The Retina display on Apple's next-generation MacBook Pro may well be the most stunning display to ever be attached to the lid of a notebook. But if you break it, replacing it is going to be expensive.
Repair specialists iFixit have carried out a full teardown on the Retina display panel. While there's no doubt that it is a marvel of modern engineering, it comes at a price.
Apple has managed to pack five times as many pixels into this panel compared to the older standard-display MacBook Pro notebooks, while still managing to shave a fraction of a millimeter off the thickness. To do this Apple has had to do away with the front glass on the panel -- which has the advantage of cutting down glare -- and used the aluminum case itself as the frame for the LCD panel.
This has essentially turned the notebook lid into a single, non-repairable unit. If you break the display, or if anything inside the panel dies -- and both of these things happen more often than you'd like to believe -- then the entire panel has to be replaced because the display is too fragile to be removed or handled outside of the frame.
Even the experts at iFixit, who are used to removing and handling fragile screens, managed to break the Retina display when attempting to remove it.
You'll also want to take care of those screen hinges. Apple has routed cables through the center of the hinges and not offered any means to remove them. This means that in the event of breakage, you'll have to replace the cables and hinges as a single unit.
This might seem like I'm being picky, but this sort of thing not only adds to the cost of replacement parts, it makes the repair itself more difficult and costly.
I don't normally recommend taking out a warranty, but given the complexity of this screen, combined with the inherent vulnerability of notebook screens, I would seriously consider taking one out if I were to buy a Retina-display MacBook Pro.
I'd hate to have to pay for a replacement panel out of my own pocket.
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