"A solid-build, powerful laptop."4.5 starson by Aldo-Fornasiero
Pros: High-speed, powerful specifications as standard, the new graphics are extremely capable and the new I/O serve to create a more powerful, dynamic laptop.
Battery life is great, with me being able to go a full 2 days without charging or connecting AC
Cons: The laptop's design is becoming dated and it is extremely weighty which becomes uncomfortable.
Releasing a new laptop a month before new OS seems in bad taste, while a free-upgrade is offered, it's inconvenient.
Summary: I had the choice between this laptop and the Retina display, however there are many features that makes me view this laptop as the true workhorse of the macbook pro range.
Being a music-producer, having the most I/O capability was a priority and the screen's capability is less so. With future improvements regarding my working-studio including an external display (possibly the Thunderbolt display, once the inevitable Retina upgrade for the display and the iMac appears) having the most capable screen is not necessary.
The HDD (while slightly slower than that of the solid-state retina hard-drive) it is larger, with the Retina's standard display being 256GB whilst the hard-drive of this being 500GB. Whilst I do use and external hard-drive to store more content, having the ability to recall more projects on-the-fly is a great benefit.
USB 3 works great to increase the speed with external peripherals and make working more efficient. However the Thunderbolt display is still lacking in support, with the only peripherals being quite expensive.
My audio interface uses Firewire to connect (this is more efficient than USB for audio transfer) and the lack of a firewire port on the Retina was another blow that made me choose this model. An adapter is available, however this results in you spending even more money on the laptop and more to carry about in the laptop case.
Finally, the killer blow was the lack of an optical-drive on the Retina model, this model contains an 8x DVD drive which is extremely fast and powerful, allowing me to burn and reproduce my music with ease. While I appreciate that Apple may either be removing features from the Retina model to cut production costs and keep the model more affordable, or trying to encourage more digital downloads and the fading out of hardware, I feel this is a jump that has come too soon and the CD/DVD is a critical part of the computing experience; again you can purchase an Apple drive separately, but this again costs more money considering the only benefit at the moment for this significant price increase is an increased resolution display, of which most internet pages and software does not support, resulting a - as of yet - a display whose potential will not be reached for years.
Again, this model is significantly larger, and heavier than the retina model, however, there are benefits over the retina model. Personally, I feel the Retina leans too far towards the Air, whose lack of features and I/O is strongly criticised. While I have no doubt that the Retina model will be the model which survives and lacks longer in the product line, at the time of purchase this model offered significantly more for the price and a stronger feature-set which allows it to be a great computing option.
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