Last night I played with an Apple Macbook Pro with the new Retina Display (Wikipedia link). Wikipedia cites some controversy about whether the display actually has higher resolution than the human eye can perceive. When wearing glasses my vision is considerably better than average (I have average vision without glasses) and while kneeling in front of the Macbook I couldn’t easily distinguish pixels. So Apple’s marketing claims seem technically correct to me.
When I tested the Macbook Pro I found that the quality of the text display was very high, even now the 1680*1050 display on my Thinkpad T61 looks completely crap when compared to the 2880*1800 display on the Macbook. The Macbook was really great for text and for a JPEG that was installed on the system for testing. But unfortunately pictures on web sites didn’t look particularly good. Pictures on my blog looked quite poor and pictures returned by a Google search for “art” didn’t look that great either. I wonder if Safari (the Apple web browser) isn’t properly optimised for the display or if there is something that we should do when preparing pictures for web sites to make them look better on Safari.
The retina display has a 71% greater DPI which means 2.93* the total number of pixels of my Thinkpad. The overall quality of the experience for me (apart from web pictures) seems more like a factor of 2.93 when compared with my Thinkpad than a factor of 1.71. This has to be one of the most desirable products I’ve seen from a company that’s opposed to freedom for it’s users. I’m not about to buy one though, $2,300 is a lot of money for a system that can’t be upgraded, repaired, or recycled, and doesn’t even have an Ethernet port. I’m sure that if I bought one I would discover that it some of the hardware features don’t work properly with Linux.
The new Apple design trend of making it impossible to repair anything works reasonably well for phones and tablets which are cheap enough that they are hardly worth repairing when they have been used for a while. Lots of people can afford to spend about $600 on something that may be discarded after a year or two, but very few people can afford to spend more than $2,000 on such a disposable product.
Why is Apple the only company producing systems with such displays? If someone produced regular PCs that have the expected features (including an Ethernet port) with such a display at a lower price then I’m sure that there would be a great demand.