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Adobe Creative Suite

MacDirectory magazine is the premiere creative lifestyle magazine for Apple enthusiasts featuring interviews, in-depth tech reviews, Apple news, insights, latest Apple patents, apps, market analysis, entertainment and more.

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Page 65 of 115

FEATURE IWARDS UPDATE >SUMMER 2012 WORDS BY BILL TROOP heavily in innovative engineering to achieve capabilities never before contemplated in a laptop display. Trouble in Paradise? The MBR's resolution is 2880x1800. From higher res we expect smoother images once we crank up the default zoom factor in the OS and our favorite apps. That's what we're used to doing when we move to higher resolution. Yet apparently the MBR defaults to a 'Best for Retina' resolution of just 1440x900, same as the non-Retina version. The MacBook Retina The weeks leading up to June 11 were hot with rumors that Apple was going to add USB 3 and a Retina display to at least one new laptop. Meanwhile, months before, MacDi rectoryhad gone out on a limb and published predictions that, mercifully, were right. We absolutely swear we had no inside information. All the new MacBooks have USB 3, and the 15-inch MacBook has an optional Retina display, for a reasonable $400 over the base price. This is the technology product for 2012 — so far. Nothing like 2880x1800 resolution has ever been seen in a 15-inch laptop before. That's 220 dpi or four times the pixels of the new non-Retina Macbook, which has 1440x900. The Macbook Pro with Retina Display also marks a step forward in Apple's approach to resolution. Until recently, Apple didn't seem that interested in high resolution. In 2000, Dell made history with a 1600x1200 15-inch (133 dpi) laptop, a feat Apple took many years to match. This is the first time Apple has raised the resolution bar before anyone else in the laptop industry. The screen is the best, brightest and smoothest that has yet appeared in a laptop. Moreover, as we now know, Apple hasn't just plugged a high-res screen into a laptop — anyone could do that. As we'll see below, Apple has invested A lot of confusing things are happening here, and it turns out that Apple scaled some pretty phenomenal heights of engineering to obtain the best possible display experience for users today by downscaling some parts of some apps (to keep them large enough to see comfortably), while allowing others to work at the LCD's native resolution. As we all know, downscaling is supposed to be bad. But Apple has gone way beyond anything we have recognized in the past as scaling. I think I can safely say that Apple has put more ingenious engineering into this product than has ever been seen in a laptop before. To date,it is certainly Apple's finest product. For a detailed explanation, you can't do better than look at the exemplary coverage over at There are hits and misses. For example, iLife looks great and iWorks doesn't. Safari looks great and Chrome looks fuzzy, though by the time you read this, that should have been fixed. A year from now, probably every anomaly will have been fixed. Even so, for now, this is the laptop to have. If, however, you have a legacy application of overwhelming importance that you want to run on the Retina, it may be prudent to test drive it first. Oh, and one more thing: Enough external monitors for you? The brilliant folks at Other World Computing have demonstrated that you can run three external monitors off the MacBook Retina — two from the dual Thunderbolt ports and one from HDMI. Again, this is an unprecedented: four, independent, high- res displays in toto. Some would argue that pixel doubling and downscaling is not a great long-term solution either to the opportunities Retina displays open or to the fault-lines they expose. But nobody can deny that Apple has done a simply incredible job of dealing with these issues. It's great to see post- Steve Apple solving these kinds of big problems. The best sound you've ever heard from your computer Sometimes even technology has to step backward to go forward. Engineers, musicians and audiophiles have known for decades that nearly all transistor-based audio components do not produce pleasant sounding music. Transistors are cheap, but often sound shrill and strident, while tubes usually sound warm and sweet. For many reasons, some well- understood scientifically, some not, the old fashioned tube (UK 'valve') electronics that were common before the 1970s provide a warmer, more pleasing sound, and in stereo, a more realistic soundstage. And there's more: Where's the emotion? Tube connoisseurs say that modern transistor sound systems take away the "soul" of the music. What do they mean? As near as I can come, it's the tangible emotion a great performer puts across in a recording. The genre doesn't matter; it's true across rock, jazz, blues, classical, whatever. If you listen to music because you want to feel your spine tingle or tears run down your cheek, you may want to start thinking about tubes. The only problem with tubes is cost. Tube sound systems tend to have the stratospheric prices associated with high- end audio — starting in the thousands even for Chinese-manufactured equipment. It's only recently that affordable tube audio (in the hundreds) has become available. But what if, like so many of us, your music primarily comes out of your laptop or iPod? Your ideal product would be an affordable, tube- based integrated amplifier with good compact speakers. 64 MacDirectory

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