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Portables (Apple) Apple Hardware

Analyzing the New MacBook Pro 914

Posted by Unknown Lamer
from the buy-a-few-spares dept.
MrSeb writes "Late yesterday, Apple released a next-generation 15-inch MacBook Pro with Retina display. It has a 2880×1800 220 PPI display. The normal 13- and 15-inch MacBook Pros and MacBook Airs have also been updated, but the 17-inch MBP has been retired, in effect replaced by the new Retina display MBP. Without a doubt, this new laptop is an engineering marvel in the same league as the original iPhone or MacBook Air. ... The Retina display MBP really looks nothing we've ever seen before. Here, ExtremeTech dives into the engineering behind the laptop, paying close attention to that new and rather shiny display — and the fact that this thing has no user-replaceable parts at all." Fleshing things out a bit more, iFixit has a teardown of the internals. Their verdict: effectively unrepairable by the user.
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Analyzing the New MacBook Pro

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  • by cpu6502 (1960974) on Wednesday June 13, 2012 @11:26AM (#40309419)

    And it's made by Apple?
    shocking.
    Next I suppose you're going to tell me the battery in my iPod can't be replaced like my other MP3 player could.

    • by h4rr4r (612664) on Wednesday June 13, 2012 @11:36AM (#40309569)

      It can be replaced it is just a huge pain to do so. I have done some ipod battery replacements and no the average non-slashdotter can't do it. The average slashdotter should be able to though, or should not be on slashdot.

      • by roc97007 (608802) on Wednesday June 13, 2012 @11:48AM (#40309753) Journal

        So have I, but we're not normal users. I'm actually not a user at all, except for a third generation ipod in my truck -- I got the special tools and a line on several parts suppliers because the disposable mentality of the Apple product line just annoys the hell out of me. I offer repair/refurbish services to family, friends, friends-of-friends because I get satisfaction out of spoiling Apple's throw-away stand-in-line-for-new-model paradigm. And that it's more environmentally moral to keep the older devices in play.

        • by necro81 (917438) on Wednesday June 13, 2012 @12:04PM (#40310053) Journal
          I really enjoyed my 3rd-gen iPod. That 10 GB sucker kept me in good listening mode for about five years. Eventually, the hard drive crapped out. I still have it, though it is difficult to see how much use it would be unless I replaced the hard drive and battery - assuming I could even find replacement parts. It's particularly difficult to see how useful it would be, when my wife has a (still functioning) 120-GB iPod that is thinner, lighter, longer-playing, more capacious, and has a color screen and video-out capability.
          • by Jaktar (975138) on Wednesday June 13, 2012 @08:33PM (#40317109)

            I'm still using my Creative Zen Vision M from 2005. I've never replaced anything in it, not even the battery. It's been in my car for the last 3 years in direct sunlight and freezing temperatures.

            If it's built well, you shouldn't need to replace things. If you do need to replace things, you should be able to do so fairly easily. I don't know which category Apple really falls into. I don't own anything they sell.

        • by ceoyoyo (59147) on Wednesday June 13, 2012 @12:14PM (#40310211)

          "disposable mentality of the Apple product line"

          How many normal people do you think ever upgrade any piece of electronics they own, by themselves? Cell phone batteries were about the only thing user replaceable until companies realized that people were just chucking their phones after two years anyway.

          I consider the slight hassle (have to find screwdriver!) of changing the "non-replaceable" battery in an iPhone once every couple of years, for example, much better than having an externally accessible battery fall out periodically.

          It IS too bad they're soldering the RAM, but again, I'd much rather have a lighter, more durable notebook and buy my RAM now, than save maybe $100 by buying it next year. If you disagree, there are lots of plastic monsters to choose from other manufacturers.

          • by Microlith (54737) on Wednesday June 13, 2012 @12:38PM (#40310659)

            I consider the slight hassle (have to find screwdriver!) of changing the "non-replaceable" battery in an iPhone once every couple of years, for example, much better than having an externally accessible battery fall out periodically.

            Funny, in the near 3 years I've owned my N900 the battery has not fallen out once. Perhaps your problem lies not with the existence of a readily replaceable battery but with poor manufacturing processes.

            • by roc97007 (608802) on Wednesday June 13, 2012 @01:09PM (#40311153) Journal

              Agreed. I've owned several Palm Pilots, Trios, dumb phones and android phones over the years, all with battery doors and externally accessible batteries, and can't think of a single instance of a battery falling out. My current DroidX has a battery so firmly in place that a little ejector tab exists to get it out.

          • by roc97007 (608802) on Wednesday June 13, 2012 @01:07PM (#40311103) Journal

            > How many normal people do you think ever upgrade any piece of electronics they own, by themselves?

            Just about everyone I know have at some point replaced their battery or upgraded their SD card (or have multiple cards), even my mother-in-law, and she's in her seventies and has never been a geek. Except for the people I know who own Apple products, where it is not part of the culture to do so.

            An Apple user has a different perspective on this. If you have to be Apple certified to replace the battery in your macbook, not many regular users could do that. But a seven year old can replace a battery in a thinkpad. (I've seen one do so.)

            It's important, I think, to agree to a common definition of terms. Non-Apple users, for instance, don't consider replacing the battery to be an "upgrade".

          • by Vegemeister (1259976) on Wednesday June 13, 2012 @02:20PM (#40312195)

            I'd much rather have a lighter, more durable notebook and buy my RAM now, than save maybe $100 by buying it next year.

            Factory-installed ram is three times as expensive as what you can get on Newegg now, and this holds for pretty much every laptop vendor. Face it, the new MBP is a $2100 machine with only 8 GiB of memory, and if you want more you have to pay an extra $200.

      • You mean iPod Touch or click-wheel iPod? The latter really isn't that tough.
    • by MobileTatsu-NJG (946591) on Wednesday June 13, 2012 @11:55AM (#40309887)

      You can't replace the battery in the Galaxy Tab, either, but nobody around here sharpened their pitchforks over it.

      Oh, on an unrelated note: Battery life on the Tab is pretty good.

  • Christ... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday June 13, 2012 @11:26AM (#40309421)
    "Without a doubt, this new laptop is an engineering marvel..."

    Oh give me a fucking break. The LEM was an engineering marvel. The Roman aqueducts were an engineering marvel. Apple has done nothing of the sort, what bologna.
    • Re:Christ... (Score:5, Insightful)

      by jeffmeden (135043) on Wednesday June 13, 2012 @11:32AM (#40309527) Homepage Journal

      "Without a doubt, this new laptop is an engineering marvel..."

      Oh give me a fucking break. The LEM was an engineering marvel. The Roman aqueducts were an engineering marvel. Apple has done nothing of the sort, what bologna.

      They engineered the battery to be right at the very edge of the unit, in a perfect spot to be easily replaced should they decide to put a thin layer of plastic around it and install a tiny seam on the outside (as many past owners found to be perfectly acceptable) but instead they decided that selling $150 replacement batteries wasn't enough, now they need to sell $150 replacement batteries AND $150 replacement battery services. That's a marvel.

      • Re:Christ... (Score:5, Informative)

        by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday June 13, 2012 @11:43AM (#40309695)

        ...they decided that selling $150 replacement batteries wasn't enough, now they need to sell $150 replacement batteries AND $150 replacement battery services...

        Hmm ... seems to me that it costs $129 for a new battery and that includes installation. Apple MacBook Battery Replacement [apple.com]

        • Re:Christ... (Score:5, Informative)

          by Macman408 (1308925) on Wednesday June 13, 2012 @01:03PM (#40311051)

          For the Retina MacBook Pro, it's actually $199 [apple.com]; $129 is for the MacBook, or the normal 13/15-inch MacBook Pro. (The 17" MacBook Pro battery replacement is $179.)

          That said, the price isn't far off other manufacturers' discrete battery prices; Dell's prices for similarly-sized batteries range from $146 for their cheapest 90 Wh 9-cell battery (for certain Inspiron models), to $300 for a 97 Wh 9-cell extended battery that covers the whole bottom of a Latitude, with most 90 Wh batteries at about the $170 price point. Compared to that Latitude one, $199 isn't such a bad deal for a 95 Wh battery...

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by BasilBrush (643681)

        Ah, the old "non-user replaceable battery" complaint. Didn't fly with the iPod 10 years ago. Still doesn't fly now.

        • Re:Christ... (Score:5, Interesting)

          by geekoid (135745) <dadinportland AT yahoo DOT com> on Wednesday June 13, 2012 @12:03PM (#40310037) Homepage Journal

          Yes it did, and it still does. It's a perfectly valid complaint.
          Something to be weighed when considering the whole.

        • Re:Christ... (Score:5, Informative)

          by _xeno_ (155264) on Wednesday June 13, 2012 @12:19PM (#40310307) Homepage Journal

          Uh, yes it does. My old MacBook had the battery die after two years. I had to replace it ($150 mail order from Apple) and the laptop still works fine otherwise, despite being nearly four years old by now. (Oh, and I upgraded the hard drive. Something else you can't do any more.)

          Having a non-replaceable battery, especially given that it's Apple [google.com], is absolutely a deal-killer.

          • Re:Christ... (Score:5, Informative)

            by Dynedain (141758) <slashdot2 AT anthonymclin DOT com> on Wednesday June 13, 2012 @12:24PM (#40310425) Homepage

            Yay, anecdotal evidence time!

            I have managed over 20 Macbooks over the last 7 years and have had to replace only 3 batteries, all of which were covered as warranty replacements and so wouldn't have mattered if they were user-replaceable or not.

            • Re:Christ... (Score:5, Insightful)

              by _xeno_ (155264) on Wednesday June 13, 2012 @12:32PM (#40310559) Homepage Journal

              How long did you use them? Because the battery will die, eventually. Apple claims you've got, at best, three to four years before the battery is basically useless. If you only kept the 20 MacBooks running for like two years each, then congrats, you got managed to get lucky and dodging the "battery starts to bulge" problem that's been plaguing Apple.

              And if the selling point to a MacBook is that it'll last longer than a cheaper Windows laptop, the battery being unreplaceable is definitely an issue. (If the selling point is instead "shiny high-DPI display," on the other hand...)

      • Re:Christ... (Score:5, Interesting)

        by Lumpy (12016) on Wednesday June 13, 2012 @12:07PM (#40310117) Homepage

        and I see it as a Major PLUS!

        It means in 3 years a Macbook Pro will be sold on the used market for a LOT less than current models with a replaceable battery. Those of us that actually have a brain will be able to trade an hour or so of time for a $300-$400 lower price on a used mac laptop.

        Hell I now have two iPad 2's that I paid nothing for except for the price of a new digitizer front and 1 hour each to replace it. They were GIVEN to me, one is a 64gig 3G unit.

        I want apple to make everything hard for the general moron to fix. Because it turns into a boon for those of us that have ability and IQ.

    • Re:Christ... (Score:4, Insightful)

      by Samalie (1016193) on Wednesday June 13, 2012 @11:33AM (#40309541)

      I like Apple.

      "Engineering Marvel" is a fucking joke. I agree with the parent 100%.

      Its just a fucking laptop.

    • by crovira (10242) on Wednesday June 13, 2012 @12:24PM (#40310429) Homepage

      with user serviceable paint either.

      The tinkerers don't like it for the same reason that they don't like modern cars with electronic fuel injection systems.

      You can't pop open the hood and get at the system's guts.

      If it was easy to do, we'd all have cheap, reliable, fast flying cars already.

      The component layout, the integrity and holistic design approach make this an assembled piece of industrial art.

      As for Apple's achievement... I'll let the lick-worthy-ness of all of their pieces of functional industrial design speak for Apple's real genius.

  • by couchslug (175151) on Wednesday June 13, 2012 @11:27AM (#40309429)

    Appliance buyers don't tear down their toaster very often either.

    That said, it's cool from my perspective since it will result in "dead lappies for cheap" which will motivate people who like to tinker and build machines from organ donors.

    I won't be buying one. The ability to quickly repair Thinkpads is a key reason I buy them instead.

  • More than 1080p (Score:5, Insightful)

    by houstonbofh (602064) on Wednesday June 13, 2012 @11:27AM (#40309441)
    At least Apple is recognising that there is a market for monitors with more than 1080p. Hopefully, the new display will be a success, and other manufactures will finally some out with truly high def monitors for less than a car payment again.
    • by bhcompy (1877290)
      Yet it's a measly 15 inches.. but it is 16:10, so I'll give them that. It's an improvement over this 16:9 shit standard nowadays
      • by roc97007 (608802)

        > Yet it's a measly 15 inches.. but it is 16:10, so I'll give them that. It's an improvement over this 16:9 shit standard nowadays

        Yes yes yes! Not an Apple fan, but 16:9 is pants!

      • by Kjella (173770)

        Well apparently big and high PPI is more expensive and complicated than small and high PPI, but first the iPhone (3.5"), then the iPad (9.7") and now the MPB (15.4") it's pretty obvious to connect the dots on where this is going. I'd be very surprised if we did not have a high PPI iMac/Display within a year or so. Particularly since 4K TVs are finally starting to pop up in the market place, although still at outrageous prices.

    • Re:More than 1080p (Score:4, Insightful)

      by AmiMoJo (196126) <mojo@NOspaM.world3.net> on Wednesday June 13, 2012 @01:12PM (#40311209) Homepage

      Note that most stuff is running at a lowly 1440x900 though. From FTA:

      By default, because of a lack of apps that have been designed with 220 PPI in mind, it looks like the MBP with Retina display will initially boot up with a 1440Ã--900 desktop workspace, but upscaled to 2880Ã--1800. The picture will still be perfectly sharp (1 square pixel is scaled up to become a square of 4 square pixels), but you wonâ(TM)t see beautiful, high-resolution typography or UI unless youâ(TM)re in a âoeRetina-awareâ application.

      1440x900 is actually a bit low, and it seems that most of the current "retina-aware" apps just 2x scale their UIs anyway so it isn't like you even get more space on screen. When you browse a web page everything is zoomed to 200%, so fonts are sharper but obviously images are exactly the same DPI as before. I presume you can browse at 100% zoom if you want to, but then everything will be microscopic.

      Rather than simply doubling the resolution so that everything scales nicely and text looks a bit sharper they should have gone for something like 1920x1280. High enough to look excellent but not so high that you can't really make use of it because everything has to be zoomed just so you can see it.

  • by rvw (755107) on Wednesday June 13, 2012 @11:28AM (#40309447)

    This is quite annoying. When I bought my macbook three years ago, it had a 160GB harddrive. If I wanted to upgrade to 250GB I had to pay €130. I went to the nearest computershop and bought a 320GB drive for less then €100. That means I had a spare 160GB drive as well. The same goes for memory. I buy it via ebay in the US, for half the price. I hope there will be shops who will replace these parts for normal prices.

    • by fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) on Wednesday June 13, 2012 @11:34AM (#40309553) Journal
      While a wholly proprietary pinout(and a different wholly proprietary pinout than the last model's wholly proprietary pinout) the storage card is at least socketed... Given that there are likely to be a reasonable number of these sold, and to deep pocketed buyers, 3rd-party options will likely exist sooner or later. RAM, though, may leave you with a case of buyer's remorse...
    • by cryptizard (2629853) on Wednesday June 13, 2012 @11:35AM (#40309561) Homepage
      I agree, it sucks pretty hard from a consumer standpoint but I can also see why it might have been (emphasis might) necessary in this case. That thing is crazy thin and if you look at the teardown they don't really have any room to mess around in there. Looks like they made it possible by taking all the things that used to be self contained (RAM, hard drive, etc.), pulling out their guts and soldering/plugging them directly onto the main board. Think about the space you save over having to include hard drive enclosures and sockets for the RAM. Again, not saying I like this, but I would sooner attribute it to a desire to make this thing as streamlined as possible rather than assuming they were trying to screw people over. In fact, the new non-retina Macbook Pros are still totally user replaceable.
    • by ceoyoyo (59147) on Wednesday June 13, 2012 @11:41AM (#40309669)

      Most laptops require a screwdriver to replace the hard drive. This one is no different. Except that in this case, the "hard drive" is a chip, third party versions of which will undoubtedly be available soon, just like the were for the Air [macsales.com].

      RAM soldered to the motherboard is disappointing, although looking at how things are crammed in, I'm not really surprised. iFixit's point that it's "the first MacBook Pro that will be unable to adapt to future advances in memory and storage technology" is incorrect - Intel laptop motherboards have almost always been limited to memory that existed when they were sold, and you CAN upgrade the storage.

  • by thogard (43403) on Wednesday June 13, 2012 @11:28AM (#40309449) Homepage

    Why is something made with the current generation of components considered "an engineering marvel "?

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by matt_gaia (228110)

      Because it has a shiny fruit on the back of it.... duh.

      • by Matheus (586080) on Wednesday June 13, 2012 @12:21PM (#40310345) Homepage

        I'd just like to read this article written without the mumbling sound caused by Apple's dick being firmly lodged in their mouths. The entire article read like they were trying, really hard, to write an objective article but then phrases like "engineering marvel" and "the hardware spec itself is flawless (and peerless)" come out and credibility is lost especially when those exaggerated comments are in the neighborhood of descriptions telling about what isn't any better (and in many cases worse) than the competition.

        I think an objective article would have more of the following tone:

        "Apple's new Mac Book is the first laptop to integrate a retinal display and standard USB 3.0. They also include a massive battery to keep the battery life high, 7 hours, in the face of the higher power drain of the screen. The balance of the components are on par with competing laptops or in some cases slower presumably continuing in their aim to keep battery life high. Apple also continues their black-box philosophy having no user-serviceable parts within the shiny package."

        Fluff that out to make an article long enough for an editor and I'd be screaming less fanboi at this PR-grade article.

        • by wfolta (603698) on Wednesday June 13, 2012 @03:05PM (#40312769)

          Perhaps if you also added, "No other competitor offers this combination of features in this small a package. Most compact competitors do not offer discrete graphics, nor quad-core CPUs. No laptop of any kind offers a retinal display for any price. Most competitors are only beginning to offer Intel's Thunderbolt connectivity. Apple continues to design systems, while their competitors throw components together."

    • by BasilBrush (643681) on Wednesday June 13, 2012 @12:15PM (#40310243)

      By that argument nothing is an engineering marvel.

      And yet "current generation components" have to appear for the first time in something. And here it is.

      The technology in this laptop is a fair jump from what was available yesterday. I'd say it qualifies.

  • Nonsense! (Score:5, Funny)

    by fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) on Wednesday June 13, 2012 @11:29AM (#40309465) Journal
    These shady ifixit characters are peddling pure propaganda. You can repair a damaged or non-functional macbook pro with just a few clicks [apple.com]!
  • Heat (Score:4, Interesting)

    by NoZart (961808) on Wednesday June 13, 2012 @11:38AM (#40309623)

    I read a few articles on the new shiny, but there seems to be no information on how the thermal and related noise situation is. How does the smaller design and needed computing power to drive that screen impact the temperature (under stress)?
    My old MBP already gets annoyingly hot and loud when i am doing stuff on it.

  • by BigDaveyL (1548821) on Wednesday June 13, 2012 @11:39AM (#40309641) Homepage

    If I'm going to pay a premium for a laptop, I'd like to be able to upgrade the RAM and HDD. Or even replace the battery. Many users simply can't afford to buy the new model every year.

    If this was an engineering marvel, Apple would have allowed users to do upgrades.

  • SSD storage? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Geeky (90998) on Wednesday June 13, 2012 @11:44AM (#40309711)
    I think the big turnoff for me is that they only have flash storage

    The limited writes are likely to be a factor for some uses, surely? I certainly wouldn't want to be using one as a development machine, or for serious photography (my other main computer use).

    • While limited writes are certainly a factor, they probably aren't going to be a major issue for basic consumer use.

      Most SSD storage drivers these days automatically spread the writes around the drive, so to hit the write limit you will need to write the equivalent of the capacity of the drive multiplied by the write limit of any particular register. Assuming 2 million write cycles per register, and the low-end 256 GB drive, that's 500,000 TB of writing before you burn out every register. Obviously the user

  • by El Puerco Loco (31491) on Wednesday June 13, 2012 @11:54AM (#40309869)

    ... like 10 years ago? Well, hopefully since apple stuck their logo on it, high ppi displays will be the next big thing. It managed to convince people that tablets aren't the totally useless toys they are. Maybe it will do the same for something that's actually useful.

  • IT Nightmare (Score:4, Interesting)

    by na1led (1030470) on Wednesday June 13, 2012 @12:47PM (#40310803)
    If our firm had these laptops and they broke down, how am I suppose to remove/wipe the hard drive? I would have to take a Sludge Hammer to the laptop in the parking lot, just to be sure no sensitive data gets out.
  • by stewbacca (1033764) on Wednesday June 13, 2012 @02:28PM (#40312297)

    My predictions about complaints before reading any comments include:

    No physical media (wah).
    No ethernet and/or have to spend money on cheap ethernet dongle (wah).
    No 17" version (super wah).
    Something about random slashdot guy's opinion about glossy/non-glossy screen and/or other insignificant personal preference
    I bet it will run too hotly.
    Not enough USB ports.
    And then a whole bunch of technically incorrect gripes about resolution, screen size, and dpi...

    Oh and let's not forgot the popular:
    OS X sucks (even though you can still run Windows on it if you like)
    no user-replaceable battery
    merely an expensive fashion item/social status

    And one last prediction is I'll have to correct some snarky fool who will say something stupid like "no right click" or something track-pad related where they miss the entire point of gestures because they've actually never used an Apple notebook and are trying to wedge their Dell-centric worldview onto Apple hardware.

    This should be fun.

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