Business Technology

Sunday 18 February 2018

Digital Life: Latest Mac laptop is Apple to the core: fast, clear, sexy -- and pricey

Ronan Price

Ronan Price

Seeing is believing, or so the theory goes. Apple boss Tim Cook describes his newest laptop as "the most advanced Mac we have ever built", with the world's highest resolution screen on a portable.

Well, colour me cynical if you like but such hyperbolic claims always leave me a little suspicious. They might be technically true, but will anyone notice the difference?

Indeed, on opening the box of the new MacBook Pro Retina, there's a tremendous sense of déjà vu. The laptop looks and feels like previous generations of Apple's laptops, which is to say gorgeously hewn from aluminium, sexy as hell -- but, well, familiar.

Like the iPad 3 before it, this laptop incorporates what Apple calls a Retina screen -- or super-high resolution. Also, like the iPad 3 before it, you won't necessarily clock the extra resolution immediately.

But it's obvious Apple is setting the direction all of its laptops will take in the future -- and most of its competitors will follow suit in due course. So where's the revolution?

Taking cues from its daintier MacBook Air range -- something rivals are only just beginning to catch up with two years after its launch -- the new Retina machine dispenses with several long-established technologies.

Remember, this is a premium machine aimed at professionals, yet Apple has excised the DVD drive, Ethernet and FireWire. Controversially, the machine's innards cannot be upgraded once purchased.

But what Apple taketh away, it also giveth. So, the machine is lighter (though, surprisingly, not by much) than its predecessors and sports two lightning-quick USB 3.0 ports as well as (finally!) HDMI for connecting to televisions and projectors.

Under the hood, the latest CPU -- an Intel quad-core i7 -- mated to 8GB of RAM and a 256GB flash drive deliver the fastest performance I've ever seen in so thin a laptop. Interestingly, you still get more than seven hours' battery life.

And then there's THAT screen. Apple waxes lyrical about Retina and there's no doubt it's both appreciably better and the future of all screens. It has more than twice the pixels of the best HD TV. Text is crisper, colours more saturated and viewing angles wider.

But unless you're in the photo/video professions, the extra resolution may be wasted on you.

Ultimately, the biggest consideration when pondering the MacBook Pro Retina will be the price. Apple has applied all its engineering nous and designed a mightily impressive machine, albeit one hampered by the relatively small disk storage and lack of upgradeability.

But at this bleeding edge, the sharpest cut comes from the €2,350 you'll pay for the privilege. Masochists can even opt for a higher spec for 20 quid shy of three grand.

Irish Independent

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