Retina MacBook, Three Weeks In

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I rationalized buying a new Retina MacBook Pro a few weeks ago by telling myself 1) it’s my responsibility to stay on top of new things that affect the web 2) I want to make sure the redesign looks good on retina displays 3) my current laptop had very little RAM and a small hard drive. I was always running out of space. And finally 4) I needed the extra horsepower for exporting/converting all the video I’d be doing.

But if we’re being totally honest: 5) I like new nerdy toys.

Here’s some thoughts after three weeks of use.

  • It’s the best computer I’ve ever owned. It is very fast. For the first time I don’t even really think about what applications are open and which aren’t. It just doesn’t matter. I’ve had no problems with crashing, overheating, fans going crazy, not waking up from sleep, nothing.
  • The screen is amazing. What looks particularly amazing on the web is all the CSS3 stuff like rounded corners, shadows, gradients, web fonts, etc. Icon fonts all the way!
  • What looks the worst on the web are images that were created small and display small. Imagine a little RSS icon created in Photoshop at 16x16px and displayed at 16x16px in a button. Since that icon needs to display in the same amount of visual space it needs to fake a bunch of those pixels resulting in blurry garbage (like stretching a raster image larger in Photoshop… “zoom in, enhance” only works in the movies). It’s extra noticeable because at any given time there are things on your screen that look unbelievably crisp and beautiful and things that look blurry and worse than they did before.
  • In order to get the best image display, you have to have it on the “Best for Retina” setting, which doesn’t get you very much screen real estate. You can opt for more room, but it’s at the cost of display quality. It’s too little room to have a web browser open on the left and a code editor on the right, which is how I prefer to work. For now I mostly work with an attached Cinema Display.
  • We really gotta figure out this responsive images thing in a really good way really soon. The resource needs for the average website seems to be growing faster than internet connection speeds are increasing. We need the web to be faster not slower. But we want it looking good too.
  • Screenshots are a pain in the butt. They snap at 2x, which then makes them look great when viewing them at 1x, but we can’t just start quadrupling image sizes for screenshots. Especially in blog posts or really anything on the web. I’m sure this is an extra huge pain in the butt for Dribbble.
  • I prefer Chrome, which was only in the past few weeks retina ready. It was a shocker to get it and open up Chrome to find any web text blurry. Vector stuff is supposed to be wicked sharp not blurry. Anyway, that’s fixed all the way down to stable now. All other browsers are fine.
  • Non-retina apps are annoying. The official Twitter app for Mac is totally unusable because all the text is super blurry. Third party Twitter apps just aren’t doing it for me. Don’t like Tweetdeck. Tried’ing the website but it’s too slow. Tweetbot is too buggy. I’m on Twitterific for now. Even little stuff like the fact that the Dropbox icon isn’t retina is a little annoying. I don’t blame them. I understand prioritization at software companies. I’m just saying.
  • The thinness and lightness is really nice.