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Ten of the newest, most high-tech features for your car

Ten new high-tech features for your car

When consumers go looking for new cars, they'll often say that they're looking for certain things. What kind of gas mileage does it get? What will it cost to maintain? What kind of safety features does it have? Again, that's what consumers will say they're looking for.
In reality, they're looking for a few other things too, things that can hold almost as much sway over the decision-making process as any practical concern. Namely, does it look cool? Would Daniel Craig be seen driving this? And does it come with new, high-tech gadgets worthy of a fictional British superspy?
Karl Brauer, a senior director at the car valuation and analysis company Kelley Blue Book, understands this, and he provided with a list of 10 new high-tech features for cars. They address every part of the driving experience, from road safety to avoiding traffic jams and much, much more.
What are some of the most exciting new high-tech gadgets for your car? Read's list to find out.
By Daniel BukszpanUpdated 31 Oct. 2013
Tune in to the new season of "The Car Chasers" on CNBC Prime, all new episodes Tuesdays at 10 p.m. ET/PT.

Crash avoidance

No matter how good a car's rear crumple zone is, some collisions cause major damage no matter what. According to Brauer, this situation is being addressed by car manufacturers, who are shifting emphasis from crash protection to crash avoidance. After all, a semi coming at you at 95 mph can't do any damage if it never hits you.
"Technologies like Volvo's City Safety System and Infiniti's Forward Collision Warning will stop a vehicle even if the driver's foot doesn't go near the brake pedal," he said. "This technology reduces not only the injuries to vehicle occupants and pedestrians, but insurance costs for everyone."

Maximum efficiency

According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, the cost of gasoline during the week of Oct. 28, 2013, is $3.30 a gallon. At that price, motorists want all the fuel efficiency they can get, and Brauer said that most car companies now offer a wide range of under-hood technologies to provide it.
"These features aren't restricted to hybrids or electric vehicles," he said. "The high performance Porsche Cayenne includes variable valve timing, cylinder deactivation and engine stop-start technology, that latter of which shuts the engine off when at a stop and automatically restarts it when the driver takes his foot off the brake."

Hi-fi audio

For many commuters, the radio is the one thing that makes sitting in eternal bumper-to-bumper traffic a bearable experience. But why listen to the Steve Miller Band and Bachman-Turner Overdrive through two small, tinny dashboard speakers when there are systems that can turn a car into a travelling arena rock event?
"An audio system like Land Rover's Meridian sound system, with 380 watts, 13 speakers, 12 channels and multiple digital signal processing modes can recreate the most lavish concert hall listening experience," Brauer said. "These systems use optimized speaker placement throughout a car's interior to create maximum acoustic imaging and aural punch, rivaling the most advanced home audio setups."

Lane keeping

When operating a motor vehicle, we're supposed to keep our eyes on the road, our hands on the wheel and our attention front and center. In real life, however, drivers don't always follow the rules, and even the most conscientious motorist can get distracted. It's at moments like those that automatic lane keeping comes in handy.
"Cars like the 2014 Mercedes-Benz S-Class and Infiniti Q50 can actually keep a vehicle within its assigned lane without any driver input," Brauer said. "While no manufacturer encourages 'hands-free' behavior, a combination of sensors and steering motors will keep many modern vehicles 'between the lines' on both straight and curving roadways."

Remote control

In 20th century science fiction accounts of the year 2000, everything was to be controlled remotely, including cars. Thirteen years into the 21st century, the car that can be driven remotely is still a figment of the imagination, but that doesn't mean we can't still do some cool stuff with our cars from far away. 
"We can't yet drive our cars by remote control, but we can track their location, unlock their doors, start their engine or even fire up their air conditioning system from miles away," Brauer said.
"GM is one of several manufacturers to offer such features through its OnStar communication and security system. These same systems let also the vehicles talk back to their owners, sending service and maintenance information through text or email messages."

Smart cruise control

For a motorist driving across an uninterrupted expanse of highway, cruise control has always been a godsend. However, motorists can now benefit from this technology, and they don't need to be driving across Texas to do it. Yes, smart cruise control has arrived, and it can help drivers in a variety of contexts.
"Today's smart cruise control systems, such as Lexus' Adaptive Cruise Control, use a combination of sensors and lasers to track the velocity and location of surrounding traffic," Brauer said. "These systems then match the speed of surrounding vehicles while maintaining a safe following distance via accelerator and brake control, making smart cruise control a true 'set it and forget it' feature."


Cars that drive themselves may not exist yet, but cars that give drivers a helping hand while parking are another story. "Self-driving cars are still a ways out, but several self-parking cars have already arrived," Brauer said.
"Many are luxury vehicles, like the Mercedes-Benz GL or BMW 7 Series, but Ford's $25,000 Focus Titanium also includes the company's Active Park Assist system, which will do the steering for you when you parallel park," he explained. "You still have to control the gas and brake pedal."

Traffic avoidance

In-car navigation has existed for too long to still be defined as cutting-edge technology. However, a car that detects heavy traffic and warns a motorist to stay away from it is a welcome advancement. 
"The next evolution in navigational guidance comes from driving a car that knows the surrounding traffic conditions and takes them into account when picking the most effective route from point A to point B," Brauer said. "Acura's Real-Time Traffic system monitors all nearby roadways and can suggest alternative routes if the traffic patterns change during your trip."

Vocal texting

Every day, more than nine people are killed and more than 1,060 people injured in car crashes involving distracted drivers, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
The CDC listed three main types of distraction for drivers—taking their eyes off the road, their hands off the wheel and their minds off of driving. Texting while driving combines all three of these distractions, making it an especially dangerous activity for motorists.
"For most drivers the only smart option—and in many states, the legally required one—is to put the phone down and ignore texts until you reach your destination," Brauer said. "But Nissan offers a technology through its NissanConnect system that will read incoming text messages and reply with simple text responses using voice control—no typing required."

In-car Wi-Fi

Americans want to be online for as long as possible, wherever possible, with the best connection possible. Unfortunately, this isn't always an option within the confines of a car. Luckily, several automakers have figured out that if you build a rolling Wi-Fi hotspot, motorists will come.
"Chrysler, Dodge and Jeep all offer a system called Uconnect Access that will let you stay online while on the road," Brauer said. "Audi has gone a step further by being the first automaker to offer 4G LTE connection speeds in its upcoming A3 sedan."

The Car Chasers

Jeff Allen and Perry Barndt are gamblers—their game being classic and exotic cars. They travel the country looking to buy and sell them. Whether it's a rare Shelby Mustang or a vintage hot rod, the key is buy low and sell high, something that doesn't always happen.
Selling cars is a dangerous business, but perhaps there's no greater risk than negotiating with your own father. Tom Souter, Jeff's dad, runs a classic car dealership around the corner from Jeff's shop in Lubbock, Texas. They are not just regular trading partners; they are trading partners hell-bent on one-upmanship. Tom said doing a deal with his son is like being locked in a closet with a porcupine: "It's gonna hurt, but you know it won't kill you."
Tune in to the new season of "The Car Chasers" on CNBC Prime, all new episodes Tuesdays at 10 p.m. ET/PT.

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Canon EOS 70D 20.2 MP Digital SLR Camera with Dual Pixel CMOS AF and EF-S 18-55mm F3.5-5.6 IS STM Kit

Canon EOS 70D 20.2 MP Digital SLR Camera with Dual Pixel CMOS AF and EF-S 18-55mm F3.5-5.6 IS STM Kit

20.2 Megapixel CMOS (APS-C) sensor, 14-bit A/D conversion, ISO 100-12800 (expandable to H: 25600) for shooting from bright to dim light and high performance DIGIC 5+ Image Processor for exceptional image quality and processing speed.
EOS Full HD Movie mode with Movie Servo AF for improved continuous focus tracking of moving subjects, manual exposure control and multiple frame rates (1080: 30p (29.97) / 24p (23.976) / 25p, 720: 60p (59.94) / 50p, 480: 30p (29.97) / 25p), built-in stereo microphone, manual audio level adjustment with attenuator function to reduce audio clipping, and Video Snapshot with editing for expanded movie shooting options.
Canon's innovative Dual Pixel CMOS AF enables you to shoot video like a camcorder with smooth, fast, and accurate autofocus; lets you enjoy instant and precise autofocus even when shooting stills from a variety of angles with the freedom provided by the Vari-angle LCD. 19-point all cross-type AF system (including a high-precision f/2.8 dual cross-type AF center point) with a wide area arrayfor exceptional autofocus performance and greater compositional freedom when shooting with the viewfinder. Intelligent Viewfinder with superimposed LCD display provides approximately 98% field of view, and Multi-Aspect ratio in Live View broadens your choices in composition.
Vari-angle Touch Screen 3.0-inch Clear View LCD monitor II (approximately 1,040,000 dots) with smudge-resistant coating features multi-touch operation and Touch AF for an easy and intuitive experience, flexible positioning, and clear viewing even when outdoors in sunlight.
Built-in wireless technology allows you to wirelessly transfer your images to social networking sites through CANON iMAGE GATEWAY, share your images with wireless-enabled Canon cameras, or upload virtually anywhere on your iOS® or Android(TM) smartphone* with the free download of the EOS Remote app.

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60 inch LED TV Deals: Best 60” – 70” LCD HDTV Models and Sales Published by LED TV Reviews

The last decade saw a tremendous increase in the average TV size in US households. It has been predicted that the 60 inch TV will be the average size by 2015. Fortunately for the consumer, the LCD LED TV prices have been going in the opposite direction. However, given all the complicated tech specs and close competition among different brands, selecting the best LED TV is more complicated than ever. The list of BEST 60 inch LED TV sets helps consumers narrow down their options and take the guesswork out of the equation.
10 Specs of the ideal 60 inch TV describes the criteria one needs to look at when choosing the best 60” TV. These include screen resolution, refresh rate, availability of local dimming or micro dimming, edge-lit vs full array LED lighting, availability of built-in Wi-Fi/internet ‘readiness’, Dumb vs Smart TV, 3D compatibility, energy efficiency, reasonable price tag and all important user reviews that many consumers forget to consider.
Importance of Full array vs Edge-lit LED Backlighting Explained:
Two of the most critical tech specs that are often overlooked by the average TV buyer are the type of LED backlighting and availability of local/micro dimming. Basically, there are 2 types of LED backlighting: (i) full array LED backlighting and (ii) edge-lit LED backlighting. As the names imply, full array backlighting panels have LED bulbs on the entire back panel while the edge-lit panels have LEDs along the perimeter only. At least the first generation edge-lit LED TVs had uniformity issues where the center of the screen was relatively dimmer compared to the brighter perimeter. Full array LED TVs do not have this problem because their entire back panel was fitted with LED bulbs. However, edge-lit LED TVs are slimmer and less expensive compared to the full array LED TVs, making them the more popular variety among both the consumers and manufacturers. More information on these 2 types of backlighting and examples of 60 inch full array LED TVs can be found on
Importance of Micro-Dimming Explained:
Another very important determinant of picture quality is the contrast ratio, which is the difference between the blackest blacks and the whitest whites. One of the major limitations of LED TVs, compared to Plasma TVs is their inability to produce dark blacks (remember all those LEDs on the back panel). TV manufacturers have overcome this problem by using a technology known as local dimming where they can switch off/dim the LEDs on desired zones of the screen (when that part of the image is dark). The difference of picture quality between a TV without local dimming and a TV with high-quality local dimming can be like black and white. Samsung, LG and Sony have very good models with high-quality local dimming.
More High-Tech Specs of Modern LED HDTVs
Several secondary criteria are also considered in the ranking of the TOP 60 inch - 70 inch LED TVs. For example,some newer 60” TVs have dual-core processors and built-in sub-woofers. The processor helps faster and smoother launching of apps and web-browsing while the sub-woofer helps the TV produce high-quality audio without having to hookup a sound bar or home theater system. Some of these modern large flat screen LCD TVs may be ultra-thin at just 1.2”, but they have 2.1 speaker systems producing 35 watts of total audio output. Another example for a high-tech feature is the unique “Quattron” technology that was recently introduced in a new series of Sharp LED TVs. According to Sharp, the Quattron technology “increases the range of displayable colors”. In conventional TVs, each pixel consists of the three standard sub-pixels red, green and blue (standard RGB). With Quattron technology, each pixel consists of four sub-pixels; red, green, blue, and yellow (RGBY).
The list of Best 60 inch LED TVs, formulated by considering all of the above-mentioned factors, is a highly recommended read for anyone interested in buying a large screen LED TV this year. In addition to reviewing best TV models, they also have a section dedicated to current deals on LCD TVs that publishes daily LCD TV deals from online merchants including but not limited to, BestBuy, Walmart and TigerDirect.

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iPhone 5S and iPhone 5C lose to Galaxy S3 in touchscreen accuracy test

iPhone 5S and iPhone 5C lose to Galaxy S3 in touchscreen accuracy test

The next time you shake your fist at Apple’s auto-correct, you might want to take a look at what is actually causing those occasionally amusing mishaps.
Apple is often noted for having the best hardware in the mobile industry. The company’s phones are stylish, sturdy-feeling, and often provide a user experience that outperforms the competition with little effort. Even if you’re not a fan of Apple or their mobile services, it’s hard not to be impressed by what it comes up with each year.
Last year the iPad mini received top marks for being one of the most accurate touchscreens in the tablet space, which was a big deal considering how most people hold the 7.9-inch device. Unfortunately, this year did not bring the same complement to Apple’s newest smartphones. In fact, during a recent test Apple got the silicon beat out of them by Samsung’s Galaxy smartphone from last year.
OptoFidelity is a Finnish company that specializes in measurement automation and machine vision. The team used a measurement device it calls “WatchDog” to test the accuracy and responsiveness of the touch panels on the iPhone 5S and iPhone 5C, comparing the results to the Galaxy S3. Samsung’s previous generation smartphone still has plenty of users all over the globe, so this served as a decent control for this test.
In the tests, it was found that the displays on Apple’s latest smartphones are mostly inaccurate. The map OptoFidelity generated to demonstrate the results shows that there are very few parts of iOS that would not be affected by these issues, including typing on the keyboard in landscape or portrait orientation.
To show you how bad the iPhone panels apparently are, the image you see at the top of this post shows all three panels with red and green dots scattered across them. Green areas mean an inaccuracy of less than 1mm. Red areas have an inaccuracy of over 1mm. As you can clearly see, both the iPhone 5S and 5C panels generally have an inaccuracy above 1mm whereas the Galaxy S3 is much more uniform and rated below 1mm across the whole panel.
The test also confirmed that Apple’s latest phones are a great deal faster than the Galaxy S3, which should come as no surprise to anyone. Their performance tests captured the speed of both the camera and the browser, revealing that both the 64-bit iPhone 5S and the A5-powered iPhone 5C are noticeably faster when it comes to launching applications like the camera.
In my own tests with the iPhone 5S, I found that there were very few applications even the best performing Android phones would load faster, so the results here are entirely expected.

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Apple MacBook Pro with Retina Display (13-inch, 2013)

Apple MacBook Pro with Retina Display (13-inch, 2013):Not a Retina MacBook Air, but awfully close

The good: The 13-inch MacBook Pro with Retina Display has phenomenal battery life, better-than-average integrated graphics, faster Thunderbolt 2 ports, and a lower price than last year.
The bad: Still expensive if you plan to add more storage or RAM; no extra Nvidia graphics option as on the 15-inch version; yes, it’s thicker and heavier than an Air.
The bottom line: There are other high-res laptops out there, but this year’s more powerful and affordable 13-inch Retina MacBook Pro is one of the best of the bunch, and makes a compelling case for upgrading from the 13-inch Air.

Last year’s 13-inch MacBook Pro with Retina Display was a bit of an odd duck. Yes, it was the Retina Display-equipped 13-inch MacBook everyone had been waiting for, but it wasn’t the powerhouse performer the 15-inch version was, and it cost a lot more than a MacBook Air.

This year it’s back in a more powerful, less expensive package that makes a lot more sense: it’s now a Retina laptop that people can actually afford.

The 13-inch Retina Display MacBook Pro always caught my eye, but its price was originally prohibitive; $1,699 was a steep starting price. A year later, the entry point is $1,299, which, in Apple’s laptop landscape, isn’t so bad at all -- and, in fact, is pretty close to what competitors charge for thin 13-inch laptops with super-high-res screens.

(Credit: Josh Miller/CNET)
The 13-inch MacBook Pro (let's agree to call it that, even though there is a thicker 13-inch Pro that Apple still sells) is still a tweener among Apple laptops: it’s heavier and thicker than the Air. The Air has better battery life. But the Retina Pro has a beautiful, far crisper screen, and better graphics. No, the 13-inch Retina Pro doesn’t have the workhorse quad-core processor or extra Nvidia graphics of the 15-inch Pro. It’s not the same computer. But, it’s not the same price, either: the entry-level 15-inch model is $700 more. The 13-inch MacBook Pro is Retina for Everyone…provided you can afford $1,299 for a laptop.
Consider it Apple’s version of an ultra-high-resolution ultrabook with vamped-up processing, or the thicker Retina Air you’ve always wanted. Is this year’s version the sweet-spot compact high-end MacBook you’ve been looking for? So far, signs point to yes.
(Credit: Josh Miller/CNET)
Design: Thick Air, or thin Pro?
The newest 13-inch Retina Pro looks identical to last year’s -- a thinned-down optical-drive-free variant on the thicker original 13-inch Pro -- but, it’s actually even a little thinner and lighter, at 0.71 inch and 3.46 pounds versus 0.75 inch and 3.6 pounds for the 2012 model. Now, it’s just as slim as its larger 15-inch cousin. It’s heavier than a 13-inch Air, by about a half pound (the Air is 2.96 pounds) but the Retina Pro still has a very compact feel -- and a notably smaller footprint.
In a world of thin-and-light laptops, the 13-inch Retina Pro is decidedly heavy: the Samsung Ativ Book 9 Plus weighs 3.06 pounds and is just a half-inch thick, despite an even higher-resolution display. But, compared with “full-powered” laptops, the Retina Pro is definitely thinner and lighter. It’s cleverly designed, too: speakers (and vents) are tucked out of sight, via nearly hidden vents on the bottom edges.
(Credit: Josh Miller/CNET)
The solid unibody aluminum frame and glass display are longstanding hallmarks of Apple’s laptops, but this 13-inch Pro feels especially rock-solid, easily one of the best-built laptops currently made. The backlit keyboard and large, clickable trackpad are both as excellent as always, and just about identical to what you find in the MacBook Air.
Yes, the Retina Pro is not Air-light. But it slides into a bag and feels suitably compact, and takes up relatively little space. It’s compact enough for my needs.
(Credit: Josh Miller/CNET)
Retina Display: No longer unique, but still great
Last year, the 2,560x1,660-pixel 13.3-inch Retina Display was the highest resolution you could get in a 13-inch laptop. What a difference a year makes -- suddenly, Windows laptops such as the Toshiba Kirabook and Samsung Ativ Book 9 Plus are approaching and exceeding those resolutions, copying Apple’s playbook. The Kirabook’s 13-inch display is 2,560x1,440 pixels, and the Book 9 Plus is 3,200x1,800.
Apple Macbook Pro 13-inch (October 2013)Samsung Ativ Book 9 PlusMacBook Air 13-inch (June 2013)
Display size/resolution13.3 -inch, 2,560x1,600 screen13.3-inch, 3,200x1,800 touch screen13.3-inch, 1,440x900 screen
PC CPU2.4GHz Intel Core i7-4850HQ1.6GHz Intel Core i5 4200U1.3GHz Intel Core i5 4250U
PC Memory8GB DDR3 SDRAM 1,600MHz4,096MB DDR3 SDRAM 1,600MHz4,096MB DDR3 SDRAM 1,600MHz
Graphics1GB Intel Iris Graphics1749MB (shared) Intel HD Graphics 44001024MB Intel HD Graphics5000
Storage256GB SSD128GB SSD hard drive128GB SSD hard drive
Optical driveNoneNoneNone
Networking802.11ac wireless, Bluetooth 4.0802.11b/g/n wireless, Bluetooth 4.0802.11a/c wireless, Bluetooth 4.0
Operating systemOS X Mavericks 10.9Windows 8 (64-bit)OSX Mountain Lion 10.8.4
Both of those laptops start at $1,299 and $1,399, respectively. The Kirabook comes with twice the RAM and flash storage (8GB, 256GB) versus the Retina MacBook Pro for the same price; the Ativ Book 9 Plus comes with the same 4GB RAM and 128GB SSD for $100 more. Both of those systems are thinner, lighter laptops, but also run less powerful ultrabook-optimized Core i5 processors.
But enough of the nit-picking. The point is, the 13-inch MacBook Pro with Retina Display matches the territory in terms of price. And the Retina Display, the same as last year’s, looks just as good.
The improved color quality and finer detail are worth the upgrade for photo-editing or any sort of graphics work. Apple’s operating system and all of its current apps take advantage of the Retina Display to optimize text and graphics, usually to the tune of making everything crisper and better-detailed versus expanding screen real estate. You can, however, adjust to make for more desktop space (and smaller icons and text) in system settings. Windows 8 laptops can do the same: tile-based Windows apps scale nicely to higher-res displays, and using “desktop” mode gives you extra space.
Retina-level resolution in a laptop isn’t an essential difference-maker, but it’s absolutely an upgrade, if a subtle one at times, from whatever you may have been using otherwise. The 227 pixels per square inch amount to, if nothing else, a lot easier-on-the-eye reading clarity.
(Credit: Josh Miller/CNET)
Ports: Nearly everything...except Ethernet
One of the big advantages to the Retina Pro over the 13-inch MacBook Air is its plethora of ports: two USB 3.0, two faster-throughput Thunderbolt 2 ports, an SDXC card slot, and even HDMI. The Air lacks the extra Thunderbolt port and HDMI.
A physical Ethernet port is still an unfortunate and intentional omission. We’re in an age where wireless is clearly the way to go -- and with upgraded 802.11ac wireless built-in, you’re only a compatible router away from greatness. If you really need hard-wired Ethernet, a USB (or Thunderbolt) adapter is sold separately.
The new Pro also has improved dual microphones and an improved-light-sensitivity 720p FaceTime camera for Web chats -- welcome improvements for this type of premium product.
Configurations and storage
The 13-inch Retina Pro starts at $1,299, and you get standard-for-an-ultrabook specs: 128GB of flash storage, 4GB of RAM, and a 2.4GHz dual-core fourth-gen Core i5 processor.
Increasing storage means buying Apple’s next step-up model, which costs $1,499, bumps the RAM to 8GB, and storage to 256GB. That’s the sweet-spot level most people will want -- and, considering how hard it is to upgrade RAM and storage on these slimmed-down Retina Pros, you’ll want to consider this choice quite seriously. That's the review model we have at CNET.
For a little more, the $1,799 model has a bumped-up 2.6GHz Core i5 processor and increases storage to 512GB, and that’s the only way to get up to 512GB. RAM and processor can be bumped up on any model, to get to a faster Core i5 or dual-core i7 processor, or to get up to 16GB of RAM. A new top-level of 1TB of flash storage is now on tap, at a lofty $500 extra. With all bells and whistles purchased, you could max out the 13-inch at $2,699 -- but, at that point, you might as well get the 15-inch Pro and its better quad-core CPU and Nvidia graphics.
(Credit: Josh Miller/CNET)
Performance: Better than Air, better than last year
We know how standard fourth-gen “Haswell” Core i5 processors perform, at this point, on most laptops: a little better than last year, with much-improved integrated graphics.
The 13-inch Retina Display MacBook Pro has, for the most part, standard “mainstream” specs, if you’re just looking at the processor. A dual-core 2.4GHz Core i5 processor is definitely a faster CPU than the MacBook Air’s lower-speed, lower-power-oriented CPU, but the gap between “low-power” and full-power processors continues to narrow. But, the Retina 13-inch has the aforementioned faster flash storage, and Intel Iris integrated graphics, a step up from the average thin-and-light laptop.
The type of flash used on these new Retina MacBook Pros has also changed: it’s PCIe-based, and all you need to know is it is, indeed, even faster than before. The 13-inch Retina Pro woke from sleep nearly instantaneously, and launched applications and files at a faster-than-Air level. A cold boot-up into OS X 10.9 Mavericks, which comes preinstalled, took around 13 seconds. That contributes to an extra dose of overall system speed.
As you’d expect, this laptop is definitively faster than the 13-inch Air on all our tests, and slower than the 15-inch Pro, especially when it comes to multitasking (no surprise, the 15-inch version has a quad-core processor). It’s a bit of an apples-to-oranges comparison with the summer’s 2013 Air because these computers have OS X Mavericks preinstalled, but stay tuned for updated results against Mavericks-installed Airs.
We’ve never tested Iris graphics on a laptop before; the 15-inch Retina Pro has even higher-up Iris Pro graphics and an Nvidia graphics card in higher configurations, while the 13-inch just has Iris. It’s a higher level than the HD 4000-level graphics seen on a lot of ultrabooks and mainstream laptops. It’s hard to find games that offer decent benchmarking tools on the Mac, but Call of Duty 4, despite being an old game, shows the gain over last year’s 13-inch Retina Pro: 34 frames per second at 1,440x900. Diablo III can scale up to Retina-level resolution: with graphics settings on High and a resolution closest to the native 2,560x1,600, Diablo III ran at 12 frames per second. With the resolution dialed down to 1,968x1,230, it ran at 19fps. The take-away: the 13-inch MacBook Pro fares better with games than last year, but I still wouldn’t call it a gaming PC unless you dial back settings.
Battery life is the biggest and most pleasant surprise: instead of the promised 9 hours of video playback, our tests showed a whopping 13 hours and 2 minutes. Part of that may indeed be Mavericks, but who cares? The 13-inch Retina Pro has all-day (and then some) battery life in everyday use, and ends up as our best battery-life laptop next to the 13-inch MacBook Air. You can use this on a flight with little concern for that charger.
(Credit: Josh Miller/CNET)
Conclusion: The 13-inch MacBook we've been waiting for…nearly
I own a 2008 13-inch MacBook. I haven’t upgraded in all this time because, frankly, no 13-inch laptop in the Apple universe made me want to upgrade. I wanted something compact and full-powered like that 13-inch model was back then.
This year has offered me two compelling options to upgrade: the 13-inch Air, and the 13-inch Retina Display MacBook Pro. Both products existed last year, but this year’s versions are more affordable and more powerful, and each boasts better battery life.
Ideally, I’d want a Retina Air. In absence of that, I lean toward the Retina Pro. It’s a laptop I’d seriously consider as my next computer. But I do have some reservations: I’d still prefer more-affordable flash storage options, and I’d like more-robust graphics.
But, at least until there’s a true Retina Air, the 13-inch Retina Pro is Apple’s only option for super-high-res ultra-mobile computing. At least, this time, it’s far more affordable at $1,299, versus the $1,699 last year’s started at. It’s just a $200 upsell over the lowest-price Air. And, if you’re comparing it with the similarly priced Samsung Ativ Book 9 Plus, you could make the argument that the Retina Pro comes out a little ahead, if you value a bit more performance.
The 13-inch Retina MacBook Pro is still a story of compromise, but it’s also Apple’s closest thing to a sweet-spot power laptop. And even if it costs a bit more than the Air, it also feels more future-proofed for the next few years because of its extra performance, and its display. Just make sure you leave a few dollars earmarked for a RAM/storage bump-up, because I certainly think I’d need it.
QuickTime iTunes multimedia multitasking test (in seconds)(Shorter bars indicate better performance)
Adobe Photoshop CS5 image-processing test (in seconds)(Shorter bars indicate better performance)
Apple iTunes encoding test (in seconds)(Shorter bars indicate better performance)
Handbrake multimedia multitasking test (in seconds)(Shorter bars indicate better performance)
Alienware 14
Apple MacBook Pro 13-inch with Retina Display (October 2013)
Call of Duty 4 (Retina comparisons, in fps)(Longer bars indicate better performance)
Video playback battery drain test (in minutes)(Longer bars indicate better performance)
System configurations:
Apple MacBook Pro 13-inch with Retina Display (October 2013)
OSX 10.9 Mavericks; 2.4GHz Intel Core i5-4258U; 8GB DDR3 SDRAM 1,600MHz; 1GB Intel Iris Graphics; 256GB Apple SSD
Apple MacBook Pro with Retina Display (15-inch, June 2012)
OSX 10.7.4 Lion; 2.3GHz Intel Core i7-3610QM; 8GB DDR3 SDRAM 1,600MHz; 1GB Nvidia GeForce GT 650M + 512MB Intel HD 4000; 256GB Apple SSD
Samsung Ativ Book 9 Plus
Windows 8 (64-bit); 1.6GHz Intel Core i5 4200U; 4GB DDR3 SDRAM 1,600MHz; 1749MB (shared) Intel HD Graphics 4400: 128GB SSD
Apple MacBook Air 13-inch (June 2013)
OSX 10.8.4 Mountain Lion; 1.3GHz Intel Core i5 4240U; 4GB DDR3 SDRAM 1,600MHz; 1024MB (Shared) Intel HD Graphics 4000; 128GB Apple SSD
Apple MacBook Pro 13-inch w/ Retina display (October 2012) 
OSX 10.8.2 Mountain Lion 2.5GHz Intel Core i5 3210M, 8GB DDR3 SDRAM 1,600MHz,768MB (Shared) Intel HD 4000, 256GB Apple SSD
Alienware 14
Wndows 7 Home Premium (64-bit); 2.4GHz Intel Core i7 4700MQ; 16GB DDR3 SDRAM 1,600MHz; 2GB Nvidia GeForce GTX 765M; HDD#1 256MB Lite-On SSD HDD#2 750GB, 7,200rpm Western Digital
Apple MacBook Pro 15-inch (October 2013)
OSX 10.9 Mavericks; 2.3GHz Intel Core i7-4850HQ; 16GB DDR3 SDRAM 1,600MHz; 2GB Nvidia GeForce GT 750M + Intel Iris Pro Graphics; 512GB Apple SSD

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