Apple 2.0

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MacBook Pro with Retina display: The reviews are in

June 14, 2012: 11:32 AM ET

The screen draws raves. The price, not so much

FORTUNE -- Apple's (AAPL) favorite reviewer -- the Wall Street Journal's Walt Mossberg -- appears to be out of pocket, but dispatches from the rest of the tech press are coming in. For some reason, many begin by posing questions: Does the MacBook Pro with Retina display live up to expectations? Does it create a new product category? Is it worth the price? Where does it leave the rest of the industry?

For the answers, you have to read on.

The New York Times' David Pogue: A Point Shy of Perfect. "The new Apple laptop that went on sale Monday hits an impressive number of [his dream laptop] high notes in one radical swoop. As you might guess, the one it misses by the biggest margin is "inexpensive." Then again, the new 15-inch MacBook Pro with Retina display is intended for professionals — photographers, video editors, musicians and other people whose laptop is the heart of everyday work. If they can scrounge up $2,200 (for the base model) to $3,750 (for the died-and-gone-to-heaven model), they'll be well rewarded."

MacWorld's Jason Snell: Hands on with the Retina MacBook Pro. (in advance of the full review):  "First off, this disclaimer: I've been using an 11-inch MacBook Air for so long now, it's very hard for me to judge a 15-inch laptop. It feels enormous to me. But fans of the current 15-inch MacBook Pro will notice that this new laptop is actually quite a bit thinner than the current model, a bit lighter, and slightly narrower."

The Verge's Ross Miller: Does it live up to great expectations? "If you're in the market for a premium OS X laptop right now, it's hard not to recommend the new MacBook Pro with Retina display. If, however, power isn't your ultimate goal, may we suggest shaving a few pounds and specs for the MacBook Air. As for everything in between, those non-Retina "standard" MacBook Pros, well... the writing's on the wall. And of course, it doesn't hurt to be even a little bit patient and wait for more apps to push Retina-optimized updates — if you get the MacBook Pro with Retina display now, you'll be waiting on the world to change."

Engadget's Tim Stevens: Apple MacBook Pro with Retina display review. "So, then, is this a laptop that's creating its own new product category? Not exactly. This is a laptop that stands poised to kill an existing one, one that Apple has dominated. The new Pro is good enough to make the old Pro (even the updated version) look and feel obsolete. It pushes and redefines the category, raising the bar higher than even its brethren can jump. If you can afford the premium and aren't set on a 13-inch model there's no reason to buy any Pro other than this Pro."

Laptop Magazine's Mark Spoonauer: Editor's Choice. "Just when the laptop competition thinks it's closing in on Apple, the company launches a new product that raises the bar for the entire industry. For the new MacBook Pro with Retina Display, it's the screen -- all 2880 x 1800 pixels of it -- that will leave others scrambling to play catch-up. Of course, to push that many pixels you need serious horsepower. And the next-gen MacBook Pro (starting at $2,199) delivers just that with a quad-core Core i7 processor, Nvidia Kepler graphics and super-fast flash memory. Did we mention the MacBook Pro is only 4.5 pounds and is nearly as thin as the Air? Yeah, it's almost not fair."

Fortune.com's JP Mangalindan: 4 things to know about the new MacBook Pro. No. 4: "Heating isn't a problem (yet). As the owner of last year's 13-inch MacBook Air with a 1.8 GHz i7 processor, I've found the laptop can run hot under duress -- high-definition video playback, multiple apps open -- sometimes causing the fan to loudly kick in. The new MacBook Pro features a new "asymmetric fan," with small vents on either side of the notebook's bottom, which the company says encourages quieter day-to-day operations. It's too early to pass final judgment, but we will say we've never heard it whir as it does in the MacBook Air when performing the same tasks."

ComputerWorld's Ian Paul: Retina MacBook Pro vs. PC Laptops: Who Wins? "For the moment, this next-generation laptop is not going to appeal to the current generation of laptop buyers - be it PC or Apple. The base model alone for the new MBP is priced at $2200 for just 256GB of hard drive space and a quad-core 2.3 GHz Core i7 processor. Compare that to the $1500 Asus G75VW gaming laptop featuring the same processor, six times the storage space (hard drive, not flash), and a 17-inch screen with 1920-by-1080 resolution."

CNET's Dan Ackerman: Editors' Top PicksThe good: The unprecedented high-resolution screen on the new MacBook Pro with Retina Display makes images -- even simple text -- look beautifully clear. Despite a redesigned, lightweight body, the powerful components, including an Nvidia GPU, compare well to recent high-end desktop replacements. Overdue new ports, including USB 3.0 and HDMI, are welcome. The bad: With a $2,199 entry-level price tag, the MacBook Pro with Retina Display costs more than the typical American mortgage. The lack of onboard Ethernet jack, FireWire, or an optical drive can be inconvenient at times. Despite being thinner and lighter, it's not as travel-friendly as a true ultrabook or MacBook Air. The bottom line: The newly redesigned MacBook Pro with Retina Display combines an amazing screen with just enough of the MacBook Air design to feel like a new animal, and to take its place as the best of the current MacBook breed.

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About This Author
Philip Elmer-Dewitt
Philip Elmer-DeWitt
Editor, Apple 2.0, Fortune

Philip Elmer-DeWitt has been following Apple since 1982, first for Time Magazine, and now on the Web for Fortune.com.

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