Comparing Text on the 2018 MBA to MBP

Discussion in 'MacBook Air' started by sclough, Jan 7, 2019.

  1. sclough macrumors regular

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    #1
    I've been trying out a 2018 MBA the last few days. I do a lot of writing on my machine so I stare at words all day. For some reason I feel like text is slightly crisper on my 2018 MBP 13" than on the 2018 MBA. However as far as I can tell the screens should be identical other than brightness, true tone, and color range. I wouldn't think any of those affect how text renders (I'm comparing nearly black text on a light background in Ulysses). Both computers are running the same resolution and text is set to the same size.

    Am I making this up or just going crazy or is there a screen difference that would make text slightly crisper on the MBP.
     
  2. lpolarityl macrumors 6502

    lpolarityl

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    #2
    I'm going to guess the wider color gamut on the MPB might have something to do with it.
     
  3. sclough thread starter macrumors regular

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    #3
    I was in the apple store today and I asked a salesman if I was crazy. He said there is a difference. He said the better video card in the MBP renders text a little more crisply than the MBA.
     
  4. - rob - macrumors 6502

    - rob -

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    #4
    I'm a little surprised to hear this. Are you talking about on the laptop's display itself or externally?

    I am wondering how limited the real world performance of the MBA is at 4k off the integrated graphics. As in, it can run an external 27" @ 4k but it wasn't really designed for it.
     
  5. auxbuss macrumors member

    auxbuss

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    #5
    I have both an MBP and the MBA. I spend most of the day writing. I don't notice any discernible difference with text.

    However, I've noticed that the colour differences often results in contrast variations between the two screens (i.e. same app with same theme). I suppose this might give the impression of less "crisp" text. I suspect that the MBA default display profile would exacerbate this; but I don't use it.
     
  6. sclough thread starter macrumors regular

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    #6
    The color is also a big difference but I figure that is mostly due to tru tone and partially do to the greater color support on the MBP. Using the Air I really appreciate the tapered design and slighter lighter weight, but I do miss tru tone. I did a manual display profile to shift it a bit closer, but the pro's automatic adjustment is nice
     
  7. smaslov macrumors newbie

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    Nov 27, 2018
    #7
    I found the difference as well and I believe that it is caused by the better contrast ratio on MBP - i.e. black looks darker on that screen, it is quite prominent while watching videos, but also affects the text crispness. By the way, I compared MBAr to 2017 MBP (which is without true tone feature)
     
  8. Howard2k macrumors 68000

    Howard2k

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  9. sclough thread starter macrumors regular

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  10. smaslov macrumors newbie

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    Nov 27, 2018
    #10
    Yes, both running Mojave.

    Somehow Apple put an inferior retina screen into the Air. Shame... But I think it was a conscious move - inferior screen, inferior webcam and inferior CPU to non-touch bar Macbook Pro. Apparently to maximise sales of the latter one which are still plenty in stock. Unfortunately, as much as I like Air chassis I was basically forced to stick to MBP nTB for a year or so until the Air is back to normal. Well, we'll see Intel is preparing something quite exciting with their new Ice Late CPUs - would love to see it. But MBP nTB is the winner for me now - it's a shame I'm not spending most of my time in the cafes - then I'd take Air no matter what - as the case/weight distribution is the best there!

    Tried to find some information about reasons for inferior screen (like energy saving reasons?) - but didn't see anything. Seems to me just costs. As MBP nTB with a great contrast 500 nits screen runs almost the same time as Air!

    P.S. Speaking about the screen - I did also have a stain gate issue with my MBA 2018 - part of the antireflective coating was peeled out. Currently new models are not covered with Apple repair programme, so should I buy MBA I would definitely add AppleCare!
     
  11. auxbuss macrumors member

    auxbuss

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    #11
    Yes, both mine are on up to date Mojave.

    Most of this comparison stuff is inconsequential. If you sit one machine next to the other, it's natural that our unconscious biases come out. Our brains and sense are terribly unreliable. My point being that in normal use, the differences don't affect usage. You just use the thing. It works. I like using my MBP, and I like using my MBA.
     
  12. sclough thread starter macrumors regular

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    #12
    I wonder if the screen in the MBA is basically the screen from the 2015 MBP. Seems like it is by the specs.
     
  13. smaslov macrumors newbie

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    #13
    I didn't have an opportunity to check the contrast against 2015 MBP, but I believe it would be not in MBA favor - don't want to speculate though as I dealt with 2015 MBP quite long ago.

    As for auxbuss comment - personally, when I'm using 2018 MBA I'm noticing low contrast and greyed black color even when there are no other screens to compare with. My old HP Windows machine had a better IPS screen in terms of contrast and vibrance - it was joy to watch movies on that one, not so much on MBA. And for me it's really consistent experience.
     
  14. lpolarityl, Jan 11, 2019
    Last edited: Jan 11, 2019

    lpolarityl macrumors 6502

    lpolarityl

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    #14
    • 300 nits (2018 Air) vs 500 nits (2017 & 2018 MBP).
    • Plain Retina display (2018 Air) vs a P3 color gamut and True Tone Retina display (2018 MPB) (2017 MBP is a Retina P3 gamut but no True Tone).
    That's the difference.

    The 2018 Air definitely (tech specs are on Apple's website) has an inferior screen.

    To the OP, do you spend most of your time doing long writing sessions with the screen at full brightness? I would think that would be the only time you would notice the Air's inferior display, unless you're using some crazy writing application that would take advantage of a wider gamut display, if so, writing apps have really come a long way.
     
  15. auxbuss macrumors member

    auxbuss

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    UK
    #15
    The default display profile is not good – washed out, poor contrast, dull blacks. If you are still using it, I'd switch. I'm using the Rec<blah>709 one.

    I'm not a big movie watcher, but I have been running through Game of Thrones in preparation for the final season. I do notice a kind of yellowy-brown bias on dark indoor scenes compared to the MBP, but otherwise it's fine. The MBP is a better monitor per specs, so I'm fine with this (it was almost 3x the price).

    One other thing – obvious in retrospect – I'm using dark mode, and my main apps support it natively – I write with Scrivener.
     

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