By Michael Kang
On Monday June 11, 2012 at Apple’s Worldwide Developers Conference in San Francisco, was center stage for a much-anticipated release: the 15” MacBook with Retina display. The question now is not whether people will buy it, but why.
Many were ready to stampede the Apple store and drop some serious cash on the computer, which starts at $2,199. And while some say Apple is once again ahead of the game, others see reasons to pass. The specs are impressive, including a light, slim design with powerful hardware. But mainly what people are really interested is that one and only Retina Display that none other laptops on earth have.
The 15-inch Retina MacBook Pro boasts a grand 15.4 inch display with 5.18 million pixels at the resolution of 2880 pixels by 1800, with a pixel density of 220 pixels per sq inch. That’s quadruple the amount of the normal 1440 by 900 pixels on the standard 15-inch models. At this amount of pixel density, it will take you very long before you can actually squint and find a visible pixel cell.
Out of the box, the MacBook Pro Retina will support the following resolution on the Retina display on the retina display in the System Preferences Section below, but the 1440 by 900 option is chosen as default.
So the question that is in everybody’s mind at this point is where the 2800 pixels by 1800 are? And why it is that Apple does not allow us to take advantage of every pixel that there actually is, but instead chooses the same resolution as the standard MacBook pro and not the new resolution of 2880 by 1800 pixels?
There is definitely confusion that can occur between scaled resolution and native resolution. After all, when you normally connect your laptop to a higher resolution screen or projectors, you always get more screen real-estate to work on and there is just more space on the desktop. With the Retina Pro all you’re getting is the same real estate even though it is using a higher resolution screen. The difference here is that Apple is upping the resolution of the screen, but also scaling the resolution of displayed content, to fill more of screen at the same time.
By default, the Retina MBP ships in a pixel doubled configuration. You get the effective desktop resolution of the standard 15-inch MacBook Pro’s 1440 x 900 panel, but with four physical pixels driving every single pixel represented on the screen. This allows for the same working space as the previous model and the standard model. If you want more space you can always move the amount of represented pixels on the screen to 1920 by 1200 configuration, but still not the full 2880 by 1800.
However, surprisingly for some, this is the similar path that Apple has chosen to do with their iOS devices. A prime example would be with the new iPad, even though the advertised resolution is 2048 by 1536, the iPad is still displaying the same real estate as the iPad 2.
But the difference between the old generation and the new is that the new iPad is displaying better quality icons and applications with the extra pixels. This allows the viewing experience to be more crisp and sharper, and before.
Despite the fact that Apple only allows a specific set of resolutions to be used on the screen there is still 2,880 by 1,800 display. All those 5.18 million pixels are there. They’re only just being used to make what’s displayed look better, not to make the screen have more overall real estate. Instead of making things smaller like when you connect your laptop of a secondary monitor, Apple chooses to improve the quality of what is displayed rather than only what the screen can display.
Images courtesy of Apple Inc.