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View Full Version : Display quality: Macbook Air vs Macbook Pro




hackum
Jan 21, 2010, 10:37 AM
Actually 2 questions:

Is there any difference in the display between MBA and MBP?
Also is the MPB better built than the MBA?


Thanks!



jimboutilier
Jan 21, 2010, 11:41 AM
Some folks have reported faint grey lines on some MBA screens. I had a MBA RevA and now have a RevC and they are among the finest screens I've seen on any notebook (and that included a $3000 Sony Vaio Z series I owned). I have not experienced or ever seen the gray line issue.

I also have a couple of 15" MBPs and again they are super crisp and brigh screens as good as anything I've seen on a notebook. Can't speak personally to the 13" MBP screens but they appear to be of the same quality.

The build quality of the MBA and MBP is very high and about equal.

So its really a matter of preferring the mobility of the Air or the power and versatility of the MBP. If you need an optical drive a lot, or run programs heavy on the CPU or GPU a lot, or need more than 2gb of RAM or 128gb of disk space the MBA is not for you (although an update later this year may change some of the MBA's limits). If you don't need these things a lot and mobility is important to you the AIR could be an excellent choice.

Good luck in your decision!

coast1ja
Jan 21, 2010, 01:05 PM
I am looking at a MBA Rev. B and a 15" glossy MBP right now showing the same image. I prefer the clarity of the MBA because it's not glossy. As for color matching and brightness levels, I really can't tell a difference, but I bet a graphic design person probably could.

hackum
Jan 21, 2010, 01:21 PM
Thanks for your help!

The MBA screen is not glossy? Isn't it the same as the glossy screen on the Macbook and the Macbook Pro?

techound1
Jan 21, 2010, 01:39 PM
The MBA screen is not glossy? Isn't it the same as the glossy screen on the Macbook and the Macbook Pro?

From the apple store:

13.3-inch (diagonal) LED-backlit glossy widescreen display with support for millions of colors

Yep, yucky glossy (yes, I'm a matte fan... :cool:)

jimboutilier
Jan 21, 2010, 03:01 PM
Thanks for your help!

The MBA screen is not glossy? Isn't it the same as the glossy screen on the Macbook and the Macbook Pro?

While the MBA screen is certainly not matte, it nowhere near as glossy as the current gloss finish on the MBP's.

I would characterize the MBA screen like a high quality watch crystal with an anti glare coating. You can see a clear reflection of bright objects positioned appropriately but they are somewhat muted and indoors at least do not seem to interfere much with viewing.

The glossy MB's and MBP with the glass bezel on the other hand are incredibly glossy and objects can be seen very clearly and at near their full brightness so can be very distracting and may require repositioning your screen to have it comfortably viewable.

So I prefer the MBA screen among the glossy ones but if I had a choice I'd choose matte.

iCheddar
Jan 21, 2010, 03:53 PM
Just like jimboutilier said, there is a distinct difference between the Air and Pro displays.

Despite what you may see in the Apple store, the glossy film on the Air is far easier to use, whereas the Pro has an acrylic sheet of glass covering the display.

That being said, the contrast ratio on the Air appears to be higher, resulting in an image that appears to be more robust and saturated than the Air.

Both displays are very high quality, but I'd rather sacrifice the extra gamut of the Pro for the less-glossy finish on the Air.

hackum
Jan 21, 2010, 04:05 PM
Thanks. I will stop by the local Apple Store today to check them out. However I just realized that the Air DOESN'T have an Ethernet port ... This is the only thing that is bothering me ... well if they include one in the next revision I am sold :>

iCheddar
Jan 21, 2010, 04:11 PM
I know it's a pain in the ass to have yet another dongle to bring around with you everywhere, but they do sell a USB ethernet adapter (http://store.apple.com/us/product/MB442Z/A) for the Air.

hackum
Jan 21, 2010, 04:15 PM
Yes, I saw that one but I haven't used anything like this before. Is it reliable, isn't the USB protocol too slow for broadband?

Foreign Feeling
Jan 21, 2010, 04:17 PM
Yes, I saw that but I haven't used anything like this before. Is it reliable, isn't the USD protocol too slow for broadband?

you could always click the link and read the reviews on it.

Airforcekid
Jan 21, 2010, 06:54 PM
1. I haven't seen a display I liked better than the airs.
2. With an SSD I would say this is Apples most solid laptop I banged mine up bad but worked great.

caonimadebi
Jan 21, 2010, 07:35 PM
MBA screens are generally very "yellow", while recent uMBPs tend to have a bluer hue. The difference is only apparent when comparing the screens side by side. Before I owned a uMBP, I absolutely hated the glassy display. Since replacing my rev. B and C MBA's with a MBP, I've come to appreciate the seemingly more vibrant and cooler colors on the uMBP.

McDughf
Jan 21, 2010, 07:55 PM
Yes, I saw that one but I haven't used anything like this before. Is it reliable, isn't the USB protocol too slow for broadband?

The Average Broadband Speed In The UK Is About 8Mb Per Second.
The Original USB 1 Ran At 12.5Mb/s, So It Is More Then Adequate To Run The Average BroadBand Speed

USB 2 Which Is On The MacBook Air Runs At 480 Mb/s - So Much More Then Adequate ;)

The Ethernet Dongle From Apple Only Runs Ethernet At 100Mb/s Though, So You May Find This To Be Slow, Seeing As The MacBook Air's Airport Runs About Three Times Faster Then This. Belkin Or Netgear Do A Gigabit Ethernet To USB2 Adaptor If You Need The Extra Burst Of Speed. theoretically It Should Run At The USB 2's Full Speed ( ie 480Mb/s ) But I Cannot Say For Sure

Barney

bossxii
Jan 22, 2010, 10:33 AM
The Average Broadband Speed In The UK Is About 8Mb Per Second.
The Original USB 1 Ran At 12.5Mb/s, So It Is More Then Adequate To Run The Average BroadBand Speed

USB 2 Which Is On The MacBook Air Runs At 480 Mb/s - So Much More Then Adequate ;)

The Ethernet Dongle From Apple Only Runs Ethernet At 100Mb/s Though, So You May Find This To Be Slow, Seeing As The MacBook Air's Airport Runs About Three Times Faster Then This. Belkin Or Netgear Do A Gigabit Ethernet To USB2 Adaptor If You Need The Extra Burst Of Speed. theoretically It Should Run At The USB 2's Full Speed ( ie 480Mb/s ) But I Cannot Say For Sure

Barney


While this is all good and true, the fact is even on a 100mb DL/xx up you likely won't find anything besides some speed test site that is actually feeding you anything near 100mb DL speeds. I've used the Apple USB dongle with a 20 down/2 up cable package and it's as fast as my desktop hooked up to the ethernet cable.

Normal sites you download from (aside from maybe torrents) you will never notice based on what I've seen using it. Also if not mistaken a Docsis 2.0 cable modem will peak out at 50mb DL speed anyhow, or maybe it's 35mb.. either way no where near the USB Dongle speed. :)

I actually only purchased it to use at work as they do not have wireless setup, but tested it at home.

alphaod
Jan 22, 2010, 12:17 PM
I know it's a pain in the ass to have yet another dongle to bring around with you everywhere, but they do sell a USB ethernet adapter (http://store.apple.com/us/product/MB442Z/A) for the Air.

The dongle comes with the computer.

And if you need multiple USB devices, you can connect the Ethernet dongle and an additional high power device (like an external HDD) without using a powered hub.

hackum
Jan 31, 2010, 05:13 PM
Thanks for the input.

One final question: I currently have the Black Macbook 2Ghz, 4gb RAM. How would this compare to the 1.86 MBA? I presume the Air will be a little slower, is that correct?

iCheddar
Jan 31, 2010, 09:14 PM
Processor to processor, both machines should be very close performance wise, since the MBA uses a 32nm chip, and the Blackbook uses a 65nm chip.

But since the Air is limited to 2GBs of ram, it may be a bit slower than the black. With an SSD however, you'd be able to close the gap a bit.

Scottsdale
Jan 31, 2010, 10:49 PM
Thanks for the input.

One final question: I currently have the Black Macbook 2Ghz, 4gb RAM. How would this compare to the 1.86 MBA? I presume the Air will be a little slower, is that correct?

The MBA has a much higher quality display than the old BlackBook. The MBA will be much faster for normal tasks if you buy the model with the SSD. While the clock speed is slightly slower, it's a Penryn CPU used in the MBA. The chip in the MBA is a 45nm, SL9400 Core 2 Duo SSF 17W Low Voltage CPU with 6MB L2 Cache, which is a nice upgrade over the BlackBook. Also, the Nvidia 9400m performs much better than the 3100 in the BlackBook. The GPU is the difference that makes the MBA far superior to the older BlackBook!

With Snow Leopard, a Penryn CPU, Nvidia GPU, and SSD, the MacBook Air will essentially run circles around the older BlackBook. Sure, for some memory tasks, 2GB of RAM would be inferior, but even that is 1066MHz DDR3 RAM. I would say the one major problem with the MBA in terms of capabilities is the lack of RAM. Those who wish to run Windows virtually in OS X are limited severely by the 2GB of RAM in the MBA. It really means that if you need to run Windows on the MBA you should use Boot Camp instead of Parallels or Fusion.

I would much prefer the MBA to a BlackBook! The MBA is a success story primarily because it has an Nvidia 9400m GPU! The original MBA had a very problematic beginning due to an overheated Merom CPU and an underpowered Intel 3100 integrated graphics solution. I don't believe the MBA would have such a following if it was still "stuck" with Intel's graphics.

hackum
Feb 1, 2010, 07:09 AM
Thanks for the detailed answer. I must say, the MBA sounds really tempting ...

nj-mac-user
Feb 1, 2010, 07:00 PM
Scottsdale couldn't have put it any better. The MBA is by far my favorite laptop of all the laptops I've ever owned despite it's shortcomings (hard drive space for me). The screen is amazing for such a thin design compared to others in it's class. I used to have a uMBP 13" last year and the display quality seems the same for me via naked eye minus the annoying reflection of the uMBP screens.

ericcartman
Nov 12, 2010, 05:01 PM
@coast1ja when i got this MBA 13" 2010 and with the same image on the screen (and the two screens set at the same level of brightness) put it next to a MBPro 13" mid 2009, the Pro screen seemed better to me overall, although the Air screen is brighter. and the Air screen seems more pixellated on some sites, but perhaps that is because the screen resolution is better and so the bad quality of low res images show up more clearly? (that last sentence is only a guess, i'm out of my depth on the technical stuff).overall regrettably i do prefer the MBPro but just for teh screen. carrying it around everyday was breaking my back (i walk a lot also).

magbarn
Nov 13, 2010, 12:43 PM
@coast1ja when i got this MBA 13" 2010 and with the same image on the screen (and the two screens set at the same level of brightness) put it next to a MBPro 13" mid 2009, the Pro screen seemed better to me overall, although the Air screen is brighter. and the Air screen seems more pixellated on some sites, but perhaps that is because the screen resolution is better and so the bad quality of low res images show up more clearly? (that last sentence is only a guess, i'm out of my depth on the technical stuff).overall regrettably i do prefer the MBPro but just for teh screen. carrying it around everyday was breaking my back (i walk a lot also).

The 2010 MBP 13 has better color gamut (in fact one of the best out there) and better contrast than the MBA 13.

Corax
Nov 13, 2010, 01:06 PM
MBA display has higher resolution.
13" MBP 1280x800
13" MBA 1440x900
And indeed the Air's is less glossy, cause they didn't use glass over the display.

Appleind
Nov 13, 2010, 01:21 PM
MBA wins hands down. I own both MBP and MBA and the display is very crisp on the MBA