It would be fair to say that I’m an Apple fan. I own pretty much
every Apple device there is (except, oddly, an iPod – something I’ve
never owned). I first moved to the Mac in the early 00’s, and have never
looked back since.

I appreciate the attention to detail, which
often goes to breathtaking levels.  But, I also see the flaws – and the
Retina Macbook certainly has a biggie.

When it was revealed, I
immediately added it to my ‘wish list’, though I didn’t expect to get
around to buying one anytime soon.  After a few weeks of gushing over
them in the local Apple Store, I finally convinced my wife to allow me
to sell my 2 iMacs and replace them with the Macbook.

After placing the order, I had a painful 2 week wait for delivery – but a wait worthwhile!

On
first inspection, you really appreciate the level of detail and
craftsmanship that goes into Apple laptops. Nothing else comes anywhere
near close – although many try. Yes, you pay a hefty premium – I’m sure I
could get a Dell or HP machine just as powerful for half the price, but
I doubt it would last anywhere near as long.

The first thing that
hits you when you boot it up is the display – I have never seen a
display like it before, and I’ve already experienced Retina displays
with my iPad.  The colours and sharpness are something you really do
have to see for yourself to appreciate.

The Macbook itself is a
unibody design, meaning it’s shell is made from a single piece of
Aluminium – which not only makes it stronger, but also avoids the ‘nooks
and crannys’ you often see in laptop design.  It’s also one of the few
laptops that use solid state hard drives entirely.  These alone can cost
a pretty penny, so you begin to see why you’re paying such a premium
over everything else.

The downside to the solid state hard drive
is that they are smaller – I have only 250Gb of space available to me,
compared with at least double that on virtually every competitors
laptop.  For me, that isn’t a problem – aside from the operating system
and applications, I never store anything on the laptop itself – I use a
variety of servers to store my iTunes library and work etc.  It is
however something worth bearing in mind – especially if you’re a student
and likely to have a large music and video collection, for example.
If, like me, you don’t need masses of storage, you will appreciate the
extra speed a Solid State Drive brings.

Memory on mine was
configured at 8Gb, and this cannot be changed later (without an
expensive trip to the Apple Geniuses, at least) – so when you buy, make
sure you configure it sufficiently.  For most people, 8Gb is more than
enough – heck, 90% of people would get along just fine with 4Gb.  For
heavy video editing etc though, you’re probably going to want to double
that – to ‘future proof’ it, if nothing else.

The overall
performance of the laptop is as you would expect – it feels solid, and
it flies! I’ve yet to encounter the ‘beach ball’ (loading indicator),
despite often running a number of power-hungry applications, such as
Adobe Photoshop and Illustrator.  Much of this can be attributed to the
operating system, Mac OSX, which itself is very efficient – though
beyond the scope of this review.

In terms of downsides, these are
dwindling as time goes on.  When I first purchased the Retina Macbook,
pretty much the only application that actually made use of the Retina
display was the operating system itself.  That meant every other
application that I installed actually looked ‘worse’ on this display
than it would on a regular display.  Today, most popular apps such as
Photoshop have been updated to support Retina – and new apps almost
always support it.

The biggest upside, can potentially be the
biggest downside too – the display. It’s now well documented that some
displays, specifically those manufactured by LG, are prone to
‘ghosting’. To my knowledge, this has not yet been addressed – so it’s
really a case of ‘pot luck’ when yours arrives.  Sadly, mine does suffer
from this problem – though it’s never really bothered me to the degree
that it stops me doing anything. That said, I do intend to have the
screen replaced before the warranty expires (which, I believe, can be
done free of charge if your screen is one of those affected).

Despite
the screen issue, I’ve never regretted buying the Macbook. Having gone
from a 4-screen setup to a 3-screen setup, then a dual-iMac setup and
finally to this Macbook, I do miss the extra screen ‘real estate’, and
at some point I’ll probably add an external display.  For portability,
and power that exceeds my last Powermac, it’s a combination that is hard to beat.

 

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