I think we may have been misinterpreted by the electronics industry when they heard we crave resolution. We mean resolution as it relates to tension, not outrageously high display resolution. Yes, I know higher-res images are sharper, but there's more to it than that. These are some of the real drawbacks that no turtlenecked hipster sees when they drool over heretical 17" 2880x1800 absurdities.
1. High resolution stresses out your graphics card. Your computer has this special chip called the Graphics Processing Unit (GPU) responsible for deciding the precise color of every single pixel on your display. For a full HD 1080 (1920x1080) monitor, this works out to 2,073,600 pixels (yes, I used a calculator, bite me). It refreshes these pixels at a rate of at least 60Hz, for a total of 124,416,000 little decisions every second. If your display has a 2880x1800 resolution, your graphics card now has to make 311,040,000 decisions per second. The work for your graphics card becomes especially ridonkulous when you're running a game or offloading multimedia transcoding (e.g. Final Cut rendering) onto the GPU. Everyone who has ever tried to run the CryEngine knows the best way to boost your frame rate is to scale down your resolution to reasonable levels.
2. It kills your power efficiency and portability. After months of anticipation, you eventually get ahold of the latest and greatest GPU: an octo-core nVidia GeForce XG99200XFXX G93X EX Ultra: Magnum Overclocked Edition with 1,427 stream processors and 8GB of GDDR7 VRAM and you can finally, finally run Crysis at 2880x1800 resolution. Yet every time you open the game, your whole room gets a little warmer and after a week your neighborhood nuclear power plant shuts down in contempt. It turns out GPUs and displays account for a pretty large share of your power consumption and running super-duper high resolutions is a real kicker in that department. That's why my friend's Frankenstein monster of a gaming laptop weighs 20lbs but it won't last him through a 50 minute lecture on a single charge. That brick of a battery is powering all those extra pixels that he can't even see.
3. Tiny text strains your eyes. When using the two-year-old "low-resolution" 1920x1200 17" MacBook Pro on which I'm writing this post, any time I want to read text without craning my neck, I have to use the ctrl-scroll hotkey to zoom in on where my mouse is pointed. (blowing up text in Safari using via the zoom command makes complex webpages like Wordpress do all kinds of wibblywobbly wonky things with objects popping out of their borders and buttons becoming unclickable, etc.) Applications don't usually scale up text with window resolution so when you plug in your Retina monitor, everything becomes minuscule, with heaps of useless negative space filling in the extra real estate (my desktop background is not that cool). I had to buy a 24" external display (1920x1080) to see big spreadsheets and documents. Supposedly the ultra-hi-res is worth the tradeoff but I can't even see the individual pixels on my external monitor (92ppi), let alone my Mac's 133ppi display. Useless!
4. It makes reasonable-res displays look bad. Because
I am a brainless slave to Apple's fortune I needed a new phone contract when moving to the USA, I swapped my old iPhone 3G (320x480 resolution, 163ppi) for the iPhone 4 (640x960 resolution, 326ppm) as soon as the latter came out. At first, I didn't really notice the difference in the displays. My 3G always displayed sharp photos and very readable text. The 4's resolution (exactly double that of the 3G) appeared superfluous and I thought nothing of it. BUT THEN (cue the accordion cadenza of first-world problems) I had to switch back to the 3G while I visited the UK and goodness me, did I miss my Retina. I think this hardship is evidence of how invention in the electronics industry has mothered necessity rather than the other way around.
5. Apps running at lower than native resolution look awful. 1280x800 15" laptop displays look just fine at their native resolution. However, showing a 1280x800 picture on a 2880x1800 display of the same size looks horrendous. Don't even ask me why.
6. We could be making less expensive displays instead! I know, it's the competitive market and stuff. As soon as Apple invents some super-duper specification ("Retina"), everyone else has to follow, no matter how insane the specification is. But couldn't we try and outcompete Apple by making products that are cheaper, ditching the elitist pursuit of meaninglessly high numbers while maintaining good build quality? You see the same thing in the car industry, with manufacturers trying to one-up each other in peak horsepower. Same thing with motorcycles and engine displacement. When a numerical measure of performance becomes high beyond practical purpose, can we go back to trying to make the good as cheap as possible instead of playing a mindless numbers game?