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Old Sep 1, 2012, 05:03 AM   #1
MICHAELSD
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MacBook Pro's Retina Display Has an Inferior Color Gamut, 72% NTSC Color Gamut vs 95%

There is one flaw with the MacBook Pro's Retina Display that I feel I should point out as it makes it inferior to the best that is out there. Namely, the amount of colors it can display is merely above-average. It's an improvement over the standard MacBook Pro display (except the matte upgrade), but it can barely hold a candle to the best displays out there, speaking strictly of color reproduction.



Covering 67% of the AdobeRGB color gamut is quite good for a mobile display, with few displays passing it besides last year's matte MacBook Pro being able to display 7% more colors and Razer's high-priced Blade reaching 85%. Though when we compare it to the best available in a laptop, it doesn't look quite as good.

Let's add the king of color gamut displays to the mix, made by AUO and used by Dell in 2011's XPS 15, Lenovo's W520 as well as almost the full lineup of Clevo/Sager 15" laptops. (Tested as the XPS L501X here.)



98% of AdobeRGB is a marked improvement. This also contributes to a better color accuracy.





What does the color gamut "deficiency" (though it's not that bad to be called that...) mean? The Retina MacBook Pro can't show colors as true-to-life and vividly as some of the best PC displays. While this is a non-issue to most people, especially as they won't be comparing displays and the MacBook Pro's resolution punch makes up for it, somebody like me who purchased a Clevo laptop with a 95% NTSC color gamut display has to wonder how much I'll miss it if I sell it for the Retina MacBook pro. It seems odd to worry as the MacBook Pro Retina is still the king of displays with its resolution, though colors really do pop off the screen with the 95% color gamut display - and I suspect web-site images will look better thanks to the 1200p resolution not exposing the pixilation. The trade-off is sharper text for more blocky, slightly less vivid images.

Ironically, one of the main reasons I may keep my 95% color gamut Clevo would be for the display. Although I will take another look at the Retina MacBook Pro tomorrow and write-up a comparison. Too bad I won't be able to purchase the RMBP until I sell this otherwise I would be doing a side-by-side comparison.

The ability to display 23% more colors really makes a noticeable difference compared to a standard 72% NTSC color gamut display, though the Retina MacBook Pro has a very non-standard 72% display so it could be a fair trade.

So the Retina MacBook Pro display is not the end-all king of laptop displays in one significant way, although it keeps its crown otherwise.
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Old Sep 1, 2012, 05:55 AM   #2
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1st your title of NTSC is misleading as there is no mention of NTSC in the graphs. Just as well, since the NTSC Color gamut was defined 60 years ago and has been obsolete for over 30 years. So mixing up the ancient NTSC with the current sRGB / Rec.709 Color Gamut Spec is ridiculous, and shows you have misunderstood display specs and what they really mean.

2nd, your conception that the bigger color gamut is better is wrong. A display with a larger color gamut cannot show colors that are not in the original content - it just exaggerates and distorts the colors. A smaller color gamut produces subdued colors, and too large a color gamut produces over saturated and even gaudy colors. That's why a smaller color gamut is visually better than too large a color gamut.

I have a Sony Vaio Z with 96% sRGB rating and a retina mbp, I can clearly see this is pictures and movies.
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Old Sep 1, 2012, 07:11 AM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BB.King View Post
1st your title of NTSC is misleading as there is no mention of NTSC in the graphs. Just as well, since the NTSC Color gamut was defined 60 years ago and has been obsolete for over 30 years. So mixing up the ancient NTSC with the current sRGB / Rec.709 Color Gamut Spec is ridiculous, and shows you have misunderstood display specs and what they really mean.

2nd, your conception that the bigger color gamut is better is wrong. A display with a larger color gamut cannot show colors that are not in the original content - it just exaggerates and distorts the colors. A smaller color gamut produces subdued colors, and too large a color gamut produces over saturated and even gaudy colors. That's why a smaller color gamut is visually better than too large a color gamut.

I have a Sony Vaio Z with 96% sRGB rating and a retina mbp, I can clearly see this is pictures and movies.
I only mentioned NTSC since display manufacturers still use this in their specification datasheet. Nonetheless, it would have been an even more glaring title if I had compared the 67% Retina AdobeGB vs 98% on the AUO panel.

By effect, the bigger color gamut saturates colors to the point of being noticeably more vivid (they pop quite a bit more) without looking unnatural. It really adds a stark stunningness. Let's show Apple these displays so they can each 100% AdobeRGB next time round.

I did do an extensive comparison with my iPad Retina Display and there are big differences between the two. It should be similar to a RMBP vs AUO 95% comparison since the iPad was measured to cover about 67% of the AdobeRGB gamut as well. I will do the write-up in a little while; spoiler: I really hope Apple increases the color gamut to at least match this on next year's Retina Display, then you couldn't do much better. Until then, it will feel lacking after seeing this. Which frankly makes me feel display-spoiled.
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Old Sep 1, 2012, 07:14 AM   #4
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Still the greatest screen i've ever used.
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Old Sep 1, 2012, 08:28 AM   #5
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For what it is worth, this has virtually no impact for most consumers.

All video content is mastered to BT.709, and all web content is mastered to sRGB, both of which have the same gamut—significantly lower than Adobe RGB. And if you are not using Firefox with gfx.color_management.mode set to 1, you are not even seeing colour accurately on the web—Firefox is the only browser to currently support full colour management. At best, other browsers such as Safari support colour management on tagged images only.


Exceeding the sRGB gamut is only beneficial when editing RAW images from DSLRs, or doing print work.


In fact, exceeding the sRGB gamut can be detrimental to image quality. Most notebook displays are not even 8-bit native (the IPS panel in the Retina MacBook Pro is, however) and you need greater than 8-bit precision when going beyond the sRGB gamut, or the individual steps (gradation) start to become too separated, and banding is introduced into the image. So you are expanding the gamut of the display, while compromising the quality of all sRGB/BT.709 content.

Furthermore, unless you have an IPS panel, colour accuracy is almost irrelevant on a notebook-class display, because the viewing angles are so narrow on non-IPS panels that you will never be able to tell which part of the screen is actually showing true colours. (typically only a very narrow band across the middle of the screen, depending how you have the display angled)
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Old Sep 1, 2012, 10:24 AM   #6
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1: These specs and results mean diddly squat when the screen looks as amazingly beautiful as the retina display I am typing this on. Best laptop display in production, bar none.

2: Erm, there is no 2.
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Old Sep 1, 2012, 11:54 AM   #7
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Agreed. If you want do serious photo editing or similar detailed work, you are on a 27" or larger color calibrated monitor. My rMBP screen is great for most other things.
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Old Sep 1, 2012, 12:08 PM   #8
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I've calibrated my source (photographs, etc.), my display (on my MacBook Pro with Retina display), and my printer.

I don't see any issues with colors; the results all looks consistent.

I usually look at absolute measurements for reference, but do not treat them as cold hard facts.
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Old Sep 1, 2012, 01:44 PM   #9
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Regarding the comparison vs the iPad's Retina Display: I will have that up this weekend since I have decided to publish it as an editorial.
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Old Sep 1, 2012, 03:25 PM   #10
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More retina envy. I love it!

Just buy it, and dump the other one (or keep it if you can afford it)
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Old Sep 1, 2012, 03:41 PM   #11
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The Anandtech review doesn't mention if it was a Samsung or LG display they tested, I'd expect the color characteristics to be different, especially since the Samsung is a PLS display.
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Old Sep 1, 2012, 03:41 PM   #12
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I love smug postings rattling on about things they don't understand. Anandtech is a great site. Their LCD testing are far from comprehensive. It is a more general overview. Adobe gamut is not very important as long as sRGB is correctly covered. What display's get the most negative responses from users? The ones with wide gamut support. Why? Because no one is ready for it. So bad screen showing more inaccurate color is not as good as smaller amount of color shown accurately. And none of this even matters if you are measuring the default profiles these screens come with. They are way off where you want to be. Shown values are crap and just get crappier.
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Old Sep 1, 2012, 03:55 PM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MICHAELSD View Post
It's an improvement over the standard MacBook Pro display
First off, well done. It was an interesting, informative, and well written piece. However, IMO this is the only statement that mattered in the entire post. As others have mentioned this will not matter for 98% (completely made up statistic inputted here!) of users.
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Old Sep 1, 2012, 04:22 PM   #14
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I owned a Dell Studio XPS a couple of years ago with a RGB LED display. The panel was capable of displaying nearly the entire Adobe RGB colorspace. Technically, it was an awesome display. In reality I had to reduce the color saturation to use it. In stock form colors were overly saturated and blown out. At first it was cool, but got old quickly. So be careful what you wish for.
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Old Sep 1, 2012, 04:39 PM   #15
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This does not really matter unless you need to be accurate with colors, such as having an occupation in design, photo editing and the like. Color accuracy is a headache anyway - even if your screen is calibrated flawlessly, everyone still sees slightly differently, sometimes significantly different.

If the screen looks good to you otherwise, that is the only thing that matters.
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Old Sep 1, 2012, 05:15 PM   #16
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The human eye can only see 65536 colours anyway so anything more is pointless.
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Old Sep 1, 2012, 05:27 PM   #17
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Originally Posted by Puevlo View Post
The human eye can only see 65536 colours anyway so anything more is pointless.
Humans also have a 100:1 static contrast ratio. Does that mean we don't need displays better than that? Peripherally the eye can see much more 400:1 - 10,000:1.
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Old Sep 1, 2012, 05:44 PM   #18
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Originally Posted by Puevlo View Post
The human eye can only see 65536 colours anyway so anything more is pointless.
Inaccurate. In testing, it has been found that 10-bit is not sufficient for most people, and 12-bit gradation is required—this is why the DCI spec is 12-bit. (actually, 11-bit gradation is sufficient in most cases)

http://www.it-hiroshima.ac.jp/instit...46_187-196.pdf


Furthermore, the wider the gamut, the greater the required bit-depth is to avoid banding.

As most notebook-class displays are not even 8-bit, and all content viewed on them is in the sRGB/BT.709 gamut, it is detrimental to image quality to exceed it.

Gamut is one area where more is absolutely not better in most situations. (but it can be better when editing wide gamut content such as RAW photographs)
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Old Sep 1, 2012, 06:35 PM   #19
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NIce write up beta.
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Old Sep 2, 2012, 01:01 PM   #20
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Quote:
Originally Posted by derbothaus View Post
I love smug postings rattling on about things they don't understand. Anandtech is a great site. Their LCD testing are far from comprehensive. It is a more general overview. Adobe gamut is not very important as long as sRGB is correctly covered. What display's get the most negative responses from users? The ones with wide gamut support. Why? Because no one is ready for it. So bad screen showing more inaccurate color is not as good as smaller amount of color shown accurately. And none of this even matters if you are measuring the default profiles these screens come with. They are way off where you want to be. Shown values are crap and just get crappier.
That sounds perfectly logical, and without a real point of reference perhaps strictly sRGB coverage is enough. Although once you see AdobeRGB covered, you will wish that all photos are created for the standard. Heck, even sRGB-optimized images look better. It is all more saturated although not to the point it feels forced. I may begin saying this quite a bit if this thread continues, but AdobeRGB coverage adds an extra dimension to colors that is a non-issue for a display that can only display the full sRGB gamut until you have used an AdobeRGB display for a period of time.

As a side note, it's not the same effect as when saturation and color are simply increased through software as is possible on any display; you can see the broader range of colors really create an all-around more satisfying picture for the end user. Some professional designers may need to adjust it for work, but otherwise Apple should not be waiting another 4-5 years (the unibody MacBook Pro had few panel improvements throughout its lifetime) to tweak the Retina Display's color gamut.
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Old Sep 2, 2012, 01:06 PM   #21
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Wide gamut is not something you want without either having a very good srgb emulation mode or until the vast majority of software is color aware. Otherwise everything will just appear over saturated. Maybe it looks better to you, but it's still "fake" in anything that's not color aware.
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Old Sep 2, 2012, 01:13 PM   #22
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Originally Posted by terraphantm View Post
Wide gamut is not something you want without either having a very good srgb emulation mode or until the vast majority of software is color aware. Otherwise everything will just appear over saturated. Maybe it looks better to you, but it's still "fake" in anything that's not color aware.
Considering how 99% of what's on the web is not created for AdobeRGB I do have to wonder if the saturated look is really displaying more tones of the colors than is capable on a sRGB display or if the same effect can be accomplished with a more saturated calibration setting on a display such as the Retina. It seems like the former is more likely since the richness really does appear to be thanks to an expanded color array, but if anyone is able to scientifically answer, I'm all ears.
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Old Sep 2, 2012, 02:10 PM   #23
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Every LCD test I've seen for the retina display never specifies whether they are testing a Samsung or LG panel. Is there any difference between the two manufacturers in terms of color gamut or other qualities?
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Old Sep 2, 2012, 03:14 PM   #24
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That sounds perfectly logical, and without a real point of reference perhaps strictly sRGB coverage is enough. Although once you see AdobeRGB covered, you will wish that all photos are created for the standard. Heck, even sRGB-optimized images look better. It is all more saturated although not to the point it feels forced.
If you are viewing Web content—including photographs—correctly, it will look exactly the same on a 100% sRGB display as it would on a 100% Adobe RGB display.

All web content, computer software and films are created for the sRGB/BT.709 gamuts.

If your content looks more saturated on a wider gamut display, you are not viewing it in a colour managed environment and are oversaturating the picture.

As previously mentioned, to view web content correctly, you must use Firefox with full colour management enabled.


The only time a wide gamut display is beneficial over an sRGB display, is when you are editing wide gamut content—either for print, or to make better decisions when exporting to sRGB/BT.709
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Old Sep 2, 2012, 03:16 PM   #25
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Originally Posted by Rhapsody View Post
Every LCD test I've seen for the retina display never specifies whether they are testing a Samsung or LG panel. Is there any difference between the two manufacturers in terms of color gamut or other qualities?
It has been said that the contrast ratio is slightly higher on the Samsung. Also, the Samsung does not suffer from the image retention issues that some LG RDs do. Color gamut should be roughly the same however as all reviews I've seen have measured 67-69% AdobeRGB, and we can assume at least one had a LG and another had a Samsung.
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