Apple last night announced a refresh to it’s Macbook range including the launch of a new Macbook Pro with a Retina display.
Rather inconveniently planning the announcement for the same time as the England vs France Euro 2012 footy match, Tim Cook introduced the heavily predicted all new 15inch Macbook Pro with Retina display alongside a refresh of the internal gubbins of the Macbook Air and the remaining non-Retina, old style Macbooks. Also announced were more details of the launch date and price of Mountain Lion – the new Macbook operating system – and a preview of the latest version of Apple’s mobile device operating system iOS6.
Key points of the announcement:
- New 15inch Macbook Pro with ‘Retina’ display launched.
- It also features a much thinner case, Flash hard drive, no CD/DVD drive and a faster processor.
- The old style Macbook Pro continues in 13inch and 15inch versions for those of us with more limited budgets.
- The Macbook Air range has been upgraded with new processors and graphics chips.
- Mountain Lion OSX will launch in July for $19.99 (so probably around £18-20 in the UK).
- iOS6 was announced and will be launched in the Autumn.
Covering off the less exciting stuff first, the Macbook Air range has been upgraded with new faster processors, more powerful graphics chips and faster Flash hard drives. The new(ish) Macbook Air will look identical to the current version but the now annual upgrade to the internals should be more than enough to cope with running the new Mountain Lion OSX when it’s released in July.
Cutting to the main focus of yesterday’s announcement, an all-new design Macbook Pro was unveiled that sports a very high resolution ‘Retina’ display, as used on the New iPad and iPhone 4S. It packs in 5.1 million pixels and will no doubt look gorgeous to the eye when seen in the flesh.
Perhaps more significant than the main marketing push around the Retina display is the change in overall design. By replacing the traditional style of hard drive (with moving spinny bits inside) with a Flash-memory based hard drive (as seen in the Air) and removing the DVD/CD drive Apple have managed to significantly reduce the thickness of the new Macbook Pro. It’s now down to 1.8cm from 2.4cm in the old design. To put this in perspective the Macbook Air is 1.7cm at it’s fattest, although the wedge profile makes it feel a lot thinner in the hand. Other benefits of the Flash memory hard drive over a traditional hard drive are that it’s faster, weighs less and is more robust for a portable device.
It’s worth noting that Apple are still selling the old style Macbook Pros at both 13 inch and 15 inch with built-in DVD drive, standard (but still very good) displays but with upgraded processors to pep them up a bit. I would expect these models to be phased out by this time next year with a 13inch Retina Macbook and the final death of built in DVD drives and old school spinny hard drives.
There had been speculation that a 15inch Macbook Air would be announced but the new Macbook Pro seems likely to be as close as Apple gets to the super-slim wedge profile of the Air for now. In my opinion they have prioritised the introduction of the Retina display over introducing the full Air-style of design because I don’t think the slimmer profile could house a big enough battery to run the power hungry Retina display for long enough or perhaps even squeeze in the Retina display itself.
All the extra features of the Macbook Pro Retina comes at a cost. The Macbook Pro Retina starts at £1799 with a 2.3Ghz processor, 8GB of RAM, a (relatively small) 256GB hard drive. For the same price the old style 15inch Macbook Pro on offer includes a 2.6 Ghz processor, a 750GB hard drive and of course a CD/DVD drive – you pays your money, you takes your choice…
My verdict? The Macbook Pro Retina is a great product that will no doubt sell well and is the beginning of the next wave of Macbooks – slimmer cases with Retina displays, flash drives and no DVD drive. However, whilst the Retina display will undoubtedly look amazing I don’t think you would notice the difference after using it for a couple of weeks unless you’re literally sat side by side with someone using a non-Retina display. The slimmer case and Flash drive are more significant changes for me, although the Macbook Air is still a fundamentally better product for my own needs.
What do you think of the new Macbook Pro with Retina display? Please leave a comment below.