Review roundup: Apple's Retina MacBook Pro is pretty but pricey

Posted:
in Current Mac Hardware edited January 2014
Reviewers are floored by the high-resolution Retina display on Apple's next-generation MacBook Pro, but remain put off by the $2,200 entry price.

Just days after Apple unveiled its newly redesigned 15-inch MacBook Pro, reviewers from some of the biggest mainstream publications have begun to weigh in with their take. Here are some of the highlights:

David Pogue of The New York Times

Though the new MacBook Pro "hits an impressive number" of "high notes" in the eyes of Pogue, he said the notebook's cost is its biggest deterrent. However, those who can afford the new MacBook Pro will be "well rewarded," he said.

In his testing, Pogue found that the 7-hour battery of the MacBook Pro works as advertised, and is enough to get the average person through a full work day without recharging. He also called the new stereo speakers "terrific."

But the real highlight is the new 2,880-by-1,800-pixel display, which packs 5.1 million pixels onto the 15-inch screen.

Retina


Pogue's biggest gripes with the new MacBook Pro are the fact that it only has two USB ports, that it lacks an optical drive, that it doesn't have a built-in Ethernet port, and the fact that it has a newly redesigned MagSafe port that requires an adapter to work with older chargers.

"Inexpensive? Not even close," he concluded. "But as with cars, homes and partners, you can't have everything. Professionals, commence your scrounging."

Ed Baig of USA Today

The upgraded hardware in Apple's next-generation MacBook Pro is "zippy," Baig said. He called the stereo speakers "excellent sounding," and declared the backlit keyboard "a pleasure to type on."

Baig conducted a battery test which he declared "harsher" than Apple's testing methods, in which he streamed a Netflix movie over Wi-Fi with brightness up and battery saving measures off. In his test, he got "a couple of hours" of uptime before the battery ran down.

MBP Side


Baig also pointed out the lack of optical disc drive and Ethernet port, as well as no built-in FireWire connectivity. A FireWire adapter is set to become available from Apple in July.

"Not everyone needs or can afford the new MacBook Pro," Baig said. "But I wouldn't blame anybody who fancies one."

Dan Ackerman of CNet

The next-generation MacBook Pro earned an "Editors' Top Pick" from Ackerman, who said the new internal components "compare well to recent high-end desktop replacements." But as expected, for him the real highlight was the new Retina display.

"In person, the Retina Display looks great, although you're more likely to notice it when comparing it to a non-Retina laptop," Ackerman said. "It'll likely be more useful for heavy readers or Photoshop/Final Cut users at first, and we'll have to see how long it takes for other popular programs to update themselves to take advantage of the new screen."

MacBook Pro


The new MacBook Pro is the best notebook Apple offers, he said, unless users need a built-in optical drive or Ethernet jack. He still recommends it over the legacy MacBook Pro design, which Apple still offers in sizes of 13 and 15 inches.

"Still, it feels like a rest stop on the road to somewhere else, a not-too-distant future when all laptops are paper-thin and feather light, with powerful hardware, wide connectivity, and generous solid-state storage that rivals bulky old platter hard drives," he said.

"Don't be shocked to see Retina screens filter down to less expensive models at some point in the not-too-distant future. We're not there yet, but this is a big step in that direction."

Additional reviews

For more takes on the new MacBook Pro, additional, generally positive reviews are also available from Tim Stevens at Engadget, Ross Miller at The Verge, Jason Snell at Macworld, and Mark Spoonauer at Laptop Magazine.
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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 115
    irelandireland Posts: 17,552member


    That northern desktop is a bad choice for marketing purposes; makes the screen look cracked.

  • Reply 2 of 115


    "Pretty but pricey" isn't that Apple's motto?

     

  • Reply 3 of 115

    Quote:

    Originally Posted by Ireland View Post


    That northern desktop is a bad choice for marketing purposes; makes the screen look cracked.



     


    that's funny. i use the Snow Leopard "pond reeds" desktop picture on my original MacBook Air & people always think my screen is cracked.

  • Reply 4 of 115


    Can't wait to order one myself in a few weeks. 


     


    Only 'negative' things I've heard are it will run hot under load, and battery is more like 5 and change than 7. 

  • Reply 5 of 115
    tomhayestomhayes Posts: 127member


    Why is this considered "pricey."


     


    A base model MacBook Pro last week with the high res screen, 8GB ram and a 256 SSD would have cost a few hundred more.


     


    It's "pricey" only if you compare it against another prodcut line.


     


    In other news a new BMW 850 is pricey comapred to a BMW 325.


     


    Also, oranges are pricey compared to apple.

     

  • Reply 6 of 115


    "Reviewers ... remain put off by the $2,200 entry price."


     


    Apparently the Reviewers are the only ones who are "put off", Apple can't seem to make them fast enough as shops times have slipped to 3-4 weeks.

  • Reply 7 of 115

    Quote:

    Originally Posted by Ireland View Post


    That northern desktop is a bad choice for marketing purposes; makes the screen look cracked.



    It's funny you mention that. I remember when Apple came out with the first iPad it had that beautiful desktop with shooting stars. I sold Macs at the time and I got quite a few calls about their iPad being scratched out of the box. Told them to change their desktop pattern and the scratches went away. Had to explain to them it was just the shooting stars.

  • Reply 8 of 115
    nagrommenagromme Posts: 2,834member


    Why Apple, why? I only wanted THREE things from the new retina MacBook:


     


    1. A retina display with higher res than any computer has ever seen, but priced the SAME as an ordinary display.


     


    2. A super thin ultraportable design, with high performance, long battery life, AND an optical drive inside. Portability matters to me, and therefore I like to carry a stack of scratchable discs with me.


     


    3. The ability to carry a 60” Ethernet cable around with me. NOT 63” but 60”. If I stick the Ethernet-to-Thunderbolt adapter on the end of my Ethernet cable, it becomes an unusable 63” long. WiFi is hard to find, and ALL of Apple’s products should still have Ethernet built-in. Not just some, ALL of them. Updating the old MacBooks Pros as well is just not good enough, Apple.


     


    I think I’ve summed up the feelings of those who don’t see this as the future.


     


    My own credit card awaits next year’s retina 11” Air!

  • Reply 9 of 115

    Quote:

    Originally Posted by OllieWallieWhiskers View Post


    "Pretty but pricey" isn't that Apple's motto?

     



     


    It's pretty well priced, as far as I can imagine. I think the only context in which it should logically come across as pricey is to the customer who didn't want to invest extra money into a SSD. For example, compared to traditional (and even the current) MacBook Pros and other high-end laptops the SSD is the factor that throws the price up into this range.

  • Reply 10 of 115
    robogoborobogobo Posts: 378member
    It's funny to hear reviewers who just have to come up with negatives, struggle with things like "love the thinness, but gripe gripe gripe because it has no optical drive" and "it's the best laptop ever made and what amazing technology that nobody else has, but it's not cheap".
  • Reply 11 of 115

    Quote:

    Originally Posted by nagromme View Post


    Why Apple, why? I only wanted THREE things from the new retina MacBook:


     


    1. A retina display with higher res than any computer has ever seen, but priced the SAME as an ordinary display.


     


    2. A super thin ultraportable design, with high performance, long battery life, AND an optical drive inside. Portability matters to me, and therefore I like to carry a stack of scratchable discs with me.


     


    3. The ability to carry a 60” Ethernet cable around with me. NOT 63” but 60”. If I stick the Ethernet-to-Thunderbolt adapter on the end of my Ethernet cable, it becomes an unusable 63” long. WiFi is hard to find, and ALL of Apple’s products should still have Ethernet built-in. Not just some, ALL of them. Updating the old MacBooks Pros as well is just not good enough, Apple.


     


    I think I’ve summed up the feelings of those who don’t see this as the future.


     


    My own credit card awaits next year’s retina 11” Air!



     


    LOL!!!!  I was halfway through that when I realized you were being sarcastic :)  I agree for crap sake the last time I needed a CD/DVD was...um...I can't even remember honestly...cmon

  • Reply 12 of 115
    jragostajragosta Posts: 10,473member
    tomhayes wrote: »
    Why is this considered "pricey."

    A base model MacBook Pro last week with the high res screen, 8GB ram and a 256 SSD would have cost a few hundred more.

    It's "pricey" only if you compare it against another prodcut line.

    In other news a new BMW 850 is pricey comapred to a BMW 325.

    Also, oranges are pricey compared to apple.

     

    You left out one important fact:

    If you really want a cheaper solution, last year's MBPs have been updated and are now available for hundreds of dollars less. Funny how everyone whines that Apple doesn't give choices, but when they do, the alternatives get ignored.

    As near as I can see, the only real negative for the way I'd use it is lack of a 17" model, but that's not enough to make me switch to Windows.
  • Reply 13 of 115
    flabberflabber Posts: 100member


    I'm suprised people are complaining about the price. If you upgrade the normal MBP to the same specs as the Retina MBP, the ReMBP is actually cheaper. 


     


    The only "gripes" I'd have with it is that for a professional device I think it's rather silly to glue/solder the whole thing together (battery, ram, HD), since  ram and HD upgrades or battery replacements are more common on those devices (since they're more heavily used) than a MacBook Air for example. Glueing and soldering a device together will only make possible repairs way more expensive.

  • Reply 14 of 115
    paxmanpaxman Posts: 4,594member

    Quote:

    Originally Posted by Ireland View Post


    That northern desktop is a bad choice for marketing purposes; makes the screen look cracked.



    I presume you are joking? It does kinda look cracked but I don't see how it will affect marketing. Its not as if prospective buyers will look at the images and say whoa! not buying that! The screen is cracked! The could have picked a pretty sunset or whatever but I kinda like the fact that it draws your attention and makes you look closer.

  • Reply 15 of 115
    dualiedualie Posts: 331member


    What? No floppy drive?

  • Reply 16 of 115
    ryukryuk Posts: 29member
    I'm guessing the guys at Ifixit whis they can fix these reviewers... Really I can't remember the last time I use my Ethernet port or my optical drive progress is painfully for some ... My only problem is figure out if I should stick with the 8gb or upgrade to the 16 cuz my 2009 MacBook only has 4gb ... But with gameing in mind I don't know if 8gb is enough
  • Reply 17 of 115
    duoduo Posts: 26member


    Santa (aka FedEd delivery guy) just stopped by and I'm loving my new toy! That said, it really is a big step up for me since I bought my last MBP in '08 just before the unibodies came out. No complaints thus far!

  • Reply 18 of 115

    Quote:

    Originally Posted by dualie View Post


    What? No floppy drive?



    Amen. And exactly how am I supposed to connect my cassette drive?


     


    Apple just doesn't want to support its users.

  • Reply 19 of 115
    doh123doh123 Posts: 323member

    Quote:

    Originally Posted by nagromme View Post


    Why Apple, why? I only wanted THREE things from the new retina MacBook:


     


    1. A retina display with higher res than any computer has ever seen, but priced the SAME as an ordinary display.


     


    2. A super thin ultraportable design, with high performance, long battery life, AND an optical drive inside. Portability matters to me, and therefore I like to carry a stack of scratchable discs with me.


     


    3. The ability to carry a 60” Ethernet cable around with me. NOT 63” but 60”. If I stick the Ethernet-to-Thunderbolt adapter on the end of my Ethernet cable, it becomes an unusable 63” long. WiFi is hard to find, and ALL of Apple’s products should still have Ethernet built-in. Not just some, ALL of them. Updating the old MacBooks Pros as well is just not good enough, Apple.


     


    I think I’ve summed up the feelings of those who don’t see this as the future.


     


    My own credit card awaits next year’s retina 11” Air!



    you actually had me until number 3... you actually sound a lot like some people have said and they were serious though.


    Quote:

    Originally Posted by jragosta View Post





    You left out one important fact:

    If you really want a cheaper solution, last year's MBPs have been updated and are now available for hundreds of dollars less. Funny how everyone whines that Apple doesn't give choices, but when they do, the alternatives get ignored.

    As near as I can see, the only real negative for the way I'd use it is lack of a 17" model, but that's not enough to make me switch to Windows.


    he didn't leave that fact out, he already said if you take one of those new ones and put a SSD in it, it can cost MORE than the MBPR.

  • Reply 20 of 115
    akf2000akf2000 Posts: 223member


    it's only £2 /day for 3 years guys!

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