Hands On with Apple's New 13-Inch Retina MacBook Pro
Following the introduction of the new 13-inch Retina MacBook Pro at its media event, Apple invited attendees to spend some time with the machine. Overall, the early hands-on impressions are favorable, with the reduction in thickness and weight making a significant difference for professionals on the go, but the high price tag associated with the Retina display and solid-state storage mean that it likely won't quite be able to inherit the non-Retina model's popularity just yet.
For starters, it's wildly thin. No, not manilla envelope thin, but thin enough to slip into most briefcases and backpacks without the consumer even noticing. Outside of that, it's mostly a shrunken version of the 15-incher let loose over the summer. The unibody design is as tight as ever, with the fit and finish continuing to impress. In my estimation, this is Apple's most deliberate move yet to differentiate the 13-inch MacBook Pro from the 13-inch MacBook Air.
It’s clear that Apple wants this new version of its top-performer to take over as a product that redefines the laptop category, and judging by limited hands-on experience, there’s good reason to believe they’ll eventually get their wish, though not just yet. [..]
As for how it performed, it was very much like using the 15-inch rMBP, which is my main machine currently. In the hand, however, it feels significantly lighter, at about a pound lighter than the bigger model. That’s a big difference for a machine you carry around with you all day, and alone might sway some users, price considerations aside.
Freshly announced today, and falling under our eager fingers straight after Apple’s San Jose launch event, the new notebook follows the successful route of its bigger brother. Gone is the optical drive, in comes the super-high-resolution screen, and wide open pop our wallets.
The screen size may be smaller – and lower resolution, too, at 2560 x 1600, though for an overall higher pixel density of 227ppi – but actually the 13-inch model is slightly thicker, at 0.75-inches. In contrast, the 15-inch Retina version is 0.71-inches thick. You don’t really notice the difference, however, and the advantage in weight, with near a full pound dropped, more than makes up for it.
The resolution settings for the display are just like the larger MacBook Pro — but the maximum allowed resolution is 1680 x 1050, unlike the 1920 x 1080 setting offered on the 15-inch model. Still, 1680 x 1050 is a tremendous option on a display of this size, though at the "best for Retina" setting the screen offers an effective 1280 x 800. If you've been using a 15-inch MacBook Pro for the screen size, the 13-inch just got a ton more attractive.