This is definitely the best Mac I've ever owned, but I will start right out by saying that Apple still hasn't solved the one thing about every laptop I've ever owned, and I don't know if they ever can. The new fans in this laptop are the quietest I've ever heard, but the laptop still gets a little toasty on your lap, especially during the summer months. So much so that you feel you need to take a break - or crank up the AC. I guess I could just get a laptop chill mat, but that would detract from the light, slim profile of this machine. The other reason I didn't give it 5* is because of the upgradability. This is the first machine I've ever owned where the user can't upgrade anything. I knew that going into my purchase, but I'm still protesting Apple's lack of upgradability here. There has to be a better way.
All that aside, the retina display on this thing is just gorgeous. If you're a graphic designer or a photographer (i'm not) you're really going to love seeing your DSLR photos in their full glory on this display. People's eyes just pop out of the retina display like they are looking you right in the eye, it's gorgeous. In addition, text is so much easier to read on this display, I wonder how I ever read text without it. Maybe the real reason they call it retina is you might be able to put those reading glasses off for another few years?
Battery life on this notebook is the same as my previous Macbook pro. I always leave a lot of windows open and generally like my brightness at 60-75%, working on a wifi network, doing some casual web browsing, email, and downloading music, with a little DJ work on the side, and I get 3-4 hours, depending on how many windows I leave open and whether or not I remember to turn off the unnecessary stuff like bluetooth.
The keyboard and trackpad remain relatively unchanged between this model and the other Macbook Pros I've owned. They are all pretty similar across the entire Macbook Pro and Macbook Air line. I've always enjoyed the feel of the keyboard, and I think they slightly improved it on the retina Macbook Pro. The trackpad is not my favorite, but I generally hook up a bluetooth mouse when I'm at my desk anyway.
The real treat with this machine is the built in 256 gig SSD. I had a SSD in my previous Macbook Pro, but most people who are getting this machine didn't previously have an SSD so you will immediately notice how amazingly fast this computer boots up and loads programs. Rarely will you be waiting for your system to do anything, it just moves lightning fast.
Speaking of lightning - having 2 thunderbolt connectors on this is REALLY nice at work so I can hook up dual monitors without buying some silly USB monitor adaptor like I had to on my previous MBP. I've also hooked up the Apple Thunderbolt display to this and it looks gorgeous - albeit still not retina quality, and works flawlessly with this laptop. They were made for each other.
The USB 3 connectivity is a welcome upgrade. Most of my external HDD's are USB 3 and I am enjoying the 90-100MBPS copy speeds, which previously were around the 25-30mbps range on my old Macbook pro.
As a DJ i have mixed feelings about the lack of a microphone jack. I generally record announcements with my podcasts. The built in "dual microphone" is a significant improvement over the old built in mic, but it would still be nice to have the option to plug a real mic into the RMBP. Fortunately, a lot of the "broadcaster" mics sold these days do hook up to USB so that's not as big of a deal as I may be making it out to be.
The speakers are significantly improved just as Apple advertised. They seem to direct the sound right at your ears, which makes them sound much better then previous models. Generally I don't use the built in speakers much, but when I do it's nice to see that they are paying more attention to packing better sound into laptops - one less thing to have to lug around with you (external speakers).
I use this laptop all day long as an IT professional and it never disappoints. It never crashes, and I never have to reboot my system except when doing major upgrades. I have a ton of windows open and never run out of computing power. In addition, I also DJ on the weekends, and it has flawlessly performed with Traktor, and Virtual DJ, hooked up to a Pioneer DDJ Ergo over USB.
I probably have more computing power then I will ever use, but it's better to have more then you need rather then not enough. One thing to note, if you are complaining about the price, remember that the base Macbook Pro only came with 4 gigs of RAM, and NO SSD. When you add the 8 gig option, and the 256 SSD to the old Macbook Pro, the price actually came out higher then this new model, so it's actually like getting the Retina for free. I'm just sayin!