MACBOOK PRO 13 2012 RETINA
Design and features
Unlike the 15-inch Retina MacBook Pro, the size and weight reduction of the 13-inch Pro isn’t nearly as shocking in person — the older 13-inch Pro already felt quite small, and the ubiquitous 13-inch Air is just slightly thinner at its thickest point. And the Air is actually a little bigger in terms of height and width. Basically, you’re used to Apple making laptops of about this size, and the Retina 13 is a nice midpoint between the old Pro and the Air.
You’ll notice an improvement in Apple’s already industry-leading fit and finish, though: the 13 uses the same new riff on unibody MacBook design as the 15-inch Retina, and it’s an extremely stiff, solid machine. It’s also extremely clean, with no branding on it apart from the Apple logo on the lid and the regulatory stuff on the bottom — even the “MacBook Pro” insignia under the screen has been done away with. And the little indent in front of the trackpad has been slightly smoothed out and made less concave. Everything’s just a little tighter than before.
The backlit keyboard and glass multitouch trackpad are up to Apple’s usual high standards, although if you’re coming to the Pro from an Air you’ll notice the increased key travel Apple employs on Pro machines. Around the left side you’ll find the new thinner MagSafe 2 power connector, two Thunderbolt ports, a USB 3.0 port, and a headphone jack. On the right, there’s another USB 3.0 port, an HDMI port, and an SD card slot. It’s a nice improvement over the previous arrangement that had all the ports crammed up on one side, and the HDMI jack is particularly welcome — it’s the first industry-standard video connector Apple’s built into a laptop in years, and I’m hoping it supplants VGA… sometime. And you can obviously still use mini DisplayPort cables and adapters with the Thunderbolt ports if you have an existing display or projector.
Do keep in mind that the reduced size means you’re losing Ethernet, FireWire, and an optical drive. The vast majority of people probably won’t miss them, but if you’re a traveler you’ll probably want to spring for the $29.99 Thunderbolt-to-Ethernet adapter in case of emergencies.
MACBOOK PRO 13 2012 RETINA-retina display
There are no superlatives left for Apple’s Retina displays — the company is leading the industry in shipping ultra-high-resolution screens and building software to take advantage of them. And while others are starting to catch up on smartphones and tablets, there’s simply no match in the laptop world. This is what computers should look like from now on.
Apple’s basic trick is a simple one: where a traditional display has a single pixel, a Retina display has four — but the extra pixels are used to make everything sharper, not provide more screen real estate. Quadrupling pixel density in this way means the Retina 13 has a 226ppi 2560 x 1600 display where the previous Pro had a 113ppi 1280 x 800 display, but the effective screen area at the default “best” setting is still 1280 x 800.
Put more simply, you’re seeing the same amount of stuff out of the box as the previous 13-inch MacBook Pro, but — assuming you’re looking at a Retina-enhanced app — you’re seeing it far more beautifully.