Underwhelmed with screen resolution

Discussion in 'MacBook Air' started by Phil22, Aug 5, 2012.

  1. Phil22, Aug 5, 2012
    Last edited: Aug 5, 2012

    macrumors member

    Apr 29, 2009
    Hi all,

    Got my 2012 13inch air on Friday and so far absolutely love it with the exception of the display. I don't know if I've been spoiled with the display on the marvellous 2011 27inch iMac that we have. It just seems that the dock, icons, safari etc all seem so much more crisp and vibrant on the iMac. Perhaps this isn't a fair comparison to make but this is all that I have to compare it to. This is my very first laptop that I have owned. I know that I have got 14 days to return it, and am thinking about going to pcworld tomorrow to check out the retina display macbook pro.

    I was just wondering if anyone else felt let down initially with the display and got used to it? (especially if you also have the iMac display to compare it to)

  2. macrumors 6502

    Sep 23, 2007
    In my experience, the quality of the MacBook Air displays is good but not great, so I could see how you might be disappointed with it. Just out of curiosity, do you know the manufacturer of the panel in yours?
  3. Phil22, Aug 5, 2012
    Last edited: Aug 5, 2012

    thread starter macrumors member

    Apr 29, 2009
    Yes I checked this and it's the LG display, however, the first thing I did was to upgrade to mountain lion which I believe gives better results than on lion with this panel?
  4. macrumors regular

    Jul 3, 2012
    Stockholm, Sweden
    In my opinion, OSX doesn't seem to make enough of an effort with the font smoothing. Things really don't look crisp with default settings and I've yet to make it perfect. Obviously some AA or subpixel magic has to happen to make it good looking with this PPI, it just doesn't seem to make enough effort.

    When I boot the windows partition I do notice how nice and crisp text elements start to look. I boot back into OSX and am greeted by the top menu bar displaying very pixely letters (look at the "w's"). Most fonts appear somewhat blurry on web pages etc.

    In tinker tool, I've set font smoothing to "light", and this improved it some. Google gives me a terminal line for this as well:
    defaults -currentHost write -globalDomain AppleFontSmoothing -int 1
    Got to relog after doing this.
  5. macrumors 68030


    Jul 30, 2010
    Glasgow, Scotland
    Mountain Lion's font smoothing/rendering is noticeably different than previous versions of OSX, at least for the UI. On higher PPI displays (133+) I've found the text to be alot sharper.
  6. macrumors regular


    Aug 13, 2010
    Columbus, Ohio
    I just bought mine on Friday and I was not happy with the colors. It just seemed very cold.

    So I did this: http://forums.macrumors.com/showthread.php?t=1417639

    Colors seem more vibrant and my eyes are liking the screen much better. It's not quite similar to my iMac, but it's definitely a lot better than the default LCD settings.
  7. dyn
    macrumors 68000

    Aug 8, 2009
    The iMac has a much better quality panel, a so called IPS panel. This type of panel gives great colour quality. The Air and all the other Apple notebooks that aren't the MBP Retina have a TN panel which is much lower in quality and has bad colour quality when compared to an IPS panel. What you are seeing is normal and is because you are indeed spoiled by the iMacs IPS panel. There is no way of resolving this with things like calibration. You need to replace it with an IPS panel. I've got the same problem but I got used to the displays and hardly notice it any more. If we are lucky Apple will switch to IPS for all their notebooks in the near future (like within 5 years from now..I hope :D).

    FYI: this has absolutely nothing to do with font smoothing, colour profiles, calibration, etc.
  8. macrumors 6502

    Jan 5, 2012
    For the size I am content with the screen resolution and colour representation. It's not an IPS, but it's good enough for me for what it does. The display can benefit from getting "retina" upgrade, I can tell the text at native res looks grainy, but I am not annoyed with it. Perhaps once iGPU gains enough horse power we'll see the move in 2013, and once the price of LCDs come down in price and gain wider adoption. I think consumers are pretty price sensitive to the Air's base price.
  9. macrumors regular

    Jan 1, 2011

    I am glad I am not the only one noticing this. I bought an 11'' and a 13'' MBA and returned both because I just can't stand the color on the displays.

    I found myself thinking: "I am beeing to picky ? Am I going crazy ?". These are not cheap machines and if I buy an 13'', i7, 8GB, 256GB MBA , I am expecting a good display.

    Nevertheless as far as I understood there are differente opinions regarding the methods to surpass this issue. There are people that state that ML does improve this issue, another option can be using the macrumors display configuration , but there are people that state that this is well known and almost impossible to improve. Am I correct ?

    Thanks !
  10. macrumors 6502a

    Oct 8, 2008
    Yeah, I love the form factor of the Airs but their displays are just...well, cheesy.

    Give it a year and I bet we'll see Retinas on them.
  11. macrumors regular

    Jul 28, 2011
    I am really wondering about this. From a normal working distance, which for me is either on my lap while lazing in a recliner or sitting at my desk, I really can't "see" said graininess. Even at the apple shop, while trying out the retina macbook pro and macbook air side by side, I really can't seem to make out any difference in sharpness of text, though I must say that colours do "pop" on the retina macbook air.

    P.S. I am guessing that this is probably due to my imperfect eyesight, I do have a pair of prescribed glasses though. Was just wondering are you seeing this graininess at the usual working distance or really up close and personal. Maybe.... i need new eyes.
  12. macrumors 6502

    Feb 26, 2012
    In my opinion, I'd say that is highly unlikely.

    I think retina will be the dividing point between the Pro and the Air (otherwise they might as well merge into the Macbook Prair).
  13. Phil22, Aug 6, 2012
    Last edited: Aug 6, 2012

    thread starter macrumors member

    Apr 29, 2009
    It's annoying as everything else about the air is really very good; speed, weight etc is all top notch. I'm just not completely dazzled with the display. Also the viewing angles are not great, something that I believe IPS panels are renowned for.

    My main concerns are that when spending this amount of money on a laptop I was hoping to keep it for at least 3 years, yet I have a feeling not even half that time will pass and the airs will be sporting if not IPS panels then at the very least improved resolutions. I know everything you buy will become outdated extremely fast, I don't mind my laptop getting progressively slower as newer processors etc are released. It's just screens don't seem to improve as fast as other components on laptops.

    For anyone that has held the new retina pro how does it compare to the 13inch air? I know it will be undoubtedly more bulky with the increased screen size but with that aside is there much between them?

  14. macrumors 6502

    Jan 5, 2012
    Viewing distance on the air is about the same as on the iPad 3. Since I have an iPad 3, I can easily notice the difference in quality amongst other displays but that doesn't automatically mean other displays are sub par. For the physical size of the air's display the resolution is fine as the texts are already pretty much as small as can be without squinting on the UI elements. When the air gets the retina treatment (a big IF I would guess as consumers of such product are more price sensitive) will largely depend on the performance of the
    upcoming iGPU, if it is up to the task to drive those pixels smoothly.
  15. macrumors 6502

    Feb 26, 2012
    Hmmm just imagine a SAMOLED Air :cool: my Galaxy S2 screen is still the best i've seen (typing this on retina iPad...)
  16. macrumors regular

    Jul 28, 2011
    Thanks for the explanation. It helped me better understand where you were coming from. :D
  17. macrumors 6502a

    Jul 16, 2012
    St. Louis, MO
    Sounds like the OP has the LG display.

    My 2012 MBA has the LG display. Coming from a Dell laptop the MBA has a better display so I didn't know.

    I used the Macrumors color profile for the LG display and it does make a BIG difference in colors, black level, etc.

    I wrote a post about it.

  18. mikeray, Aug 6, 2012
    Last edited: Aug 6, 2012

    macrumors regular

    Jan 17, 2006
    Brooklyn, NY
    Apple is not going to change the resolutions of the Airs. They never really do that. For so many years, Apple has kept their regular 13" laptops at 1280x800. The Airs already have the new updated resolution, it doesn't seem likely to me it will change again anytime soon.
  19. macrumors 6502a


    Jun 16, 2012
    Is anyone running their 13 inch Air through Thunderbolt or similar quality external display? how is it then? Is the Air capable of better colour/sharpness than its own screen can do? Is it comparable with iMac when used with comparable external display?
  20. macrumors 6502a


    Dec 21, 2011
    I can see Puget Sound from here
    I'm running my 2012 13.3" MBA into an HP 2009m monitor. It looks fine to me.
  21. macrumors 68030

    Apr 10, 2003
    A hot desert
    Get a screen calibrator. Makes a huge diff.

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