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Is there a way to change Macbook Air resolution to match retina display?

Discussion in 'MacBook Air' started by bonskovsky, Dec 31, 2012.

  1. bonskovsky, Dec 31, 2012
    Last edited: Jan 2, 2013

    macrumors 6502


    I know you can change the resolution from like 800 x 900 to a little bit higher, but is there a way to make the resolution even higher so that you get the same effect that you would get if you had a retina display?

    I just bought a Macbook Air, i would've gotten the Macbook Pro, but I felt it was just too chunky. So it came to the decision of having to choose retina but chunky, or standard but thin. I chose thin.

    Also: You wouldn't believe this, but I was sitting in the park one day with the Air in my lap and the wind can actually blow the Air right off of your lap, that's how thin it is.
  2. macrumors 6502

    No, you do not have a Retina display.
  3. macrumors 6502


    Ok, that's obvious, what I'm asking is there a way to switch to a higher resolution- higher than 1440 x 900?

    The thing I noticed about the MacBook Air is that when you play HD videos, it tends not to look HD, I mean even the quality of videos on my Dell looked better, but my Dell actually had a lower resolution.

    So maybe 1440 x 900 is too high for HD and I have to turn it down?

    Or does it have something to do with the fact that it's an LED screen?
  4. macrumors demi-god


    There are only so many physical pixels.
  5. macrumors 6502


    Well my original thought was that I didn't want to pay they extra price for retina display, I thought, "well 1440x900 is high enough for me, but if I need to see something in retina, I have an iPhone for that."

    You see, I'm a photo editor and a blogger. I liked using different tactics to make sure that all of my material is in retina display.

    So when I'm making photos I've recently gotten into the habit of making them on the Air just like I normally would, and then viewing it from my phone to see just how good it is in retina display.
  6. #6
    HD is normally 1280 x 720 pixel or 1920 x 1080 pixel (minus the vertical pixels to get the proper aspect ratio).

    Your 13" MBA has only 1440 x 900 physical pixel, you can not get more than that.
    If you for instance screen share with a 1920 x 1200 17" MBP and can see all of its contents on your 13" MBA, that is not, that there are suddenly 1920 x 1200 and more pixel, the 1920x x 1200 pixel from the 17" MBP get scaled down, thus one 13" MBA pixel represents 1.77 pixels from the 17" MBP, probably even more due to the screen sharing window size.
  7. macrumors 6502


    So the scaling down of the MBP retina on a screen share to a MBA doesn't make the images look any better?

    I mean that's what I thought I was seeing when I viewed retina display, all the images get smaller. Well the icons at least..
  8. macrumors regular


    Go to settings->displays and click "scaled". Try the different resolution options. Those are the only options you have. Most will look terrible. If you want retina, you can choose any options that say HiDPI toward the bottom, but you won't get much screen real-estate.

    That is the best you will do on an air.
  9. #9
    The MacBook Pro with Retina Display has four times more pixels than your 13" MBA, and that on a 15" display.
    All graphics, if optimised, are four times the resolution. What is one pixel on your MBA are four pixels on the MacBook Pro with Retina Display, but those four pixels are almost as dense as the one pixel.
  10. macrumors 6502


    So basically, the display on the Air is as good as it gets and they'll never make a retina Air without making it beefy?

    The thinness of the Air has become standard for me, but Retina screens need more power and cooling. Apple managed to make the retina MacBook thinner and lighter by making it more like an Air. The Air doesn’t have the room to spare.

    Like the new iPad, retina screens mean more bulk.
  11. macrumors 6502


    Basically, YOUR display is as good as it gets - there is engineering headache with handling the kind of throughput required for a screen with that kind of resolution - but it can obviously be done. Come some years from now it's probable that a retina Air exists - but until we'll just have to cope ;)
  12. bonskovsky, Dec 31, 2012
    Last edited: Dec 31, 2012

    macrumors 6502


    But here's where you start to see a theme.

    Apple doesn't seem to have a problem with sacrificing thin for a better display. It's why I choose the thin iPad 2 over a hot new iPad.

    But if Apple ever did try to make a retina Air by adding weight to it I wouldn't buy it.

    Like with the iPad mini, you can't have thin and retina.
  13. macrumors 65816


    the iPad is not also powering as many pixels or a large screen, so the graphics processor isnt as powerful either as needed in a 15" and the 13" MBPr
  14. macrumors 68000

    Almost a whole milimeter thicker!
  15. macrumors 6502


    I was in the midst of a transition. And coming from a Dell Inspiron, the jump to Mac, any Mac would be a huge one.

    My philosophy is that thin is in. If I had ever gotten a Pro, it would've been a 13 inch. But the thing about that is that it's 2560 x 1600 and not 2880 x 1800 like the 15.

    Yes, it's still higher resolution, but it's not thin. The thinnest notebook is what fascinates me, because it looks futuristic. It's thin yet has so much power not to mention a long battery. And it's so effortless.

    Knowing how big the Dell Inspiron was, I made it my mission to go for the thinnest.

    If you could slap retina on the Air, you would have the perfect notebook.
  16. macrumors 65816

    Seriously. I have a Dell laptop from work and it weighs like 8 pounds or more I think. Never touch it.

    The thin profile of the rMBP and the power packed inside fascinates me as well. :)
  17. macrumors 6502a


    Look into a program called QuickRes. No program will given you additional physical pixels, but this is a scaling feature. Essentially you can push 1920x1080 on the 11" Air. It sets it up the same way that mirroring to an Apple TV would. You'll get additional screen real estate at the cost of clarity. You can also enable HiDPI through the menu bar. Maybe this isn't what you're asking, but just throwing it out there.
  18. macrumors G5


    MBA 11" has 1366x768 and 13" has 1440x900 pixels. Thar's it.
  19. bonskovsky, Jan 1, 2013
    Last edited: Jan 1, 2013

    macrumors 6502


    Yes!! This is what I was talking about. I know the MBA only has a set number of pixels, but I think there's a way to get the retina effect by going through the back end.

    Just think, the 13 vs 15 MBP's have two different resolutions, yet they are both dubbed retina display.

    Edit: Yeah, just tried it. So now instead of 1440 x 900, I'm on 1920 x 1080, not bad.
  20. #20
    The word "Retina" is only marketing speak, it is not a term for a set resolution. Look at the iPhone 4, it has a Retina display, but a totally different resolution than the 15" MacBook Pro with Retina Display or 13" MacBook Pro with Retina Display or the Old iPad (3) with Retina Display.

    I also think, you got it confused, just because you can display 1920 x 1200 pixel on a 1440 x 900 pixel display through some scaling, does not mean you get a "Retina effect".

    Every "Retina" display Apple introduced on the iPhone, iPad and the 13" and 15" MBPs, had four times the resolution of the previous generation, but the screen real estate stayed the same.

    I also think, this thread runs in circles.
  21. bonskovsky, Jan 1, 2013
    Last edited: Jan 1, 2013

    macrumors 6502


    Retina displays are based on visual acuity. So if you back it up far enough, it's retina.

    Like it says in an article

    The iPhone 4 with 326 PPI is a Retina Display when viewed from 10.5 inches or more. (Not to mention the fact that all iPhones 4 and up are 326 PPI)

    The new iPad 3 with 264 PPI is a Retina Display when viewed from 13.0 inches or more

    The MacBook Pro with 220 PPI is a Retina Display when viewed from 15.6 inches or more.

    And the Macbook Air is 128 PPI, therefore when viewed at 20 inches, it is retina.

    That's simple math.

    You do get a retina effect when you switch to 1920 x 1080 with this program he just showed me.
  22. #22
    What kind of math then?

    As you labeled this issue as resolved, I guess you now have a Retina display.

    PS: Is Apple's approach to its Retina displays understandable?


    No, you do not, if you follow Apple's logic (what was once represented by one pixel, is now represented by four pixel, two rows of two pixels).

    1920 x 1080 pixel will not get properly represented, as 1.6 pixels of the higher resolution have to be displayed by 1 pixel on the lower resolution.
  23. macrumors 6502


    Oh, so you're saying that no matter how high quality the pictures on the screen are, it'll never be properly represented when the actual physical screen doesn't have the pixel density to display high quality imagery.

    Like you said, what was once one pixel is now four pixels. Can't you make up for that by changing the viewing distance?
  24. macrumors 6502a

    to me ultimately what ive skimmed through so far is comparing the retina resolution to multicore processors.

    For example a computer with a single Processor with one Core that has Hyperthreading enabled "tricks" the machine into thinking theirs two cores to do twice the work.

    essentially what youve done is condensed images inside these pixels to appear as a larger resolution, but its just stretching the image.

    i dont quite understand the point of all this or what you are attempting to gain or utilize with a makeshift resolution?
  25. macrumors regular


    I know what you want...

    There used to be a program, back in the PPC 68K days, I forget the name but what it would do was. If you had 832 x 624 or something like that, you could tell it 1600 x 1200. Then as you went to the right corner the whole screen would pan as you move to the corner that is not actually displayed. Then the "hidden real estate" would be shown and it would do it for all four corners.

    But in addition to that you want it scaled so it fits in your window, cause that was back in the non-antialiasing days :p. So basically you want to choose 1920 x 1200 for your "Real Estate" and have the quartz engine scale all that in the 1440 x 900 window.

    Yeah I want that too. But you know what? No one wants to make that System Preference or Menu Bar Tool for some reason :(

    So yeah, but one program that did some stuff was SwitchResX and DisplayConfig X, but not more real estate...

    I would love an App/Pref/Menu that did that again it would be cool.

    I am going to go for now, if I can remember the name of the old one that did this on old 68K/PPC machines I'll post it... I think it was something like SuperRes...


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