13-Inch Retina Display MacBook Pro Hands-On: A Beautiful Screen In a Lighter Laptop (Updating)

The tech aficionados of the world are slowly getting their hands on the 13-inch MacBook Pro with its new Retina Display loveliness, and not surprisingly, it's a thing of beauty. The body is lighter, the screen is crisp—now all we need is more software to take advantage of that gorgeous display.

For starters, it's wildly thin. No, not manilla envelope thin, but thin enough to slip into most briefcases and backpacks without the consumer even noticing. Outside of that, it's mostly a shrunken version of the 15-incher let loose over the summer. The unibody design is as tight as ever, with the fit and finish continuing to impress.

Compared to the 1,280 x 800 resolution of the non-Retina 13-inch MBP, the new display is particularly stunning. Text has never looked more crisp, and colors are stupendously vibrant. Of course, apps, websites and graphics that haven't been optimized for Retina still look like utter rubbish, and as more Apple machines transition to these panels, the outcry is going to get even louder.

It's not quite as thin as the Air, but Apple's new 13-inch MacBook Pro with Retina display is still quite svelte - and the display is as gorgeous as you'd expect. The resolution settings for the display are just like the larger MacBook Pro - but the maximum allowed resolution is 1680 x 1050, unlike the 1920 x 1080 setting offered on the 15-inch model. Still, 1680 x 1050 is a tremendous option on a display of this size, though at the "best for Retina" setting the screen offers an effective 1280 x 800. If you've been using a 15-inch MacBook Pro for the screen size, the 13-inch just got a ton more attractive.

The screen size may be smaller – and lower resolution, too, at 2560 x 1600, though for an overall higher pixel density of 227ppi – but actually the 13-inch model is slightly thicker, at 0.75-inches. In contrast, the 15-inch Retina version is 0.71-inches thick. You don't really notice the difference, however, and the advantage in weight, with near a full pound dropped, more than makes up for it.

As for how it performed, it was very much like using the 15-inch rMBP, which is my main machine currently. In the hand, however, it feels significantly lighter, at about a pound lighter than the bigger model. That's a big difference for a machine you carry around with you all day, and alone might sway some users, price considerations aside.

The reduced glare did seem to have an effect vs. previous versions of the screen, which definitely photographed better. And changing up the display resolution really gives you a ton of screen real estate at maximum settings for what is a very, very portable computer. So long as you've got good eyes, this could be a great solution for people looking for a work machine when they're away from their dual-monitor setups.