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13-inch Retina MacBook Pro displays in production

The 13.3-inch version of the Retina MacBook Pro is on the way, an analyst tells CNET. That means more portability and less money compared with the current 15-inch model.

Apple's Retina display tech will arrive on a more affordable MacBook Pro.
Apple's Retina display tech will arrive on a more affordable MacBook Pro.

Production is under way for a Retina display targeted at a more mainstream MacBook Pro, CNET has learned.

Production has begun of a 2,560-by-1,600 pixel density display that will land on a 13.3-inch MacBook Pro, NPD DisplaySearch analyst Richard Shim told CNET.

"The supply chain indications are that it's for a MacBook Pro 13.3 -- not a MacBook Air," said Shim.

Displays are being made by Samsung, LGD, and Sharp, he said.

Shim said that production volume is expected to be substantially higher out of the gate compared to the current 15.4-inch Retina MacBook Pro.

"With 15.4 it's production of a few hundred thousand units versus one to two million for the 13.3," he said. That 13.3-inch production began in the third quarter.

He also said the volume depends on production yield rates. "It depends on how the yield rates turn out. If the yield rates are really good and they're at 70, 80, 90 percent, then they'll probably be in the million and a half range," he said.

Shim also touched on the differences between the display suppliers Samsung and LGD. "With Samsung, if you look at the new [Retina] iPad, they had fewer issues reaching the higher resolution requests from Apple. They were the first vendor to get to volume with that panel."

Apple's Retina displays cram an astounding number of pixels into a relatively small area. The current 15.4-inch MacBook Pro Retina boasts an IPS display with 2,880-by-1,800 pixel density, far more than any PC laptop maker can deliver at the screen size.

Probably one of the biggest draws of the 13.3-inch Retina MacBook Pro will be price, likely significantly below the $2,199 starting price for the 15.4-inch model. And, of course, weight. A 13.3-inch Retina MacBook Pro with a thinner chassis could be a lot more portable than its 15.4-inch cousin.

With production starting now, that could mean the arrival of a 13.3-inch MacBook Pro this fall.