Retina display MacBook Pro and other goodies from WWDC

Retina display MacBook ProYesterday’s Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC) keynote saw a flurry of updates, as Apple unveiled changes in its entire MacBook lineup and showcased new features in the upcoming versions of Mac OS and iOS. You can watch the entire keynote online on Apple’s webpage, but just in case you should have better things to do with your time, here are a few highlights:


A new MacBook Pro with Retina display

Apple updated its entire notebook line during yesterday’s event. While the MacBook Airs and the 13 and 15 inch MacBook Pros saw minor updates on their specs (the 17 inch MacBook Pro was quietly cancelled), Apple’s new 15 inch Retina display MacBook Pro certainly stole the show. For about $2200, you can give your Mac the Retina display treatment and enjoy crisp clear text and photos. Yep, that is 400 bucks more, so what do you get for that?

I haven’t seen the new Retina display MacBook and I am also not in the market for a new computer, but after having seen the Retina display of the new iPad, I would be lying if I said I wouldn’t want one. In addition to the better screen, the new MacBook pro with Retina Display is also thinner, lighter, and seems to run quieter (thanks to asymmetrically shaped fan blades) than the legacy 15inch MacBook Pro. Even better, Apple promises up to 75% reduced glare, better contrasts and wider viewing angles than the previous models. And last, you get thunderbold and HDMI ports to play with. Battery time is still said to be 7 hours.

While these features have WANT IT written all over them, there are two things you should know before putting down your money for Apple’s new flagship notebook. No, I am not going to complain about the missing CD drive or that flash is the only storage option now. I think these are great decision.

The biggest handicap of the new Retina display MacBook pro, in my opinion, is that you won’t be able to upgrade the working memory a couple of years down the road. In terms of repairability and upgradability, the new Retina display MacBook Pro is only a F student.

Retina display MacBook Pro can't upgrade RAM

One of the few downsides of the new Retina display MacBook Pro is that it is not possible to replace or upgrade most components. Like the MacBook Air (but not the legacy MacBook Pro), the RAM is soldered onto a custom-built motherboard and can't be replaced independently.

Too bad, because upgrading the RAM can really extend the life of your laptop for little money. I just recently upgraded my 2008 MacBook from 2 GB to 8 GB of RAM. For less than $60, I rejuvenated my computer and killed any justification for buying that new Retina MacBook… Dammit, but one new laptop per PhD must be enough!

This is nothing that ruins the new MacBook, but something that should be kept in mind at the check-out, especially when you are planning to use graphic intense processes (video editing, gaming, 3D rendering). Spending the extra $200 at the check-out for 16GB of RAM (instead of 8GB, which is plenty for most academics) is your only chance for bumping up the specs.

The other thing which disappointed me a little about Apple’s announcement is that I was hoping for a 13 inch MacBook with Retina Display. Lets hope that Apple will add this soon; after all, 13 inch is the most popular form factor, especially among college students.

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Previews of iOS 6 and Mac OS X Mountain Lion

Apple also showed off a couple of more details about their upcoming refreshes in the operating systems of their devices. Overall, it has become clear another time that the Mac and the iPad/iPhone are becoming closely integrated with each other. I have written about Mountain Lion in a previous post, but there are a few things that are worth mentioning here.

The best news with regard to software updates, for me anyways, is the new iCloud browsing function in Safari. As I have written elsewhere, the key aspect for knowledge worker who own an iPad and a Mac is to integrate both devices as closely with each other as possible. iCloud tabs lets you access open browsing tabs from any device you own, so you can quickly grab your iPad and continue reading right from where you were on your Mac.

iCloud tabs

The new iCloud tabs function in Safari allows you to streamline your workflow by accessing all your open browser tabs regardless of what devices you are currently using.

Better yet, the Reading List feature will also gain offline capabilities, in effect giving Safari all the enhancements of Readability or Instapaper.

Other noteworthy updates include Siri is coming to the iPad (second generation and younger) with iOS 6, and the Dictation function coming to the Mac with Mountain Lion.

Mac OS Mountain Lion is going online in July for $20. iOS 6 will follow in the fall.


Back to School is running until September 21

Last, I just want to give you a heads up that Apple is currently running its Back to School promotion. Buying a MacBook/iMac or iPad will give you a $100 or $50 credit for the Appstore, respectively. You can use the credit for apps, books, music, and movies.

So this is basically the news from the keynote. Are you getting a new Retina display MacBook Pro? If you do, go ahead and make me envy by telling you how much you like it in the comments :-)
Disclaimer: Feature image by digital trends. All other images by apple.

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  1. Martin says:

    “and flash (solid state) storage are all soldered onto a custom-built motherboard.”
    The SSD’s not soldered into the motherboard. Although no third party company is making a SSD which can replace the SSD in the retina macbook pro, that will come soon – just like the macbook air which has/had a similar situation.

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