Review: MacBook Pro impresses, Retina MacBook Pro dazzles

The new 15-inch MacBook Pro is blazing fast, but the all-new Retina MacBook Pro is unsurpassed

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It also marks a milestone in accessibility. For visually impaired users (my personal cause), the Retina display is built-in adaptive technology. It makes devices usable by the millions of people who aren't yet ready for braille or VoiceOver, but who can't use a standard LCD. If you know someone like this, show them zoom (interactive UI magnification) on the Retina MacBook Pro.

For those of us with normal vision, one of the hidden benefits of the Retina MacBook Pro is its ability to mimic, with very good quality, the resolutions of Apple's other notebook displays. It will even match the 1,920-by-1,200 layout of my former favorite pro notebook, the now-defunct 17-inch MacBook Pro. If what you want from lots of pixels is more UI real estate, the Retina display will give it to you, and yes, it's perfectly usable. If you want to see every last dot, you can crank most OpenGL games up to the native 2,880 by 1,800. Note that I didn't say you could play them like that.

I don't have room here to give the Retina display its proper due. It is worth your effort to see it in person and investigate on your own. If you're a Mac application developer, I recommend watching the three WWDC 2012 sessions on creating apps and Web content for OS X high-resolution displays.

If the Retina MacBook Pro didn't have the Retina display, I'd still see it as this era's template for the professional notebook. It overturns the conventions that notebooks can be either fast or portable, and that displays can be either compact or readable.

The classic 15-inch MacBook Pro has too great a following for Apple to risk declaring it obsolete, and I wouldn't say it has run its course. However, Apple's heavier notebook is not more powerful, more capable, better built, or a better value than its thinner sibling with the Retina display. We don't have to wonder what the future "MacBook Pro killer" will be. It's the Retina MacBook Pro.

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