Mild-Mannered Canadian Fury

Doug Stephen is Politely Peeved


Tue, 12 Jun 2012 Ā«permalinkĀ»

Thoughts and opinions on the new Apple products are making their way out, and one of the most interesting things so far has been the reviews of the new MacBook Pro Retina display.

It’s important to consider a few things about the next-generation 15” MacBook Pro:

  • This computer is effectively replacing the now-dead 17” MacBook Pro, a computer that was almost 100% feature matched to the 15” but with a bigger screen and maybe an extra port or so.
  • The 15” MacBook Pro has a high resolution option for 1680x1050, but the 2880x1800 offered by the new MacBook Pro is a pixel-doubled 1440x900. This is, in effect, a loss of screen real estate for users that traditionally bought the high-res display option. Like myself.

That being said, I suppose nobody should have come out as surprised to discover that Apple thought about these things when designing HiDPI mode in their OS along with HiDPI displays. Late last night, Jim Dalrymple posted his initial thoughts on the Retina display and showed off the Display preference pane:

Retina Pref Pane

This is Apple’s user-friendly way of presenting the user with 5 resolution options: 1024x640, 1280x800, 1680x1050, 1920x1200, and 2880x1800+HiDPI. Now, it’s nothing revolutionary to offer to offer scaled, non-native resolutions on a computer. But traditionally, non-native resolutions have always looked terrible on LCD screens. But that doesn’t seem to be the case on the MacBook Pro’s Retina display.

Jason Snell tweeted about this last night:

And Anand Shimpi at AnandTech has already started giving the new MacBook Pro his rundown and seems to come to the same conclusion:

Even at the non-integer scaled 1680 x 1050 setting, the Retina Display looks a lot better than last year’s high-res panel. It looks like Apple actually renders the screen at twice the selected resolution before scaling it to fit the 2880 x 1800 panel (in other words, at 1920 x 1200 Apple is rendering everything at 3840 x 2400 (!) before scaling - this is likely where the perf impact is seen, but I’m trying to find a way to quantify that now). Everything just looks better. I also appreciate how quick it is to switch between resolutions on OS X. When I’m doing a lot of work I prefer the 1920 x 1200 setting, but if I’m in content consumption mode I find myself happier at 1440 x 900 or 1680 x 1050.

Food for thought. It’s little things like this that should really help cement the idea that Apple is working at the front edge of technology, and it’s for these reasons that they are able to lock down supply chains and perfect technology before the competition, placing Apple in such a strong position when everyone tries to execute on the same ideas instead of innovating in their own way. You can only make that Wayne Gretzky puck quote analogy so many times.