So, moving on to the fun stuff:
The "unboxing": One of the (positive) things that I remember from owning an Apple laptop some ten years ago, is the care that Apple puts on the customer experience -- this includes the presentation of the box. This time, though, Apple had a lot to live up to. Not only they sold me a new take on MacBook PROs, but at this price tag it better damn be apart from the rest. It was what I expected, but that also means that they failed to blow me away -- again just speaking of the box and product presentation. Below is a slideshow of the unboxing and first boot.
The actual box is plain and elegant, but nothing to write home about. Inside was: the MBP, the power brick and cord and a getting started book that greeted me "Hello."
Look and feel: the machine looks slick and feels very well put together. All seems to be placed in the right spots and all other things tucked away and snug, as they should. Perhaps this is something most people don't mind, but I cannot stand all the gaudy "Intel Inside" "NVidea" "WiFi" stickers most PC manufacturers place near the keyboard that tend to peel off and leave nasty gooey glue behind. I surely am glad the MacBook Pro was pristine and immaculate. The machine feels solid and by that I mean not just in terms of build quality, but also in terms of weight. Apple managed to cause a bit of cognitive dissonance due to the visually sleek and low profile of this laptop, it gives the impression of being lighter that it actually is. After opening the lid for the first time (i.e. the MBP still off), the retina display stands dark, abundant glare but otherwise unremarkable. The keyboard sits sunk in a sort of embossed plateau so as not to be in contact with the display. The speakers to the either side of the keyboard taking a relatively big chunk of real estate. On the sides are the Thunderbolt, USB3, power and HDMI ports.
First boot: a few moments after I turned on the machine for the first time, the Retina display lit up. A mere seconds later I was already in the account setup screen. After finishing entering the information plus WiFi setup, I was presented with the login screen.
First login: as soon as I logged in for the first time is when the Retina display showed its true self. All I can say is "WOW". It's really, really, really great. Great color, great contrast, great resolution. I didn't think it would make such a big difference, but it does and then some. I don't know if the Retina display costs $400 (over the non-Retina MBP), but after seeing it with my own eyes, it surely made a good case for itself. Another HUGE plus is the complete lack of crapware and bloatware just about every PC manufacturer always include. No Norton pop-ups, no Comcast ads, no game demos, in short, no bulls**t.
Performance: at this price level and looking over the spec sheet it's not hard to infer that this machine is a monster. And this inference does translate to reality. The machine feels very snappy and responsive. I downloaded and installed several applications like VirtualBox, Python, SublimeText 2 very fast and without delay. Granted, I have yet to tax it with heavy video processing or 3D gaming, but as far as I can tell this machine will stand up to any challenge (also, after I try some video editing and gaming, I'll post the info).
Preliminary conclusion: I've had this machine only for a few hours, so I don't think it would be fair or responsible to give a definitive opinion about it; however, for the few things that I have done and the look and feel I can say that this is a serious machine that means business. Whether it's worth $2K+ price tag, it's way too early for me to tell. Do I recommend it? Well, again, given the provision above that I need more of my usage data to make an informed and educated opinion, I'd say if you are itching to buy a Mac and you have the money, I don't think you'll be disappointed if you get one of these.