To Retina or Not To Retina: The 13-inch MacBook Pro Dilema

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At Apple's event today, Phil Shiller revealed that the 13-inch MacBook Pro is the company's best selling notebook. He then revealed the new 13-inch MacBook Pro with a Retina display, bringing higher resolution and forward-facing upgrades to this popular device. This new MacBook Pro doesn't replace the older version and will sell side-by-side with the older 13-inch MacBook Pro, bringing even more options to the MacBook Pro shopper.

But the 13-inch MacBook Pro with Retina display doesn't just trump its lower-resolution counterpart with a better screen; there are some important differences that should be considered when deciding between the regular 13-inch MacBook Pro and the Retina version.

The new 13-inch MacBook Pro with Retina display not only has a higher resolution screen, but is also thinner and lighter. The non-Retina MacBook Pro is 0.95 inches thick and weighs 4.5 pounds while the new version slims down to 0.75 inches and drops its weight to 3.57 pounds. The new version also adds an extra Thunderbolt port and an HDMI port, making the Retina 13-inch MacBook Pro well prepared for the latest peripherals.

The new notebook, however, has lost a few key features that might prove to be a deal-breaker for today's buyers. There's no FireWire port on the new notebook, but still it exists on the previous 13-inch MacBook Pro. Also gone is the Gigabit Ethernet port, making Wi-Fi the only option for Internet connectivity.

There's also no longer a SuperDrive DVD drive, instead betting on app downloads via the App Store and multimedia through iTunes as the main software and content sources. If you haven't yet converted your CDs to digital audio, it may be time to move that task to the top of your to-do list.

The new 13-inch MacBook Pro with Retina display starts at $1699 while the Non-Retina model remains at a $1199 starting point. An extra $500 might be a lot to spend for these spec differences, but for users where portability is key and every pixel counts, the 13-inch MacBook Pro with Retina display may be worth every extra dollar.