My Next Laptop

Brooke Crothers from CNET has learned that a 2560 x 1600 pixel density display is in production for Apple. The display is believed to be targeted at the 13.3 inch MacBook Pro, not the MacBook Air.

I’ve had a 13.3” form factor MacBook for the last six years. I carry it with me almost every day on my long commute that spans two bike rides and a train ride in between. Portability is pretty high on my list of requirements, to say the least. However, that laptop is also my main machine. I use it for work and, to a lesser extend, pleasure1. So it needs to be powerful enough for some software development (Java, Python, Eclipse), scientific writing (Sublime, Latex) and minor graphics work (Omnigraffle, Pixelmator).

The 13.3” MacBook Air has been in my crosshairs for some time now as a replacement for my current 2009 MacBook Pro. But there is something about that super-thin tapered design that has me worried. We already know it sacrifices performance2 because of heat and battery concerns. And I can’t help but feel that the thin design feels less sturdy when being handled and carried around in a bag —although probably without warrant.

What I definitely do like about the Air is the slight increase in resolution and density of the display (1440 x 960, up from 1280 x 800) and its use of SSD storage by default. That’s why I think the rumored 13” retina MacBook Pro —if it is anything like the 15’’ retina MacBook Pro— might just be the machine that really suites my needs:

  • It increases portability, though not quite on par with the MacBook Air level. It pulls this off foremost by removing the optical disk drive, and likely also by optimizing the internals: non-removable RAM and a Flashmemory module instead of an SSD drive.
  • It doesn’t sacrifice performance for extreme portability.
  • It gains a massive increase in display quality and, if the current 15’’ retina MacBook Pro is any indication, without sacrificing battery life. The 13’’ would likely also gain the possibility to set the display to a larger virtual resolution than the native 1280 x 800 points.

The Air is a great consumer laptop. Let’s hope the 13” rMBP will turn out to be a great portable Pro laptop.

Ethernet port, you will be missed.


  1. Although the iPhone, iPad and a Windows gaming PC are able to satisfy most of my free-time computing needs. 

  2. I’ve had the opportunity to play with a 2012 1,8-GHz 13″ Air, and I couldn’t say I was blown away by the Air’s speed, compared to a 2009 2,26 GHz core 2 duo MacBook Pro.