Like lots of other Apple addicts, I was glued to my computer this morning, watching Engadget's live blog of the WWDC 2012 conference where new Apple products were eagerly anticipated.
The rumors were pretty much right-on. A new 15 inch MacBook Pro with a retina display (like on the iPhone 4s) was the highlight of the show. For me, at least.
I've had my 13 inch MacBook Pro for what seems like centuries. In computer years, that's about right -- got it in October 2008. It's been almost completely trouble free. It looks virtually brand new, but my laptop is feeling its age.
I get the dreaded "spinning ball" much more often than I used to, especially when numerous applications are open. Closing programs can take a long time. I've used up about three-fourths of the 250 GB hard drive. My three year AppleCare contract expired last year.
So I've been looking forward to learning what Apple was up to, MacBook Pro-wise. Also, MacBook Air-wise, as I'm attracted to flash storage (no hard disk) and ditching the built-in optical drive, which I mainly only use to watch dance lesson DVD's.
After the WWDC event was over, the online Apple store returned to life with the new Retina MacBook Pro prominently displayed, which is basically a blend between the old MacBook Pro and Air. That's the laptop I lust for. But my pocketbook wonders if an Air would suffice.
I priced three options of the new models, with each including 8 GB of memory, a portable superdrive, and AppleCare: (1) a 13 inch 2.0 GHz MacBook Air with a 256 GB flash drive was $1,927; (2) a 15 inch 2.3 GHz Retina MacBook Pro with a 256 GB flash drive was $2,625; (3) a 15 inch 2.6 GHz Retina MacBook Pro with a 512 GB flash drive was $3,327.
Judging from comments on AppleInsider posts, I'm not the only one who wishes the new MacBook Air had a retina display. But people much more knowledgeable than me were saying that the retina display sucks up a lot of battery power, so it wouldn't fit well with the Air -- given current technology.
Plus, Apple isn't stupid. Make the Air equal to the Pro, display-wise, and that will draw sales away from the more expensive Retina MacBook Pro.
Watching the video about the Retina Pro on the Apple Store, it looks like it's aimed at high-powered users. I'm not going to be designing a nuclear power plant from the bed of a pickup, or handling six video feeds at a time as a TV director.
Nor am I likely going to be editing photos down to the micro-pixel, or needing to see colors precisely and beautifully displayed.
I sure like the looks, and specs, of the Retina MacBook Pro. Option 2 above looks most appealing, since I don't need 512 GB of flash storage or a super fast processor. Reportedly USB 3 is ten times faster than USB 2, so an external hard drive would seemingly suffice for storing large video files.
If not, there's always Thunderbolt, which is twice as fast as USB 3.
It'll take a while for me to ponder the pros and cons of the new Retina MacBook Pro. Reviews will be coming in the next few weeks as computer geeks get their hands on the new Apple products. The Retina Pro does seem revolutionary in many ways, while the updated Air strikes me as only evolutionary.
And it helped me to put things in perspective, cost-wise, to pull out my 2008 MacBook Pro file and remind myself what it cost back then: about $2,000, which is the 2012 price of a MacBook Air with double the memory (8 GB vs. 4 GB) and a 250 GB flash drive rather than a same-size hard drive.
Apple keeps raising the bar on great computers. Their ability to arouse product lust among the Apple faithful, like me, also remains strong. For $700 more, the Retina MacBook Pro might be the way I end up wanting to go.