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Apple MacBook Pro 2012 with Retina display review

With 5.1 million pixels on the 15.4in display, the latest Intel Ivy Bridge processors and up to 768GB of SSD storage, Apple has raised the bar for laptops.

Price
£1,499

Apple has transplanted its Retina display concept from the iPad to the MacBook Pro range with outstanding results. Just as the iPad's Retina display left every other tablet trailing in its wake, the MacBook Pro promises to do the same to every other laptop on the planet.

Squeezing a massive 2,880 x 1,800 resolution into a 15.4in IPS panel, Apple has produced a technological marvel with the MacBook Pro. We would go so far as to say it comes with the most refined, colour-accurate display you'll find on any laptop, at any price.

Perfect pixels

iPad

iPhone 4S

Apple MacBook Pro - Retina display

Technically, it's near faultless. The IPS panel's LED backlighting delivers a maximum brightness of 333cd/m2, and the contrast ratio of 1,023:1 is exemplary. Apple's decision to factory calibrate its displays makes all the difference, too. Put to the test with our X-Rite i1Display Pro colorimeter and basICColor's display 5 software, the display achieved an average Delta E of 1.4 and a maximum deviation of 3.4 in OS X simply superb colour accuracy.

However, there's more to the MacBook Pro's Retina display than mere pixels. While you'd imagine such a high resolution would make text painfully tiny, and shrink the toolbars and icons in applications to almost unusable proportions, Apple's solution is OS-wide scaling.

In the default mode, dubbed "Best for Retina", the MacBook Pro's desktop effectively mimics a 1,440 x 900 pixel display: text is large and legible, and the icons are all big enough to click without fiddling but it's still a 2,880 x 1,800 screen, and those extra pixels make all the difference.

Apple MacBook Pro with Retina display vs 11in MacBook Air

Fire up Safari and you're rewarded with fonts so sharp and finely delineated it's almost like viewing text on a printed page. In fact, text is so beautifully rendered it makes the low-resolution images on websites look in need of an upgrade. Apple's own website solves the issue by using higher-resolution images when the browser detects it's being viewed on a Retina display.

Applications are faced with a similar issue. Apple has already updated most of its iLife suite, Aperture and Final Cut Pro X, so they can take full advantage of the screen's high resolution for editing photos and HD video. Other developers, such as Adobe, are promising updates imminently.

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