Apple MacBook Pro with Retina display
While PC manufacturers have been busily updating their ranges with Intel’s Ivy Bridge processors, Apple has gone a step further. Not content with updating the internals, it has transplanted the same Retina display concept from the iPad to its flagship MacBook Pro.
Just as the iPad’s Retina display left every other tablet trailing in its wake, the MacBook Pro now promises to do the same to every other laptop on the planet. Squeezing a massive 2,880 x 1,800 resolution into a 15.4in IPS panel, it’s a technological marvel.
Those 5.1 million pixels aren’t quite as tightly packed as on the new iPad or the iPhone 4S, but that hardly matters. The MacBook Pro’s 220ppi density is light years ahead of the laptop competition, and the moment OS X Lion’s desktop fades into view it’s impossible not to be impressed. There isn’t the slightest hint of pixel structure; not a single jagged edge to be seen. Even the individual icons on the Launchpad are so clearly defined it makes the MacBook Air 13in look like it’s slightly out of focus.
Technically, it’s near faultless. The IPS panel’s LED backlighting delivers a maximum brightness of 333cd/m2, and the contrast ratio of 1,023:1 is exemplary. Apple’s decision to factory calibrate its displays makes all the difference, too. Put to the test with our X-Rite i1Display Pro colorimeter and basICColor’s display 5 software, the display achieved an average Delta E of 1.4 and a maximum deviation of 3.4 in OS X – simply superb colour accuracy.
This is the most refined, colour-accurate display you’ll find on any laptop, at any price. However, there’s more to the MacBook Pro’s Retina display than mere pixels. While you’d imagine such a high resolution would make text painfully tiny, and shrink the toolbars and icons in applications to almost unusable proportions, Apple’s solution is OS-wide scaling.
In the default mode, dubbed “Best for Retina”, the MacBook Pro’s desktop effectively mimics a 1,440 x 900 pixel display: text is large and legible, and the icons are all big enough to click without fiddling – but it’s still a 2,880 x 1,800 screen, and those extra pixels make all the difference.
Fire up Safari and you’re rewarded with fonts so sharp and finely delineated it’s almost like viewing text on a printed page. In fact, text is so beautifully rendered it makes the low-resolution images on websites look in need of an upgrade. Apple’s own website solves the issue by using higher-resolution images when the browser detects it’s being viewed on a Retina display.
Applications are faced with a similar issue. Apple has already updated most of its iLife suite, Aperture and Final Cut Pro X, so they can take full advantage of the screen’s high resolution for editing photos and HD video. Other developers, such as Adobe, are promising updates very soon.