Retina MacBook Pro – “Pixel Perfect”

John Gruber, longtime Mac software developer and Apple aficionado, recently posted his glowing review of Apple’s new retina MacBook Pro. He gives his own brief history of using Apple technology over the years, and how with each computer and printer, a designer was always working with an approximation on screen of what would finally be printed. “It was all just dots, and looked like dots.”

When I first started using the retina MacBook Pro, the whole thing felt fake, like I was using a demo version of Mac OS X ginned up in After Effects for shooting closeups of the screen for, say, an Apple commercial in which they didn’t want UI elements to look pixelated. Some degree of pixelation has always been part of my Mac experience.

Consider this cursor (shown at 4× magnification):

Mac OS X arrow cursor.

I’ve been staring at a variation of that cursor since the 1980s. Perfectly vertical on the left, stair-stepped at precisely 45° on the right. Now, though, on this machine, it’s a perfect arrow, as perfectly un-jaggedly straight on the diagonal as it is on the vertical.

The pixels are still there, as you can see when the retina arrow cursor is blown up:

Mac OS X arrow cursor at retina display resolution.

but at actual size, there seemingly are no pixels. Just an ideal arrow.


Apple’s retina MacBook Pro is beautiful. If you haven’t had a chance to check it out, I highly recommend heading to an Apple store and taking a look.

Read John Gruber’s full “Pixel Perfect” essay here.

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