The choice was simpler when I was shopping around for a new Mac laptop a year ago: I could have spent $500 more for a nicer screen and less weight, or I could have put some of that toward a faster processor, more storage and more internal memory - and still have $200 left over. I chose power over style.
With new models and price cuts, Apple is making it tougher for customers to choose - in a good way.
A MacBook Pro laptop with a high-resolution screen measuring 13.3 inches diagonally now starts at $1,299, or just $100 more than the heavier version with the regular screen, the one I ultimately bought. That's the result of a $200 price cut in February and another $200 cut last week.
Last week, Apple also slashed the starting price of its 15.4-inch high-resolution model by $200, to $1,999.
Apple also made the new laptops faster and extended their battery life, thanks to new, power-saving chips from Intel Corp. and a new operating system, Mavericks, designed to fully take advantage of those chips. These new Pros are the first Macs with Mavericks built in.
Without getting too technical, Mavericks is better at grouping little tasks into larger bursts, so that the processor can stay in a low-power mode for longer.
I got more than 12.5 hours of word processing and spreadsheet use on the new 15-inch model and nearly nine hours of iTunes video. Officially, Apple promises eight hours on the 15-inch model and nine hours on the 13-inch one, compared with seven hours before on both. (Streaming video doesn't fare as well, as is typical with laptops; I got about six hours of Hulu on the 15-inch unit I tested.)
Apple didn't change the screens on the high-resolution models, which the company terms "Retina." It didn't need to.
Video looks great, as the screen resolution is more than enough for high-definition video. But text is where I noticed the most difference: Letters are clearer and sharper, appearing the way they would in a paperback book. On my non-Retina MacBook Pro, I notice the individual dots, or pixels, that are put