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Close To The Perfect MacBook? Depends On Your Wallet And Priorities

TechCrunch’s MG Siegler says that for the past six months he’s been hearing the same thing over and over again: “The MacBook Pro with the Retina screen looks amazing. I want that screen on a MacBook Air. That would be the perfect computer.” Well, says Siegler, “we’re almost there. Not quite. But for some of you, we’re now close enough.”

Seigler is referring to the 13-inch MacBook Pro with Retina display, noting that two years ago, he ditched the MacBook Pro as his main machine and switched to a MacBook Air, but changed up again with the release of the 15-inch MacBook Pro with Retina display which has become his iMac replacement on his desk at home, but has found it not quite portable enough for his tastes. However, after testing out the 13-inch Retina MacBook Pro for a few weeks now, he finds it a great combination of power and portability.

Siegler also takes a shot at the old school non-Retina 13-inch MacBook Pro which he notes is still somewhat oddly on sale.

Not so odd really, given that the non-Retina MacBook Pro has been Apple’s best-selling Mac system overall for some time. The reason, as I wrote in an AppleTell blog on the weekend, is that the non-Retina MacBook Pro “offers bona fide superb value at a base price of $1,199 – possibly the most bang for your buck that Apple has offered in a Mac system ever. For $500 less than the new 13-inch rMBP, the old-school 13-inch MBP 13″ MacBook Pro gives you the same CPU and GPU performance, similar battery life, greater versatility and connectivity with built-in FireWire 800 and Ethernet ports, an SDVCard slot, an optical drive, and serious storage capacity with a standard 500 GB hard disk drive. Yes, the HDD is slower than the rMBP’s SSD, but for the sort of stuff most of us do with computers most of the time, any Mac with an Intel dual-core CPU is wicked fast for the vast majority of real-world use. The non-Retina 13-inch MacBook Pro is also of course thicker and heavier than the rMBP, and has a nice, but low-resolution 1280 x 800 display, which is arguably its most serious shortcoming.”

I also contend that at $1,699 with its very modest entry-level spec., I would rate the 13-inch rMBP’s prospects of filling the old-school MacBook Pro’s boots as best-selling Mac as approximately zero. It’s a nice laptop, but value-wise it just doesn’t deliver the goods from my perspective.

It’s a question of priorities, which aren’t the same for everyone.

For those who prioritize lightness, compactness, and high-resolution, Siegler says the 13-inch rMBP comes close to being a Retina MacBook Air, just 0.07 inches thicker than the 13-inch Air at its thickest point, and actually with a narrower footprint than the Air, but he concedes that you’ll have to decide if the Retina display, slimmer design, and one pound less of heft is worth an extra $500 to you as opposed to either the non-Retina MacBook Pro or 13-inch MacBook Air which both start at $1,199. Siegler thinks it’s a no-brainer. I contend that the 13-inch rMBP is too expensive to displace the $1,199 machine as Apple’s top seller.

Different priorities and a conundrum that will eventually self-resolve as Apple adopts Retina displays across the board.

You can read MG Siegler’s column here:
http://goo.gl/cXyzR

My AppleTell blog on 13-inch MacBook value is here:
http://goo.gl/3MER9

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