Air 13 vs 11 screen?

Discussion in 'MacBook Air' started by atlas_0, Mar 7, 2017.

  1. atlas_0 Suspended

    atlas_0

    Joined:
    Dec 30, 2016
    #1
    I'm in the process of picking up a portable Mac. I had a maxed 11" back in 2013, and loved everything about it....except the screen. It caused a lot of eye strain for me, along with migraines from long usage.

    I'll be using the portable Mac primarily for college, but also occasional photoshop and Xcode work when I'm away from my 27" iMac.

    Is the screen on the 13" easier on the eyes than the 11"? I know the panels didn't change from 2013 to 2016, but I haven't had any hands on experience with the 13", let alone long term time to see how the screen is on my eyes.

    Can anyone with some experience with both give some advice on this?
     
  2. casperes1996 macrumors 65816

    casperes1996

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    Jan 26, 2014
    Location:
    Horsens, Denmark
    #2
    It's not particularly a better screen, no. I recommend going Retina. - MB or rMBP. More expensive, but well worth the cost for the screen alone.
     
  3. atlas_0 thread starter Suspended

    atlas_0

    Joined:
    Dec 30, 2016
    #3
    Thanks for the info - that makes the decision easier.
     
  4. capathy21 macrumors 65816

    capathy21

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    Jun 16, 2014
    Location:
    Houston, Texas
    #4
    No, if anything it is worse. The 1440x900 resolution makes everything seem smaller and without the higher pixel density of a retina, it really does strain your eyes(mine anyway).

    You can pick up a 2015 retina MacBook Pro for basically what a 13 inch MacBook Air costs. It will give you a much better screen and a more compact form factor. It's a little heavier, but well worth it considering it has a far superior screen, and more power when needed.

    If ultra portability is your goal, check out a retina MacBook.
     
  5. hartleymartin macrumors regular

    hartleymartin

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    Jul 15, 2016
    Location:
    Sydney, Australia
    #5
    On the other hand, the 2015 MacBook Air has up to 12 hours battery life - the longest battery life of any portable Apple Mac.
     
  6. elf69 macrumors 68000

    elf69

    Joined:
    Jun 2, 2016
    Location:
    Cornwall UK
    #6
    i just recently got a 2012 air to replace a 2010 macbook 13.3 with duff keyboard.

    screen is smaller yes but I cope fine all day at work with it.
    I'm 33 and use computers all day.

    no eye strain yet for me.
    the 11 is better for me to take on callout to customers house even if 13" has better battery size is more important to me.

    I run office 2010 on it and use both firefox and chrome together.

    This is best mac i had yet (probably because its the newest one i ever had too)
     
  7. sracer macrumors 603

    sracer

    Joined:
    Apr 9, 2010
    Location:
    Land of Bongos and Beatniks
    #7
    No eyestrain here (over 50 with glasses). For me, my (2014) 11" MBA is the best Apple product and best notebook that I've owned, period. It's a great little workhorse.

    But at this stage of the MBA's lifespan if anyone is hesitant in the least about getting an Air, I simply tell them to plunk down the extra $$$ and get a Macbook or Macbook Pro.

    It is basically, "If you have to ask, then the Macbook Air is not for you." :)
     
  8. Boyd01 macrumors 68040

    Boyd01

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    Feb 21, 2012
    Location:
    New Jersey Pine Barrens
    #8
    I had a 2011 13" MBA and now use a 2013 11" MBA. I really like the 11" better, the small size makes it special. I'm 67 with glasses (that really need replacing). Normal stuff, such as this website, are no problem at all for my eyes. However, I have some documents like spreadsheets and databases where I use 9 point fonts. They are readable, but could cause eyestrain. Generally I use a big external monitor for these, or I zoom in when using the built-in screen.

    When I first switched the the 11" model I changed some font preferences to make type a little bigger in a few programs. I remember Apple Mail was one program where the default font looked fine on the 13" MBA but seemed too small on the 11".
     
  9. ftaok macrumors 603

    ftaok

    Joined:
    Jan 23, 2002
    Location:
    East Coast
    #9
    Noone's mentioned the screen ratio differences between the 13 and 11. The 11 has a 16:9 screen, while the 13 has a 16:10 screen. I personally prefer 16:10 for computer work. On a 16:9 screen, the menu bar makes the usable space to restrictive for me.
     
  10. Boyd01 macrumors 68040

    Boyd01

    Joined:
    Feb 21, 2012
    Location:
    New Jersey Pine Barrens
    #10
    True, nobody has mentioned it in this thread, but it's been discussed extensively in the past. It can be a little restrictive but I'm pretty used to it. And I actually like it better for watching widescreen movies. :)
     
  11. Fancuku macrumors 6502a

    Fancuku

    Joined:
    Oct 8, 2015
    Location:
    PA, USA
    #11
    I tried tolerating the screen of the 13" Air in 3 different occasions but I always ended selling them a month later. Simply unacceptable. A $200 Chromebook that I had had a more pleasant screen than the $1000+ Air.

    If it weren't for the horrible screen, the Air would be the perfect laptop.
     
  12. niteflyr macrumors 6502a

    Joined:
    Nov 29, 2011
    Location:
    Southern Cal
    #12
    I placed a 13" and 11" side by side at the Apple Store and found the 11" screen to be sharper than the 13". Obviously not retina quality, but better. It has more ppi than the 13".
     
  13. elf69 macrumors 68000

    elf69

    Joined:
    Jun 2, 2016
    Location:
    Cornwall UK
    #13
    my fiancee has a 13" air 2,1 and she prefers mine.

    smaller screen but higher res over hers.

    But it is very unfair to compare a 2,1 with a 5,1 model anyway.
     
  14. GSDLVR123 macrumors member

    GSDLVR123

    Joined:
    Sep 7, 2016
    Location:
    USA
    #14
    OK - I'm old - bad eyes...so...I own a 2013 11" MBA ( 8GB)...I love the portability, functionality - do not love the screen clarity/sharpness. Christmas of 2015,I bought my 16 year old daughter a rMBP 13" (16GB I7) and my wife a 27" 5K IMac they love the items - very functional - I love the screens. This past October/November I bought each of my other 2 younger kids the 2016 touch bar 13" MBP model (also upgraded to 16GB)...they love those,very functional and I love the screens. This Christmas I also bought all 5 of of us iPads and while I do not really have a use for mine - except I love the screen. So I have a lot of products in use - I am just so disappointed in the screen of my 11" air...not sure I would have noticed if I had NOT bought my family the other items!! You are young - IF you have the cash- get the retina screen, it is worth it...but ONLY if you have the money (DO NOT BUY ON CREDIT PLEASE).. I'd recommend looking on the Apple Website for a refurbished 2015 rMBP - my daughter LOVES hers - in fact I offered to buy her a touch bar 2016 MBP and i'd take hers - she said she would, but preferred to not. I wish you well - I just hate to see folks spending SO much money, especially young college kids....but as I stated - I'm OLD.
     
  15. elf69 macrumors 68000

    elf69

    Joined:
    Jun 2, 2016
    Location:
    Cornwall UK
    #15
    I bought my 2012 11" air (4GB RAM 64GB SSD) for £200 so im very happy.

    I want new but just cannot afford a new item.
    On a very low income and an expensive classic car restoration too lol
     
  16. dtjay7 macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Jul 25, 2008
    Location:
    N. CA
    #16
    I recently bought the last version of the 11" Air. I had bought the Retina MacBook because I really wanted the better display for a portable computer for travel. But after a couple of months of trying to adjust to the keyboard, I gave it to one of my children. I had a hard time finding a new 11", but I prefer the keyboard in the Air so very much more. I also have a 13" MacBook Retina 2015 for my main computer and the 11" is the perfect travel computer. It feels more sturdy and less fragile than the MacBook Retina.
     
  17. Melrose, Mar 14, 2017
    Last edited: Mar 15, 2017

    Melrose Suspended

    Melrose

    Joined:
    Dec 12, 2007
    #17
    It depends entirely what you're using it for.

    I have a 13" and absolutely love it. It is a perfect little machine, and regardless what MB/Pro lovers say the Air is a little powerhouse. The premium for the screen is only worth it if you're someone who really needs the higher resolution. I have mine connected to an HD monitor, and I never do photo or video editing on the go so the screen is moot. It's easily handled everything I've thrown at it, including very large print design work in CreativeSuite and Windows in Virtual Machine. And iTunes. And Safari. And Mail. It handled them all and toggled seamlessly between them all without a hitch.

    The best thing is to visit and Apple store and check out the options. The Air has more power but an old screen. The MacBook has a nicer screen but may stutter on high end tasks, whereas a Pro might be too hefty and the iMac isn't an option when you're looking at notebooks.

    Not arguing with anyone, just offering a differing viewpoint. The Air is a wonderful balance between power, portability, and price. :)
     
  18. Johnny365 macrumors 6502

    Johnny365

    Joined:
    Nov 30, 2015
    #18
    That's probably why the MBA gets insane battery life, due to the TN panel and being a lower resolution. I also don't mind it at all.
     
  19. rbrian macrumors 6502a

    rbrian

    Joined:
    Jul 24, 2011
    Location:
    Aberdeen, Scotland
    #19
    I had a 2011 11" Air. I loved everything except the crappy screen. I also briefly had an 11" HP Stream, which was a quarter of the price, and had a pretty much identical crappy screen.

    Now I have a Microsoft Surface Pro 4, which has a fantastic screen, a good keyboard, and a touchpad on a par with a Mac. It's the cheapest one, so has the same 6th generation M3 processor as the 12" MacBook. It's actually not at all bad, it feels plenty fast enough, and copes just as well with large complex spreadsheets as my work laptop, which has a 3rd generation i5.

    Unless you really need a powerful processor, the 12" MacBook is better - even smaller and lighter, and an excellent screen. If it wasn't so expensive, I'd probably have one, but it was twice the price of the Surface. The processor may well be good enough, and you can get a hub if you need more ports. There's no excuse for selling a premium computer with a substandard screen. You'll regret it if you buy it. Retina MacBook, or Retina MacBook Pro - it has to be Retina.
     
  20. hartleymartin macrumors regular

    hartleymartin

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    Jul 15, 2016
    Location:
    Sydney, Australia
    #20
    I previously used a 2011 MacBook Pro which has a 13.3" screen at 1280x800. The MacBook Air is 1440x900 so it is an improvement for me. The only other screen I regularly use is a 27" 1920x1080 on my Mac Pro at home so I am more than happy with the screen resolution.

    Some people have theorised that the reason the MacBook Air does not have a retina-type display is to reduce overall power consumption, and for me the long 12-hour battery life is more important than super-sharp displays. I primarily use it for typing notes in class and checking my college emails. My heavy-end computing gets done by my venerable 2008 Mac Pro 3,1.
     
  21. racoop macrumors member

    Joined:
    Oct 13, 2012
    #21
    Screen resolution on the MBA 11" doesn't bother me one bit. In fact, I never realized it wasn't supposed to be good. My go-to work portable and I watch lots of movies on it when I travel. Plenty of punch for the scientific software and graphics works I do.
     
  22. Pugly macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Jun 7, 2016
    #22
    The 16:9 aspect ration is what makes the 11" so hard to use. It's dpi is better than the 13"... so the 11 should look slightly better... and the size makes finding the sweet spot a little easier too.

    But really it depends on the kind of work you want to do. Or if the portability is your main concern. For me my main work is horizontal in nature, so losing vertical resolution is not a big deal. Really compared to the 1280x800 resolution native scaled resolution of 13" retina MBP and old polycarbonate MB, 1366x768 is perfectly usable.
     
  23. sracer macrumors 603

    sracer

    Joined:
    Apr 9, 2010
    Location:
    Land of Bongos and Beatniks
    #23
    As much as I'm a fan of the 11" MBA, I agree with your assessment that the widescreen AR makes it a bit of a challenge.

    What I've done to help things, is to move the dock to the right side and make it auto-hide. I've also gotten into the habit of putting apps in fullscreen mode and using trackpad gestures to switch between them. Those are not things that I typically do on my other OSX devices but these minor tweaks for the 11" MBA have helped.
     
  24. elf69 macrumors 68000

    elf69

    Joined:
    Jun 2, 2016
    Location:
    Cornwall UK
    #24
    I have an 11.6 air.

    But before apple was using 15.6 and 10.1 windows machines and they are all 16:9 so I used to the aspect ratio.

    My air is simply awesome!
    best machine I have owned yet, I have had a fair few being in IT trade
     
  25. rbrian macrumors 6502a

    rbrian

    Joined:
    Jul 24, 2011
    Location:
    Aberdeen, Scotland
    #25
    I did the same thing (except I put the dock on the left). I got so used to it, I did it on all my other machines, Mac and Windows. Only now, when I bought a new 4K monitor for my gaming PC, and put the spare 1080p on the left, does it cause problems.
     

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