|The new MacBook Pro at the Bethesda, Md., Apple Store|
My colleague Truman Lewis recently covered Apple's new MacBook Pro, and discussed how the new laptop was all the buzz at this year's World Wide Developers Conference. He inspired me to take a journey on the DC Metro.
On a crisp June afternoon, I made a beeline on the Red Line to an Apple Store in Bethesda, Maryland, just to see how much thinner, lighter and better the new device really was. Also, with the laptop's new Retina display feature, I was eager to put it next to the previously released MacBook Pro, to see how much more visually appealing the new model really is.
Luckily, upon arrival at the Apple Store, I noticed an older version MacBook Pro next to the newly released one. Perfect. Now I can just swing the old one around and set it right by the side of the new laptop for a perfect side-by-side test. Hopefully no one grabs and escorts me out of the place for messing up the display.
Okay, here we go ... Success. Security didn't tackle me.
Before looking at the older version, I simply stared into the current model. I didn't operate anything, didn't do a comparison, I just gazed at the screen to get my eyes accustomed to the new desktop view.
Off the bat, I couldn't tell if it was the sheer brightness of the screen, or the caffeine swimming in my system, but I found my eyes growing in size with each second I stared. It was like the ultra clarity of what I was viewing made a gentle but strong attack on my optic nerve.
I quickly noticed that my eyes simply weren't used to seeing a laptop this clear. But hey, the previous model looked amazing too, and maybe the recent acclaim, along with my sheer excitement, made me view the laptop with an added amount of consumer optimism. It was time to visually compare both Macs side by side.
Imagine yourself enjoying the sunshine, basking in its bright loveliness, only to notice seconds after the sky darkening because of a grey cloud. That's what it felt like upon shifting my eyes from the new MacBook Pro to the old one.
What once appeared to be high definition, the old MacBook Pro now looked visually dated. The screen was darker, less detailed, and the icons appeared less prominent. But then I thought, duh ... maybe I should adjust the laptop's brightness control, yeah -- maybe that's it.
Wrong. Both laptops were set to the recommended levels, and the new MacBook Pro simply beat out its older sibling by tremendous strides. Talk about delicious eye candy. Better yet, delicious retina candy.
Besides the life-like clear resolution, the new MacBook Pro seemed to move a lot faster than the older version, as its glass track pad was smoother and much more responsive. It clearly operated at a higher and more efficient level than the older version.
Lighter but not wimpy
I also picked up both laptops, and found the new Pro was noticeably lighter, but barely thinner. I couldn't really tell the two apart in terms of density. Although the new MacBook is lighter, it didn't feel delicate. It actually felt quite firm and secure.
A few changes to the newer laptop include the CD/DVD drive and Ethernet port being removed, although they're still on the 13- and 15-inch MacBook Pros. The device also has two USB 3.0 ports, HDMI port, SD card slot, and a 3.5 mm headphone jack. I also ran a quick YouTube video and noticed the speakers were louder and clearer on the new Mac.
As the older version, the laptop is equipped with soft chiclet keys that will be easier on the fingers and joints after extended use.
So as far as touch, feel and basic functionality, the laptop is a winner, but I'm sure upon ownership, users will find annoying designer flaws since no device is perfect. But in my 35-minute MacBook experience, Apple comes pretty close to achieving perfect.
But I say that with consumer caution, knowing that what seems like perfection is seldom long-lasting.