Last night, I planned to get together with a friend after work. Between getting off, and going to his house, I stopped at the Mall to grab a bite to eat. I also had enough spare time to wander into the Apple store to look at the MacBook Pro a little bit. I know already that a MacBook Pro is going to be my next laptop -- the big Acer laptop is dying, and I really want to be back in the Mac world for all of my computing again. After resurecting another friend's older MacBook Pro this past week, I decided that I could actually work just fine with a 13-inch model. Hers is old enough to be pre-Retina Display, and the new entry-level model does not have Retina, either. Finally, when I bought the iPad Mini, I found that I couldn't see a marked difference between Retina and non-Retina models to justify the price difference.
While in the store, I got into my Flickr stream, and looked at some full-resolution images I'd taken with the Fujifilm X-E1 and uploaded recently. First, I looked at them on the entry-level machine, where they looked very good. They were nice and crisp and punchy -- pretty much how I thought they should look when I released them into the wild.
And then, I had a look on the machine with the Retina display. I was astounded at the difference. I could see details in the images that I barely realized were recorded! Even the reduced-size images on this site looked better. One of the images I used as reference is the one to the right (you can click the thumbnail for a larger version, or access the Flickr version here). Where I specifically noticed a difference was in the window screen detail. While you can see it on a convention display, it tends to look a bit murky. On even the 13-inch Retina display, the detail was very clear.
I continued comparing the two screens, and in every application, the display was a joy to look at. Text, as advertised, smooth and legible -- even at tiny type sizes. I was, frankly, amazed.
So, is it worth a few hundred dollars more? For a professional (or serious amateur) photographer, you betcha! And, I think that even someone doing general purpose computing, the Retina display would make for a far more comfortable working experience. It's much easier on the eyes. In fact, I think every computer screen should be this good!