This weekend I happened to be at the Apple store so I took the opportunity to get an up close look at the new MacBook Pro laptops with the Retina display. I have to tell you that I was pretty impressed with what I saw.
The Pluses –
Of course the big plus here is the display, which looks pretty amazing. Having moved up to a D800 with all those pixels, I can tell you that I would love to have a display to really do my images justice. The Retina display is crazy sharp but not overly contrasty and the colors just popped.
Another new feature, which is an optional upgrade for other MacBook Pro computers, is the SSD that comes standard. I installed one in my older MacBook and the performance difference is pretty amazing. Just about everything happens in half the time as a standard platter drive. Using these drives just makes sense because they are lighter, consume less power, and are flat out faster than a standard hard drive.
The other big upgrade that I like in this new model is the addition of the USB3 port. I know that Apple really wants us to move forward with the Thunderbolt port but having both would really offer a lot of high-speed flexibility when it comes to peripherals. I know that I really like having a USB3 port on my CPU for downloading images from my D800, which has a USB3 port built in and makes quick work of transferring really big image files.
One big advantage to using an upgraded MacBook is that I can have more RAM. My current system tops out at 6GB of RAM but now that I am working with bigger files and doing more video processing, I really would love to have 8 or even 16GB with a fast i7 processor and NVIDIA graphics. The thought of all those ponies under the hood just gets my heart pumping.
Of course there are other great features like the thinner profile and lighter weight that also add to the desirability of this new MacBook, but there are a couple of things that are less appealing.
The Minuses –
There are few things I didn’t like but one was the lack of an optical drive. Of course this is one of the ways that Apple has been able to shave off some of the size and weight. They are also very big into downloading software from the App store so I get why they have done away with it. I’m just not sure I am quite ready to let go. After all, not every program I use is available as a download and I also like having hard copies of my software. It just gives me a warm and fuzzy feeling. Also, without the drive, I am giving up the ability to watch any DVDs. I really hate the thought of having to re-purchase movies in digital form and hate that there is no real “legal” way to easily digitize my current DVD collection. I know that the optical drive is probably a thing of the past but it’s still going to be hard to let go. I know I will miss it a lot more than I did the floppy drive.
Of course the biggest negative of the new Retina MacBook is the price. Let’s face it, Apple computers are not cheap and this group is the most expensive yet. The lowest price version of the Retina is $2199, which is a little pricey considering it only comes with a 256GB drive, which is not nearly large enough for my storage needs. That means I would need to bump up to the next higher offering. This isn’t an unappealing option because it comes with a faster 2.6GHz processor along with a 512GB drive. The drive size is equal to what I am using right now and would probably be sufficient for a while but the price takes a $600 jump, which puts it at an overall price of $2799 (plus $200 if I wanted to bump the RAM to 16GB). In this day and age of fairly inexpensive electronics, that is a pretty big chunk of change.
My bottom line –
The new MacBook Pro Retina is sleek and powerful with a beautiful display. It would absolutely be a boon to my digital workflow. My only hesitation is that currently the cost outweighs my needs. My current MacBook is a few years old but it is still serving me pretty well, especially since I maxed out the RAM and upgraded to the SSD. I’m not necessarily one who has to have all the latest and greatest like some of my friends (but theirs is partly job related so I get it). So, while I would love to plunk down the cash on a new computer right now, I know that I should fight the urge.
If you have already ordered one or are contemplating the purchase, I would love to hear your thoughts (non-fanboy opinions welcome as well).
Note – My wife did happen to mention that it would still be cheaper than what I paid for my D800, but that’s a subject for a different post.