My First Impressions of the New MacBook Pro with Retina Display

After numerous phone calls to local Apple Stores and third-party resellers, I finally managed to get my hands on the new MacBook Pro with Retina display in-store. I purchased my unit at Future Shop, a Canadian division of Best Buy, which had received only one new MacBook Pro with Retina display just thirty minutes prior to my arrival.

I consider myself one of the lucky individuals that somehow managed to get Apple’s latest notebook at a retail location, which definitely saved me lots of time over ordering online and waiting 3 – 4 weeks for shipping availability. I’m surprised that a third-party electronics retailer would have stock before an Apple Store, but hey.

Once I purchased my new $2,199 base model MacBook Pro with Retina display, which was discounted to $1,999 thanks to Apple’s educational discount, I quickly drove home — to be honest, I got stuck in lots of traffic on the highway — and unboxed my new machine and self-proclaimed weekend toy. Find out my first impressions just ahead.

“One of the first things I noticed about the new MacBook Pro is just how thin this notebook is”

One of the first things I noticed about the new MacBook Pro is just how thin this notebook is; yet, at the same time, it still has a weight to it that is rather burdensome compared to the MacBook Air. Upon opening it up, I immediately noticed the stunning Retina display and just how thin it is compared to the MacBook Pro chassis.

While the new Retina display certainly delivers deeper, vivid colors at amazingly high resolution, it is now up to third-party Web developers to optimize their Web sites for the 2,880 x 1,800 pixels display. While the native suite of Apple applications including Safari and iTunes have been updated to support the higher pixel density, other applications and images across the Web look somewhat blurry at face value.

“While the new Retina display certainly delivers deeper, vivid colors at amazingly high resolution, it is now up to third-party Web developers to optimize their Web sites for the 2,880 x 1,800 pixels display”

Even portions of Apple’s website remains unoptimized for its very own Retina display notebook. As more consumers choose the Retina display MacBook or other high resolution competitors that are surely on the horizon, we will begin to see more developers focus on optimizing their content for the next-generation display.

On the sides of the notebook, there is everything that Apple promised at the WWDC 2012 keynote on Monday. A couple Thunderbolt ports, two USB 3.0 ports, an SDXC card slot, HDMI port, new MagSafe 2 connector and a standard 3.5 mm headphone jack. Apple definitely ditched so-called “legacy technology” by removing the optical disc drive and Ethernet port, but the newer technology definitely compensates for it.

From left to right: SDXC card slot, HDMI port, USB 3.0 port

USB 3.0 and Thunderbolt I/O are very fast and efficient, while the MagSafe 2 connector is extremely durable and adapts to the thinner design. The unibody aluminum design of the MacBook Pro remains outright amazing, giving the notebook a definitive Apple look that competing manufacturers have failed to replicate.

From left to right: MagSafe 2, two Thunderbolt ports, USB 3.0 port, 3.5 mm headphone jack

I also spotted the minor changes on the new MacBook Pro, including the relocation of the “MacBook Pro” moniker from the bottom of the display to underneath the notebook itself. As I sit in a slightly dimmed room, the keyboard is nicely backlit by bright white LED lights underneath, while the power button for the MacBook Pro is now conveniently located directly on the keyboard. Also, say goodbye to the eject key found on previous MacBook Pro generations.

The speakers sound decent on the new MacBook Pro, especially since the fans are the quietest of any Apple notebook I have ever used. Performance-wise, the new MacBook Pro boots up incredibly fast due to the flash storage architecture, while OS X Lion is extremely quick and responsive with the base Intel 2.3 GHz quad-core Core i7 processor and 8 GB of RAM.

I will certainly perform some more intensive tasks and gaming with my new MacBook Pro in the coming days, but the early prognosis is positive for the new MacBook Pro. I mean, you would hope that a $2,199 notebook — a rather big investment — is a powerful machine. I will certainly setup and fine tune my new Mac over the ensuing days and weeks and check back in with a status update. For now, I’m off to play with my weekend — and college — toy some more.

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