For what you'll be using it for, I suggest you go for the non-Retina Version.
As you said yourself, it comes with a smaller Flash Drive.
The Retina is also not user upgradeable for both RAM and Flash Drive (maybe in the future it might be).
Non-Retina MB Pro's however, are user upgradeable.
I know it's nice to have the newest and latest gadgets out there. But do you really need it? or do you want it?
In any event, whatever you decide to buy, I'm sure you'll be quite happy with it.
Good luck deciding. (i know it's hard)
I would suggesst getting the base 15inch macbook pro with the 2.3ghz because I think by now the processors won't make much of a difference, they're all quad-core so for some of your needs I don't know if its worth the extra bucks. I have the fall 2.2ghz with 8gb of ram, 750gb hdd at 7200rpm, anti-glare screen 1680 x 1050 and it works GREAT (altough i feel sometimes the text looks a little small so i need to grab my glasses after several hours). Since Im still in school I use use my macbook for primarly papers, music and photo's(PS CS5) and it always manages to keep up and if you plan to be on the move it helps that you won't have to carry along a external harddrive or optical drive if you need a lot of files with you at all times. I have yet to play with the Retina MB but I do know it only comes with a glossy screen and i have heard repots that the whites arent as white on the new MB compared to the "Hi-Res" option they still offer, if that means anything. Seeing as Apple likes to overcharge you for parts (something I regret because i payed for the upgrades and now i feel like a sucker) I would suggest getting the base becuase since the fall MB line came out, they are now able to handle up to 16 gb of ram which trust me you will wish you had if your going to work with Photoshop, but Apple does not tell you this for some reason and stick to the "8gb max" on the spec sheets. To get yours money worth I would say to look on Newegg because i know for a fact that they sell 16gb of ram for around $100 becuase iv'e been looking to upgrade and then just change it yourself in a couple of minutes along with the harddrive, so you can atleast give youself the option of swapping out for a ssd for way cheaper or a larger harddrive on newegg for the same amount of money apple would charge you for a 750gb hdd. Hope this helped but remeber to look around for upgrade options first and dont worry, getting inside your MB isn't as intimidating as most people think it is just look it up on youtube and get familiar with the process before going for it.
Have had my non-retina (but with the HiRes antiglare) MBP for only a week but have started the upgrades. First off, the retina is smaller, lighter, and I liked it a lot, but work dictates that I have easy access to wired ethernet and a CD/DVD, so I really had no choice without carrying lots of other stuff. Ordered the base 2.3 with 4gb ram and 500 gb hard drive as that was as low as I could go. Just received 2x8gb 1600mhz ram modules from OWC, so I'm set at 16gb ram.
Need to keep the superdrive, so will just replace the HD with a SSD when I can get a good deal on a 512. Actually, they are cheap enough now, so off to Amazon I go.
That is all.
I tested out the Retina MBP at the Apple Store yesterday and browsed the web for a little bit as a sort of a test until mine get delivered to me. I didn't see any blurred images myself, so that might help.
Second off I would go for Retina, and it will make your photos like great while editing, also it'll be pretty lightning fast too, faster than SOME of the non-retinas (Depending, of course, on what model you purchase).
If you do go for the Retina, you can always pick up an external HDD, flash drive, or Apple Time Machine to hold anything you need that won't fit on the SSD.
Either way, both are great computers, I ordered at Retina MBP but I do have a 13" MacBook Pro from Late 2011 and it is a solid machine and works great.
Hope I helped!
I am typing this on the new MacBook Pro Retina display. It is the 256 GB version. This screen is much sharper than my old MacBook Pro mid 2009 version. I use Safari, and have not noticed thie issue with whites that you mention. I use iPhoto for editing and viewing photos, surf the net and use MS office, mostly Word and Excel. I also have a Windows 7 partition with VMWare. I have 140 GB free on the SSD. There is a very noticeable increase in performance with the SSD and faster processor compared to my old MPB. I compared the screens at the Apple Store and thought the retina display was a big improvement. I find that it has less glare than by old MBP.
I also like the new form factor. The new MPB is much lighter. I purchased the external superdrive just in case I need it, but doubt I will need it much. Came in handy for the Windows install.
If you have access to an Apple Store, I would go compare. From what you say about how you will use it, sounds to me 256 GB SSD would be plenty.
For web browsing and basic usage I would actually get the rMBP. I have a 15" rMBP and it is the best thing I have owned in my whole entire life. The screen is phenominal, web browsing and reading text feels like a printed page. I also have a LG display and cannot find anything wrong with it or any other part of the computer. With basic usage you will not use more than 256 GB and the SSD is amazingly fast whatever you are doing. If it is in your price range get it!!!!
I have had two people who bough the Retina MacBook Pro actually volunteer and say they cannot see any noticeable difference in the display.
In my opinion the non-Retina anti-glare 15" MacBook Pro would likely be the best option, because one can increase the RAM or switch out the storage, and most of all, clean the fans of dust to make the machine last a lot longer than a few years. Also burning CD/DVD's is a great permanent storage method.
Hard drives can be scrubbed of sensitive data, unlike SSD's which one might be able to overwrite but it's no guaranty of success.
Good luck with your decision.
Go with the mbp retina! About a month ago i was in the market for a new computer, i looked at EVERYTHING from the cheap stuff all the way up to mbp retinas and alienware from dell. I personally wanted the ultrabook type platform, but with higher end internals. I ended up getting the retina 15 inch with the i7 quad core, 256 ssd, and 16 gb ram. I only really use it for school (online student), music, and minimal pictures. I paid 1800 cash from a guy on craigslist. The unit was sealed in the box, it retails for around 2400 pre-tax. The best time to buy is now right after xmas. Just make sure when you see it in person that all serial numbers (the one on the box and the one on the system when you boot it up) all match. Call apple they will lt you know exactly when it was purchased and the type of hardware and specs it has. Take it from someone that never had a mac and someone that looked for a while. you will NOT be dissapointed if you get this system works flawless the best laptop i have ever worked with! good luck
If you MUST buy the Mac right now, I vote for a non-Retina model. In my view and given my workneeds, a picture-pretty display does not justify the cost, given that all the rest can be equalled or exceeded on the regular model and in a more flexible cash disbursement schedule (Upgrades....).
If you can wait, every year Apple comes out with new and improved models building on the experience of the past. When it will happen is one of the great mysteries of the Universe. Sometimes they put out two models in a year, sometimes one like last year. I'm sure Retina 2.0 wlll be an improvement on the current model.