Apple’s retina MacBook is laptop’s future (but not because of the display)

Apple’s flagship notebook – a screenshot from mine

Apple’s new MacBook Pro laptop has won huge praise from tech writers since its launch in June at Apple’s Worldwide Developers Conference. The device’s high resolution (‘retina’) display grabbed most of the attention. The Guardian’s technology editor Charles Arthur admitted to being heartbroken¬†at the thought of going back to lower resolution computers after returning his review model.

Apple’s marketing claims the MacBook Pro retina version is a new vision for the notebook. I think Apple is right – but not because of the display, gorgeous though it is.

I bought my own retina MacBook a week ago. I love it with an intensity that I’ve not felt for a technology product since getting my iPad in May 2010. (Though my Garmin Edge 800 cycle computer comes very, very close…) It’s been a wonderful companion on our Cornwall holiday this week. I’ve loved watching and editing holiday videos and photos on it, as well as reading webpages.

I didn’t expect to buy this particular MacBook. I’d long drooled over the MacBook Air, but was concerned that the Air would prove too slow for video editing. The latest Airs looked great – but the retina Pro looked even better. So it proved.

The display is stunning. But as I hinted above, it’s just part of the appeal. It may be my eyesight, but I’ve not been able to discern a dramatic difference between so-called retina display iPhones, iPads or Macs. No, for me me the solid state (flash) drive is the winning feature. I’ve loved the instant-on nature of the flash-driven iPad since 2010 and wasn’t prepared to go back to a slow starting laptop. But I was equally unprepared to endure a computer that couldn’t cope with video and image editing. That made the MacBook Air a risky purchase. (I’m still smarting at the dreadful performance of my first personal laptop, a HP Pavilion Vista. It couldn’t cope with Office 2007 – launched with Vista the year I bought the HP. That drove me to buy my the Mac.)

But the retina MacBook Pro’s appeal goes further than the flash drive. It’s very light for a high-spec, 15 inch machine. Not as feather-weight as an Air, or some other laptops. But light enough to carry around for a day. This is a brilliant combination of performance and design.

The only criticism of the retina MacBook Pro is the price and the inability to upgrade after purchase. (The battery and the memory are glued in place.)

I’m very lucky to be able to afford this extraordinary computer. And the spec means I’m unlikely to feel the lack of upgrade options for a very long time.

In short, the latest MacBook Pro is the future of the laptop. Expect a machine that fires up almost instantly, has the power to handle everything you throw at it – yet won’t hurt your back when you carry it. In time, this kind of wonder computer won’t break the bank either…