I am waiting for accounting to clear my order of the new MacBook Pro with Retina screen to be approved. In the meantime, I've been doing some research and notice a lot of confusion in the internet and blogosphere. The confusion mostly arises from the misunderstanding of HiDPI scaling. As resolutions get insanely higher, the typical native resolution = display resolution no longer applies.
Apple released the first 2880x1800 display laptop that runs in Retina mode. The native display resolution is 2880x1800 but the system runs in various scaled display resolutions. There is a difference between native resolution and display resolution. Apple employs a HiDPI mode for the normal usage. This is called Retina mode. Retina mode gives you the real estate of the previous MacBook Pro at 1440x900.
In retina mode, the OS runs in HiDPi mode where certain elements like text are running natively and everything looks extra sharp. This is how the iPad3 works. Everything is extra sharp but you don't get the extra display real estate. Your icons, browser window all looks the same as before. Hence, this is where the upset and confusion arises. Many are accusing Apple of misleading because they can't see the extra icons on the desktop.
Well, you can run at a higher "display resolution." In fact, you can even unlock the full native resolution to be your display resolution.
Anandtech does a great analysis on the screen and scaling. You can run retina mode (1440x900), display resolution of 1680x1050, or 1920x1200. Even in scaled mode, the screen looks incredibly sharp due to high dot pitch. At scaled mode display resolution 1680x1080 and 1920x1200, it still looks sharper than screens with those native resolution.
Still confused? Well running full native mode would be painful for many people with mid to poor eye sight because everything would be extra small. I think the hiDPI methodology was the best way to go. It gives you many great options for the majority of users. Yet, this still fuels the flames for anti-apple folks to swipe Apple at any given chance.
It was only a matter of time but many people have already unlocked the full resolution for OSX. You can read it on various blogs and forums like this one: HOWTO: 2880x1800 Without Scaling in OS X . Here is an example below of running 2880x1800 natively.
Now, I am more excited than ever. I've played with it in 1920x1200 and I think that is the resolution I will most likely be using it at.