After spending some time with the new 13-in. MacBook Pro with Retina display, I came away quite impressed. I've been a 15-in. MacBook Pro owner for years, and I initially regarded the smaller screen with skepticism, but this machine has quickly won me over. The killer Retina display in concert with the laptop's light weight and processing power make this computer a compelling package.
With this new model, Apple engineers have basically applied the playbook used for the 15-in. MacBook Pro with Retina display, only in the smaller form factor. (Apple loaned me this particular laptop for review.)
Starting at $1,699, this MacBook Pro is a pound lighter and 20% thinner than the previous generation -- it weighs 3.5 lbs. and is three-quarters of an inch thick when the lid is closed. That's a pound less than the regular 13-in. MacBook Pro. The reduction in size and weight comes with a few caveats, but sturdiness isn't one of them. Apple's unibody design -- featuring a frame carved from a single block of aluminum -- feels good to the touch, doesn't flex when the laptop is picked up from a corner, and exudes quality.
That quality is especially apparent in the 2560-x-1600-pixel screen, which is so packed with pixels -- 227 pixels per inch in its native resolution -- that you can't really discern them discretely. It's more like looking at a backlit printed page, with vibrant colors, good contrast and text that is sharp so as to still be legible even in smaller font sizes; you really have to see it in person. If you've seen an iPhone or the screen on this year's iPads, you have an idea of how gorgeous the Retina display is.
Of course, that screen comes with a higher price tag compared to other 13-in. MacBook Pros, which start at $1,199. That's something to keep in mind if this is on your -- or someone else's -- holiday wish list.