Retina Display MacBook Pro Reviews: Critics are Raving
There's just one downside to that gorgeous display: Non-retina apps will look terrible until app developers accommodate the technology, as SlashGear notes:

“Applications must support the Retina Display with suitably high-resolution graphics, and if they don’t it’s a recipe for visual disaster. Apple’s own Mail, Calendar, Address Book, Safari, iTunes, iPhoto, iMovie, Aperture and Final Cut Pro are all Retina-optimized, but most third-party apps aren’t, and the difference between them is brutally obvious.


At 0.71 inches thick, the new MacBook Pro with Retina Display is nearly as thin as a MacBook Air, and it's a bit lighter than older MacBook Pro models at 4.46 lbs. Reviewers were all impressed with the design. Here’s CNet’s take:

“It feels like a nice shift from the current Pro, which is what I'd call a ‘carry it around twice per week, tops’ laptop. More often than that, especially with the traditional 15-inch MacBook Pro, and it really drags you down. I could see carrying this new, thinner Pro around with you several days per week, or maybe to and from work on a daily subway commute at a stretch.

The new Pro also shakes up the arrangement of jacks and ports, including HDMI out and a redesigned MagSafe charger port. The Verge says HDMI is a “particularly useful addition” for plugging video and audio into a television with one cable.

Macworld's Jason Snell notes that the new power adapter is incompatible with old power plugs without a $9 converter, which could be a headache for some users:

“Simply put, the new MacBook Pro is too thin to fit the old MagSafe adapter. So it needed to change. But if you're a family or workplace that's already got a MacBook and wants to add another, freely sharing adapters is off the table.

Though the audio features of a laptop usually don't get much attention -- laptop speakers are often terrible -- reviewers praised the audio on the new MacBook Pro. Here's Laptop Mag:

“For its size and weight no other notebook on the market sounds better. Apple deserves serious credit for the dual speakers integrated into the new MacBook Pro. Not only did they get surprisingly -- almost alarmingly -- loud during our testing, but they offered a full and rich sound.”


With Core i7 quad-core processors, solid state drives and a minimum 8 GB of RAM, it's a given that the new device performs well. Engadget ran some benchmarks and found better performance than previous MacBooks. Also, Diablo III hummed along at 25-30 frames per second at maximum resolution and full graphical details. In Laptop Mag's boot time test, the MacBook's 15-second start-up time beat every other laptop in its class. Only Samsung's Series 9 came close.

Retina Display MacBook Pro Reviews: Critics are Raving
Even when the new MacBook Pro is running at full blast, it runs quiet, according to Harry McCracken at

“Some fast laptops tax their processors to such a degree that they heat up like pavement in the summer, forcing the use of noisy fans to bring the temperature down. The famously fan-phobic Apple says that it tuned the ones in the Pro to run at different frequencies so the whirrrrrrrrrrrr is less obvious. Even when I loaded gazillions of browser tabs, streamed videos and ran a virtualized copy of Windows 7 courtesy of Parallels Desktop, the Pro kept its cool and I couldn’t tell if the fans were active without pressing my ear to the case.

As for battery life, ABC's Stern eeked out 5 hours and 22 minutes of non-stop HD video playback, which was about an hour less than Apple's 13-inch MacBook Air. Laptop Mag got about 8 hours of continuous Web surfing on 40 percent brightness, compared to 6 hours and 18 minutes for the average thin-and-light notebook.


Slashgear's final words sum up the general sentiment in all the MacBook Pro with Retina Display reviews:

“In the end, though the new MacBook Pro with Retina Display is more than just the sum of its screen, the inescapable truth is that any other notebook feels dreary and last-gen in comparison. Just as switching from Retina on a new iPad to another tablet feels like stepping back in time, so the new MacBook Pro’s display feels like what computing really should be.

But let's give the last word to Macworld's Snell:

“Apple's been promising a high-resolution Mac interface for years now,” he wrote, “but with the new MacBook Pro the future is finally here.”

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