How is the 13" MBA screen on your eyes?

Discussion in 'MacBook Air' started by hkim1983, Jan 25, 2013.

  1. macrumors 6502

    Feb 5, 2009
    I am considering a move from my cMBP 13" to a MBA 13" because of the weight differential, and for the additional resolution (I would highly prefer not having to buy an external monitor if possible).

    Another, smaller reason why I was considering the change was because my eyes don't like staring at the cMBP's screen for prolonged periods of time, especially when I'm reading a lot of text. I was under the impression that the MBAs offered higher PPI, which would make text sharper, and thus easier on the eyes, but after some research, I've found that the difference in PPI between the cMBP and the MBA is minimal (around 20ish?) compared to the (obviously) dramatic jump to retina.

    I don't really care about "blacks" or color gamuts (unless these things affect readability of text over prolonged periods of time, do they?), but for those who have used both screens extensively, is there a noticeable difference between the two screens? Is the MBA easier on the eyes by a material amount? If this isn' the case, then I'll probably just have to buy an external monitor until Apple releases a retina revision that is to my liking...

    Thanks for any insight ahead of time.
  2. macrumors 68020

    Dec 13, 2012
    Southern California
    I have a 13" MBA, a hi-res 15" MBP, & a 15" MBP retina.

    They're all quite nice, just different.

    Personally I could be happy with any one of them.

    I'm not one to rave over the retina as though its the only decent choice.
  3. macrumors 6502a


    Dec 14, 2009
    Helsinki, Finland
    This situation has two angles:
    The subjective size of a pixel is based on two elements: the physical size of the pixel and the distance from the eye (angle). Thus, with two devices with static viewing distance (such as two 13" laptops) the physical ppi has relevance.
    On the other hand, there's the question of clarity/crispness. If you (as I) have to read a lot of scientific papers or other text documents, the question is the "legibility" of characters becomes crucial.

    Let me try to give a personal example:
    My wife has a rev.C (1280x800; 113 ppi) MBA (which corresponds to the cMBP) and a newer (1440x900; 128 ppi) MBA from work. My 15" MBP is also 1440x900 (110 ppi), but the screen is two inches bigger. All three are used at prettymuch uniform viewing distances (as defined by the keyboard' location).

    • Writing documents (Word) or reading pdf's is easier on the eyes with the new MBA (because you can zoom the material to fit the page, resulting in crisper fonts). Naturally, if you do any DTP, the same applies.
    • Browsing the web is a mixed bag - the 15" cMBP fits more stuff, while keeping the content (subjectively) nice and big, the new MBA fits a lot of stuff, but text and graphics are smaller (and we all know that zooming web pages is a pain) and harder to read. The 1280x800 screen feels cramped, but whatever fits on it is easy to read.
    • GUI use is a mixed experience as well. Most GUI's are still designed for lower PPI's, thus making the GUI elements on a higher PPI screen feel small and less legible, but OTOH, with a higher resolution, you can fit a bigger GUI (more windows).

    P.S. I have a 27" TB display - and I hate reading stuff on it. You can't read a PDF without making it big enough to be legible, and once you do that, you have to start moving your head (not only your eyes) to read the page...

  4. macrumors 6502

    Jun 26, 2012
    Virginia, USA
  5. macrumors regular

    Mar 18, 2010
    Los Angeles
    There's already some great analysis here, but for me, the 13 MBA screen is excellent. Great for typing/reading, and also nice for movies on the go. I typically keep the brightness way down, which gives it nice, deep blacks.

    Of course, my next notebook will probably be a Retina, but for now I have no complaints.
  6. macrumors 6502


    Jul 20, 2012
    The 13" 2012 airs screen is really great, i have absolutely no problems with it.

    If MacBook Air never gets a retina you won't hear me complaining!
  7. macrumors 6502


    Jul 17, 2005
    Mooresville, NC
    I love the screen on my 13" MBA.

    I'm the tech coordinator for a school with a 1-to-1 MacBook initiative. The kids all have new 13" Airs, and the staff have 13" non-retina Pros. When I saw the difference between the two screens, I decided to repurpose my Pro and assign myself an Air instead.

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