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Old Dec 5, 2012, 07:07 AM   #1
ahbdesign
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Thoughts on iMac Display

I currently have a MacBook unibody (late 2008) and its started to show signs of aging. Downgraded back to snow leopard and its smooth as but I was very keen to get an iMac. And I was more excited to learn about the 'upgraded' screen.

I had a play with the last gen iMac last week in the store and the screen seemed very nice. And today I got a chance to play with the new iMac and boy it's a beautiful looking machine. Supremely thin and elegant. However, the screen didn't jump out at me as anything special. This is strictly speaking about the 21.5". It's good but it just seemed like it lacked sharpness.

I then jumped onto the MacBook Air 13" and everything seemed super sharp. And don't even get me started about the retina mbps. They outshine pretty much everything.

I am now very confused as to what I want. I can get an iMac , MacBook Air or 13" rmbp. I thought the new iMac screen would help me settle it but its just confused me more.
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Old Dec 5, 2012, 07:20 AM   #2
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Your first question to yourself should be "Do I need a desktop or laptop?" Yes, you can use a MacBook Pro or Air on a desk, but at the expense of a much smaller display (unless you buy a separate monitor) and other ergonomic compromises. Similarly, there are tradeoffs between the Air and rMBP, I chose the 11" Air last year because I wanted the smallest, lightest computer that would run OS X.

As for the display, I thought that the 21.5" iMac that I looked at was at least as good as the previous gen, probably a bit better because of the lower reflectivity. It's certainly very good, and I wouldn't consider its quality as a major differentiating point.

Last edited by Roller; Dec 5, 2012 at 07:26 AM. Reason: Added part about display
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Old Dec 6, 2012, 06:16 AM   #3
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Your first question to yourself should be "Do I need a desktop or laptop?" Yes, you can use a MacBook Pro or Air on a desk, but at the expense of a much smaller display (unless you buy a separate monitor) and other ergonomic compromises. Similarly, there are tradeoffs between the Air and rMBP, I chose the 11" Air last year because I wanted the smallest, lightest computer that would run OS X.

As for the display, I thought that the 21.5" iMac that I looked at was at least as good as the previous gen, probably a bit better because of the lower reflectivity. It's certainly very good, and I wouldn't consider its quality as a major differentiating point.
Well I've always used a laptop but am craving to use the Mac OS on a larger screen. A laptop might suit me better as I like to sit around the house but I have my iPad for that too. Hmm, I guess I'll decide in a few months
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Old Dec 6, 2012, 07:02 AM   #4
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Well I've always used a laptop but am craving to use the Mac OS on a larger screen. A laptop might suit me better as I like to sit around the house but I have my iPad for that too. Hmm, I guess I'll decide in a few months
If you don't really need to use your Mac outside the house and can use it in one location at home, an iMac or other desktop computer is the way to go. Laptops make compromises for portability, unless you augment them. And the iPad is great for casual web viewing, email, and so on.
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Old Dec 6, 2012, 07:13 AM   #5
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To be realistic, Apple hasn't even managed to squeeze the retina display into their 17" MacBook Pro.....so I wouldn't hold your breath on a 21" retina imac let alone a 27"!!

Seriously, it's gonna be awhile.

Besides, the 27" iMac screen is better than 1080p! I can surely live with that.
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Old Dec 6, 2012, 08:27 AM   #6
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To be realistic, Apple hasn't even managed to squeeze the retina display into their 17" MacBook Pro.....so I wouldn't hold your breath on a 21" retina imac let alone a 27"!!

Seriously, it's gonna be awhile.

Besides, the 27" iMac screen is better than 1080p! I can surely live with that.
thats what i thought too but after using a retina any other display up close you can see pixels. its like sandpaper on my eyes.
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Old Dec 6, 2012, 08:28 AM   #7
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There isn't a 17-inch MBP. So the next step is the iMac 21-inch.
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Old Dec 5, 2012, 08:34 AM   #8
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However, the screen didn't jump out at me as anything special. This is strictly speaking about the 21.5". It's good but it just seemed like it lacked sharpness.
Good eye. It's the same screen as previous generation, just laminated to the case. But honestly, it's a decent screen. The problem is we are all now jaded by our Retina screens to the point everything else looks like crap. Just gotta wait for the technology and lower cost of the larger panels to catch up.
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Old Dec 5, 2012, 08:42 AM   #9
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Good eye. It's the same screen as previous generation, just laminated to the case. But honestly, it's a decent screen. The problem is we are all now jaded by our Retina screens to the point everything else looks like crap. Just gotta wait for the technology and lower cost of the larger panels to catch up.
Glad I haven't gotten (or even played with) a retina MBP yet! I think the iMac displays are great. I cringe to think what a "retina" resolution would require graphics wise on a 27" iMac! Yikes!

Anyways, like you said, the panels in the new iMacs are the same. They are just closer to the glass. I didn't spend any time with the one at the store, so I can't wait for my 27" to come in early January!
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Old Dec 5, 2012, 11:22 AM   #10
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I went from the 2007 20 inch model to a 2012 21.5 inch model and the screen seems similar in quality. The lamination process or whatever, glueing the thing together I think doesn't make a noticable difference, to me anyway. But I loved the iMac screen before and this one is again very good and I would not have chosen a retina screen had it been offered at an additional cost.
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Old Dec 5, 2012, 02:49 PM   #11
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So for a consumer desktop display or monitor, what is the best display you can buy and how does it compare to the new iMac display?
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Old Dec 5, 2012, 07:54 PM   #12
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Originally Posted by Chupa Chupa View Post
Good eye. It's the same screen as previous generation, just laminated to the case. But honestly, it's a decent screen. The problem is we are all now jaded by our Retina screens to the point everything else looks like crap. Just gotta wait for the technology and lower cost of the larger panels to catch up.
Yea I know it's a decent screen and retina has spoiled us all. I just expected it to seem better than the previous gen.

When I compare the iPhone 5 to the 4s/4, i notice a difference. It's just brighter and seems nicer. Same with the iPad mini! That air gap they eliminated seems to work wonders with the smaller devices. I just thought I'd notice a difference in the iMacs as well but so far I haven't.
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Old Dec 8, 2012, 01:26 PM   #13
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Yea I know it's a decent screen and retina has spoiled us all. I just expected it to seem better than the previous gen.

When I compare the iPhone 5 to the 4s/4, i notice a difference. It's just brighter and seems nicer. Same with the iPad mini! That air gap they eliminated seems to work wonders with the smaller devices. I just thought I'd notice a difference in the iMacs as well but so far I haven't.
Did you check out the glare? I took a look at the new 21.5" at Best Buy and while I wasn't expect the screen to be any better in terms of quality and resolution I was impressed with the glare reduction. They had it next to a 27" Thunderbolt display and it did have far less reflections. I use an antiglare 17" MBP so the glare is my biggest issue with the iMacs.


As for the iPhone, was the brightness set the same on both? When we got the 5 the Verizon store had the 4s and 5 on display and the 4s brightness was set to half that of the 5. Changed the brightness and they looked the same except the 5 has the 16:9 aspect ratio vs 4:3.

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Probably a little off topic but does anyone know if you can install Mac OS X on an external SSD?
Yes, you can boot OS X off USB, FireWire, and Thunderbolt. You can also boot Windows 7 off Thunderbolt.
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Old Dec 8, 2012, 02:25 PM   #14
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Just went to a mac store myself, and compared an 2011 27'' iMac with a 2012 21'' iMac. There's definately a difference in reflections, and the 2012 iMac is one beautiful machine.
I did some comparisons with the 27'' display and the retina MBPs, and the 27'' is one great display if you keep it at a reasonable viewing distance. Even when going back and forward between the 27'' display and the retina models, it still look very good. I feel totally comfortable with my iMac 27'' order, and plan on keeping the iMac for at least 3-4 years. It is possible that we'll get a retina 21'' mac display in a year's time, but there's a big difference and resolution going up to the 27'' display.

I also tried the iMac 27'' at the next highest resolution (1920x1200 I think), and it still looked quite good. I imagine this resolution will work just fine for gaming (for those extra demandig games).

I'm definately not gonna hold out for retina 27'', that's gonna be a loooong wait.
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Old Dec 8, 2012, 03:20 PM   #15
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For most people retina will be to expensive so their is not much point going on about it the whole time. Not many desktop screens can better the iMac's right now.
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Old Dec 5, 2012, 08:16 PM   #16
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Good eye. It's the same screen as previous generation, just laminated to the case. But honestly, it's a decent screen. The problem is we are all now jaded by our Retina screens to the point everything else looks like crap. Just gotta wait for the technology and lower cost of the larger panels to catch up.
Once you have a retina it's hard to go back to a standard screen. I am considering am iMac 27inch but once I put in a fusion drive its $2000. It's hard to spend that much on a non retina
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Old Dec 5, 2012, 09:38 PM   #17
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Once you have a retina it's hard to go back to a standard screen. I am considering am iMac 27inch but once I put in a fusion drive its $2000. It's hard to spend that much on a non retina
Agree 100%. I couldn't do it either. I needed a new desktop bad so I went for the entry 21" figuring it would be easiest to sell if Apple pushes out a better screen later next year. I figure they are going to have to revamp the Thunderbolt display when they announce the next pro machine & the iMac would follow.
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Old Dec 9, 2012, 07:45 PM   #18
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Once you have a retina it's hard to go back to a standard screen. I am considering am iMac 27inch but once I put in a fusion drive its $2000. It's hard to spend that much on a non retina
I could not agree more owning a macbook pro retina and having spent 3,400 on my 2010 iMac putting in a extra 4gb of ram, bumping the cpu and getting apple care, the new iMac may have better features and look slim but my 2010 imac is still working fine for me and at the front it still looks like the new imac, hence i prefer to wait for the retina imac too before cashing in another 3,400 to Apple.
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Old Dec 9, 2012, 08:02 PM   #19
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I 'm thinking of going with a previous gen 27" imac, of course taking out the bs glass cover, staying with the minimal reflections a la air of the panel itself and getting a macframe...

It all depends on how well they 've implemented the glass lamination. In the ipad mini, it's amongst the worst ones, worse than the nexus 7 and the fire hd according to Ray Soneira of display mate. This guy has probably some of the most advanced display tests for screens and found that the mini's reflectance is double that of its competitors. (and just in case some fan boy screams bias, the same guy declared the screen of the ipad 3/4 the best ever tablet screen). There's also a measurement he takes of what sort of offset there is for a certain point due to the multiple layers of lcd and glass, because we might not be able to consciously discern such detail with a naked eye, but subconsciously the eyes can tell and they tire more easily.

I am going to go with the past imac for sure if they 've done yet another blunder and disabled a vesa mount for the new slimmer mac, last thing I need is a huge screen with pretty much zero ergonomics. If they managed to slim the imac by making it non vesa mountable yet kept the decade old non height adjustable foot they will be inane of course.
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Old Dec 10, 2012, 07:19 PM   #20
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Just out of interest, has anyone calibrated their new iMac displays yet?

They are meant to be individually calibrated with accurate colours, gamma and white point.

I'm interested to know how accurate they are out of the box.
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Old Dec 7, 2012, 08:52 AM   #21
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it's a decent screen. The problem is we are all now jaded by our Retina screens to the point everything else looks like crap.
Yep. I was in an Apple Store yesterday and looked at two 21.5" iMacs. Overall screen quality was underwhelming at best.

It's been my experience that smaller screens have always looked sharper. But the new iMac displays didn't look much better than the iPad Mini's that were out.

What I'm surprised about is that there have been very few posts from new owners commenting on the screen one way or another.
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Old Dec 7, 2012, 09:23 AM   #22
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I don't think we'll be seeing any 21" retina displays in 2013.
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Old Dec 7, 2012, 09:46 AM   #23
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Yep. I was in an Apple Store yesterday and looked at two 21.5" iMacs. Overall screen quality was underwhelming at best.

It's been my experience that smaller screens have always looked sharper. But the new iMac displays didn't look much better than the iPad Mini's that were out.

What I'm surprised about is that there have been very few posts from new owners commenting on the screen one way or another.
Well I wouldn't go that far. The mini's text display is fairly obnoxious once exposed to a Retina iPad.

I have a new 21" which sits next to a mini display port Apple Cinema Display. The two are on par. For 2012, not great, but not horrible. Certainly I've seen worse monitors at Best Buy. But it does illuminate that Retina has amped up consumer expectations of display quality. What use to be regarded as fantastic is now only mediocre. Problem is manufacturing capability lags to satisfy us.
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Old Dec 7, 2012, 10:14 AM   #24
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Well I wouldn't go that far. The mini's text display is fairly obnoxious once exposed to a Retina iPad.
True.

While two opinions don't make up a majority user experience, the person standing next to me, holding his iPad Mini up to the new iMacs, made the same observation as I did

Which makes me wonder who is manufacturing the 27" displays
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Old Dec 10, 2012, 09:53 PM   #25
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Just gotta wait for the technology and lower cost of the larger panels to catch up.
for a high PPI desktop monitor.
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