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The personal site of Jamie Knight, an autistic web developer, speaker and mountain biker who is never seen far from his plush sidekick Lion. View the Archive

Topics: Autism Development

Retina MacBook Pro First Impressions

I’ve been testing the 13“ Retina MacBook Pro (rMBP) for a few days now. Here are some first inpressions compared to my 11” MacBook Air (MBA, or “Air”).

Form Factor.

Compared to the Air it feels huge. This is no suprise, the Air is tiny, but I have found myself using it on the desk more. Unlike the Air, i cannot manipulate it easily with one hand. It’s a small change but reminds me of the extra mass every time I interact with it.

Will see if its something I get use to. Overall I like the form factor a lot. It runs very cool and quiet and the HDMI port is very useful.

Retina Display

The display looks great, but like other retina displays you get use to it quickly. I was worried that I would be effected by the ‘ghosting’ issues but it all seems clear so far.

The screen looks good, but its just one element of the package. I would almost be tempted a cheaper non retina model.

I noticed the text rendering the most, web pages appear ultra sharp and detailed. Retina screens do spoil all the other screens around you. If I do return the rMBP its going to be hard to go back to the screen on the 11” Air!

Readability and Accessibility

I use my iMac in HiDPI mode which doubles the physical size of everything on the screen. My eyes are a bit dogey so HiDPI allows me to sit a comfortable distance from the iMac for reading.

I was worried text on the rMBP would be to small for comfortable use. So far things seem okay. I make heavy use of screen zoom for small text (eg chat windows) and while browsing. A side benifit of the retina display is that it still looks great when zoomed in 200%!

VoiceOver runs really well on the rMBP. Interactions are more fluid (eg less delays between text selection and speech etc) and it has been 100% stable. The VO experience on the Air really sucks in comparison.


I have 128gb of storage in the rMBP. Getting more storage gets expensive quickly! To jump to 256gb of storage is 150, going to 512gb is 400 more on top again. Ouch!

I have far more than 512gb of data across the Air and the iMac. How’s i should proceed seems a little unclear. I need to find a balance between storage space, cost and simplicity. I have a few ideas, going to have a play this week.


In Safari the rMBP won’t scroll some pages smoothly, however this has been fixed in the WebKit daily builds. I have the WebKit daily build installed and all is well. Hopefully the performance tweaks with get into safari soon. I do notice some occasional stutter especially when zoomed. This is starting to become annoying.

Published: 16 January 2013 | Categories: , Permalink

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