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back to article EYE-GASMIC: Apple MacBook Pro 15-inch with Retina Display

It’s true, as Rik Myslewski pointed out recently, that the two new MacBook Pro with Retina Display models aren’t drastically different from their predecessors. However, the eye-gasmic, 2880 x 1800 hi-res screen of the original 15-inch model helped it to win El Reg’s Laptop of the Year for 2012, so you could argue that it ain’t …

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"But, to be fair, the MacBook Pro with Retina Display is still one of the lightest 15-inch notebooks currently available. I can pick it up with one hand"

2KG with only ONE HAND! You must be working out!

Seriously though, that's some pricey kit. No ethernet port is a royal PITA I would think for the target audience

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ethernet port is a royal PITA

Especially in the absence of an Apple-branded or half-way decent 3rd party Thunderbolt dock

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"2KG with only ONE HAND! You must be working out! Seriously though, that's some pricey kit. No ethernet port is a royal PITA I would think for the target audience"

It's easy enough to pick up, but you seriously wouldn't want to wave it about too much. Then again, why would you?

I have the 2012 version and I don't miss the Ethernet port one jot, actually, as I use wireless almost all the time. I do have their Thunderbolt <-> Ethernet adapter just in case, you know, for hotel rooms with wired-only connections, that kind of thing. YMMV.

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Anonymous Coward

No ethernet port - of course everyone differs on this but for a thinner device I'm happy to lose it. £25 buys you a thunderbolt adapter for gigabit ethernet if you need it and 802.11ac is surely fast enough for most users.

For a laptop it's one more thing to have to plug in - although of course if you have an Apple Thunderbolt display you get a gigabit port via the Thunderbolt port for the display anyway. So for the 'target audience' I can't really see it's a huge issue??

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Anonymous Coward

Re: ethernet port is a royal PITA

Apple Thunderbolt display or there are loads of USB 3 to gigabit adapters or Apple's own Thunderbolt to gigabit adapter.

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No ethernet port is a royal PITA

ether-who?

are you still using floppy disks or c90s?

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You can joke that ethernet has gone the way of the floppy disk, but you'd be surprised where it turns up.

Recently I went on holiday and took my Android tablet for the first time instead of my aging netbook - be grand for wifi, I thought.

Arrived in the room, little sign on the desk beside a suspiciously RJ-45 looking cable.. "Welcome to your complimentary internet!"

Luckily I was able to find some wifi enabled watering holes...

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If you are going to need a laptop powerful enough to process the data that this laptop is capable of, then getting that data and sharing that data would be an arse ache over wifi.

Why get this and not an air ? Because it has grunt. Grunt without connectivity is useless in most scenarios.

It's portable workhorse with a great display. I know of 2 dozen design and CAD houses that would laugh at you if you turned up with that and had forgotten your Ethernet adapter. Try working on a 20 GB project over wifi (even PERFECT wifi) and see where you get to.

Or do we now treat USB Ethernet adapters like USB chargers (and i suppose iphone chargers) and just expect them to be everywhere ? They didn't sell them in victoria station tech-vend last time I needed one.

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Anonymous Coward

>Why get this and not an air ? Because it has grunt. Grunt without connectivity is useless in most scenarios.

No, no it's not. If you're dealing with 20GB CAD files, you'll want more RAM. If you're rendering, then the CPU/GPU is more of a bottleneck than the networking. If you really need to shunt data around that quickly, video editing for example, then wired ethernet is not the fastest solution around either.

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then wired ethernet is not the fastest solution around either.

It is, however, vastly speedier than any wifi solution. Also, Gigabit? That's pretty standard these days, to the point that any old budget PC has a 10/100/1000 port. What about 10 or 100 gig? Pricey to be sure, but this is an Apple device.

I'm pretty sure that a 100 gigabit connection would do for now, at least.

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Multimedia over WiFi...pass.

"...then wired ethernet is not the fastest solution around either."

In regards to multimedia, no of course not, but it is standard and doesn't require EVERYONE to use ThunderButt/USB. The cost of draping ThunderButt or 22/24 AWG with 4/5 conductors EVERYWHERE would be outrageous. The cost of the shielding for the cables alone would render any debate about it laughable. Then we have the power issue... The power requirements are going to have to be unusual, because 1 thing that isn't mentioned commonly in regards to USB is signal loss (shielding can't cover everything). It's basically a deal breaker for any type of multi-tier networking. To be honest, I've never seen it done unless you count host to host over 6-8 feet, but of course it isn't meant to be done any further.

Without a standard RJ-45, you're pretty much the "cool kid" in the corner who reminds everyone else of the cost they must incur if they want to deal with you.

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Anonymous Coward

MBP 2013 non retina

Bought this January direct from Apple and was asked WHY don't you want a retina display model.

Well I wanted an Ethernet connection and a large 1TB drive and a disc drive. The lady on the other end of the phone said but you can buy an adapter, and extra hard drive and an external disc drive.........

Yes I replied but that would mean having to carry them round.

Soon as it arrived I increased the RAM. Do I miss the retina, nope.

Am I happy with the spec and upgradability Yes.

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Anonymous Coward

Best laptop ever.

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Anonymous Coward

Tabtop. It's a tablet with a keyboard.

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I have a late 2011 MBP

As I've mentioned a couple of times on the Reg forums, I have a late 2011 15" MBP upgraded to 16GB RAM, a 512GB SSD and the 750GB spinner upgraded to 1TB and moved into the superdrive slot.

It's been the best Windows laptop I've personally ever owned and since I picked it up stateside, it was about on a par for the equivalent spec non Apple hardware in terms of UK pricing.

But no way I would consider a unit - however good the screen - where my upgrade options were a flat zero! Can't even replace a battery? No etnerhet port? No thanks, Apple.

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Re: I have a late 2011 MBP

Apple will replace the battery for you with a genuine Apple one - if you want more battery life and a thinner / lighter device that's what you get. Saying that most of these lithium cells are good for 500-1000+ full cycles. Now I'm sure some people use it for the full 9 hours a day then recharge it when almost flat - so 500-1000 full cycles may come in around 2-3 years but that figure is for the capacity to have reduced to 70% or 80% of original - it does not mean the battery is goosed.

I've a 2009 Macbook - used every day and the battery is still at (least) 80% after over 4 years. When it does need a replacement think it's about £100ish which is about the same as I have paid in the past for other brand 'original' batteries.

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Sounds like the writer was hinting that people should really pick up last year's model at presumably something of a discount.

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Want that screen.

Oh why won't somebody else, anybody else, build a laptop sporting this lovely 16:10 screen?

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Re: Want that screen.

My thoughts exactly! How hard can it be!?

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Re: Want that screen.

Yeah how many other retina resolution screens do you see? How many with Haswell, 9 hour battery life and PCIe based flash memory? None??

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Re: Want that screen.

>Yeah how many other retina resolution screens do you see?

Here's two that are close:

Toshiba Kirabook 2560×1440 @13.3"

Lenovo Yoga 2 3200 x 1800 @ 13"

but yeah, these are both 16:9 screens, not 16:10 as per the original plea.

The problem is that a good many Windows desktop applications (including expensive ones such as Adobe's Creative Suite) don't scale well, and so toolbars are left insanely small. OSX handles scaling differently.

http://arstechnica.com/gadgets/2013/04/toshibas-2560x1440-kirabook-is-a-high-res-laptop-for-the-windows-world/

http://www.trustedreviews.com/lenovo-yoga-2-pro_Laptop_review

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Re: Want that screen.

Quite fancy this myself.. http://www.notebookcheck.net/Review-Samsung-ATIV-Book-9-Plus-940X3G-Ultrabook.103299.0.html

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Numpad?

There's space on the 15-inchers for a numeric keypad. Why won't Apple include one?

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Re: Numpad?

Because most people wouldn't have a great deal of use for it, and the space is better taken up either side of the keyboard with the stereo speakers.

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Re: Numpad?

Buzzword, you could install KeyRemap4MacBook to let the Fn key make the 789/UIO/JKL/M keys act as a numeric keypad under OS X.

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Joke

I have a non-retina 15" MBP

And crap eyesight.

I get the same experience, but cheaper.

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Anonymous Coward

meh

My old macbook, which tends to destroy batteries annually, is starting to get a tad unreliable, and isn't really as relatively powerful as it once was.

The thing is, the g4 Powerbook that it replaced is still going strong, and is built like a tank.

Moreover, unless I go up to the two grand model, I don't get all that CUDA goodness in Premiere, Photoshop and Aftereffects, either, due to no NVidia card. Add to that the fact that if the new one starts playing up and eating batteries as soon as it's out of warranty, I am going to have a much harder time swapping them out. I won't be able to grit my teeth, trot to the nearest Apple store and buy a pricey replacement.

Thus, it has pretty much ruled itself out of the running for me. I am very tempted to get an Asus GX750JX, which packs a Core i7 4700HQ, Geforce 770, and a pair of HDs in for 1300 quid. It's a "gaming laptop", but not all that garish, being mostly matte black... plus it has a Thunderbolt connector, which will be useful for painlessly adding SDI in/out.

Yes, ok, maybe that's "creative professional" use, and I feel like Apple just isn't a good idea for me any more. I do love Coreaudio a lot- the WIndows sound subsystem is a pile of crap, but at the end of the day, this option will run the stuff I need at a higher speed for much less money.

Hmph. I feel like Apple dropped the ball on this one, cutting corners on their MBPs will just ensure that they make themselves more irrelevant to the graphics nerds who used to be some of their biggest cheerleaders. They're still great for yummy hipster mummies who want to tweet their FaceTubes off, but not so much for my use case :(

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Re: meh

>Moreover, unless I go up to the two grand model, I don't get all that CUDA goodness in Premiere, Photoshop and Aftereffects, either, due to no NVidia card.

Well, there is a fair chance your software will start supporting OpenCL instead, given the upcoming Mac Pro has two AMd cards and no nVidea option.

> I do love Coreaudio a lot- the WIndows sound subsystem is a pile of crap,

Yep

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Re: meh

"Well, there is a fair chance your software will start supporting OpenCL instead, given the upcoming Mac Pro has two AMd cards and no nVidea option."

Sadly that's an argument-from-being-interested-in-computers-for-their-own-sake(tm), rather than needing to use them as a day to day tool.

It's not really a very useful argument when my old Macbook is dying *now*, and Aftereffects and Photoshop's current versions use CUDA *now*. I can't just say "give me two years to see if Adobe port their apps to a different compute API, and then I will make your opening titles for you". It reminds me of the way that Apple also stopped selling Mac Pro in Europe because they couldn't be arsed to update the fan guards to meet current safety standards- there has been a really long delay where you simply couldn't get a workstation grade machine from them- and that awful beer keg replacement thing still isn't widely available.

You can't complete your render on a putative future machine if you have deadlines, which is why Apple are losing professional users quite heavily right now. Other bad things are happening too, like the fact that FCP-X often fails hard at rendering and exporting- which is pretty unpleasant when you need to export your finished product. This is causing those of us who have been drinking the Apple kool-aid in the form of Final Cut for years to look much harder at Avid and Premiere too. Apple are failing to live up to reasonable standards in both hardware and software in some ways, and really becoming executive toys.

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your confused with resolution I think

I've had a 15" retina since they came out.

I also make use of QuickRes app to get access to actual pixel resolutions rather than the dumbed down 'best more retina, more space, etc' options you get in OSX.

The most real estate option give you 1920x1200 effective resolution (i.e. your internal rendered 4k resolution which is then displayed on the panel).

It is the resolution I usually run the panel at and provides a nice sharp picture (which takes some getting your head around since you are running an LCD at a non-native resolution which was always a no no until now).

but you are not getting access to the native 2880 x 1800.

Using QuickRes you can set that. This results in a true 2880x1800 desktop (i.e. looks similar to my imac27).

This does make everything tiny, but for some coding across multiple windows, FCPX while using multiple 'tracks', some photoshop work with lots of windows it is awesome.

Another reason is that the 1920x1200 resolution doesn't work as a user would expect with 'retina aware' apps. I expected this to be fixes by now tbh, but it never has been....

for example If I have a true 2880x1800 photo, and I am running 'best for retina' mode (i.e. my desktop real estate, etc all looks like 1400x900), when I open a retina aware app like photoshop, and view my picture '1 to 1' it will take up the screen exactly (not twice the height of screen). i.e. the OS knows that certain frames should not be doubled and antialiased but have the contents rendered 121 for pixels on the screen.

If I now use QuickRes to change to 2880x1800 resolution, and do the same thing, I get the same results as far as viewing the picture is concerned (it takes the full screen), but now all the OSX menus, etc are all rendered 121 too - so I can get much more of that stuff on the screen (i.e it acts as a regular screen before retina doubling stuff started muddying the waters)

If however, I choose the furthest right OSX 'more space' resolution (which as described above is effectively 1920x1200 as far as OSX furniture, menus, text, buttons, etc is concerned, internally it 'thinks' it is displaying at 3840x2400 (with 4 times as large OSX furniture, menus, texts, buttons, etc)

So the result when I again open iphoto and view my 2800x1800 picture is that it only takes up 2/3 of the screen in 'view 1 to 1' option. You have to in fact zoom in to 133% before you get a true 1 2 1.

this is the same with all retina aware apps. e.g. FCPx, PS CS6, etc. Its a bit of a pain to be honest and I'm amazed it has never been fixed. I mean the OS knows you are in 1920. It knows this is going to be rendered at 4k, so it knows that when displayed at native any retina aware screen windows need to be be scaled to 133% to be true... and yet we are now a full OSX version on and they have done FA to fit it.

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Its the Pro .....

...... so why no video/photo editing tests on the Haswell chip? Or is it a case of if you want to use it for what most Pros have been bought for previously (location editing), you just have to stump up for the most expensive model with a mid range graphics chip?

If Lenovo wise up and throw a decent display at the Thinkpad W coupled with a Quadro they could start biting into Apples market on the top end.

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Re: Its the Pro .....

Even the last gen of Intel HD graphics was no slouch at video transcoding. Anand hasn't got around to testing the new Macbook Pro yet, but he has the iMac with Iris Pro graphics. This new Mac Pro is a step backwards from last year's equivalent graphics wise, but not massively.

Some pro users might be using a Red Rocket decoder card through Thunderbolt. Laptops with upgradable ceepeegeepees? Sound good.

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Does it seem to anyone else...

That it's now almost impossible to buy a laptop with discrete graphics that isn't a gaming laptop? I know the intel graphics chips have been getting better over the past few years, but their 3D performance is still pretty terrible.

I don't want a laptop that lights up seven ways from Sunday, I just want a nice mundane looking laptop that can play a game of Civ 5 on occasion.

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Re: Does it seem to anyone else...

>I just want a nice mundane looking laptop that can play a game of Civ 5 on occasion.

You might be alright with Iris, then:

http://www.anandtech.com/show/7399/215inch-imac-late-2013-review-iris-pro-driving-an-accurate-display/3

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Re: Does it seem to anyone else...

>Does it seem to anyone else...that it's now almost impossible to buy a laptop with discrete graphics that isn't a gaming laptop?

No. All the major laptop manufacturers have workstation models that feature Quadro/Firepro graphics.

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Re: Does it seem to anyone else...

Sure that's true, and that tends to be what I buy. I have a Dell Precision M6500 now. It's getting on towards 3 years old, and my experience is that 4 years is about the point at which I tend to start wanting a new one.

The problem is a) It costs 2000 quid, which I suppose is reasonable if you're conditioned by Apple prices but is a lot of money compared to other laptops, and b) The FirePro and Quadro cards get very little in the way of driver love. I have to run my laptop with the Radeon HD drivers as a generic 5800 series card, because the optimized FirePro drivers were ancient, buggy and never updated.

If I had my choice, I'd like the nice bulky, well ventilated but non-light-up build of the Precision combined with one of the high end gaming chips from, say, the Alienware line.

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Re: Does it seem to anyone else...

Try pcspecialist.co.uk, they sell rebranded clevo laptops with very muted styling that you can customise to your heart's content (I think there are even some with upgradeable graphics cards)

Very happy with mine, and it was incredible value. (I don't work for them or anything BTW)

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Re: Does it seem to anyone else...

No, no you don't want that at all.

If you want optimal compute performance, you don't want one of the gaming GPUs, as NVidia cap the FP64 artificially in the driver. The same units running under Quadro drivers often have 24x the FP64 on the exact same chip.

(..and I sympathize WRT the AMD drivers. I have periodically forgotten about bad experiences, thought Radeon-related stuff looked good on paper, and taken the plunge. The horrible drivers made me regret it- every time)

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I was afraid of this

I have a 2011 MBP, before they started turning their laptops into toasters. I love my laptop. It's the single best laptop I have ever owned. It can still hold it's own compared to mainstream machines today.

Of course, that's because I could still upgrade the RAM and the hard drive.

The fact that Apple is turning their "high end" laptops into toasters is extremely disappointing to say the least. I guess I'll be sticking with my current machine for the forseeable future, if even the best machine they have available has pathetically gimped video.

The whole reason I switched to apple was because Windows laptops were embarrasingly unreliable. You couldn't even close the lid and have a reasonable expectation that the machine would come back to life when you opened it again.

If Microsoft+partners have finally pulled their collective thumbs out and actually now pay more than lip service to reliability, I may have to consider switching back. Can anyone comment?

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Re: I was afraid of this

Many could comment, but would you know more? Reliability, given that nothing is perfect, is subjective.

I still use my Lenovo Win7 laptop, converted to SSD and always, always, expect it to wake from standby. Having said that it does fail occasionally and better rebooted every few weeks (updates being the main culprit). It takes less than 30s to reboot and be usable (SSDs really help with the multiple startup processes).

However, I rarely close the screen because I rarely take it anywhere, it is used all the time, since it is my only PC. It is used a lot for TV via HDMI so runs dual-screened all the time.

It is a lowly Lenovo Thinkpad Edge (the cheap one) so cost less than 500 three years ago.

Since I am (obviously) not a gamer and don't use it professionally, I cannot justify a new laptop despite seeing Win8 come out of standby before the lid was even raised to 30 degrees on my friends decidedly-average machine.

I thought I would have to replace it when it started overheating recently but £2.50s worth of heatsink compound and a crosshead screwdriver fixed it in 15 minutes.

I can change the battery (I have), the processor (nope), the RAM (upgraded to 8GB), the hard drive (256GB Crucial SSD) and do occasionally use the Ethernet port (when Virgin demanded a direct connection to the cable modem for speed test purposes for instance).

Won't be buying a MBP obviously, I would spend my money on a proper Thinkpad like the 430s but I see why people would like this machine, many are never going to change the system in any way, not even to put windows on it.

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Re: I was afraid of this

I could accept the lack of upgradability for £500. But for £1699 it's just plain stupid.

It costs a little more than a tablet to make.

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Re: I was afraid of this

Just to add another tuppence (I'm a yank so I don't know the spelling)...

I have been a Thinkpad user for about 8 years and have always tried to get close to the bleeding edge, with about a 3 year cycle.

My Lenovo W701 (1920x1200, 16GB, SSD, etc.) is rock solid and has great graphics. I don't game but I run a lot of windows (2 monitors) and don't have any graphics lag (1GB QuadroFX 3800).

I carry it with me everywhere I go - to and fro work every day, and every day+ long trip. It weighs around 7pounds and has a power brick that clocks in at probably slightly less than 1pound.

However I have absolutely everything I need in this package. It's not a minimalist little thing to take to the coffee shops, altho I do - without apology.

The 2-3 times I've had to get Lenovo service in the last 5 years, they've been fine. Oh, and I've upgraded many of the components in these machines myself (memory,fans,screens,radios,etc.)

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Re: I was afraid of this

"Won't be buying a MBP obviously, I would spend my money on a proper Thinkpad like the 430s"

I've just spent four figures on a T430s, and whilst it's too early to report on longevity, the build and feel of it doesn't really advertise the extra expense (more than twice the price) over a friend's IdeaPad. It certainly doesn't feel as solid as the work-issue HP EliteBook. To be fair though, unlike modern Apple kit it's well served with plenty of ports and connectivity, and I had an mSATA SSD DIY-installed in 10 minutes. The old ethernet port is useful now and then when the wifi is playing up.

I'm no fan of Apple the company, but they do know how to build some extremely impressive hardware. And then charge you a fortune for it!

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Re: I was afraid of this (@AC)

You should have a word with Microsoft. They seem so sure that the Intel-bearing Surface can't be made cheaply that they endured a US$900m write-down halfheartedly trying to push an ARM version.

The Surface Pro 128GB list price was £900; presumably the Haswell-powered Pro 2 will be the same. Chuck Apple an extra £200 for the entry level 13" Retina MacBook Pro and they'll give you a larger, higher resolution screen and a 50% faster CPU.

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Anonymous Coward

£1700 for an Intel tablet. No thanks.

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Anonymous Coward

Only apple could say they have a

screen resolution of 3840 x 2400 when its actually a 2880 x 1800 panel.

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Re: Only apple could say they have a

They don't say that. Only an AC could make such a ridiculous straw man argument, etc, etc, etc.

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My story :-)

I needed a new laptop as my old faithful NX6310 died a while back, It had been running Linux since I bought it 5 - 6 Years ago, the short term solution was a Toshiba piece of crap with windows 7, the Toshiba has a mouse pad offset to the left, the F*&^ing thing, mouse all over the place.

Anyway last time through US the minister for finance buys her new MBP 15" Retina and asks if I would like one, I say I will wait until we pass back through the US in December; Last week I mentioned how pleased I was that I had waited and that my new laptop will have xyz and double the SSD capacity, a short one-sided discussion later and here I am with the older MBP :-)

This is my first ever Mac PC, I run Linux as a VM and is all I need on this machine, just about all the apps I use under Linux are on the Mac and if not a suitable alternative is available.

The big question for me, was would it be worth the extra money, Oh Yes!

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Further and further from the path

No Ethernet. No AR screen option. No upgrade path. No effin idea. No sale.

Looks like my three year old MBP - maxed out spec at purchase and then upgraded to 1 TB SSD after AppleCare lapsed - will be my last. I expect it will be a couple more years before I need to talk to some of my big ticket software vendors re cross-grade licences and return to the dark side. Or is it a bit brighter these days? Apple take note - look what complacency and stupidity can do for you. "Loyalty is something that should be earned, not given."

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Anonymous Coward

Eyegasmic?

It looks like any MacBook/Powerbook since 2003. Nothing to jerk off to.

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