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If you're like me, you'll have spent ages comparing features and specs before splashing the cash on a new laptop. I certainly did, and I finally settled for a Mac.

Quick word of warning: I'm a recent (July 2012) convert from Windows to a MacBook Pro, and was lucky enough to recently upgrade to a stunning 13 inch Retina. While I love Apple products, I'm not a Mac expert, and this review is for similar non-experts who are thinking about "converting". Because it's a review of the MBP range, you'll find the same review on other specs - skip to the end to see the specifics on this model.

Firstly, the hardware - which is just stunning. It's incredibly thin and light, and the 13 inch model is a really good compromise between screen size and weight compared to the 15 inch. (Also I intend to attach an external monitor for much of the time).

Common with all Apple MacBooks it's beautifully carved out of a solid piece of brushed aluminium, with a huge track-pad and a beautifully made back-lit keyboard.

In terms of connectivity you get:-

* Mag Safe power plug.
* 2 x Thunderbolt ports - to attach to fast external disks etc
* 2 x USB 3 ports (one either side - nice touch)
* Headphones output for external speakers
* An SDXC photo card slot
* A full size HDMI port - so you connect an external monitor

Apple hardware is more expensive than the equivalent running Windows, but you do get what you pay for, and they come with incredible attention to detail. This includes the cleverly designed "Mag Safe" magnetic power socket - so if a small child accidentally pulls on the power cable it disconnects from the laptop rather than dragging it crashing to the floor.

These machines don't come with a wired network connection - it's assumed you'll connect using WIFI, but they are well future proofed - as they support the latest 80211ac standard - basically the same as before but faster. Be aware you may need to update your router to make use of this. My existing router is fast enough - but it's nice to have the future proof design.

As a prior Windows laptop user, the multi-touch trackpad is a wonderful revelation. You can scroll down web pages (two fingers up/down), or scroll through web history (two fingers left/right), and the "System Preferences" window where you can configure the options includes a handy video demonstrating the options available.

As already stated, they keyboard is fantastic. Island style black keys - nicely spaced out, and back-lit. There's a set of dedicated keys along the top to control features including screen brightness, play, fast forward and stop, plus sound.

Of course you don't get a CD/DVD drive - but all software is available online through the Apple Mac Store, and another nice surprise - consistently cheaper than equivalent windows software, and without the annoying collection of boxes, software keys and disks to avoid losing.

Battery life is quoted at something silly - and I ran an entire day of general use (web browsing, videos, mails etc), in the end I got at least 9-10 hours before I started getting warnings - so you should be able to take this on a long haul flight or a long train journey without any problems.

Where this really shines though is the screen. It's apparently 2,560 x 1,600 pixels, and looks just stunning. In fact it's so good, I think I'm going to need to replace my ageing external monitor for when I use it desk-bound. Videos are crisp and clear, but where is really shines is reading or writing text.
Sound quality is not bad, although not as good as I'd have hoped - but I plug in external speakers myself - or better still, stream music to my Hi Fi speakers via an Apple TV. It's worth noting - you can stream anything on screen (videos or Netflix) to an Apple TV - including high quality sound. A great bonus.

Although I don't often play games, I'm told the MBP is not a serious gaming machine, for for web use or video streaming it's more than capable. I can't really comment more than that.

In terms of software, these are well provided for straight out of the box including free copies of:-

* Pages - a fully featured word processor similar to MS Word
* Numbers - Excel spreadsheets for Apple
* Keynote - PowerPoint equivalent
* Calendar, Mail and Photo editor and organiser
* Movie Maker - to edit and publish home-made videos
* Reminders - to remind you

I love the fact the Macs now work well with the iPhone and iPad. That means (for example) you can set a reminder on your Mac and have it automatically appear on your iPhone. Likewise, enter contacts on one device, and they're available on all. Finally, you can even start a document on your Mac and then continue to edit on your iPad by saving stuff in "the cloud".

But a final word of warning - and not something Apple tend to shout about. I'm used to being able to upgrade hardware when it starts to slow down. Be aware you can't upgrade ANYTHING on these machines. Even the memory is soldered in place so buy the best you can. OK so you can always attach a large external disk, but it's a bit disappointing you can't upgrade the internal disk or memory.

Having said that, this particular model has a whopping 8Gb of memory (big enough even to edit large video files), and 512Gb disk. You'd have to have a massive collection of films and videos to fill this beast, and even if you did you could always buy a Network Attached Storage (NAS) device and have all your data available over WIFI. Personally I'd wouldn't really consider anything less than 4Gb memory and 256G hard drive - so this is incredibly very well specified.

On balance - I'd have to say I love Apple Macs - and indeed all Apple hardware (iPhone, iPad included) so it's hard to give a purely objective view. But this is a beautifully designed, well built machine - really hope you enjoy it!

Hope you found this review useful - please click on the "helpful" button below. Many Thanks !
1010 comments116 of 121 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
on 15 June 2014
Having been a long-time user of PCs, I finally moved to a Mac for photo-editing-driven reasons!

I've been using the Macbook for a couple of months now and it's a genuinely stunning piece of kit. OS X is very slick and the gesture-control using the touchpad is excellent. There are some nuances to accommodate moving from Windows to OS X, of course, but nothing that would cause any concern. The battery life is amazing, the performance is fantastic and of course the screen is beautiful! I am very, very pleased with this Macbook.

However, regarding the seller: my order was fulfilled by SmartCo - despite the item details, my Mac was NOT the UK-keyboard version. It was a Philippine version which is the same as the US one. And this is not a case of mistaken item-picking: the packaging came with a homemade print out of how to change the language settings from US to UK. Overall, I'd say saving 300 quid on the RRP is worth having a US keyboard, but it's your call...
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on 11 November 2014
This is a brilliant laptop but please be aware that this is not the current version but a late 2013 model. It also has a US style keyboard. You are getting a discount because of this but note that it is not as much as they would have you believe, as the current version (which incidentally has a 2.8Ghz processor) is only £1,399 (not £1,499) on the Apple website, so you are only saving just over £200. I am not convinced that this is worthwhile and am considering returning my laptop. It is a bit annoying that these aspects were not made clear in the product details. I am docking two stars because of this. Otherwise it would be an easy 5 stars.
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on 14 June 2014
Very happy with the macbook pro retina display laptop.
Shortly after I placed my order with Amazon I received a message from the seller informing me the keyboard was not UK spec. but the operation could be changed during setup by confirming UK keyboard installed. I was asked if I wanted to cancel the order if I was not happy with this. I am glad I did not cancel the order. The £ sign is displayed by pressing the ash key and the ash sign is displayed by pressing alt and 3, so no problem. Everything else is as UK spec including power plug and lead. As expected the laptop is very well made, looks modern, smart, and is a pleasure to use. I had been used to using a 15 inch display laptop but the screen on the macbook pro retina 13 inch is so clear and easy to read I do not miss the 15 inch screen size.
Setup and update was very straightforward and everything worked as expected. The laptop operates very quickly and I would highly recommend it.
0Comment1 of 1 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
on 23 August 2014
My son loves this laptop. We did so much research into getting this one and found Amazon with this seller was the best price going.

Me and my son would of given this five stars but I felt there was a mix up in the delivery and didn't arrive when it was suppose to do.
The seller was very understanding when I e-mailed, I got a phone call very promptly. They also explained to make sure I was aware the keyboard was set to the USA.......Don't worry you can easily change it to UK from the start with the settings. Inside the packaging you have a UK charger also so you can take it aboard if you wish.

It's a nice size and slim to hold. HD is wicked, good graphics. Easy to use and understand. Me and my son is very impressed. Me has a mother was very impressed and jealous that his keyboard on the apple laptop has a night light so you can use it in the dark.

I would recommend this laptop to everyone. Good value for money. Sellers very understanding and easy to get hold of. Packed very well and not noticeable to anyone that the package is a laptop.
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on 4 October 2014
simply loving the Mac experience, the machine quite fast & has a decent battery backup although the product description says 9 hours but i am getting around 8 hours which is still amazing. historically being a windows user i am finding Mac interesting, quite a few things to learn here :) Loving the retina display experience!!
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on 29 January 2016
I love this computer! I got this as a replacement for my 2008 Macbook after I fried it. This new one is still running just as fast as the day I got it over a year on, I would NEVER go back to Windows! The retina display makes everything look amazing and clear, films especially look much better than they every have before. I don't have any problem with the US keyboard as it's only the symbol keys that are slightly different but you can re-assign these and even swap them round on the actual keyboard if you want to. Everything is completely automated now and the system updates itself very regularly and best of all updates the operating system regularly for free. Once you go Mac you don't go back!
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on 12 July 2014
My concerns that I might be sent a non-UK spec version were unfounded. Great spec laptop, great price (£300 cheaper than Apple) free next-day delivery through Amazon Prime - couldn't have wished for a better deal.
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on 26 February 2014
Having purchased this from Amazon UK, I would expect the description to clearly state that these are imports.

I have no idea how this will effect the warranty in the UK?

If this had clearly stated that it was not the UK version, I probably would not have bought it.

It would have got 5 stars, if it had been a UK version.....
33 comments12 of 15 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
on 12 December 2013
Design is superb, quality amazing and set up very easy.

Using windows in the office at Cotswold Web Services and this is a test to see if we should move to Macs. Our designers swear by them!

Only had it 2 days so this is an early review, I still love my windows 7 PC. Windows 8 pushed me towards trialling out OSx and enjoying the experience more than expected.

The shock of a new OS isn't bad, it's enjoyable finding out how it works after hearing so much about Macs. Coupled with the fact I own an iphone and ipad it made a lot of sense.
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