MacBook Pro 2012 review
- Stunning Retina Display
- Fierce processing power
- Effortless multi-tasking
- Lack of Retina optimised apps
- No optical drive
- Very pricey
The new MacBook Pro with Retina Display was the big reveal at Apple's WWDC keynote. Bringing the iPhone 4S and the new iPad 3's much-vaunted killer feature – their nonsensically high-definition screen -– to the Cupertino crew's notebook line, rather than the iMac desktops as many had suspected, it stood alone as an all-new product alongside refreshes of the MacBook Air and standard MacBook Pro lines.
Yet with ultrabooks such as the Asus Zenbook and HP Envy 14 Spectre building on the success of the Apple MacBook Air, bringing compact power and flexibility to the affordable end of laptops, is a super-charged, super-priced portable chock full of the latest technological advancements aimed at professionals rather than hardcore gamers cumbersome and unnecessary?
To find out, we tested the entry-level £1,799, 2.3GHz version of the Apple MacBook Pro 2012 with 256GB hard drive, although there's also a 2.6GHz version of the MacBook Pro with Retina Display with 512GB hard drive for £2,299, with greater custom specification also available.
Apple MacBook Pro with Retina Display: Build
As with anything that comes out of Sir Jonathan Ive's tech laboratory, the new flagship MacBook Pro is stunning to look at, a strong mix of style and substance, its aluminium unibody all understated curves lines and minimalist beauty.
Sit it next to the other members of the MacBook Pro line and you realise just what a feat it is to produce something so high-spec so compact.
Despite the introduction of an intensive Retina Display, at only 1.8cm thick it somehow nears MacBook Air slimness – there's 0.1cm difference at the Air's flabbiest point (which isn't very flabby) – yet feels altogether more robust.
We still wouldn't want to drop one without a fairly hefty case, mind. At a mere 2.02kg in weight, it's almost disconcertingly light for such a serious machine, but hey, we're not complaining – it adds little bulk to your bag or burden to your journey.
Elsewhere, the Trackpad is responsive and tactile yet solid and durable, and while the new quieter, assymmetrical fan system attains its secondary aim admirably – we didn't hear a peep – it also clearly knocks its primary out of the park, too, reducing lap burn to a thing of the past.
Many complained the iPad 3 ran hotter than previous models, but after a full day of constant use, the new MacBook Pro's underside was barely lukewarm.
Apple MacBook Pro with Retina Display: Features
We'll talk about the screen later, but that's not all the new MacBook Pro has going on. First of all, it has wired and wireless connectivity down, from SDXC card support to 802.11n Wi-Fi and Bluetooth 4.0.
The two speedy new USB 3 ports – one on each side as ever, handily – are also backwards compatible to USB 2, while two Thunderbolt ports, headphone jack and a single HDMI out complete the set.
To be honest, beyond a display, we still struggle to find things to put in our Thunderbolt holes and would have preferred it to fly solo, with a third USB taking its place.
Yet the lack of FireWire or Ethernet access means you may be thankful for them as these can both be connected via Apple's Thunderbolt adaptors.
The new and improved 720p HD front-facing camera does a fine FaceTime/Skype job, but ironically its images and video look a bit washed out and degraded on the Retina Display's sharp screen.
AirPlay mirroring is responsive and reliable, and while our MacBook Pro packed the Retina-optimised Lion operating system, the upcoming Mountain Lion OS is primed to raise the feature bar even further from July.
Yet what won’t be coming is an optical drive, which has been reduced, MacBook Air-style, to an external add-on. For something as purposefully entry-level as the Air, this seemed understandable, but on a professional notebook it will not be a view everyone shares.