Finally has happened: the retinal phenomenon has arrived on Macs starting with the next generation MacBook Pro. The novelty caused fascination among the keynote audience, and Apple made it clear that this is the beginning of a new generation of Macs that will slowly replace the current ones, setting new standards for the definition of displays.
Before we only had the data to confirm the rumors to make our bets about how Apple is going to set these new bases, but now we have real data: the new 15-inch MacBook Pro has quadrupled the basic resolution of 1440×900 pixels of the previous model (remember that we can extend that resolution to 1650×1050 paying an extra) and has made us see that a 17-inch model no longer makes sense. How can we apply this fact to the rest of Macs?
Retinal resolution on all laptops? This is done, boss
Let’s start with the rest of the laptops. There are already rumours about a 13-inch MacBook Pro with a retinal screen due out in October, so we’re probably looking at the next step towards the retinal generation. The resolution offered by that model is currently 1280×800 pixels, and quadrupling that resolution gives us 2560×1600 pixels. This is a resolution that a few years ago was on Apple’s 30-inch screens, concentrated on a 13-inch one.
Well, yes, there would be no problem. In mid-April we commented on the news of Sharp manufacturing several monitors capable of supporting retinal resolutions, and among them there were monitors with a resolution of 2560×1600 pixels of even ten inches . Thus, a 13-inch MacBook Pro retina is quite possible at that resolution.
What about MacBook Air? There are 11-inch and 13-inch models, but their resolution is slightly higher than today’s MacBook Pro: 1280×800 on the 11-inch model and 1440×900 on the 13-inch model. That could lead Apple to keep those resolutions in the air so that it remains Apple’s popular and cheap laptop , while the thirteen-inch 2560×1600 MacBook Pro ‘retina’ would be the professional choice to consider. Of course, sooner or later those Airs would end up adopting retinal resolutions as panel prices become more popular.
The real problem: Mac desktop screens
The most complicated of all will be the iMac , no doubt. Right now we have two models of 21.5 inches (at 1920×1080 pixels) and 27 inches (at 2560×1440 pixels). Quadrupling those resolutions would give us a difficult 3840×2160 pixels in 21.5 inches and an impossible 5120×2880 pixels in 27 inches. This, for now, is very unlikely. Sharp has achieved resolutions of 3840×2160 pixels on 32-inch panels, which is far too large for an iMac.
I have no doubt, everything will come, but personally I do not see iMacs retina in the short term . It is possible to build panels with so many pixels, but if Apple were to launch an iMac retina right now it could be extremely expensive. I have several bets about which way Apple could go with this.
And that’s it. But we might also see a ‘next-generation iMac’ with a retinal display, albeit a different size . Maybe the 24-inch model would come back, offering those 3840×2160 pixels for a ‘FullHD Retina’.
In fact, Apple could even eliminate the 27-inch model arguing the same thing it has argued with the 17-inch MacBook Pro: Why 27 inches when with 24 you have more pixels and there’s room to edit video at full HD in 1:1 scale and also have the full application interface available? Okay, we have the detail that here the size of an iMac does not matter because it will always be on the table , but crazier things I have seen. At bad you can always keep the 27-inch iMac for those who want a huge screen regardless of the resolution.
One thing’s for sure: Sooner or later, even if the process takes years, all Apple products will have retinal resolution . Apple already carries the banner of this change in front of all its competitors. And as always, no one has reacted in time, and now manufacturers are looking with trepidation at that new notebook that’s so thin, so powerful, and has such an impressive display. Time to stop trying to copy the MacBook Air with the ultrabook phenomenon and start trying to copy the new MacBook Pro?