The MacBook Pro Refresh – What We Got, What We Missed

I made my expectations from the Macbook Pro refresh clear a while back and just as expected, today at its WWDC keynote Apple made the announcement. Apple refreshed the MacBook Air, MacBook Pro 13″ & 15″ and also released a next generation MacBook Pro with Retina Display.

The regular MacBook Pro

The basic refresh for the MacBook Pro line-up is a mixed bag. It is neither thinner, nor lighter. Still carries the optical drive, upgrades to USB 3.0 specs but the placement is still the same. On the 13″ version the screen resolution remains the same at 1280×800, however a 720p FaceTime camera comes in. The processing power of course gets a bump to 3rd gen Core processors (Ivy Bridge).

The MacBook Pro that most people would buy, fails to offer a great upgrade. While the next gen MBP is a worthy upgrade, the fact remains that at Rs 80,000+, the 13″ MacBook Pro is a premium product. It receives no major upgrade and specially for someone like me using a 2010 version, a bit of RAM upgrade is enough to justify using the same for another year or so.

Apple has stayed away from going aggressive on the MacBook Pro lineup. And I don’t think it is the reluctance to do away with the optical drive, but more to do with SSD costs. For Apple, putting the effort to make a thinner MacBook Pro means using all its energy to redesign an already great product. They did that with the next generation MacBook Pro but refrained from touching the primary design on the regular 13″ & 15″ MBP’s.

The Next Generation MBP with Retina Display

MacBook Pro Retina

We can be reasonably sure that by next year the Retina Display MacBook Pro would take over the entire line-up and that’s the future Apple has stepped into with today’s announcement. The screen is 220 ppi at 2880 x 1800 on a 15″ screen. All flash storage with support up to 768GB, 1600MHz DDR3 RAM, no optical drive and much lighter and thinner than the regular 15″ MacBook Pro. Apple also packs in good audio capabilities with a speaker design that prompts them to claim “Your notebook never sounded this good” and dual mics for better audio input. What makes me most happy is the USB ports layout, one on each side and a HDMI port inbuilt, no messy adapters!

Retina MBP

Retina Ports Left

At 4.46 pounds, the Retina Display MBP weighs roughly 2 kg, that’s 500 gms lighter than its predecessor. At the same time it is 0.71-inch thin, down from 0.95″. The lack of optical drive and all flash storage helps Apple, however the pricing for the new gen MacBook Pro starts from USD 2199 (256GB version).

Until Apple can push that down by a minimum of $500, it is hard for them to do away with the regular MacBook Pros. But given the lack of upgrade to the regular line-up, we can safely assume the are probably not going to see another refresh. The Retina age beacons.

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