I had to get up way before 10 AM to make sure I was available to sign for the package, but boy, was it worth it! My review unit of the new retina MacBook arrived today.
A full review will appear in the Sun-Times shortly. But here are an arbitrary five first impressions:
- The first thing I noticed was how much lighter it felt than the 15″ MacBook Pro I bought last year. I have plenty of experience toting that thing around the house and it truly feels like what my MacBook would weigh if it had no screen.
- It doesn’t feel as slim or tiny as you might think. It’s still a full-sized 15″ notebook, after all. If the new MacBook were just as thick as the old one, I could have handled that without losing my **** over it, is that I’m saying.
- No hardware battery indicator. Bummer. As I always do when I unbox loaner hardware, I parsed the question “Do I need to hook this up to AC for a few hours, or can I start rock-and-rolling with it right away?” Instinctively I looked for a little button on the side and a line of dots.
- It’s been a while since I set up a brand-new Mac. I was surprised that I needed to enter my AppleID credentials so many times in the first ten minutes. It feels like this should be a keynote demo that starts with Craig Federighi entering in an ID and a password, waiting for three beats, and then saying “…Boom. Done.”
- The Retina display has a subtle initial impact. It looks exactly like my 15″ display…just, better. The first thing I really noticed was that the familiar tuxedo icon representing the setup wizard had a tabbed collar and onyx shirt studs. Subtle but impressive. For a dramatic example of the improvement, start browsing the web. Bitmapped images (rendered at traditional pixel density) look like utter trash alongside the Retina-quality text that flows around it. Naturally, the images on Apple.com are juiced for Retina.
[Later: based on some reactions on Twitter from web developers who read my “utter trash” observation and then yanked that length of flexible ducting out of the laundry room and headed out to the garage with it, along with their car keys and a hastily-scrawled not, I should probably clarify what I meant. I was just speaking casually. It’s more accurate to say that whereas the improvement in display resolution isn’t immediately obvious in a Finder window, it’s pretty glaring in a webpage. It’s a bit like how you thought your vision was perfectly fine until you got an eye exam and realized just how many more lines of the eye chart there were.
I do wonder how the arrival of this new MacBook is going to effect web design. Designers want things to look great. Are they going to build Retina-optimized and non-Retina-optimized versions of everything they publish? I dunno. But I hope that any designer clever enough to mprove their site with higher-density graphics will also be clever enough not to push those high-bandwidth images to hardware that can’t do anything productive with them.]