Apple first came up with the term "Retina Display" for its iPhone 4 product. The company had doubled the screen resolution in both dimensions, going from 480x320 pixels to 960x640. The idea was to create a display that was so dense with pixels that the human eye would have a difficult, if not impossible, time resolving individual pixels at common working distances.
Thus, the "Retina Display" was born.
This concept went on to influence the iPhone 4S, then the iPad 3 (The New iPad), which offered users a resolution of 2048x1536 in a 9.7-inch screen. Now, the newest MacBook Pro brings us the previously mentioned 2880x1800 screen - doubling the previous generation's standard of 1440x900.
We'll talk more about the display in our full review, but at first impression, it's less noticeable than you might think. I suspect it will end up working a bit like the iPad 3 did - it wasn't an in your face thing at first, but when you switch back from an iPad 3 to an iPad 2 or 1 you realize just how great the new display is, and how pixelated and gross the others look.
Even if you're not a fan of the ridiculous resolution, it's hard to turn down an IPS notebook display with proper 178 degree horizontal and vertical viewing angles.
It's hard to deny that the new machine is attractive if you're a fan of the current minimalist Mac perspective.
Thinner than previous models by at least 25%, the new Retina MacBook Pro (rMBP) comes in at just 0.71 inches, or roughly 18mm for the rest of the world. For those of you playing along at home, that means that this thing technically classifies as an Intel Ultrabook - thin, flash memory, Intel CPU, etc.
The new computer weighs 4.4 pounds, or 2 kilos. It's a noticeable weight increase from even the 13-inch MacBook Air, which weighs a little under three, and almost double the weight of the 11-inch model. It's lighter than any other MacBook Pro, however, and considering the power and the display you get for that weight, it's not an unreasonable compromise.
Speaking of compromises, you'll notice that there's no optical drive. A lot of people have been complaining about that, but good riddance. Many people aren't using optical media these days, and if you really need to burn a DVD, pick up a cheap USB drive. Similarly, there is no FireWire or Ethernet on this laptop.
Instead, should you wish to partake, you'll need to pick up $29 adapters from Apple which convert one of the two Thunderbolt ports into the requested input. In addition to those two T-bolt jacks, there are two USB 3.0 (FINALLY) ports, an SD card slot, and an HDMI-out input.
The rest is incremental. There are new speakers in place, which do sound great - for a laptop. Typical backlit keyboard. Apple's glass multitouch trackpad. Still useful as an emergency heat source in bed. Like the MacBook Airs, the RAM is soldered to the motherboard; the SSD, fortunately, is not (though it is a proprietary form factor). The battery is glued into place this time, which means when your battery dies, you'll be paying $199 to Apple to replace it. This is all on top of the notebook's $2199 price point.
That's high, but it's honestly not unreasonable considering all of the technology that's gone into this thing. It feels like a great laptop, but only time - and our upcoming in-depth review - will tell. Be sure to check back for that over the coming days, and in the meantime, take a look in our forums for a quick unboxing / hands-on video I shot. Be kind, I have a terrible cold at the moment.