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on November 2, 2013
Update: I thought since it's been a couple months, I'd give a quick update. Although there isn't much to add. I still love this machine. Of course any computer you buy now should be the best computer you've owned, but this one feels especially refined. Still very happy I upgraded from the Air to the Pro.

Original Post:
I was operating on a 3 year old Macbook Air last year when I saw the MacBook Pro Retina. The 13" was tempting, in large part because it wasn't much heavier than my Air. But I decided to hold off and see if a Retina Air developed. The answer, as you probably know, was no. So when Apple refreshed the Pro line, I went for it.

I'm on day 2 getting my new machine up and running, and it's amazing. First off, that lag when you lift your lid and wait for the login screen...gone. This thing turns on like an iPad. You lift the lid and you're staring at the login.

Second, the Retina is stunning. Of course when you play movies, or games, you see the big difference, but for me it's the the text. Emails, websites, documents, everything is so much cleaner and easier to read. Much less fatigue.

Third, this thing is fast. Issues that I once blamed Internet speed, or poorly coded Websites, are now mostly gone. I would not have guessed it was the speed of my machine slowing things down. Safari and Chrome run like Ferrari and Lamborghini, respectively, on this new machine. Pages load up very fast.

The new OS X, Mavericks, is a nice upgrade and everything is just a little tighter. I was surprised that I still have to install iWork, but it's free and takes only a couple minutes.

If you're looking at this machine, you're either new to Mac, in which case buy this and don't look back. Or, you're looking at upgrading. If you had an Air, you're not likely to notice the weight difference, and the size itself is actually a little more compact feeling. If you're a MacBook Pro user, this seems like a great update if you weren't already on the Retina machines.

When you factor in size, power and battery life (which is about twice that of my old Air), this is the perfect laptop.
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on November 6, 2013
I looked into purchasing this computer from the Apple Store, from Best Buy, or from Amazon. Ultimately, I chose Amazon because of the fact that I did not have to pay sales taxes (depends on which state you live in). Also, Amazon made it easy to get the appropriate Square Trade warranty with it, which is cheaper than the Apple Care, but based on my readings from other customers, is just as good.

This particular model (256GB SSD, 8GB RAM) is the sweet spot in terms of pricing and features, particularly for the 13" model. The 256 SSD is a bit faster than the 128GB SSD in terms of write speeds, and I believe that if you have an external drive for large files that you do not use frequently (e.g., Time Capsule), then 256GB would be plenty of data for most people.

If you can get Education Pricing from Apple, I would personally recommend that you consider going to the Apple website to purchase the model with 256GB SSD and an upgraded 16GB of RAM, which would cost 1579 plus tax (with the education discount). I could not find a 16GB model on Amazon as of early November 2013. I have found that 8GB of RAM will probably be fine for me, but I am having to be more mindful of how many programs I have open than I would like to be. Plus, who knows what programs will come out in the future that might benefit from more RAM. I am hoping that this computer lasts me at least a few years, and I can never upgrade the RAM. However, I do want to reiterate that 8GB of RAM is working fine for me right now.

I briefly owned a Macbook Air when they came out with the new version in June 2013; however, I returned it because I wanted to purchase a computer with a Retina display. I am very happy that I waited until this computer came out. It is only a half of a pound heavier than the Air, it is significantly more powerful, and it has the awesome display. I personally appreciate reading text more on this computer than on non-Retina displays.

I am a first-time Mac owner (except for brief stint with the Air earlier this year), and I am enjoying the transition. For me, the trackpad is my favorite part. Once you get used to the many gestures, it is easy to transition between applications, launch new ones, manipulate text, zoom in and out, swipe back to your previous page, etc. After a week of heavy use, I can definitely see myself sticking with Mac. I will update the review if I change my mind for some reason.

So far, so good. Enjoy your purchase :)

Update 11.9.13: Apple has released an update to fix the trackpad problem that some of the other reviews mentioned.

I continue to use the laptop heavily, and I am definitely impressed by the battery. The actual battery life totally depends on how many programs you've got running. I have found that with several tabs in Safari and maybe one other program (e.g., iTunes), I can get the 9-10 hours that Apple claims. When I've got Safari and Chrome with several tabs, Garageband, iTunes, KeyNote, Pocket, the App Store going, I'm getting closer to 7 hours, which is still pretty good.

As far as the heat goes, I have not actually measured the temperature, but it has not caused me any problems. I personally try to position laptops carefully on my lap (as all guys should per men's health research), but other than that, I have not found myself worrying about it.

The sound quality is pretty good, better than the 13" Air. It's easy to adjust the volume even at night because of the awesome backlit keyboard. The volume buttons are easily accessible. I suggest that you disable the annoying sound feedback that indicates you have changed the volume (it is especially annoying when wearing headphones).

For other first-time Mac users, I suggest that you find websites that give keyboard shortcuts, and that you dedicate time making these shortcuts as well as the trackpad gestures second-nature. The earlier you can get those movements in your muscle memory, the faster you will feel that the laptop obeys your wishes :)
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on May 29, 2014
What I love about this Apple MacBook Pro - The Display is awesome I can take it outside on my deck in harsh light and the display is as bright and clear as it is inside the house where the light is softer. It's small, lightweight and the battery is quick to charge.

What I dislike - I returned the first notebook that I purchased because after hours of telephone support it would not connect to the WAN after sleep mode. Apple tech support told me to return it because it was clearly a hardware problem. Amazon sent me a replacement and I am experiencing the same problem but for this system there is a work around. If I turn Bluetooth off the problem is resolved. The problem is that I would like to use external Bluetooth devices and it is very annoying. Apple is aware of this problem and don't seem to be doing anything to offer a fix.

Update...Problem fixed with the latest Apple system update. Changed my review from three stars to four. Now Love this little MacBook.
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on September 12, 2014
I believe that there are now two newer generations, and as far as I know all oft positives would apply to those as well. Since this model's 2012 inception, the changes have only been to to the specifications, rather than structure or features.

The 13" retina model is the best display you will find on any laptop under $2000. There's simply no comparison between the Retina display and any other display up to 1080p, which is the typical limit for a laptop screen. This is a truly phenomenal screen. It's clearer in every way. There's less eyestrain. Contrast and color is phenomenal.

Battery life is also excellent. I have never had to recharge in the course of a single business day. I have in fact taken weekend trips with it and not had to plug in at all. In real life use, 8 hours of "actual use" is fairly typical; longer if there are idle periods or if you occasionally close it. Battery life is theoretically the main reason to select the Air over the Retina Pro, but it's closer than you'd think. 8 hours is realistically long enough for any normal person's usage; if you're the rare minority who needs more, then go with the Air, but probably not needed.

The SSD is wicked fast. Get the 256 or larger, unless you don't have a lot of data to carry. I had been okay on a 120 before this, but the 256 just has some elbow room. I have filled a lot of it up with gopro videos; other than that, few people "need" more than 256 on a daily basis, but most people will need more than the 128 before they realize it.

Performance? It seems to handle everything pretty well. I'm not a gamer or even really a "power user" so I'm not concerned with FPS or gaming performance of any kind. I don't run Windows, just Mac OS. Boot time is crazy fast. It's very fast to wake from sleep and reconnect to wifi. The wifi antenna seems to do a great job of pulling weak signals. Disk performance as mentioned above is blazing fast with the SSD; you'll notice a huge speed difference between the internal drive and an external, if you have to work on one. Otherwise, performance in standard apps is pretty smooth. It's hard to rate beyond "everything seems to work pretty well."

I do typically use fast user switching, with a few apps running under each user. I've had as many as a dozen separate apps open in each of two or three user spaces without ever noticing a slow down. You'll have a hard time reaching the limits except perhaps with video rendering, but even there it's fast enough for real time 1080p h.264 encoding.

Size and weight: it's thinner and lighter than you think. Even if you've seen one in the store, you don't realize how light and thin it is until you carry and use it. It weighs more than an Air, but aside from that it's the lightest and thinnest laptop I've owned.

Tldr; This is a great machine and you should get one.
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on March 10, 2014
Whoa is this thing amazing. Been a windows user for the last 15+ years. I will never buy another CPU with Windows OS ever again. It's just a shame I still have to use Windows at work. The screen is out of this world, battery life is around 8 hours, and the thing just flat out works. No more extremely long boot up times, when you click an application it's up and running so fast it's almost unbelievable. I would reccomend to anyone/everyone. If you are worried about the transition...DON'T! Within a few hours you are more than familiar enough to complete all necessary tasks. I am just mad at myself for not buying a MAC earlier. I am not a "Apple fan boy" I carry a DROID phone and will never be convinced to swith to an iPhone. I was just so tired of Microsoft/Windows operating system flaws and viruses. If theres any doubt in your mind BUY THIS NOW!!!
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on April 29, 2014
Extremely fast, lightweight, and easier to use than any of my previous Windows laptops or even my old MacBook Pro laptop. The keyboard has a little less spring to it than previous MacBook Pro models but you get used to it quickly. I guess it's the price of the new super thin and lightweight design, which is a good trade-off. I was considering getting the Air but decided this Pro had a much better display, more and faster connectivity, and a faster processor, all for just a bit more weight. Since this will be my primary computer, and only used for travel occasionally, I decided it was the best choice though either would have been good.
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on February 26, 2014
It is my first expirience with apple, the performance is very high, I've tested it using with more than one virtual machine and the behaviour is better that I expected.
After 15 days that I had bought it, I started to have issues with the keyboard (q,w,e,r,t,y,u,i and o) the keys didn't worked and then I started to search at the support and I realize that it was a common problem that happend with that model and others.
I took the machine to the apple service in my country Paraguay and they told me that was found a component that would be needed to change, and that apple will cover the component but I will be charge with the service to change the component. It was a bad expirience with the support by the way.
Then I started the process to change for another machine with Amazon, and the provider asked me to repair the machine with apple service, and then they will paid for all service.
That was how it happened and this trouble took me a month.
Another fact that I wanted to comment is that the model is so thin, and because that the macbook doesn't disipate the heat very well, I have to make sure that I use it on 22°C(72.6 F) to not warm a lot.
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on April 8, 2015
I have been using this little power house since I bought one last summer. I love it! I connected it to my Sony tv as a big monitor to search the web, enjoying online movies, downloading music from classics to contemporary pop hits, enjoying sharp pictures with great sound effect! Now my 14 year old daughter has it for her home work and web browsing. I have to go back to my 4 year old window laptop. To compensate myself and not willing to pay a fortune, I browsed Amazon to look for an affordable used Macbook, no more window computers . After some intensive research, I found my best bet is the still same laptop, the late 2013 13" Macbook Pro Retina, and some used ones cost less than $1000! What a steal for a barely over one year new pc! I placed an order for one on 4/2 with regular shipping speed and I got the delivery yesterday, 4/7, and the laptop was in mint condition with a new version of Yosemite installed. Thanks to the seller. Now I can search the web freely again!
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on September 3, 2014
It took me a while to decide between the 13.3 and the 15.4" designs, but, ultimately, I chose the cheaper and noticeably more compact 13.3" model. Lightroom 5 runs great on the 13.3 model with virtually zero delay noticed whenever the program needs to redraw an image. I don't do video editing, but I have been told by professionals that the dual core i5 provides quite enough horsepower to run most basic functions in a program like Final Cut 10. The only complaint I have, so far, is that the internal speakers sound kind of 'tinny'. This, of course, is in comparison to my iMac which has larger speakers and significantly more power available to drive them.

PS: Desperate for a laptop last January, I knew that I had way too little money to even consider a macbook pro, so I compromised and bought a Windows 7 based Dell computer. Try as I might, I could never be totally satisfied with the quality of that computer's display. The MacBook pro on the other hand is beautiful and I'm not just talking about pixels. The Contrast, Gama, and all those other tekkie type words are wayyyyy better on Mac than on anything else you will be able to find.
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on March 3, 2015
I purchased this Macbook Pro from a Used Seller and it has been a champ of a computer for me since.
The screen developed a fault after 16-18 months, but Apple replaced it for free with one of their "Customer Satisfaction"
programs that are not highly public, but known on the many forums. Aside from a bump on the edge I made, it has been
as close to new/perfect as anything I've ever used. I live on it. It was a bargain at 1K used. I'll buy a new one in the future
and not flinch at whatever price comes my way.
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