Since almost a year, I own a retina display device. This type of screen has been so much praised by reviewer that I fell for it. So I got a 15″ Retina MacBook Pro. The screen is indeed beautiful but next time, I will save on the retina display premium cost and buy instead a good external screen.
On a retina screen optimised applications look gorgeous, but I am not a pixel junky and applications can look beautiful too on a non-retina screen. However most non optimised apps look dreadful and pixelated, and they are still loads of them. In addition, little application make really use of the extra amount of pixels, so it just looks slicker for fonts but does not really make use of the extra space.
The money saved by buying a non-retina notebook can be used to buy an external display, and with a small addition a 27″ WQHD screen which is not retina but offers an incredible space to work, I got one at work and I love it, better than a retina display.
So if you need to choose, don’t get the retina and get an extra external screen for that price! You will be more productive.
Corollary: don’t follow the advice of these guys here at CNET. An ultrabook/Air device is meant to have a lot of battery life, so a manufacturer that delivers a good screen with incredible battery (10 hours and more) is doing the right choice. And if that means no retina and no touch screen, then be it. We can wait another couple of years to enjoy this little amusement while keeping sustained battery use.