The title of this article — “The MacBook Pro (Retina, 13-inch, Early 2015) and Dell UltraSharp 27 Ultra HD 5K Monitor UP2715K and Apple Watch Reviews!” — is ridiculously long, and that was intentional because I believe all three of those things belong together in the same review. The MacBook Pro lives in the Dell 5K display and the Apple Watch sort of ties together the netherworld of the current Apple universe.

MacBook Pro (Retina, 13-inch, Early 2015)
I love the MacBook Airs that I have, but they’re a little old now, and a bit slow, and so it felt like it was time to upgrade the workhorse of my everyday.

I was momentarily tempted by the new, delicate, MacBook that has a keyboard with no key travel — and I passed on that tiny delight because if you’re using a laptop, it should not move around on your lap!  You need a certain, weighted, gravitas to a machine that will keep a thought in place without moving around when you start banging on a keyboard that replies as if it doesn’t have any keys.

I have a long history with the Apple MacBook Pros, so I decided to indulge in the new 13-inch Retina version and I’m thrilled I made that choice to create a whole, new, spec’d out, mothership I can use for years to come that has plenty of ports and connectoids so that when I buy my next MacBook, I won’t feel the loss of port connectivity.

I maxed out the MacBook Pro — and a major key in the upgrade was going for the i7 Intel processor — a little more bang, a little better graphics, and I was set!

Google Drive Sync did not like my Apple computer upgrade, and blew out my 1TB SSDs with every single freakin’ file I have stored in my Google Drive!  It was easy to fix via the sync app, but this storage report did freak me out a bit until I figured out Google had eaten my SSDs.

The MacBook Pro is fast and spontaneous and using total drive encryption with FileVault 2 was simple and necessary.  The new force feedback trackpad is fine, but unremarkable, really.

The Retina display is simply beautiful! However, when I plugged in my elderly Apple Thunderbolt Cinema Display, I was disappointed in the lack of clarity and crispness. I don’t know why Apple refuses to release an external Retina cinema display for their Retina MacBooks, but I quickly knew I had to look elsewhere for larger screen satisfaction.

Oh, and yes, Retina text is wonderful, but most images you will see on a Retina display look terrible!  For the internets to fix the problem, every single image would have to be available in two versions — the images we have always seen, and a new “doubled” version that would be “Retina Ready” — and then the web server, via specialized code, would load the “Retina” image version for the Retina display.

I can’t imagine how that will ever happen because the existing images will always look fuzzy, newer images will not replace the fuzzy images, and it all has to be fixed “server side” and not in the local browser.

Bummer!

If you’re a web designer, or if you are someone who loves looking at crisp images — don’t break your own heart and insult your own eye by going anything “Retina” …but if you write a lot and deal in text a lot, you cannot live without the crisp, contextual, textual, richness of a Retina display.

Here are the available resolutions for the 2015 13-inch MacBook Pro.  The default Apple suggests is 1280×800 — not very expansive — but you quickly learn to listen to Apple’s right default suggestions because you want the best possible Retina display experience, and when you go out of the default spec recommendation, you begin to get into software font smoothing, and other oddness, and I find that lack of crispness disheartening, so I followed Apple’s lead on this one, and it works.

My beloved MacBook Airs ran at 1440×900 — but they were not “Retina” displays so you take a little less to bargain a bit more betterment of viewability.

Dell UltraSharp 27 Ultra HD 5K Monitor UP2715K
I did a lot of research to find the right 27-inch “Retina” external display for my MacBook Pro 13-inch, and the one monitor that spoke most heartily to me was the Dell UP2715K because it was 5k ready, and could easily do 4k at 60Hz on my machine without squabbling or tearing. Dell’s support policy on this screen is that if there’s a single bright pixel out of spec, they’ll replace the monitor for you.

Remember, I’m buying for the future to protect the mothership — so spending a little more now on the Dell to get caught on the leading edge may lose a little blood in the short run — but in the long haul, I’m slightly ahead of the curve in function and future interoperability.

There’s no HDMI port or audio-in port on the Dell UP2715K and the “audio” from the 16W harman/kardon speakers built into the display stutters, spits, and sounds wholly awful. Something’s gone awry in the wire!

The MacBook Pro 13-inch uses the Mini DisplayPort to connect to the Dell UltraSharp and that port leads straight into a Thunderbolt port using a cable included with the display.

Setup was instant and intentional and, after fiddling with the buttons on the side of the display for two seconds, the proper port was activated and the rest is computing history!

Here are the Retina display options for the Dell 5K monitor with the MacBook 13-inch.  You can see I’m running at 1920×1080 — a tinier view than my old Thunderbolt Cinema display at 2560×1440 — but that’s the standard default Apple recommends for the display in Retina mode and they’re right!  Going up in resolution quickly gets font-fuzzy and I don’t like the look or the feel.

To get a similar crispness at a higher resolution, I’d have to double-down and move up to the maximum 3840×2160 — and while that resolution works fine and looks great in theory — in the practice of my aging eyes, it is impracticable to use because the fonts are just too small.

So, I go smaller to get a better resolution that is rock-solid crisp and readable from across the room.  I’ll take the negotiated compromise and I’ll make myself happy.  I can always change resolutions on the fly using “Display Menu” from the App Store.

The Dell UltraSharp runs 80% cooler than my Apple Thunderbolt Cinema display. The Dell has true white and is ultra-bright while my Thunderbolt display is a little yellow and dim.  Reds and Blues POP! on my Dell — on the Thunderbolt, the colors are muted and a little joyless. The Dell monitor is also thinner and easier to move around in every direction than the Thunderbolt Cinema. This is my first Dell-branded purchase ever — and I’m wildly enthused by the careful quality of the company.

Apple Watch
I don’t yet have my Apple Watch, but Janna has hers — and setting it up for her was an interesting experience in button-pushing and knob-turning. The watch is well-designed and solid and the software — sometimes confusing, but often compelling — makes for an overall sensation as a harbinger against the future.

The Apple Watch icons are too tiny, and the watch is just too small even in the largest size.  The Apple Watch needs to be at least twice-as-big and the screen needs to be three times brighter and the vibration needs to be nine times stronger.

Right now, the Apple Watch is more companion to our iPhone 6 Plus than competitor because the idea is extension and not advancement.

You use your Apple Watch to find out what’s happening on your iPhone and then you can decide if you need to fire up your iPhone or not to act against result.

To say the Apple Watch is not dependent on the iPhone is to confirm that without the Apple Watch, the iPhone is everything; while the Apple Watch without the iPhone is completely nothing.

6 Comments

  1. The new computer is beautiful. The display is really pretty. The monitor is super bright. Like it. Best love of all is my Apple Watch! Two days with it and I can’t live without it.

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    1. Yes, the new computer setup is a big step up — the Retina experience is one to be shared and never denied — speaking of sharing… too bad the Apple Watch is so personal and tied to a single iPhone! You’re become a daily expert while I sit here, watchless, for another month!

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      1. The new computer also seems a lot faster than the old one. I don’t really get what Apple is doing with the watches. It’s a real mess. Nice to finally have one, but I’m sure the next generation will be even better.

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        1. The new MacBook Pro is much faster than the Air. I agree the watch release was a total farce. Terrible PR. Horrible planning. You’re right that by the time many people finally get their watches — they’ll already be out-of-date as rumors about Apple Watch 2.0 start circulating.

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  2. It’s always a good thing to get confirmation on the choices you sometimes do not make:

    The MacBook just looks and feels like the obvious, no-brainer choice for a small Mac. That’s why people buy it. That’s why I bought it. I loved it before I bought it. I love looking at it and picking it up.

    I just hate using it.

    I hate typing on it, I hate the trackpad, it’s slower than I expected, the screen is noticeably blurry from non-native scaling to get reasonable screen space, and I don’t even find it very comfortable to use in my lap because it’s too small.

    I hate returning things, but I’m returning this.

    http://www.marco.org/2015/05/19/mistake-one

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