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Old Dec 9, 2012, 01:37 AM   #1
arnamak
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Why is nobody talking about this? MBA + AppleTV Resolution Question

I've looked high and low, and used my google-fu to the farthest extent I know how, and I have yet to come across one other person that has noticed what I'm about to talk about.
So, as a newbie programmer (but a programmer nonetheless), I can say comfortably that resolution means a lot to me and those around me. One of the reasons I chose a 13" Air over a 13" Pro is the resolution alone. Which is why it blows my mind that I haven't read anything about this:

When I connect to AppleTV(3) via AirPlay and set the mirror options to "Best Match: Apple TV" I get output on my TV at 1080p, which is expected and wonderful..sure. The mind-blowing part, is the display is mirrored, meaning, my MBA is also displaying a 1920x1080 resolution, rather than its native 1440x900.

That being said, it is apparent that even though the maximum supported resolution of the 13" MBA is 1440x900, it is capable of scaling and producing a display that is greater than that. I'm kind of excited/going insane right now so forgive me if I'm not articulating this in the proper way.

I guess it's better to just show you than try to put everything into words, so here are some screenshots that will help you better understand what I'm babbling about.

The "before" shot, you can see my terminal window is set to 100x60, and when you click on this picture it'll display the resolution above your address bar or on the tab marker (1440x900, native MBA resolution)
As you can see, the terminal fills up the left side of my screen:
http://i.imgur.com/U6iPS.jpg

The "after" shot, when I connect to AppleTV. Same deal, you can tell that my terminal is unchanged because it still displays 100x60. However, you'll notice a significant increase in screen space. Also, at the top above your address bar once again, you'll see that the resolution of this screenshot is 1920x1080 (standard HDTV resolution, and that of AppleTV).
As you can see here, the resolution is drastically different, and as a programmer..it is a godsend on a 13" machine. This is in fact, higher resolution than you can get on the 13" retina model...on a Macbook Air
http://i.imgur.com/DNuz3.jpg


I've racked my brain, and my friends brains, nobody can seem to come up with an answer as to how this is possible. Even if the machine is displaying some sort of condensed variety of a desktop; I want to be able to access that, I want that as my display on my MBA.
No matter which way you look at it, this is 1920x1080 resolution, on a display which the supposed maximum is 1440x900.


TL;DR
My question to all of you, as per the images above, you can see that a 13" 2012 MBA is capable of displaying 1920x1080 resolution (while being mirrored on AppleTv, but on the MBA display). Seeing as how the machine is capable of doing this, how do I achieve this resolution without being connected to AppleTV via Airplay? Sadly, I realize Apple may limit my ability to do so. But the functionality exists, I'm wondering if anyone has had any experience fiddling with this.


P.S. What really makes me wonder, what if it doesn't stop at 1920x1080? AppleTv is limited to 1080p, but what if you could push the display further?
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Old Dec 9, 2012, 01:49 AM   #2
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Originally Posted by arnamak View Post
I've looked high and low, and used my google-fu to the farthest extent I know how, and I have yet to come across one other person that has noticed what I'm about to talk about.
So, as a newbie programmer (but a programmer nonetheless), I can say comfortably that resolution means a lot to me and those around me. One of the reasons I chose a 13" Air over a 13" Pro is the resolution alone. Which is why it blows my mind that I haven't read anything about this:

When I connect to AppleTV(3) via AirPlay and set the mirror options to "Best Match: Apple TV" I get output on my TV at 1080p, which is expected and wonderful..sure. The mind-blowing part, is the display is mirrored, meaning, my MBA is also displaying a 1920x1080 resolution, rather than its native 1440x900.

That being said, it is apparent that even though the maximum supported resolution of the 13" MBA is 1440x900, it is capable of scaling and producing a display that is greater than that. I'm kind of excited/going insane right now so forgive me if I'm not articulating this in the proper way.

I guess it's better to just show you than try to put everything into words, so here are some screenshots that will help you better understand what I'm babbling about.

The "before" shot, you can see my terminal window is set to 100x60, and when you click on this picture it'll display the resolution above your address bar or on the tab marker (1440x900, native MBA resolution)
As you can see, the terminal fills up the left side of my screen:
http://i.imgur.com/U6iPS.jpg

The "after" shot, when I connect to AppleTV. Same deal, you can tell that my terminal is unchanged because it still displays 100x60. However, you'll notice a significant increase in screen space. Also, at the top above your address bar once again, you'll see that the resolution of this screenshot is 1920x1080 (standard HDTV resolution, and that of AppleTV).
As you can see here, the resolution is drastically different, and as a programmer..it is a godsend on a 13" machine. This is in fact, higher resolution than you can get on the 13" retina model...on a Macbook Air
http://i.imgur.com/DNuz3.jpg


I've racked my brain, and my friends brains, nobody can seem to come up with an answer as to how this is possible. Even if the machine is displaying some sort of condensed variety of a desktop; I want to be able to access that, I want that as my display on my MBA.
No matter which way you look at it, this is 1920x1080 resolution, on a display which the supposed maximum is 1440x900.


TL;DR
My question to all of you, as per the images above, you can see that a 13" 2012 MBA is capable of displaying 1920x1080 resolution (while being mirrored on AppleTv, but on the MBA display). Seeing as how the machine is capable of doing this, how do I achieve this resolution without being connected to AppleTV via Airplay? Sadly, I realize Apple may limit my ability to do so. But the functionality exists, I'm wondering if anyone has had any experience fiddling with this.


P.S. What really makes me wonder, what if it doesn't stop at 1920x1080? AppleTv is limited to 1080p, but what if you could push the display further?
I always thought the native resolution of a display was determined by how many pixels there are hardwired into the screen. I don't know how one could be getting more res out of the display than it has pixels (transistors) to do so. I know that lower res is done by combining pixels. But just how would you divide pixels?
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Old Dec 9, 2012, 02:01 AM   #3
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Originally Posted by arnamak View Post
Even if the machine is displaying some sort of condensed variety of a desktop; I want to be able to access that, I want that as my display on my MBA. No matter which way you look at it, this is 1920x1080 resolution, on a display which the supposed maximum is 1440x900.
My guess is Apple doesn't want their customers to run their laptops in screen modes where the output is of lower quality than it should be (people expect higher resolutions to look better than lower ones). Forcing 1920x1080 pixels to be displayed on a 1440x900 screen causes artifacts and probably takes more processing power than running at the native resolution.

You can't see the artifacts in those screenshots because they are recorded at the original resolution. I would expect the final image (displayed on-screen) to be either soft all over, or jagged in some parts depending on how the scaling was done.

None of these side-effects might bother you of course, but they could be enough a reason for Apple.
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Old Dec 9, 2012, 02:15 AM   #4
arnamak
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Originally Posted by Zetaprime View Post
I always thought the native resolution of a display was determined by how many pixels there are hardwired into the screen. I don't know how one could be getting more res out of the display than it has pixels (transistors) to do so. I know that lower res is done by combining pixels. But just how would you divide pixels?
Exactly! If anything, it boggles the mind.
It's been driving me nuts for a few hours now, but the higher resolution is so ideal I've been mirrored to AppleTV since I discovered this and just switched the input on my TV. That's my temporary solution, I suppose.
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Old Dec 9, 2012, 02:30 AM   #5
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Originally Posted by Puonti View Post
My guess is Apple doesn't want their customers to run their laptops in screen modes where the output is of lower quality than it should be (people expect higher resolutions to look better than lower ones). Forcing 1920x1080 pixels to be displayed on a 1440x900 screen causes artifacts and probably takes more processing power than running at the native resolution.

You can't see the artifacts in those screenshots because they are recorded at the original resolution. I would expect the final image (displayed on-screen) to be either soft all over, or jagged in some parts depending on how the scaling was done.

None of these side-effects might bother you of course, but they could be enough a reason for Apple.
That's what I expected when I initially connected to ATV, but it displays everything just as you would imagine on a true 1920x1080 display, there is a slight amount of lag in the mouse, but I never adjusted my track speed in accordance to larger screen space.

What did you mean by "You can't see the artifacts in those screenshots because they are recorded at the original resolution"? Like, in the sense that the screenshots would look better in a screenshot than what I may be seeing by looking at it? I can tell you that I'm aware of what you're saying about higher resolutions not looking as crisp, but I can also tell you that it's barely noticeable. And I mean barely.

Even if, like you say you say (which I'm not doubting), is merely Apple wanting to limit users from being able to access resolutions not designed for the OS, I have two things to say to that. Mountain Lion on a retina is the same as Mountain Lion on a different machine, and the 15" can display 1920x1200 (but they warn you before using that resolution that text/edges/etc may not look as crisp).
More importantly, the second thing, if your device has a maximum resolution of 1440x900, a 16:10 aspect ratio no less, how do you generate pixels out of nothing? As Zetaprime said before, pixels can be combined, but I've never heard of them being divided. It almost defies logic, and has me confused no doubt.

Last edited by arnamak; Dec 9, 2012 at 03:08 AM.
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Old Dec 9, 2012, 03:03 AM   #6
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What did you mean by "You can't see the artifacts in those screenshots because they are recorded at the original resolution"? Like, in the sense that the screenshots would look better in a screenshot than what I may be seeing by looking at it?
You understood correctly - the screenshots are a copy of what the operating system wants to show on-screen, before the image is run through a scaler to resize it to whatever screen resolution the hardware (display) is running at.

You can test this by going to your Display settings, selecting "Scaled" and then changing your screen resolution to for example 800x600. Grab a screenshot of that and return back to your display's native resolution. While you were in 800x600 mode, the image filled your screen vertically and left black bars on the left and right. If you view the image in your display's native resolution however, you'll see that it's smaller. It doesn't fill the screen vertically.

This is because the screenshot was recorded with those exact pixels the operating system was working with (800x600), before the image was up-scaled to your display's native resolution. This is also why the 800x600 mode looks blurry on your display while you're in it, but screenshots of it look sharp (but smaller in physical size) when you're back in native resolution.

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More importantly, the second thing, if your device has a maximum resolution of 1440x900, a 16:10 aspect ratio no less, how do you generate pixels out of nothing? As the user before said, pixels can be combined, but I've never heard of them being divided. It almost defies logic, and has me confused no doubt.
Let's say you have a display with 1600x1200 physical pixels in it.

If you want to display a 800x600 image on that, you draw each pixel in the 800x600 image four times on the 1600x1200 display; twice horizontally and twice vertically. Without any image processing this means that the image becomes grainy, because each drawn pixel is larger.

If you want to display a 3200x2400 image on that same display, you're going to have to discard every other pixel horizontally and vertically. Without any image processing this means that 75% of the pixels you are expecting to see actually aren't shown at all. If for example the image consisted of alternating 1-pixel red and green lines, you'd end up with a pure red or pure green image depending on which lines were removed.

What if the resolution you are scaling from isn't exactly one quarter or four times that of your display's? What if you're trying to draw for example a 2400x1800 pixel image on that 1600x1200 pixel display? Well, then every third pixel is removed horizontally and vertically. This means that instead of that fully red or fully green image I mentioned above you'd get a mostly red or mostly green image, with some strange lines of the other color appearing throughout the image.

Those are very simple examples though as in reality the pixels aren't added or removed quite that harshly. Somewhat similarly to what Zetaprime said about upscaling images, when downscaling a large resolution image to a smaller resolution display the scaler "averages" some of the pixels to give an approximation of the original data at lower resolution. Alternating black and white vertical lines, for example, would become mushy black, white and grey lines because in some parts of the image the original black or white lines could be drawn, but in others a black + white pair of lines would have to be averaged to a grey line simply because there wasn't enough real, hardware pixels available to show both.
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Old Dec 9, 2012, 03:53 AM   #7
arnamak
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You understood correctly - the screenshots are a copy of what the operating system wants to show on-screen, before the image is run through a scaler to resize it to whatever screen resolution the hardware (display) is running at.

You can test this by going to your Display settings, selecting "Scaled" and then changing your screen resolution to for example 800x600. Grab a screenshot of that and return back to your display's native resolution. While you were in 800x600 mode, the image filled your screen vertically and left black bars on the left and right. If you view the image in your display's native resolution however, you'll see that it's smaller. It doesn't fill the screen vertically.

This is because the screenshot was recorded with those exact pixels the operating system was working with (800x600), before the image was up-scaled to your display's native resolution. This is also why the 800x600 mode looks blurry on your display while you're in it, but screenshots of it look sharp (but smaller in physical size) when you're back in native resolution.
I get what you're saying, and if I had just found those images somewhere on the internet and not experienced it first-hand I would undoubtedly agree with you in that it would look worse/different than the screenshot would make it seem. However, I do not believe that to be the case. I'd feel weird about posting a picture of my display that I took off of an iPhone, poor quality and ultimately useless. I've been working with computers and high resolution displays for quite some time now (even had the 15" rMBP for a solid week before I realized I definitely can't afford it). The way that applies to this particular scenario is that I'm quite familiar with the feel of a 1920x1080 display, and this feels nothing short of that. It's a little off-putting on a 13" device, but anything you would expect from 1920x1080 is there.

One thing the pictures do not show, in reference to what you are saying (and I probably should have mentioned this earlier), are the two black bars at the top and bottom of the screen. Each of these bars are approximately .5"(maybe less), and are much like the bars on a TV when you're watching a movie. This is to be expected, however, as the aspect ratio of this display is 16:10 and the aspect ratio of 1920x1080 is 16:9.

I've been using my MBA at this resolution since about two hours before I posted this thread. I'm really trying to be picky, trying to find flaws, trying to find in what sense of the word this is not a traditional 1920x1080 display. I am at a loss. Text does not look as crisp, I will say that. Again, that is to be expected at smaller sizes and higher resolutions. The transition from 1440x900 to whatever I'm "truly" at right now, is much like the transition of "preferred" retina settings to the "more space" variant.

After re-reading several times, I think I finally understand what you mean in the second half of your comment (it's late, finals are killing me, apologies I'm not at 100% right now). But what I take away from it is, wouldn't I notice that? Like I said, I'm really trying to be picky, but I'm not noticing any sacrifice in quality here, every way you look at it is a step up (besides the crisp-ness of text). I've tried everything, looking at high res photos, playing counterstrike go, watching 1080p content, and all of it looks noticeably better than at my device's native resolution, or any resolution I've gotten on a MacBook aside from the rMBP

If you have anything you'd like me to run, or anything to screengrab or take a manual photo of, I'm open to it. For chuckles I ran tput cols (returned 274) and tput lines (returned 76). At native resolution tput cols = 204, tput lines = 63 (For those who don't know what I'm talking about, tput cols (columns) and lines tell you how many available lines and columns you have to type into in terminal). Doesn't really mean much, but it shows you just how your resolution effects the amount you can type onto one screen.

I urge someone with a similar setup to give what I'm doing a shot, so they can see just how awesome it is.
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Old Dec 9, 2012, 05:11 AM   #8
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I get what you're saying, and if I had just found those images somewhere on the internet and not experienced it first-hand I would undoubtedly agree with you in that it would look worse/different than the screenshot would make it seem. However, I do not believe that to be the case.
And ultimately that's what matters - your own perception of the image. Like I wrote in my first post, it's not necessarily something that would bother you if you noticed it in the first place. The one thing we can be sure of is that a set amount of physical pixels exists in the display panel and it won't change no matter what you do. Beyond that it's all perception.

If you do not perceive any issues then you're getting the benefit of having more desktop space without a visible trade-off.

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Originally Posted by arnamak View Post
If you have anything you'd like me to run, or anything to screengrab or take a manual photo of, I'm open to it.
If I had a similar setup as you I'd probably try to come up with something simply out of curiosity.
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Old Dec 9, 2012, 05:46 AM   #9
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And ultimately that's what matters - your own perception of the image. Like I wrote in my first post, it's not necessarily something that would bother you if you noticed it in the first place. The one thing we can be sure of is that a set amount of physical pixels exists in the display panel and it won't change no matter what you do. Beyond that it's all perception.
Quite true. I'm still in disbelief as to how it's running so smoothly and without apparent fault, but that's sort of a question I don't expect an answer to. Anyhow, thanks for your contributions.

What I'm stuck on now, is achieving this without being connected to ATV through Airplay. Because going to school or out of the house, and thus going back to native resolution, is going to result in some groaning.

I just figure if I can see it..if I can touch it..it's gotta be real, right? I would have assumed some sort of third party would have generated an application of sorts by now allowing you to scale to your resolution of choice, seeing as how well this machine can handle such a task...I'd pay 99 cents for that.

Hmm.
Everybody pretend you didn't hear me say that.
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Old Dec 9, 2012, 09:39 AM   #10
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I agree that it is just scaling to the higher resolution, that's it....
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Old Dec 9, 2012, 11:11 AM   #11
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Will QuickRes 2.2 do it?
http://www.macworld.com/article/2012693/mac-gems-quickres-helps-you-get-the-most-out-of-retina-displays.html

There's also SwitchResX
http://www.madrau.com/download/latest/latest.html

Maybe one of those will switch to that resolution without the need for AirPlay?

-Kevin
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Old Dec 9, 2012, 03:47 PM   #12
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Will QuickRes 2.2 do it?
http://www.macworld.com/article/2012...-displays.html

There's also SwitchResX
http://www.madrau.com/download/latest/latest.html

Maybe one of those will switch to that resolution without the need for AirPlay?

-Kevin
You, sir, are my favorite.
Quickres did it, exactly what I was looking for. Much obliged.
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Old Dec 9, 2012, 04:17 PM   #13
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You, sir, are my favorite.
Quickres did it, exactly what I was looking for. Much obliged.
NICE!

Glad to help. I'm getting my MB Air this week....will have to give it a try to see what it's like.

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Old Dec 9, 2012, 11:49 PM   #14
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You, sir, are my favorite.
Quickres did it, exactly what I was looking for. Much obliged.
I don't have an Apple TV, but I did download QuickRes 2.2; however, I cannot select any resolution higher than native even after enabling HiDPI Mode. I would like to try for myself the resolution you described to see if it really is all you say it is. If so, I think it could be very useful.
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Old Dec 10, 2012, 12:03 AM   #15
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2012 MBA 11" and on opening QuickRes it popped it over to 1080. Interesting, but kind of blurry.
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Old Dec 10, 2012, 12:10 AM   #16
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I don't have an Apple TV, but I did download QuickRes 2.2; however, I cannot select any resolution higher than native even after enabling HiDPI Mode. I would like to try for myself the resolution you described to see if it really is all you say it is. If so, I think it could be very useful.
This is what I was afraid of/excited about. You mean when you select resolutions you don't see 1920x1080? Could you take a screenshot? What model MBA do you have? Are you running Mountain Lion? So many questions!
This is what it looks like for me:
http://i.imgur.com/UvsPl.png

----------

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2012 MBA 11" and on opening QuickRes it popped it over to 1080. Interesting, but kind of blurry.
Nice, a confirmation. So I'm not the only one, good. 1080 on an 11", must be difficult to see. Aside from some blurryness, are you noticing anything else? Keep in mind things like the tracking speed of your mouse will seem slower because your screen is now a lot "larger" than it was before. Anything like flickering, poor quality, rough edges, pixelation or anything of that sort?

----------

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NICE!

Glad to help. I'm getting my MB Air this week....will have to give it a try to see what it's like.

-Kevin
Please do, and report back here if possible. This is something that has me intrigued.
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Old Dec 10, 2012, 08:16 AM   #17
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Not experiencing any flickering. Mouse is moving fine, but then again I have tracking speed pretty high to start. Things look small and, I assume since this is because it is running above the native res, a bit blurry to me. Nothing much else to report.

ML 10.8.2

Last edited by VNM; Dec 10, 2012 at 12:56 PM.
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Old Dec 10, 2012, 11:12 AM   #18
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My apologies. I don't know why I forgot to mention that; it's a 2011 MBA 13" and yes I am running ML with all installed updates. What is it supposed to do when you click on "Enable HiDPI Mode"? Because it just prompts me for a password and then the dialogue box goes away once I enter it in. Should I restart to see if I can enable 1920x1080?

Here's the screengrab of the settings and resolutions:

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Old Dec 10, 2012, 11:23 AM   #19
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HA! After logging out then back in (like it says under Advanced settings tool tip), this is all it gave me.



Looks like I should just stick with the default
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Old Dec 10, 2012, 03:11 PM   #20
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HA! After logging out then back in (like it says under Advanced settings tool tip), this is all it gave me.

Image

Looks like I should just stick with the default
Interesting, it seems as though you're missing one HiDPI option as well as 1920x1080. I have a few theories as to why that is. The most likely, I didn't see the AirPlay mirroring option on your tray. Is this because your MBA doesn't support it or did you just remove the icon? Though I'm pretty sure all 2011 Macs support AirPlay, I could be wrong. My next theory, I'm not home right now so I can't find it, but I will later, there's a command you can run to see if your panel was made by LG or Samsung. Though I doubt this alone is the reason, it could be?
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Old Dec 10, 2012, 03:20 PM   #21
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Interesting, it seems as though you're missing one HiDPI option as well as 1920x1080. I have a few theories as to why that is. The most likely, I didn't see the AirPlay mirroring option on your tray. Is this because your MBA doesn't support it or did you just remove the icon? Though I'm pretty sure all 2011 Macs support AirPlay, I could be wrong. My next theory, I'm not home right now so I can't find it, but I will later, there's a command you can run to see if your panel was made by LG or Samsung. Though I doubt this alone is the reason, it could be?
Maybe you need to Airplay mirror once for the resolutions to show up?

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Old Dec 10, 2012, 07:32 PM   #22
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Maybe you need to Airplay mirror once for the resolutions to show up?

-Kevin
I'm thinking you might be right. OP I have a Samsung panel, but regardless that shouldn't affect resolution output. Kind of want to hold out on an TV until the current one is jailbroken or we hear more about their future plans for the product line.
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Old Dec 10, 2012, 08:04 PM   #23
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I'm thinking you might be right. OP I have a Samsung panel, but regardless that shouldn't affect resolution output. Kind of want to hold out on an TV until the current one is jailbroken or we hear more about their future plans for the product line.
Any day now, hopefully.



Also, QuickRes is working well on my '11 11" Air. It would be perfect if I could enlarge text throughout the UI.
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Old Dec 10, 2012, 08:44 PM   #24
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It would be perfect if I could enlarge text throughout the UI.
^This^ And yet Apple continues to ignore our request that has been pined for all throughout this forum and many other places. Someday, we can only hope and wait...
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