Humankind is governed by fear. The fear of the unknown is the most prevalent. It’s this sticky enigma of hope and desire that separates PC and Mac owners.
For decades now, the war between Apple and everyone else has raged on and the losers were always the PC crowd, we just didn’t know it yet. Clarification: I didn’t know it yet. Apple’s MacBook Pro with Retina Display is one of the fastest, most hassle-free laptops ever produced and while there are faster desktop and laptop PCs, nothing beats the overall comfort and clarity of the MacBook Pro. It’s the pinnacle of laptops, with the best display I’ve ever seen and wants for nothing, minus an exceptionally high cost. It’s the new MacPro, and I can’t live without it.
The Retina Display
There’s nothing like it. No really, there is no laptop with a screen as bright, clear, high-res, shiny, sexy, desirable and luscious as the 15.4-inch, 2880×1800, 220 PPI beast that hinges onto the unibody of this orgasm machine. It’s hard to describe the feeling, that shiver that runs up your spine when you first boot the MacPro and the Retina Display greets you with a warm, slick glow of pixel nirvana.
There’s a test you can perform and thankfully, it’s easy as hell to do. Place the MacPro next to a standard laptop and open Chrome. Go to Google Images, search for the same image on both computers and marvel at the high-res display on Apple’s sex-machine.
Sweet merciful Jesus. Initial reactions are mind-boggling. How can anything be this crisp? What does it take to make a display touched by the lords of HD themselves? It takes dedication, that’s what. It takes dedication and an eye on the future. Those who hate the Retina Display (we used to be one of those nay-sayers) are wrong. They say things like “oh but websites are blurry now,” “why is only the text clear?” and “my mouth hurts when I chew too fast.” These people are the bottom-feeders, users who’ll never know the majesty of beyond-full HD. Don’t be one of them.
It’s a legitimate issue though, the rendering of non-Retina Display content. If it’s not made for the new MacPro, it’s going to be a jarring end-user experience. And because of the new pin-sharp text resolution, certain websites, especially Facebook, won’t scroll smoothly. Too much, too fast? Nah, everyone else has to keep up with Apple. HP, Compaq, IBM, Acer, Asus and whoever else can only nip at the heels of Apple’s best efforts.
Enough gushing. It’s currently the best display on a laptop and it shows. Top marks to you, Apple.
A design with soul, minus human error
It’s 1.8cm thick when closed, weighs just a hair over 2KG and is 34cm wide. Stats mean nothing though, as the MacPro is best enjoyed firmly in hand. Each button click feels right, every curve is beautifully symmetrical and the hinge the screen flicks open with is nothing short of masterclass. With every laptop I’ve ever had the misfortune of using, I’ve had to hold the bottom down so I can prise open the lid. Not with a Mac. Slide a finger under the groove and lift. Why doesn’t every laptop do this? Why?!
And how can something this fast be this thin, and light? Essentially, it’s a desktop replacement and the magicians at Apple have conjured up a laptop that seems to defy the conventional laws of physics. Also, anyone who designs something as special as this must be a wizard of sorts.
Let’s talk about the magnetic cable for a second. It snaps into the left corner of the MacPro and quickly disconnects if some tit trips over the cord. Pure genius. Not only a marvel of design, but a moment of technical ecstasy condensed into a single, overlooked function. It’s things like this that stink of class.
The guts of a monster
First the stats, then the screaming can begin. A 2.3Ghz CPU, 8GB RAM, 250GB solid state memory and 1GB GPU may be underwhelming on any other machine, but it speeds like a greased-up space monkey on the MacPro. And ironically, this MacPro is the “baby” of the family. Poppa MacPro comes with a 2.6Ghz CPU and 512GB internal memory. The full rundown of specs are here.
It’s fast. An utter speed-demon that never slows down. Windows has the hourglass to denote the OS taking a moment and ponder what to do next. Mac’s have the spinning colour wheel. As testament to the speed of this laptop, I haven’t seen the colour wheel once.
It’s not as if I didn’t push the MacPro either. I ran five games in the background, streamed music, went mental on the internet and played The Avengers in full-HD but still, no colour wheel. The MacPro just kept going and going, like some damn Energizer bunny on crack.
Nothing roars louder than Mountain Lion
Dreyer reviewed OS X 10.8 or Mountain Lion months ago, so I’m not going to go into crazy detail. But it is the MacBook Pro with Retina Display that takes full advantage of this insanely intuitive OS. The screen, trackpad, keyboard and whatever else hardware is left was made for OS X 10.8. Every other laptop simply shoehorns Windows or whatever into its hardware. OS X and MacPro’s go together like cheese and salami, first the shock of cheese, then the overwhelming success of meat. Makes total sense if you think about it.
Instead of listing the improvements in Mountain Lion, I’m going to impart my best experiences, such as the notifications which work exactly like my iPhone should. A message pops up, I slide two fingers from the right, outside edge of the trackpad inwards and the notifications are revealed. Genius. I setup my hot corners to show the desktop with a mouse movement and boom, it does. I want to find the latest file I added to the download folder, for that I use Finder, the Mac’s answer to File Explorer, and watch in amazement as the latest files are listed on top of the file queue. And if I want to quickly lower the sound, screen brightness or multi-task, it’s a one button task. It’s tiny flourishes like these that endears Mountain Lion to the casual and hardcore users. There’s no fussing, it just works.
The cost of living well
The price, that terrible price. It’s US$2199 for the 2.3Ghz MacPro, and a mind-bending US$2799 for the 2.6Ghz puppy. Either way you look at it, the spend is well over what any mortal can afford. In South Africa, it’s R30 000 for the top-of-the-range MacPro which is pretty much unaffordable for 99% of the population. But this is a laptop for the 1%, those filthy bastards, and it shows. A gleaming, shit-hot view of the future, but at a cost well out of the reach of many. Beg, borrow, but don’t steal.
While I’m here, let me moan about the file system for a moment. PC and Mac have different files systems, HFS+ for Mac and various FAT types for PC. Now, copying from PC to Mac is fine, but sending files from Mac to PC just won’t work. The workaround is to convert FAT drives to exFAT, an almost universal file format. It’s a minor irritation to be sure, but nothing to crow about. I’m just keeping you in the loop.
I feel as if Bill Gates should reinstate himself as grand leader of Microsoft and release a press statement saying how sorry he is for inflicting Windows on us. He should get down on his hands and knees and lick our boots, only looking up every now and then to see the hateful disdain in our eyes.
Screw Windows, non-OS X laptops and any backwards OS that takes us out of our warm, fuzzy matrix pods. I want to work, play and enjoy myself with a device. I don’t want think, I want to be. This is what the MacPro offers us. Nothing short of a golden platter of intuitive delight, wrapped in a unibody shell. I said earlier that there is no better laptop and until anything proves me wrong, I’ll stick by my word.