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

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.


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.