Last Tuesday at the Worldwide Developers’ Conference, after introducing a large number of highly anticipated upgrades to the MacBook Air and Macbook Pro, Apple trotted out what may be the pinnacle of Apple engineering and design.
The new MacBook Pro confirmed hundreds of rumors about what the next stage of Apple’s laptop line would resemble. Not only does it pack the top-of-the-line Intel Ivy Bridge series of processors, an upgrade that all the computers in the MacBook family received, but it is the first laptop to come equipped with a retina display.
The new MacBook Pro introduced many new design concepts, and set the stage for what Apple’s laptops will achieve in the coming future. Put simply, the new MacBook Pro is less a computer than it is a statement. A statement that not only is Apple the world’s top computer manufacturer, but that it firmly intends on keeping that position.
The laptop is everything Apple prides itself upon: impossibly thin, gorgeous to look at, packed chock-full of the best computer hardware currently available, minimalist while still being a powerhouse, and necessarily expensive. Some have said that this laptop is the best piece of hardware that Apple has ever produced.
Even more are saying that there has never been a more perfect laptop. Ever. Are they right? We think so.
THE RETINA DISPLAY
The retina display on the iPhone and iPad is still absolutely dazzling. The level of detail and the inability to see individual pixels with the naked eye is something that sets Apple’s iDevices apart from all other smartphones and tablets. On a nine-inch screen, it’s beautiful to behold.
The new MacBook Pro’s retina display, at over fifteen inches, is astounding.
For those who don’t know what a retina display is, it’s a screen with such high pixel density (that is, there are so many pixels in such a small amount of space) that the naked eye cannot discern between individual pixels.
If you still don’t follow, do me a favor. Go up to the nearest HDTV, and get really really close to it until you can see the individual pixels on the display. With a retina display, you still can’t see pixels, even when that close.
To think that a laptop display could have 326 pixels per inch is, to borrow a term from the late Steve Jobs, magical, especially considering that most 1080p displays of similar size average a little over 100 pixels per inch. Even Tony Stark thinks this is ridiculous (in a good way).
To say that this is a massive advancement in laptop displays is an understatement–in a year, when this is standard across every MacBook Pro, it will render traditional laptop displays obsolete.
The 13-inch MacBook Pro has the following on-board ports:
- 2x USB 3.0 Ports
- 1x Thunderbolt Port
- 1x Ethernet Port
- 1x FireWire 800 Port
- 1x 3.5mm audio (headphone) Port
- 1x MagSafe Port
- 1X SDXC Reader Slot
- 2x Thunderbolt Port
- 3x USB 3.0 Port
- 1x HDMI Port
- 1x 3.5mm Audio Port
- 1x MagSafe Port
- 1x SDXC Reader Slot
The new MacBook Pro ditches wired ethernet and FireWire and the older, thicker MagSafe adapter in favor of an extra USB 3.0 and Thunderbolt port, an HDMI port, and a new, slim MagSafe port. Not only does this allow the laptop to be thinner, but it does away with certain pieces of technology that are losing popularity or commonality.
FireWire is fairly archaic, and the prevalence of WiFi is making physical ethernet less and less necessary. Instead of predicting future trends in technology, Apple is telling us what the future will look like.
The biggest physical difference between the new MacBook Pro and its older siblings is the absence of an optical drive. That’s right, Apple knows that physical media like CDs and DVDs are going the way of 8-tracks and LaserDiscs, and that more and more installation media, media like music and movies, and other stuff that required some sort of disc is being made available exclusively over the internet.
Apple, who did not release Mac OS X Lion on a disc, instead choosing to make it available for download on the Mac App Store, has ditched one of the largest pieces of internal hardware in any laptop in favor of making the laptop itself much, much thinner. Though some may still need optical media, it’s a form that’s slowly inching toward obsolescence. Apple, to its credit, is ready.
One of the most frustrating things about the older MacBook Pros was that there was not a common video connection to be had. If you want to output video from any other MacBook Pro, you have to run it via Thunderbolt or through a compatible video adapter. This is frustrating, because just about every modern computer monitor or HDTV has full HDMI compatibility, and it often is the best quality connection over which one can process video.
Apple, despite its popularity, has not often been known to adhere to industry standards. It adopted Thunderbolt before any other computer manufacturer, but left out HDMI. The company has been historically panned for things like the flat, 30-pin connector used for iPhones and iPods, FireWire, and other connection standards that were fairly uncommon.
On the other hand, almost every PC manufacturer equips their laptops with HDMI, as it is so common and standard that it is approaching a degree of universality. Even Apple’s own home theater system, the AppleTV, transmits its signal over HDMI.
The new MacBook Pro packs a real-life HDMI port, making it much more compatible and user-friendly than its older counterparts. In this sense, Apple has caught up to the industry in a small but smart way that makes a huge difference to the media-savvy end user.
IT’S REALLY POWERFUL
Needless to say, Apple laptops don’t just look pretty, they work really really well and last a long time. As I mentioned before, the new Intel Ivy Bridge processors are the new top-notch CPUs on the market, and this new Mac benefits from that architecture. Not only that, but the new MacBook Pro comes with an Intel Core i7, the top processor in the core series.
These new MacBook Pros start out, in the base model, with a 2.3GHz quad-core Core i7 processor. That processor tops out at 3.3GHz. That is the MINIMUM processor that the new MacBook Pro ships with. Those models also bottom out at a massive 8 GB of memory.
In anticipation of another soon-to-come advancement, the new MacBook Pro doesn’t have a traditional spinning hard drive, but they ship exclusively with flash-based solid-state drives, starting out at 256GB. For the right price, that goes up to a full terabyte. Apple obviously wants to get deeper into the land of flash memory, and this is a darn good way to break through into that territory.
The new MacBook Pro also has the benefits that every Apple computer boasts–stupid-long battery life, high-definition graphics, and the Mac OS X operating system that includes a full suite of creative software.
IT’S SO FREAKING THIN
This might be one of the most obvious selling points for the new MacBook Pro, but that’s not without reason. Harken back to when Apple debuted the original MacBook Air. The thing was impressively thin, but had very little muscle. In fact, spec-wise, the thing was about as puny as its diminutive shell let on.
Fast-forward a few years, and Apple is killing off its beloved white MacBook in favor of the 11″ and 13″ Air laptops, which had surpassed their more mainstream brother in terms of specs, sales, and overall sex appeal. It is without a doubt that Apple hit a goldmine by debuting these super-thin laptops, because PC manufacturers are now trying to copy and take advantage of their thin, sleek design.
There was some speculation around Apple rumor circles prior to last week’s WWDC that Apple might have a new, 15″ MacBook Air in the works. That makes sense, seeing as people seem to crave a laptop that thin, but prefer the more traditional, 15+ inch screen size.
The new MacBook Pro is about as thin as its skinny, popular younger sister. How thin? Look down at your thumb.
Thinner than that.
At .71 inches thick, the new MacBook Pro is the thinnest 15″ laptop ever built. It weighs under five pounds, and its whole construction is thinner than any other MacBook Pro’s outer bezel. I wasn’t exaggerating before when I called it impossibly thin. This laptop is so thin that it shouldn’t even be legal. I have mouse pads thicker than this thing. It’s the size of a single-subject notebook.
To think that all the power I mentioned above is stuffed into a laptop that’s about the same size as a legal pad is unfathomable. Many PC purists scoff at the self-aggrandizing rhetoric that Apple uses to describe its products, words like “magical,” “radical,” or “amazing.”
If Apple never before lived up to the weight of its own words, it surely has now. The new MacBook Pro is nothing less than phenomenal. It doesn’t just represent the pinnacle of current technology, it’s a window to the future of portable computing. Will that future come soon? We don’t know. Will this laptop remain the king of notebooks for the forseeable future? We don’t know. Well, then…what do we know?
I know I want one. Real bad. Real real bad.
(My birthday is July 3rd. Thanks in advance.)
Agree? Disagree? Let us know in the comments. Also, stay tuned, because next week we’ll be exploring the other side of this discussion, why the new MacBook Pro might just be another pretty face. Thanks for reading!