Retina screens

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Unlike most long-term Apple customers, I was disappointed by the new Apple MacBook Pro models with the retina screens.

What are Retina screens?

Retina screens aren’t a distinct display technology, they are Apple marketing catchall term for new screens that have a number of distinct properties.

A pixel density that would be comparable to your basic laser printer output or better. So a large display on a laptop or desktop machine can have a lower pixel count than a phone because they are viewed at further distances. An iPhone would have a pixel density of 325ppi versus a pro display of 210ppi.


The original Mac Classic was in part inspired by Sony consumer electronics and the Cuisinart range of kitchen equipment. Back then appliance meant that the product worked. Form followed function.

Globalisation brought a pivot back to manual assembly due to a  large Chinese work force. Product innards could be packed tightly like a watchmaking process. This meant smaller, thinner products were possible. Apple has been moving its consumer products to an appliance model where the products have little to no user serviceable parts because of the way they are designed and assembled.

Professional equipment in comparison allows a certain amout of configuration and upgrading such as replacing a hard drive, switching out a battery or upgrading the available memory.

When Apple moved to the unibody MacBook Pros Apple reassured the community that it would make replacement of the buit-in batteries cost effective. The latest models now have batteries that are glued in place so it would require replacement by Apple. (It also dents the computer manufacturer’s claims about the environmental friendliness of its device). You also can’t upgrade the RAM because it is soldered in.

The flash memory for the solid state drive are proprietary components rather than an ‘off-the-shelf’ drive.

The screen is now a one-piece unit so if you have a road-warrior accident, its likely to cost even more to replace.

What you end up is a device that is ‘Pro’ in price, but not in terms of design. It is likely to drive up the total cost of ownership for businesses and consumers.

More information

MacBook Pro with Retina Display Teardown – iFixit

*Archived here from a blog that I used to write for PR Week.