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13″ Retina Macbooks showing up in Apple Stores

Sections: Features, Hands On / First Looks, Laptops, MacBook Pro, Macintosh/Apple Hardware

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13" Macbook Pro with Retina Display

If you’ve been dying (since Tuesday) to get your hands on a 13″ Macbook Pro with Retina display, your wait is over. The new computers arrived at some Apple Stores this morning, and were out on display. The units on display at the Apple Store in Uptown Minneapolis all had the i5 processor and 128 GB of storage.

Obviously, I’m not going to review the thing: I spent perhaps 10 minutes poking around and couldn’t use it to do any work. Some impressions, however:

  • It’s like a chubby Macbook Air. That same sharp feel. It doesn’t have the Air’s “weightless” feel, but pick up the 13″ Retina and then a regular 13″ Pro (which I did), and you’ll feel a substantial weight difference. The regular 13″ feels like it’s full of rocks now, and I’ve been toting one around for years.
  • I played two movies that were in the Retina’s iTunes library: Burton’s Alice in Wonderland and Toy Story. The display was unimpressive with Alice, showing the problems that always seem to surface when you try to watch HD video on a computer screen. Toy Story, though, popped off the screen with vibrant colors.
  • Speaking of graphics, I played around with the copy of FCPX installed on the computer and was impressed by how effectively it worked. Even though the display size is much smaller, everything, even the thumbnails, had a lot of detail, making it easy to understand what the poster frame for a clip was. While previewing a timeline, I clicked the “expand” icon and it went to full-screen video with no stuttering or delay. This clip, too, showed off the amazing clarity of the Retina display.
  • I can’t see how anyone could use a “Pro” machine with only 128 GB of storage if they’re working with photos, music, or video. In fact, I wanted to see how fast the processor could copy a large file, so I selected the music folder and hit “duplicate.” I got an error message saying that the command couldn’t be completed, because there wasn’t enough space. Granted this is not a “stock” machine, but one with lots of extra programs, music, and video installed to show off its capabilities. Still, unless you’re planning to start over clean and work only with the files you need to have (or tote around an external drive), you’re going to want a bigger drive.

So, after this hands-on experience, do I want to buy a 13″ Retina Pro? I’m not sure. It’s undeniably gorgeous, powerful, and more portable than ever. But I use my current Pro for everything: editing photos and video, recording podcasts, carrying around all the digital music I’ve accumulated. And right now I’m not sure if the weight difference makes up for the amount of storage I need, and what I’m willing to pay to get it.

Product [13" MacBook Pro with Retina Display]

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