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60 days with a Retina MBP.

Over the summer I went on a big road trip gig traveling 2700 miles editing in the back of a tour bus. It was a hard gig and I got to say, I worked my 2 year old MBP to death. Unfortunately my new MBP with Retina Display had not been delivered before I went. Now that I’ve had that machine for a few months. I want to elaborate on what I DO and DO NOT like about said machine. 

1. Size Weight

I will say, the size and weight of the R-MBP is noticably different than my 2010 MacBook Pro with Tunderbolt. The unibody is amazing, the weight is surprising, you can’t help but notice it as soon as you pick the thing up. Very VERY cool.

2. SSD

I didn’t think the SSD would make that much of a difference but its been great. I don’t do much REAL work on my laptop, its primarily a “surfboard” but does on occasion provide either a backup or occasionally a primary edit platform. i can’t actually say, “wow, without the SSD I could NEVER do ‘such and such’” it doesn’t appear to TOTALLY change the proformance of apps and if I AM working off it, I’m using an external drive so… well… the SSD is just freakin cool.  I got to say, I LOVE that it makes no noise. Also, with no moving parts (except for the asymetrical fan deal) you never even FEEL it under your palms… that part is cool.

There is a story, not sure if its true but when the famous Science Fiction writer Isaac Asimov got his hands on his FIRST computer in the 80’s (I believe) he was totally let down when the hard drive spun up and the fans kicked in because in his mind that was filled with fantasies of the future, he had imagined that computers were just silent boxes of light and memory… so basically, he was imagining a Retina MacBook Pro.

3. Connectivity

OK, so… I do LOVE the idea of having two Thundertube ports on the left side and its very handy having a USB port on EACH side of hte machine. It is, however, a BIG bummer there is no FW AT ALL, and yea, I wish on occasion there was ethernet. At one clients office the only way to get out is via there ethernet network, no wireless is allowed, and since I’m BASICALLY in a farraday cage of lack of connection, I use their DSL line… no Ethernet requires the lame adaptacator thing, but it works… (most of the time). As for the loss of the FW800 port, well, there is the FW Adapter that finally became available but, I have a better solution. With this particular client I work there so much, I’ve decided to leave behind a 27” Thundertube Display, which, by the way, also doubles as a FW breakout and an Ethernet Breakout. I FULLY realize that leaving behind a $1000 display is a HUGE luxury but they are a great client and it means I have less gak to carry in. Which brings us to…

4. Performance

In a nutshell… the thing kicks ass. For this particular client I have, for the past couple of years, rolled in a 27” iMac in a Tenba case. It takes minutes to set up and performes admirably. But now… with the R-MBP and the Thundertube Display I have TWO displays and I can carry my CPU into the gig in my backpack. It took till the end of the first day before anyone noticed that I was using a laptop as opposed to a desktop machine. Pretty nice all around.

5. The Display

You’ll notice that the THING THE THING IS NAMED AFTER… the Display, is number 5 on my list. Is that because I’m saving the “best for (almost) last” or is it because its not that big a deal… frankly… I could care less about RETINA. I am a firm believer that the normal displays LOOK GREAT. Doubling up the pixel count on a divice is clever marketing and all and I won’t say that it doesn’t look “Better” but there is a law of diminishing returns. I’ll also say that if you run the machine in the “Optimize for Retina” setting that the percieved pixel count is too few to work the way I’ve become accoustomed to on my old MBP with Tundertube. AAAANNNND, If you run the thing in “full on squinty mode” (the way that they advertize you can edit in FCPX at full 1080P, well… things are WAAAAY small…

To see the FULL EFFECT of the pixel count, start one up in safe mode (I think thats what its called or “single user mode” - Command - S during start up) and see how small the unix command line is. BTW, if you get in to the “scary screen”, as I call it, and don’t know how to get out, type “reboot”.

6. Industrial Design

When you are typing on the R-MBP its feels great, the thinner body means your wrists are lower to the desk surface (by a few millimeters) and thats all good, but I STILL hate the sharp edge that your palm rests on when you are using the trackpad.  I seriously think I may have some sort of nerve damage from using the thing for hours surfing online and scrolling. There is CERTAINLY a tender spot on my right palm from the edge of the machines I’ve been surfing on for the past few years. 

AND… I HATE the new Mag Safe 2 thing… In our office there are power bricks EVERYWHERE, you can plop your machine down at any desk and have Mag Safe connection, but of course for ME to use it I have to have this stupid “nubin” hanging off the side of my machine and frankly… I think its going to be awhile before we can move away from THAT… URG!!! 

I guess with the advent of the 9-Pin dock connector on the iPhone 5 2012 is going to be known as “The Year of the Power Adapters”. 

So those are my thoughts. I like the machine pretty well… its amazing piece of technology and I still like sliding it out of my bag. 



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Reader Comments (1)

Why are you switching resolution to edit in fcpx at 1080? Fcpx will do 1080 at the best for retina res and show all the pixels. The main part of the display is 1400x900 or whatever but the part in the video preview window is the full res. it also performs a lot better. I use the 1920x1200 res for some things but always the 1440x900 for fcpx.
September 22, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterMatt

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