Upload & Sell: On
Here's the deal -- I'm a fairly new Apple fan (note: not a fan-boy!). My wife owns the 2012 Macbook Air 13", and I just got this week the Macbook Pro 15" Retina.
The air she has is awesome. It's only 128GB flash and 4GB RAM, but it runs so nicely. It's perfect for what she uses it for (blogging and running her web site and general light usage). She also runs Lightroom for some light editing.
I had started to get this for myself, having my 27" iMac being stolen all the time by my children but instead I bit the bullet and got a refurb Macbook Pro 15" retina 2012 model.
The Macbook Air is nice, but the rMBP is awesome. I got the base 15" model, with 8GB RAM and 256GB internal drive. I picked it up from the Apple refurbished store for a little under $1700 after tax. This is outstanding, seeing as the newer 2013 in my configuration starts at $2100 and really isn't much of a step up.
Compare this to the 13" MBA with locked at like 1440x900 or something. It's not bad resolution, but hard to compare with rMBP.
Let me be clear - the laptop is not perfect. First, Apple doesn't really let you "see" the real resolutions of the screen, one must get a utility for that (I'm using the excellent SwitchResX).
But, open switching the laptop to full resolution (around 5MP or so which is huge for a monitor), one's photos look absolutely amazing. This has really changed my outlook on how I use the laptop. I have a simple shot of some leaves, which is sharp already. I output the file to native resolution of the rMBP, set my screen resolution to the 1:1 and then set the image as a background and it looks outstanding. The 3-D ness of the shot is simply incredible, and it's very hard to convey the difference but it's certainly there.
For normal reading and stunning gorgeous text, I use the "retina" resolution which is basically a super-scaled 1400x900.
For heavy photo editing, I go to "native 1:1". The screen is absolutely gorgeous, text is tiny but sharp and I have plenty of room for editing.
For other productivity, I either use 1680x scaled or 1920x scaled.
Another important point - While the Macbook Air screens are good, don't get me wrong, the IPS on the Macbook pro is just better.
Also, for storage - I know I'm going to need it soon. OWC (otherworldcomputing), a big 3rd party Mac site, sells a nice 480GB upgrade for about $570 USD. This includes a fast 480GB SSD that one replaces the internal 256gB drive with, and then a very nice USB 3.0 enclosure matched to the look and feel of the MBP to place one's old apple drive in for an "extra" 256GB.
Also - Apple's image handling can be a bit strange. Looking at fm, for example, sometimes photos are just too darn big because Safari (and other browsers) attempt to scale the images to make them look relative to their posted resolution. If I drop down to native 1:1 resolution, they look amazing but so tiny So it's a bit of a hassle but still worth the trouble (usually I can just keep the resolution at around 1680 equivalent and zoom in or out)
So, I would really suggest at least considering the rMBP. Oh also, it's only about 4.5 lb. My wife's 13" air is 3.0lb or so. So yes, I can notice a difference, but still it's not heavy at all for a laptop, especially at such high performance.
So far I've been using Lightroom and CS 5.1 no problems. Do note - it's not the fastest computer in the world. Purely computational, my iMac 2010 version will beat it (my iMac is the quad core i7 2.93Ghz, this rMBP is 2.3Ghz i7), but the rMBP is definitely no slouch.
Also, because everything is flash-based, the rMBP just feels so much faster than my iMac, and the screen has ruined me for life because it's so good. Now, any other monitor (including my excellent iMac's) is just sub-par.
Battery life is rated around 7 hours or so compared to 12 on the MBA. So yeah, for all-day stuff, the MBA is the better choice. But for still-respectable 7 hours with much higher actual computing power, the rMBP is outstanding. Also, I can game with my Nvidia discreet graphics if I wish
Here are some sample photos.
First, my wife's 13" MBA with Lightroom open at the Library module (oops sorry it's Develop module but you get the idea). This is what she's "stuck" with.
Second shot is my rMBP in typical "Retina" resolution (which is like 1440 x 900). It looks more clear than the MBA by far but otherwise no more usable space.
Third shot is now that same screen but using native 1:1 resolution. The improvement to usability is great. Photos now look like they're almost printed on paper...the difference is truly remarkable (hard to convey here)
View of LR from MBA 13
View of rMBP 15
View of rMBP 15