First Impressions Of The 13″ Retina MacBook Pro: On The Path To A New Category-Defining Product

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At its event today, Apple made much of the fact that the 13-inch MacBook Pro is still its top-selling notebook, right before unveiling the new 13-inch Retina MacBook Pro. It’s clear that Apple wants this new version of its top-performer to take over as a product that redefines the laptop category, and judging by limited hands-ion experience, there’s good reason to believe they’ll eventually get their wish, though not just yet.

The 13-inch Retina MacBook Pro offers the same amazing display as its larger predecessor, but in a much smaller package, with a 2560×1600 screen but with a starting price $500 less than the 15-inch notebook. That still doesn’t make it exactly affordable (consider that the non-retina version still starts at $999), but it does mean a lot more people will be able to get on board with a Retina-resolution notebook.

As for how it performed, it was very much like using the 15-inch rMBP, which is my main machine currently. In the hand, however, it feels significantly lighter, at about a pound lighter than the bigger model. That’s a big difference for a machine you carry around with you all day, and alone might sway some users, price considerations aside.

The reduced glare did seem to have an effect vs. previous versions of the screen, which definitely photographed better. And changing up the display resolution really gives you a ton of screen real estate at maximum settings for what is a very, very portable computer. So long as you’ve got good eyes, this could be a great solution for people looking for a work machine when they’re away from their dual-monitor setups.

Two Thunderbolt ports also mean you can plug it in at home and power up to two separate monitors at resolutions of 2560×1600, another big bonus. Basically, if the 15-inch Retina MacBook Pro wasn’t the right machine for you, there’s a good chance the 13-inch is. But again, at that price it’s still not budget-friendly by any means, so while I expect significant sales beyond the 15-inch’s mostly niche pro market, I still don’t think this is the machine that supplants the regular 13-inch MacBook Pro as Apple’s top-seller.