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Review: Apple's next-gen MacBook Pro with 15" Retina display

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This MacBook Pro ships with OS X Lion, which has been upgraded to take advantage of the new Retina display. This is the same Lion most users already know and love, but Apple's patchwork updates to the system, adding higher resolution application icons and updating native apps to higher resolutions, are merely a stopgap update to the operating system until the release of OS X 10.8 Mountain Lion in July.

Luckily, users who buy the new MacBook Pro (or any new Mac, for that matter) will receive a free upgrade to Mountain Lion when it launches this summer.

Mission Control

The new MacBook Pro launches at an awkward time when Apple's notebook lineup was sorely in need of an overdue hardware refresh, but Mountain Lion is oh so close to launching. While Retina display support is not a new feature in Mountain Lion, the next-generation version of OS X will add new functionality, improvements and refinements that will help take this next-generation MacBook Pro to the next level.

Lion's performance on the new MacBook Pro is greatly aided by the inclusion of solid-state flash storage standard. This gives the next-generation notebook an Air-like lightning fast startup time, as well as instant-on capabilities when returning from sleep. Once you become accustomed to flash storage, there is no going back to a traditional, slower spinning hard-disk drive.

One strange change with Lion on the new MacBook Pro is users cannot select a specific resolution. Whereas before the amount of pixels displayed by OS X could be selected, now users are just given the options of "Best for Retina display," or "Scaled." If users select "Scaled," options ranging from "Larger Text" to "More Space" are available. By default, the middle option for "Best (Retina)" is selected.


This change is understandable, as Apple obviously wants to move away from confusing resolution settings that might bewilder the average user. But having said that, this is a notebook with the word "Pro" in its name, and it's fair to assume that some professionals who work with a machine like this might want a greater degree of control over the display resolution.

Aside from this, Lion has been sufficiently modified to support the new MacBook Pro's Retina display. The system fonts, dock icons and native applications will immediately stand out and show off the improvements that the Retina display can provide.