557 of 578 people found the following review helpful
on December 26, 2012
First, some context. I'm 64, with a 64-year-old man's eyesight. I live on my computer -- Internet and word processing. I am a retired professor (Rutgers). I'm a born again blogger, I write books, and I run a minuscule publishing house.
I like writing in all rooms of my home. My study, at the kitchen table, sitting up in bed, on a counter in the basement. I prefer a laptop to a desktop. In my study, I have two computers going at once. One is a Windows (XP) desktop with an excellent 21" screen. The other is an Apple laptop. (Yes, I use both Windows & Apple simultaneously, on two separate computers. Both have virtues.)
For the past year, my laptop has been a Macbook Air (MBA) 13.3", bought new, here at Amazon. I have loved it. Those of you who own an MBA know what I'm talking about -- and this review is aimed chiefly at MBA users. Last spring, I tried the Macbook Pro 15" Retina, and returned it. Too large, too heavy, too expensive, and not enough programs and sites were Retina-ready. I never regretted returning it. My MBA was the ideal laptop for me. I had found the "perfect" laptop.
Till a month ago, when I began reading reviews of the Macbook Pro 13.3" Retina (rMBP 13.3). "Hmm," I thought, "this baby might be worth trying. It's smaller than the 15", lighter, and I'm getting hints from reviewers that the display is perhaps better than the 15"." I ordered it, got it set up, and was soon in love -- except it had a (slight) flaw. (Trackpad was janky; it rattled when tapped.) I sent it back.
No, I did not immediately order a replacement. I wanted to ponder whether the rMBP 13.3 was truly a significant improvement -- for me -- over the MBA. Days went by. I read articles online about the narcotic effect of owning Apple computers. ("Yes, Virginia, there is something called Apple Syndrome. Apples are just so darn good, in every respect, that Homo sapiens is neuro-physiologically incapable of resisting them. Like the fabled apple in the Adam & Eve story. You bite into the Apple "apple" and you experience, in person, in the flesh, the Fall of Mankind into an unimagined world of computer perfection. Yes, it is a full-blown seduction, and, yes, it's worth it.") "Have I become an Apple addict," I asked myself? (It didn't make things easier when my wife, a psychiatrist, assured me I was indeed an Apple addict.)
By the end of the week, I knew the answer. No, I was not an Apple addict; I have demonstrated the strength of character to resist Apple's "apple" in the past, and, by golly, I could do it again. Furthermore, upon considerable reflection (I'm a PhD; we reflect a lot) I concluded that the rMBP 13.3 was worth the money. I knocked on my wife's study door, sat down, and made my case. Brilliantly, I add. She came around.
The rMBP 13.3 arrived the next day. I made the right choice. This is a vast improvement over the MBA -- and that's the real purpose of this review. Retina is fabulous. Retina is a quantum leap over everything else. Now, lots of programs and sites are Retina-configured. All my voluminous research notes have been converted to PDF's, and I spend hours reading them. Now, reading PDF's using the onboard Preview utility is a dream. Even scanned PDF's read extremely well. I can read for hours & hours and my eyes don't get tired. It's like reading a book.
There's more. The text is larger on the screen in the rMBP than the MBA. This had become a major drawback, for me, with my MBA: screen text (that is, non-adjustable text) was just too small. This is not the case with the rMBP; it is a delight to read with my aging eyes.
I said, above, that I have two computers going at the same time -- a big desktop PC and my Apple laptop. The screen on the rMBP seems as large as my 21" monitor, for some reason. I'll leave it to others to explain why this is so -- but it is.
The weight of the rMBP is comparable to the MBA. Only slightly heavier. The size is nearly the same. (I believe the rMBP is slightly smaller in footprint than the MBA.) The battery-charge lasts longer on the rMBP than the MBP -- easily over 7 hours, for me. Like the MBA, the rMBP recharges rapidly, and it turns on and off rapidly. Speakers are excellent (remember, it's a laptop). Trackpad, fabulous. (Nobody makes a trackpad like Apple.) Keyboard touch, excellent. The rMBP has a dictation utility which is really cool. Yes, it works well. You don't have to train it to your voice. I have used Dragon Naturally Speaking for years. Dragon is the "gold standard" for voice recognition and dictation. Apple's dictation utility is about as accurate as Dragon, in my experience. It's not as stable as Dragon (meaning, it loses its connection rather easily), but that's not a big deal; you simply tap the "fn" key twice and continue talking. No need for an attached microphone; the onboard mic works as well as a plug-in mic (I tried it).
Think of it this way. Pretend there was no MBA. Pretend Apple introduced the 13.3" MBA and the 13.3" rMBP simultaneously -- on the same day. You are standing in front of a new 13.3" MBA and 13.3" rMBP, and you are going to buy one or the other. There is no question but that you should buy the 13.3" rMBP. Yes, it's about $500 more than the MBA. Yes, it's vastly superior.
I write this review for democratic purposes. I consider Amazon's review feature to be the finest expression of "commercial" democracy in existence. By this I mean, I am one of the millions of people who benefit enormously from Amazon customer reviews. Whenever I buy on Amazon (which is a lot), I study all the reviews. Hence, I consider it my duty to write my own -- to benefit someone else.
58 of 64 people found the following review helpful
The new Retina MacBook Pro is outright gorgeous in terms of its form factor and screen resolution. There are several improvements in this version compared to the 2011 MBPRO 13" that I owned previously:
SIZE - Feels significantly lighter and thinner. Somewhere between the MBAir and old MBPRO. It's almost a full pound lighter than the 4.5lb older MBP. A much more portable feel to it compared to the old MBP.
RESOLUTION - No question, the resolution is what this device is all about. Refreshing new look as the screen is incredibly crisp (and that's an understatement) with it ridiculously high pixels and also more on-screen real estate to work with. The screen is less reflective compared to its predecessor, making it easier to work in bright conditions.
PORTS - Great improvements in my opinion - addition of an HDMI port and moving the second USB port to the other side, giving a USB port on both sides. Makes using them slightly easier. Firewire port replaced with an extra Thunderbolt port. Ethernet port and optical drive eliminated.
MAGSAFE 2 - Original MagSafe connector replaced with MagSafe 2 connector. I personally am not aware of any advantages of the new connector in terms of charging/data transfer speed, but this was annoying because I had to buy another $80 MagSafe 2 charging cable for my office - I leave one at home and one at work.
SPEED - Flash storage makes using this device significantly faster. Boot up time and loading time for apps is super fast. Opening up the screen from standby takes less than a second.
BATTERY - not sure of the battery specs but I get about the same use on this as I did with my older MBP. If I am away from a wall outlet, a full charge is god enough to get me by the day with 20-30% battery remaining. This could of course vary depending on personal usage.
STORAGE and RAM - The rMBP comes with 128GB of flash storage and is also available with a 256GB configuration at an additional $200 or so. A device with higher capacity storage can be configured but that pushes up the price pretty quick and pretty steep. The processor is a 2.5GHz dual-core i5, the Apple rep told me there was no option to get a quadcore processor for this device. Only upgrade possible was I think a i7. If the storage or processor is a deal breaker for you, consider getting the 15" rMBP which comes with a i7 quadcore processor and 256GB flash storage. Performance wise or based on configuration options available, the 15" fares significantly better than the 13" but it is quite a bit more expensive.
Bottomline - the 13" rMBP in my opinion offers a good balance across all MBP and MBA devices - it offers fantastic portability (only slightly thicker than MBA) and great performance (falls short of rMBP 15 but better than other models).
At the end of the day, whether or not to buy this device is entirely a personal decision based on several factors. IMHO, if portability is a major factor for you, the MBA might be better suited though I think if you try both devices side by side, the difference is insignificant. If performance is a must-have in terms of computing power and storage, the 15" is definitely the better option with the additional $500 price tag . If you don't care about either and just need a good functioning Mac, the older version MBP would be perfect and it's much cheaper at $1199. That being said, once you see the resolution and form factor of this rMBP, it would be difficult to go back to the old MBP!
69 of 82 people found the following review helpful
on November 22, 2012
I agonized over this purchase, and even considered a few ultrabook options, but in the end, there just is no substitute. As a photographer, my primary consideration was screen quality. On the Mac side, that pretty much ruled out everything but the 15" rMBP. On the PC side, there are a rapidly growing number of relatively inexpensive Ultrabooks with really nice displays. The Asus Zenbook Prime in fact has a really nice IPS matte screen and was the main PC option I considered. The biggest issue there though (setting aside OS preference) is the 4GB of ram and the fact that it uses the slightly lower performance, low voltage intel processors (just as the Macbook Airs do). The screen also has light bleed issues around the bezel, something which I know would eventually drive me nuts. In contrast, the screen on the rMBP's are about as uniform and perfect for still images as it gets (beyond a wider gamut desktop display).
So, in comparison to the 15" rMBP, the 13" rMBP would seem to not provide quite the value proposition as it's bigger brother as mentioned in other reviews (lack of discrete graphics, dual core vs quad core processor, base configuration with 128GB SSD vs the 256 SSD of the 15" rMBP AND the seemingly dramatic price premium to the 13" MBA with similar performance). Most, if not all of these negatives really boils down to price/ value with where the 13" rMBP sits in the line. At retail, Apple really sticks it to the person wanting the better display on a smaller, lighter Macbook...but knock say ten percent or so off of that price (which is what I paid and seems to be where the price is headed here and few other places) and magically, the 13" rMBP all of a sudden starts making a lot of sense. At that price, the terrific display and better keyboard can be seen as a very reasonable premium over the 8GB ram MBA and significantly cheaper than the base 15" rMBP. Advantages of the 13" rMBP over it's bigger brother? Well, weight and size of course (the 15" rMBP is about a pound heavier with larger dimensions making it not so portable). In fact, the 13" rMBP weighs only about half a pound more than the Air and actually has a smaller footprint. For me, it's really about the perfect size. Performance wise, it's not a desktop replacement for heavy duty use imo (which a high end configured 15" rMBP could be) but for portable use and light editing, it's perfect. Like most heavy user/ professionals, I'm not going to be doing major editing on a laptop anyway as I have a main workstation for that. Also, keep in mind that the 15" rMBP does not even use the discreet graphics unless a program specifically calls for it (that is, without the use of a separate utility) and, when that chip is used, forget about decent battery life (maybe 2 hours?) So, for most tasks, it's not used at all! Another possible future advantage of the 13" over the 15" is the huge space where the existing SSD is located below the trackpad (a different location to that of the 15" rMBP, which can be seen at iFixit). This likely means it's going to be very easy at some point to replace the smallish SSD with a larger capacity, off the shelf SSD with a proper connection adapter (the space below the trackpad allows for a commonly available, 7mm height SSD with regard to fit, though the connection is different). With the 13" rMBP, there is also something about it that goes beyond specs and the sum of it's parts. This laptop just feels right! It feels speedy and responsive in use, the build quality is impeccable, the screen is amazing and the keyboard is about the best typing experience one will have on a laptop. Sure, in a year or so when intels next gen, low power Haswell processors are used, the performance of the 13" rMBP will be at the level of it's bigger brother but even now, this is very close to perfect.
Update...This is probably minor for most folks but after using my shiny new Macbook Pro Retina for a week or so, I noticed that the screen bezel, when closed, did not perfectly match up with the bottom on one side. This creates a slight overhang on one side, the left side in my case. I thought this was really odd given the typical Apple build quality I have come to expect over the past decade or so. After all, the design and build quality represents a LOT of the premium one pays for an Apple product and Apple even advertise - and pride themselves- on how every single millimeter is perfect in their promotional videos and such. Anyway, just out of curiosity, I looked at the same Macbook Pro 13" Retina display model at various Best Buys and, of course, every single one was PERFECT! No overhang anywhere and perfectly smooth mating all around when the laptop is closed. I guess I somehow got the one unit with such a manufacturing defect.
45 of 57 people found the following review helpful
on November 5, 2012
Display: The retina display is absolutely jaw dropping. No magnifying glasses, no tiny icons, just pixel-tastic glory perfect for photos and video.
Fit & Finish: Sturdy aluminum chassis with typical Apple attention to detail. Everything just feels like it fits together perfectly.
Performance: Handles photo and video editing, and light gaming(Diablo 3 with medium settings) without issue.
Portability: The design comes in at about 3.5 pounds and happily spends the day in a backpack, or an evening on the sofa.
Trackpad: Think iPhone quality response and that's exactly what you have. Extremely sensitive and versatile.
Price: Yes this is not a cheap computer, but when you start to spec out comparable machines you're really only shelling out a few hundred extra. (Please do not comment about how the Vizio Thin-N-Light is way less expensive. That particular computer is not even in the same category.)
Regarding Disk Space: The 128GB version (which is actually around 121GB) comes with roughly 105GB of usable space (~16GB of OS and iLife) out of the box. While some may find this inadequate, it appears to be more than enough for me. I recommend using iTunes Match to save yourself considerable space (my 70GB library has been reduced to 10GB as I only need a small amount of music for when I have no wifi) and be diligent about keeping your machine free of junk.
Versus MBA: Don't get me wrong, the Macbook Air is an excellent computer, probably the best all-around machine when you factor in price. That being said the screen on the retina model is infinitely better. For about $500 more you're getting double the RAM, a slight increase in overall performance, and a massive screen upgrade. Is it worth it? Maybe. Guess it depends on how much expendable income you have, and how much you value the display. I tried them side by side and was left feeling there was no way I could be happy with the Air after having seen the Retina.
Bottom Line: If you're like me and enjoy getting your hands on some cutting edge consumer tech, then this is the machine for you. I'm sure eventually these type of displays will trickle down to budget-friendly laptops, but for the time being this is the only show in town. I recommend checking it out in store so you can get a feel for what an amazingly well rounded device it is.
23 of 29 people found the following review helpful
on November 4, 2012
I just upgraded from a 13 MBA with Core i7, 8gb, 512 ssd to a similarly equipped rMBP. In real life the rMBP has superior battery life while creating documents, doing email, and surfing the web. It lasts about an hour longer with screen at about 50% then the 2012 13 MBA. The retina display is phenomenal, just like the difference from an iPad 2 to iPad 3 with retina. The retina display allows for resolutions at either stunning retina standard, or all the way up to 1650 x 1050 or something like that. It is awesome for spreadsheets or video conferences or other multitasking activities when you want multiple things on the screen. Huge productivity advantage. There is zero lag or other problems, and it runs faster than the Core i7 MBA in real life. The weight is so similar that it barely matters in real life. One other detail is the keyboard. The rMBP keys have more travel and I can actually type faster with less fatigue than in the MBA. Another small difference from a daily business user.
So as someone that currently owns both loaded model rMBP and MBA, ignore those that complain about the spec sheet. The rMBP is a great upgrade from the MBA. Is it expensive....yes indeed...but the display is what you look at all day and is your interface to the computer for hours and hours. I would not change a thing. FYI, I did not think that you could make a better computer for my business needs than the loaded MBA....but apple did.
8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
on December 19, 2012
The reason I got it from Amazon was to avoid the tax that could cost me $100+. The good thing was on Thanksgiving the price dropped down to $1511, about $100 less than its normal price. It satisfies all my needs for a laptop-portable, fast, and beautiful. The resolution wasn't a big attraction to me initially, that is to say I would rather they had a cheaper mode with lower resolution. But after a few weeks i do feel it's worth it! My only complaint if any would be the 128GB hard drive. Of course there is a 256GB option, but the price is ridiculously high.
Overall, I am happy with it, especially I got such a deal on Amazon! I am glad I didn't switch back to a PC, which I almost did!
A tip for those who intend to buy on Amazon is that the price varies everyday, so you can keep track of it and catch the lowest one.
14 of 17 people found the following review helpful
I've been a computer guy for over 30 years. Starting with Apple II (among others) and the original Mac with floppy disk (oh man!) I have been a DOS/Windows user for the most part. All of our computers, servers, network have been based on the Microsoft platform. The main reason was the flexibility of creating your own applications and systems. But Microsoft software has had its share of problems and they just can't seem to get rid of them. It's gotten to be annoying and the new versions today really don't offer much improvement.
My wife wanted a new computer to use while she works on her Masters. Macs are abundant at the university level both by students and professors. After some online research we went to the Apple store and within an hour and a half we walked out with a MacBook Pro with Retina Display. It is actually a joy to work with!
The MacBook Pro easily connected to our network which made it painless to transfer files. The only issue so far was transferring email. There is an app on the Apple store for $1.99 that works, sort of. It transferred most the Outlook Express folders but the larger ones, like the Sent folder, had to be separated out into smaller folders.
We have the 13.3 inch display and find it to be a perfect size: the laptop itself does not feel too big, the Retina display is superb. The Mac interface has also started to grow on me. While a lot different then Windows it doesn't take long to work around the system. Very intuitive and easy to use.
The touchpad is the best I've ever used. It's like having the features of a tablet. Using different combinations of fingers you can easily scroll around the system like on tablet. (I still like to have a mouse - old habits die hard...)
The laptop itself is well built: aluminum case, lightweight, looks great. With the Pro we got 8gb RAM and the 128gb Solid State Drive. While the 128gb drive may seem insufficient, most of our data files reside on the network and you can add 128gb SD card or USB/Tunderbolt drives. The lighted keyboard looks really cool, too!
The Pro connections include: 2 Thunderbolt ports, 2 USB 3 ports, HDMI port, SD card slot, headphone and power. The power adapter can be plugged directly into an outlet or with the included extension cord. It also includes a 720p HD Camera.
The one issue I have is not having a file explorer. I have to know where my files are and find them quick and easy. There are work arounds but a little annoying for me.
We bought ours at the local Apple Store. Using the latest in technology our purchase was made right there on the spot then someone brought it out from the back. The sales rep walked us through setting it up. While we could have easily done this ourselves, it was nice to make sure the unit worked and get a basic run through of the operating system since we are used to the Windows environment.
The MacBook Pro isn't cheap but it's not over priced either. It is well built and deigned with great features. We felt the extra $500 is worth getting the Pro over the Air for the extra RAM, ports and the Retina display.
There was a time when file formats were an issue but we are finding the Mac works very well in our current Windows environment and plan to get more in the future. Windows is getting old, Droid is too basic Mac seems to be the wave of the future!
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on December 19, 2012
Having had numerous PCs which worked great when I first used them and then started having numerous errors after about a year, I decided to try the Mac. Although there is a learning curve switching to the new operating system, I have to say that the Mac is super intuitive, very fast and a real pleasure to work with. Although the retina display wasn't absolutely necessary for what I do, it makes pictures look gorgeous. This was an expensive investment, but so far I feel it was worth it.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on September 30, 2013
bought 13 inch with retina display and 256 flash drive at best buy. tried transferring files wirelessly over network. was incredibly slow. tried streaming movies with airplay and was too slow. could be I had a compatibility problem with att highspeed but don't have any problems with my two older macs one an imac and a 08 macbook. I returned the computer to best buy. also shouldn't take 5 minutes to drag a 2mb file from a folder on desktop on to desktop. just incredibly slow and then just seemed to stop. spent a lot of tine with apple care (have nothing but good things to say about them) and they agreed there was a problem and wanted me to take it to an apple store. I decided I didn't want to spend time fixing something I paid 1500 dollars for. I love my old macs and still want to upgrade. would appreciate any feedback to my review.
8 of 10 people found the following review helpful
on November 13, 2012
I have used an 11" MBA up to now, and one of the problems comes with age, the size of the computer is great, the size of the screen on the 11" MBA becomes more and more difficult to use. I therefore upgraded to the new 13" Macbook pro with the retina display. The compactness of the computer is important to me particularly for business trips and this computer does not disappoint. A one pound difference between the 11" MBA and this is little compromise for the change in the screen and clarity of the screen.
It is manageable as a laptop on a plane where the 15" is just too big. It is easily portable where the 15" is in my mind, just too big for business travel.
It is blazingly fast, no qualms, if you do go for this, I took the i7 option, I think it helps a lot, but many will argue with me. Dont skimp on storage, it will bite you at some point. I now have tons of storage to use for whatever, no more trying to balance all documents on flash drives.
My daughter is now using the MBA and she is thrilled with the new machine, and I am thrilled with the massive upgrade. Cheap, no, not by a longshot, but the best computer for the business traveler, bar none, yes.