The Retina display is designed so that you cannot perceive individual pixels from a normal viewing distance. On normal displays you can see the pixels that make up the screen. At a distance of 45 cm you can't see this on the Retina screen, it really is something special to see. There are a total of 2880x1800 pixels, which mean 5,246,000 pixels. Compare that to a Full HD (1920x1080) screen with "only" 2,073,600 pixels
The desktop has more than 5.2 million pixels. (click here for full resolution)
The desktop has lots and lots of space. (click here for full resolution)
The high resolution can be an advantage in several ways. Of course photos will look amazing. Moreover, the increased desktop space allows you to edit videos in Full HD in one corner of the screen, while still having access to all the tools from your editing program on the other side.
Apple has already updated a number of programs to get the most out of the new display. These include Mail, Safari, iMovie, Final Cut Pro and Aperture, and iWork will soon follow. You can get these in the App Store. Adobe is working on an updated version of Photoshop, and AutoCad has announced it will soon release software that can take advantage of the Retina display. Compatible games should also come out at some point. Should things look a bit too tiny too you, you can always reduce the resolution to 1920x1200 or 1680x1050, or even large resolutions such as 1280x800 and 1024x600.
Mac OS scales excellently to the new resolution. This means that the menu items don't shrink, but become sharper instead. Compare the icons on the screen shots below. At the top there's a 1:1 cut-out of Mac OS Mountain Lion at 1366x768 resolution, and below a 1:1 cut-out of Mac OS on the new Retina display.
The 1366x768 display...
... and the same at 2880x1800 resolution.
Because Mac OS scales so effectively, we see some nice effects that we saw on the high-resolution new iPad as well. To ensure readability of websites, these are enlarged to a normal size. This results in ultra-sharp text, but the blown-up images lose some sharpness. As we mentioned in our iPad 3 review, the arrival of high pixel-density will force web developers to design sites differently.
Websites are blown-up on the Retina display. Text is razor sharp, but images aren't. (click her for full resolution)
The Windows environment benefits as well from the Retina screen. There aren't any Boot Camp drivers yet (Boot Camp lets you install Windows on a Mac), so not all features are available. When you put the screen into 2880x1800 resolution, you see how much you can fit on the desktop. It's also obvious that Windows 7 isn't optimised for high-pixel density displays, because everything becomes very, very tiny.
Not only the resolution is amazing, the Retina display has excellent viewing angles and is much less reflective than most glossy screens. This is because Apple didn't put a glass plate on the screen, like on the older MacBook Pros. The Retina display uses IPS technology.