Without rationalizations, what would my life be? Dreadfully filled with, ugh!, impersonal reality. I've got sound neuroscience on my side here.
Ever since Apple announced the Retina MacBook Pro, I've been wrestling with whether I should get one. On the day news of the new laptop was released, I presciently blogged, "New Retina MacBook Pro or MacBook Air? Laptop lust will decide."
That's how it's been going the past eight days.
Logic and reason lead me one way, emotion and intuition lead me another way. And here's the likely neuroscientific fact: my brain (a redundancy, because "my brain" is me) already has made the decision. I'm the last one to know what unconscious brain processes already have decided.
Can't be absolutely sure what that is.
But the fact that I've been spending quite a bit of time thinking up rationalizations for spending $600 or $700 more to get a Retina MacBook Pro, rather than a basic MacBook Pro or a MacBook Air, seems to indicate which way my brain is pointing.
Sure, I went off on a reasonable route when I wrote a follow-up post, "Reasons to choose a basic MacBook Pro over the Retina." What I said made a lot of sense. Yet I resonated with what Steve, a commenter on that post, told me.
Your reasoning is rock solid and I agree with every point. But after seeing the retina display in an apple store in Columbus Ohio, I had to have the new box. Stay tuned.
I haven't seen a Retina MacBook Pro in person yet. Probably I will soon. When that happens, I suspect that I'll fall in love with the laptop, just as Steve did. Mostly with the display. After all, if looks aren't everything with this computer, they're almost everything.
Such is the theme of almost every review I've read about it. The other new features get a thumbs-up. The retina display gets leaping high-fives. For example, Mashable gushes:
Back to that screen. Perhaps surprisingly, the first thing you notice is the deeper colors, not necessarily the sharpness — although that becomes clear when viewing photos with lots of detail. Browsing through the Flickr feed of the NASA Goddard Space Center, the crowd could see those extra pixels working to show, say, the wispy clouds in satellite shots of earth.
Virtually all images were displayed with more vibrant colors and better contrast than on the older Pro.
It’s not just photos that benefit from the extra pixels, but text and iconography as well. Everything from the system fonts to app icons to the galactic background image looks sharper, with better contrast.
After I connected the retina Pro to an external (non-retina) Acer monitor, it became something of a game to drag windows from one screen to the other, watching the images and text magically transform as they crossed from edge to edge, becoming crisper and more affecting.
So I'm assuming that the Retina also will work its magic on me when I see and touch the temptress. This is why I'm working on my rationalizations.
The price difference isn't very much, spaced over three years. I've had my 2008 13 inch MacBook Pro for about three and a half years. A new 15 inch 2.3 GHz Retina MacBook Pro with a 256 GB flash drive, 8 GB of memory, an external superdrive, and an external Ethernet adapter would cost me $2,656.
A comparably equipped 13 inch basic MacBook Pro would cost me $2,048. That's a $608 difference. For that, I'd get a larger retina display, a quad-core processor, and other high tech goodies such as better sounding speakers, quieter fan, HDMI port.
There are 1095 days in three years, which likely is about how long I'd keep the Retina MacBook Pro. So for a mere 55 cents a day, I'd enjoy all the delights that the most amazing laptop on the planet offers. If I was renting a laptop, would I pay 55 cents more a day for the Retina instead of the basic MacBook Pro?
Sure I would.
I'm a "creative professional," if I think I am. Just about every review says that the Retina MacBook Pro is aimed at creative professionals, not ordinary laptop users. At first that gave me pause, since I'm retired and use my computer mostly for web surfing, email, writing, and basic photography/videos.
But hey, if I want to consider myself a "creative professional," I damn well can. I'm a published author. I'm working on rewriting my first book, which is out of print. I have two active blogs and spend an hour or two a day composing posts for them.
That's a heck of a lot of creativity going on. It's just the professional part that's a stretch, since the income I get from writing each year wouldn't even pay for a Retina MacBook Pro, much less support me in any sort of non-homeless style.
So what? In my own mind I'm definitely a creative professional who needs a cutting-edge laptop.
Beauty will soothe my soul (even though I don't believe I have one) and save the world. All reviewers agree: the Retina MacBook Pro is a beautiful piece of laptop computer art, along with other Apple produts like the iPhone and iPad. They may have quibbles with aspects of the technology, but the overall impression is beautiful.
This rationalization has been aided by a book I picked up in the charming "library" that takes up a corner of the Camp Sherman, Oregon post office lobby. Residents of, and visitors to, this small town (pop. 200 or so) leave books there for communal enjoyment. A few days ago I picked up Susan Susanka's "The Not So Big Life: Making Room for What Really Matters."
She's an architect who writes about remodeling your life, using tried and true design principles. Chapter Two is titled, Noticing What Inspires You. It begins with a Ghandi quote:
We must be the change we wish to see in the world.
Yes! I agree! Mahatma Ghandi clearly is telling me, "Brian, you must buy a Retina MacBook Pro." After all, I want the world to be more beautiful, to have more clarity, to function more effectively. And Susanka writes:
Whether an object or a setting is beautiful or meaningful to anyone but you is irrelevant. It's what that thing or place is accomplishing in your life that counts.
Well, I'm pretty sure that a Retina MacBook Pro will be hugely beautiful and meaningful to me. Won't know for sure until we meet up, face to display, but that's my intuition. Or more accurately, rationalization.