My new Macbook Pro arrived on Friday after all, and I couldn't wait to unbox it at the office. I had a couple of software updates to install (10.8.1 and a SMC firmware update to enable support for Power Nap) as soon as it started up.
My initial impressions pretty much matched what many others have already said, but one thing that still surprised me was the Retina Display. It is like getting glasses for the first time after thinking the world was always blurry, and now everything is sharp and clear. Like the iPhone and iPad before it, text is crisp and beautiful.
Rather than using the Migration Assistant to move my data over from my old MBP, I decided to spend the weekend setting my apps up from scratch and manually moving my documents, app data and prefences across, leaving behind any cruft that had accumulated over the years, and taking the opportunity to reorganise some of my data, putting some things on Dropbox, and archiving others on my Drobo.
I loaded up my Aperture Library and the photos are jaw-droppingly good. There's detail and colour I'd never seen before, subtle textures and flecks of dust that were captured by the camera's sensor but never before reproduced on screen. There's also a downside to this, I'm also noticing flaws in my own photos that I had never noticed before, sensor noise, aberrations and fringing.
I've found that even with a quad-core i7 and 16GB of ram, you CAN still bring the machine to its knees when dealing with 18 megapixel RAW photo files in Aperture. I've managed to get it hot enough that the fans run at full speed (which is still audible, despite Apple's claims). Still, it doesn't get as hot as my 13" MBP when the CPU is under heavy load. On that older machine it actually gets physically uncomfortable using it on my lap.
I installed Lightroom but it's not updated yet for the new display, it's practically useless as the photos are pixel-doubled and it looks even worse than before.
The size of the computer will take a bit of getting used to, and I've heard some creaking coming from the casing depending on how I hold it or where I rest my palms, which is unusual given Apple's attention to build quality. This makes me wonder if QA is slipping a bit as they rush these machines out to customers.
Reading and writing is a joy on this dispay, as is photo processing and editing. I'm really happy with the new machine so far.