Apple needs a Hi-Res or Retina MBA

Discussion in 'MacBook Air' started by Radiating, Jan 8, 2013.

  1. Radiating macrumors 65816

    Dec 29, 2011
    After getting a 15" retina going back to the 13" air is like comparing a 4k screen with a 80s CRT TV set. Seeing the individual pixels again makes you focus on how rough and textured lo-res displays look.


    Before retina displays you kind of ignored the texture of pixelated displays, but now when going back and forth you really notice it.

    It's terrible.

    I think Apple really needs to come out with a hi-res or retina option for the MacBook Air 13.3".

    They have the screen, and it will make them money, so why not?


    Just make it and take my money already.

    (Also yes I know I could get the 13" RMBP in theory, but in reality it's too bulky and more like half way between the 15" RMBP and the Air)
  2. Outrigger macrumors 68000


    Dec 22, 2008
    I think you seriously underestimate the technical difficulty in putting a retina screen in the air. Its a bit more complicated than transplanting the 13.3 mbpr onto the air. I'm sure Apple would gladly take your money though.
  3. wolfpuppies3 macrumors 6502

    Jun 26, 2012
    Virginia, USA
    Don't need it. They have the 13" MBPro Retina.

    That was easy.
  4. Menel macrumors 603


    Aug 4, 2011
    It's probably too thick due to more backlight needed to push light through the tinier pixels.

    Also this means more power consuption, thus larger battery.

    Also more GPU. rMBP's GeForce GPU is magnitudes greater than the HD4000 in the MBA.

    More battery for that bigger GPU...

    etc... Just off the top of my head. And once you fix all those things... Well, you basically have the bulkier rMBP.
  5. KPOM macrumors G5

    Oct 23, 2010
    I think the biggest challenge is the battery life now. Hopefully the new 7W Ivy Bridge and forthcoming Haswell chips and refined display technology such as IGZO will help.

    That said, there have been a lot of new Ultrabooks announced at CES, and some of them have 1920x1080 displays. It's possible will see some changes to the display options in 2013. However, I wouldn't count on it. Apple likes big moves, rather than incremental jumps, since 1920x1080 doesn't easily scale to the existing resolutions of either the 11" or 13" MacBook Air. Unfortunately, this is a relative weakness of OS X compared to Windows (which has 150-200% scaling built in). Also, the Air is increasingly Apple's entry level Mac.

    They might offer an 11" MacBook Pro with Retina Display. If so, that could be compelling (2732x1536 display).


    The 13" rMBP makes do with the HD 4000. That said, it can stutter a bit on graphics intensive sites. Haswell's HD 5000 should improve the situation quite a bit, though.
  6. Michael Goff macrumors G5

    Michael Goff

    Jul 5, 2012
    Haswell's HD 4600, you mean?

    Anyway, I doubt they're going to do it unless they eliminate the 13" rMBP. What's the point of having 2 devices that are both retina in the 13" space? And if they won't move the 13", I doubt the 11" is moving either.

    > rMBP 13" is a device that uses the integrated GPU to push retina.
    > rMBA 13" would be a device that uses integrated GPU to push retina.

    Macbook Air 13"
    Height: 0.11-0.68 inch (0.3-1.7 cm)
    Width: 12.8 inches (32.5 cm)
    Depth: 8.94 inches (22.7 cm)
    Weight: 2.96 pounds (1.35 kg)2

    Macbook Pro (With Retina) 13"
    Height: 0.75 inch (1.9 cm)
    Width: 12.35 inches (31.4 cm)
    Depth: 8.62 inches (21.9 cm)
    Weight: 3.57 pounds (1.62 kg)2
  7. KPOM macrumors G5

    Oct 23, 2010
    For the reasons you cite, I don't think it's likely. From October 2010 to October 2012 there was a lot of overlap between the 13" MBA and MBP. The addition of the rMBP differentiated the lines a bit, and it seems unlikely they would want to move the MBA closer to the rMBP (consider also that the MBA has a 1440x900 display that would "retina" to the 15" model).

    That said, 1440x900 isn't quite as impressive anymore, and other manufacturers are finally starting to move away from 1366x768. 1600x900 would be nice for the 11.6" model, and 1650x1080 would be nice options for the 13.3" model, but they don't easily scale from the existing resolutions, so they would result in smaller icons, etc.
  8. Dominus Mortem macrumors regular

    Aug 3, 2011
    First off if they made a retina Air 13 it would be so close to the rMBP 13 to be almost indistinguishable and therefore unlikely to happen, at least not like how you describe it. The Air would have to put on a few ounces too, thus eliminating the weight difference.

    Speaking of weight, have you actually held both in your hands at the same time? The rMBP is smaller! The Air is thinner, up front, and only weighs about 8 ounces less. Both are under 4 lbs which is the threshold most view as being in the ultra portable range. When you hold both in hand they feel very close, it is very difficult to feel the difference in weight, you can, but it feels very minor. You wouldn't be able to tell at all when combining both in bags with books of the same weight.

    I agree the Air screen is pretty bad when compared to the retina, it's really hard to go back to an Air after using a retina display machine.
  9. KPOM macrumors G5

    Oct 23, 2010
    I came from an 11.6" Air (though I have used the 13.3" Air in the past), and I definitely notice the weight difference. It is 50% heavier than the 11.6", though only about 20% heavier than the 13.3" Air. Interestingly, it is narrower than the 13" Air and not much wider than the 11.6" Air. I wonder if Apple will make the 13.3" Air case a little narrower to reduce the weight further.
  10. gnasher729 macrumors P6


    Nov 25, 2005
    The display itself is not a problem at all. The problem is that the display uses lots of power, and fitting a battery into an MBA that gives more than 2 or 3 hours, that's the problem. The 15" rMBP has a _huge_ battery.
  11. Johnny Alien macrumors member

    Nov 17, 2012
    It needs to be compared to the 13" air. Comparing it to the 11" is not really fair. The 13" air is already half a pound heavier than the 11". When compared to the 13" the rMPB has a smaller footprint, is only marginally thicker on the front and is half a pound heavier. Basically it is almost as think and light and size wise is smaller. In no way should it be referred to as bulky. Anyone wanting an ultra portable retina laptop can buy one at this time.
  12. Radiating thread starter macrumors 65816

    Dec 29, 2011
    I just did some math and it looks like the Retina 13" which uses the integrated Intel graphics has the following specs:

    125% larger battery than the MBA
    80% of the battery life of the MBA

    This means it takes 50% more power to run.

    The culprit is yes probably the screen which takes more power, but it's probably also the processor which is a 35W TDP vs a 17W TDP, meaning the rMBP 13" has a much lower efficiency, both have the exact same graphics core so that's not the problem.

    I suspect that Apple put the better processor in the rMBP 13 because it's a pro and not an air.

    This explains why the retina 13" is a bulkier MBA - it has to be, it needs much more battery power.

    Still, I bet with a little work Apple could further miniaturize the components in the Air, keep the same processor, and with a larger battery they could easily achieve the same battery life with 1920x1200.

    At the least they should have a 1680x1050 option. It's a necessary evolution.
  13. LYFK macrumors regular

    Oct 24, 2007
    The 13" MBA pinched the 1440x900 resolution of the old 15" MBP, just like the iPad mini does to the iPad 2. They did this because it's an acceptable resolution and easy to implement, because just like the iPad mini the name of the game is Thin & Light.

    So I believe the main design issue for the MBA is not the screen resolution, but making the MBA substantially thinner and lighter than the rMBP, while improving performance at the same increment that it always has.
  14. Saturn1217 macrumors 6502a

    Apr 28, 2008
    I think the resolution is fine. Even very good. Not everyone needs or can even appreciate retina. But a better quality display like IPS would be great and easier to implement technically. Hopefully apple does this.
  15. KPOM macrumors G5

    Oct 23, 2010
    My guess is that they use the 35W 2.5GHz i5 in the 13" rMBP for cost reasons. Its performance is comparable to the 17W 2.0GHz Core i7 used in the high-end MacBook Air configurations. The Core i7 retails for $346 while the i5 is $225. Apple likely pays less than that, but there is still a differential. The design of the rMBP can handle the hotter temperatures. Most of the extra battery requirements are for the display.
  16. DrumApple macrumors 6502a

    Jan 30, 2009
    There's little doubt the screen will be updated in the next version of the Air. Probably summer 2013 according to the latest rumors.
  17. iLondoner macrumors 6502


    I'd welcome a higher resolution 1680x1050 screen to give me more working space, even if it means the icons would be smaller.

    There was some talk six months ago about a 14-in model for the Asian market.
  18. GrandPhrase macrumors 6502

    Jun 16, 2012
    There are difficulties in putting a retina display into an Air. Not so much the lack of GPU power (since they even put a retina into a 13" rMBP with the same Intel HD 4000), but more of a battery problem, especially with the Air's sheer thinness.

    Personally, I think a rMBA 13" will be out with Haswell - so maybe mid to late 2013?
  19. Radiating thread starter macrumors 65816

    Dec 29, 2011
    You've obviously not owned a retina then. I used to think the exact same thing, and after 3 weeks with the retina you can't go back. We all learned to ignore the flaws of low resolution displays but just a few weeks with a better display will completely change your mind.

    I didn't notice the big deal at all when comparing my 1920x1080 notebook to the retina at the Apple store, and thought the same way you did until just recently.
  20. throAU macrumors 603


    Feb 13, 2012
    Perth, Western Australia
    As above, the retina MBA is the rMBP 13".

    You want retina, you pay pro price.

    Eventually, I expect the airs to be phased out once retina is cheap enough and the "pro" label dropped.

    We'll be back to simply "Macbook" (or "New Macbook" :rolleyes:) and they'll all just be descendants of the rMBP line in 3 different form factors.

    Just a matter of time.
  21. KPOM macrumors G5

    Oct 23, 2010
    Even if they all get Retina Displays (which I expect eventually, but not in 2013) I think they will maintain separate "base" and "pro" lines. The MacBook Pros have always had better color gamut and better processor options, for instance.
  22. Fattytail macrumors 6502a

    Apr 11, 2012
    I agree. I think you'll see two lines, one for ultraportability and one for the higher end prosumer market. They'll all have retina within the next 2-3 years as high resolution screens become standard, but emerging technologies will enable Apple to continue to differentiate the two lines.
  23. Kafka macrumors 6502

    Mar 10, 2011
    Wanting more work space on the Air is not realistic at all and smaller icons/text/etc would be ridiculous. Actually, many people can't comfortably use it as of today, because of how small everything already is.
    Now going retina would be different, but I can't help but facepalm when I see people whining for 1650x1080 on a 13" MacBook (or even 1920x1080... Yeah right!). You've got to remember you're not the only potential buyer.

    Yeah but competition blahblahblah!... Sigh...

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