Is The 17" Mbp Obsolete?

Discussion in 'MacBook Pro' started by Scottyfrombi, Sep 17, 2007.

  1. Scottyfrombi macrumors member

    Sep 10, 2007
    I am pretty sure I am not alone in this, so I am asking for your opinion and advice or just to share your thoughts here. I want a desktop replacement portable laptop computer for Aperture and Photoshop use with multiple raw images. Money is not an issue, I just want the best I can get and have decided to stay with Mac. The 17" 2.4 GHz model is pretty close to perfect for me except for one thing. The backlight behind the LCD screen is CCFL and not LED. Now 6 months ago, I would not have hesitated to buy the 17" as it is configured today. In fact i would have been very happy with the HD screen.

    The problem is that I have read all the reviews that the new LED backlight technology is far superior for a long lasting screen without brightness degradation or worse. I can live with the lesser battery life as it is mostly to used around the house. From all I have read, it doesn't seem that the 17" will be upgraded to LED soon as it is more expensive and Apple does not want to raise prices in the competitive field of laptops.

    I could buy the 15.4" version but I really want the 1440x1200 HD resolution. I considered a 15.4" plus a 23" cinema monitor, but then I am getting away from the reason I am getting a laptop. If I go that way, i might as well get a table top or iMac but I want to be able to use it in the bedroom, living room, outdoors and at an occasional Starbucks.

    I don't want to wait a year to buy, I am ready able and anxious to buy now. I don't think the MBP line will be upgraded any time soon (other than possibly the LED feature), since it is currently at the top of the heap for power and speed in the notebook field. I have read that the current CCFL / LCD 17" will lose up to half it's brightness every year and has a life span of only about 4-6 years with heavy use. since these things cost severa thousands of dollars tricked out, I don't want to have to trade it in for about 5 years or more if possible.

    If what is being said about CCFL/ LCD screens losing brightness by up to half every year, the notebook I have in 5 years will be like a dimming ember while the LED backlit screen will still be burning bright and clear.

    If I buy the current 17" today and they come out with a new LED version a month later, i will be very unhappy. If I wait for it to come and it takes a year, it will be very hard to wait.

    So my choices seem to be
    1. Wait for the 17" to be upgraded (not sure if I have the patience for that if it goes on too long).

    2. Buy the 15.4" and a cinema monitor. I get portability and desktop editing quality monitor but give up the fully portable all in one advantage of the laptop.

    3. Buy the current 17" 2.4GHz version tricked out and just live with my decision, The toughest choice in the long run since Apple has said it will at some point when economically feasable change all it's screens to LED, (Just won't say when).

    Okay, your opinions, and advice welcome. Thanks for contributing. I know there are many in this position, so here is a chance to vent.
  2. UbuntuFu macrumors regular

    Aug 16, 2007
    If you need something now, just get it. If you can wait...then wait it out.

    I still use my Powerbook G4, but I mainly use my MacBook. I also have a Dell 2407WF-HC monitor. It's sweet. Eventually though I want to get a Macbook Pro that does 1900x1200, whether or not its 17 or 15, LED backlight AND a Blu-Ray drive or HD drive. Maybe next year.

    I use the 24" monitor when I feel like watching a movie or when the extra real estate is nice. It's not like I use the monitor all the time. So going with option 2 won't be so bad if you can't wait.
  3. fishkorp macrumors 68020


    Apr 10, 2006
    Ellicott City, MD
    are there are 17" notebooks on the market at all with LED displays? i haven't noticed any.

    i have a MBP with the 1920x1200 display and 7200rpm drive and wouldn't trade it for anything. absolutely perfect for my needs. the screen doesn't bother me at all.
  4. andiwm2003 macrumors 601


    Mar 29, 2004
    Boston, MA
    i would always buy the 15" with a 20" or 24" external monitor.

    the 15" is 300 dollar less expensive. for that you get a 20 inch screen, more portability and you can run even two monitors once in a while. and your mbp screen doesn't wear out.

    the 17" MBP makes only sense if you need the screen on the road.
  5. Scottyfrombi thread starter macrumors member

    Sep 10, 2007
    is it an exaggeration?

    Perhaps I am over reacting or maybe it is overstated by reviewers. Can someone tell me if the difference between a new 17" LCD screen and a 5 year old screen? I have a 12" G4 which I have had for 4 years and it seems to be pretty usable. i suppose the only way to know if it is really degraded is to put it right next to a new one with the same specs. I do not use it for photo editing so the brightness has not really been an issue for me, but a desktop replacement will be held to a higher standard.

    There are no 17" notebooks out at this time and I don't know if there will be any soon. I have been doing some research and found that while the technology is readily available, it is also more expensive for screens over 13". I think Apple made a leap when they put out the 15" model. I think they did it to get the most splash for their bucks and sold a ton more 15" notebooks in the process. I know that a 17" will ship immediately while a 15" is about a week or two from shipping. Presumably due to demand. By being the first, they are getting a ton of free press with reviews and news blogs and forum threads. I think that this is how they are justifying the added expense. If they add it to the 17" today, it would probably not be cost effective.

    If however Sony or Dell or another large maker starts putting out 17" models with LED backlit screens, Apple will have to jump on the bandwagon or fall behind, loosing the momentum of the moment they are enjoying.

    I think when the 17" is upgraded, it will involve a price boost also. However, if the boost is not over a couple hundred dollars, it might be worth it to know that your notebook will look as good in 5 or 1o years as it does today, thus saving money in the long run by delaying upgrades.
  6. macjonny1 macrumors 6502a


    Jan 10, 2006

    99% of LCDs on the market...TVs, computers, etc. are cathode based. Do you see them degrading by that much brighness per year? At that rate, they would be unusable during that timeframe. My work computer's display is at least 5years old and the LCD looks fine to me. My 7 year old DELL laptop at home has a screen that looks great in terms of brightness. I guess I should have had to throw them out by now. Oh, and my 52" LCD TV will be unwatchable in a few years too. Too bad for all those other suckers like me who bought an LCD TV.

    Obviously I'm being sarcastic here. Do we really know how these LED screens will hold up over time?
  7. BornAgainMac macrumors 603


    Feb 4, 2004
    Florida Resident
    I noticed my Powerbook G4 (1.5 Ghz) from 2004 is not as bright as my new Macbook Pro LED display. But the displays have been improved in brightness with each revision so it isn't a fair comparison. I am guessing the display is probably 60% of the original brightness. In 4 years, I am sure Intel will have something that will make today's Mbp look like a G3 in comparision.

    So it really doesn't matter.
  8. macjonny1 macrumors 6502a


    Jan 10, 2006
    Maybe that's the case for you, but there are in fact other people who have other reasons. I personally don't care to have an extra screen sitting on my desk at home. If you are doing professional work and always needing a big screen then it makes sense to have another. For the average user, I would say most people don't want another screen. The extra real-estate on the 17" is fantastic. I haven't seen anyone post with a 17" that regretted their purchase. I have seen lots of 15" owners with size envy.
  9. Habakuk macrumors 6502a

    Jul 10, 2007
    Vienna Austria Europe
    I had exactly the same thoughts like you especially because the CCFL backlights of my previous notebook (a Sony Vaio) were kaputt after 4.5 years of use (mostly safe on my desktop - not many transports - and it was not the only thing that stopped working). I decided for solution #2 although it's not a cinema display but a very good LCD TV by the brand Loewe at the DVI connector.

    I was used to a high definition display (UXGA 1600x1200 16.1") but I learned to arrange with 1440x900 15.4" when I have to be mobile with the computer. It isn't that difficult. OS X and the apps are rather flexible and versatile for that. The dock, dashboard, exposé and maybe frontrow do the rest to get accustomed with the little amount of less space for the desktop even when there was a period of apprenticeship for me to arrange mouse/trackpad/buttons/cursors (screen edges) and keyboard to fit best with the help of third-party-software.

    Now I have my MBP since almost four months and I never would change the bright, fast, sharp and durable (hopefully) LED-backlit screen for something different. The built-in Samsung display has been changed under warranty for a last-generation LG two weeks ago (I've written a report on that in these forums) because of different issues. The only disadvantage with the new panel compared to competitors are the gradients not being 100%.

    But the advantages prevailed. For me. And I didn't regret anything but quite the contrary!
  10. Habakuk macrumors 6502a

    Jul 10, 2007
    Vienna Austria Europe
    I've never heared of a single LED that got broken without strong external hazard. And I am watching some 2000 of them at a huge model railway where the diodes are stressed enormously (shakily electric contacts in the rolling stock).
  11. Scottyfrombi thread starter macrumors member

    Sep 10, 2007
    what would you do?

    If Apple offered the 17" with the option of LED/LCD at a higher price, and the current model at the current price, would you opt to pay say $200 extra for the LED option or take the current one at todays price?
  12. macjonny1 macrumors 6502a


    Jan 10, 2006
    maybe $50-$75 if I was using it all the time (which I don't) and they could promise it wouldn't be yellow-tinged!
  13. PimpDaddy macrumors 6502


    May 9, 2007
    The CCFL LCD's no NOT degrade as fast as you write in your first post.

    I read about it a while ago on this board, and there were some links to sources backing this up. I don't have time to look for it but if you do a search, then you should be able to find it.
    I've seen some pretty old laptops and none of them had a screen that looked bad because of degradation in brightness.

    But as others have suggested. Wait if you can, or buy now if you can't.

    I bought my 17'' with 1920x1200 when the latest rev. came out. I hoped for LED for the 17'' but kinda knew it wouldn't happen. So I bought it... And I could not have been more happy. My MBP is the best thing I've bought in a very, very long time. I don't feel that my display lacks anything and I am perfectly happy with the brightness(I'm using it for photo editing and stuff like that).

    Of course you can always get better stuff if you wait... But if you always want the best you can wait forever because there will always be something better around the corner.

  14. Scottyfrombi thread starter macrumors member

    Sep 10, 2007
    I am with you on this one. I have been trying to determine whether to wait or jump on it now. I have been fishing in Mac and the Apple discussion website for information that might help me make the decision. I have also been googling extensively to try to get a handle on it since I am also too far away from an Apple Store to go in and compare the sets.

    My only concern at this time is whether to wait for the LED backlit screen on the 17" which is currently available on the 15". The general specs all seem to be sufficient to use Aperture and what ever other programs I might need including the upcoming Leopard next month.

    Apple has gone on record as saying that it will put LED backlights in all it's MBP's when it is economically and technically feasible. Most interpret that it will affect the 17" sometime in 2008. Early reports seem mixed at best and I have not been able to determine if this is a feature that is actually worth waiting for if it doesn't come out in October.

    What I have come away with is that the LED/LCD screen is a tiny bit brighter and can be dimmed more than an CCFL/LCD screen which is a benefit for battery use. There is another advantage that may make it worth while. Your laptop screen will appear to be as bright in a year, 5 years or 10 years (not sure how many will keep their laptop for 10 years).

    LED lights work uniformly until they don't work and they just die. CCFL bulbs fade over their life until they lose function. I am not sure what the actual life expectancy of an CCFL backlight is or how much it actually will fade over time, but it seems based on the existing millions of laptops that have been around and been used quite nicely by those who purchased them many years ago to be a pretty good technology.

    I have a 12 G4 powerbook that is 4 years old and gets quite a bit of use and it seems to be pretty usable. I don't know how it would compare with it's screen when purchased, but without putting them together for comparison, I don't really notice any dimming of my CCFL/LCD backlit screen.

    As far as using any laptop for editing images to get a match to a printed image. I am told that this is still not the best use of laptop computers since they only support 6 bit color depth. It gets a bit worse with the glossy screen which I like for everything other than photo editing. I am not sure how this plays out in image editing but it seems that the best use of a laptop in image editing is to screen for usable images and then do edits that involve cropping, sizing cleaning spots etc. and then use a cinema screen or some other table top screen for final color and brightness editing if your a professional using your laptop to make images for a paying customer.

    I think if you are like me, a hobbyist or somewhat casual photographer, the CCFL/LCD screen will serve your purposes quite nicely for at least 5 years or more. I don't think I use my screen more than 8 hours a day. Usually more like a couple or three hours a day and not every day. But if you do use yours for 8 hours every day 7 days a week including holidays, you are only using it for 2900 hours or so. after 5 years this is only about 14600 hours. I think most CCFL lights are good for about 20,000 hours or so. Please correct me if I am wrong here.

    Bottom line. I would like to have an LED backlit screen, but if it doesn't come out or if there is no indication that it is coming out soon after Leopard, I am getting a glossy 17" HD MBP and will probably put a 20" Cinema screen in the house for final edits before printing.

    I would like to hear what others think here as well.
  15. Butthead macrumors 6502


    Jan 10, 2006
    LOL, seems like you've pretty much covered it all in your posts, if you need it now, buy it now, it's not "obsolete" unless you need to edit uncompressed 2k or 4k Hi-Def video in the field (and I think we can dispense with that notion :p), or need a super accurate colors screen. Current LED screen in the MBP is not the absolute greatest, LED screens will improve, and perhaps a next gen (they go so fast) LED screen might make it into a revised MBP line next month! They could offer two screens on the 17in MBP, with the LED version being a more expensive option (that I'm pretty sure, regardless of the price premium, most would opt for). A lot of people that get paid for a living use 17in MBP as their mobile tool of choice...the Emmy Award winning TV Series (don't know why it wins any awards, but that's another issue) "Scrubs" is edited on 2 coasts...with up to the minute deadlines that they need to meet weekly when the series is in production, one Westcost editor, collaborating with an Eastcost editor, both using 17in Apple laptops (even if Dell and others on the PC side usually get the latest and greatest before the Apple laptop line does, in that regard I will disagree, Apple is usually one step behind, not that it's a huge performance gap...due mostly to the super slim design that can be limiting on what hardware is compatible with that mission statement) so you can bet they are waiting for an upgraded 17in model just the same.

    LED's can fail, then don't need to be dropped from a 10story building, they are manufactured in mass, mostly in China. As with all products coming from China these days, some a quite high quality, some are not, some fail prematurely due to poor quality manufacturing/engineering. If you don't like the current LCD screens, then sell your purchase as a loss, and buy a newer LED when the come out, or wait until an improved LED screen, and other hardware you might need are incorporated into the latest and greatest MBP.
  16. vicious7 macrumors 6502a


    Jul 16, 2007
    Jacked into the net...
    I doubt that most 15" owners envy the size of the 17s. The 15s are, after all, a perfect compromise of portability and power. And now with the LED backlit screens, they are even better. If I recall, Apple sells a 15" LED backlit MBP with the same performance as a 17" MBP. :eek:

    Perhaps you have screen envy.

    To the OP: I don't think the 17" is obsolete. It's got great tech inside and it makes for an excellent quasi-portable desktop replacement.
  17. Smurfed macrumors regular

    Apr 2, 2007
    I actually prefer the 17" sticking with the CCFL.

    Just look at the 15.4" MBP's with LED's serious Yellowing problems, and some cases not even uniformly lit. While the 17" does have that unevenly lit issue here and there but with LEDs you'd expect it to be atleast uniformly lit.
  18. MacFever macrumors regular


    Feb 1, 2007

    I'm actually looking at a 17" macbook pro bought in 2006 with core duo 2.16ghz

    and the screen has uneven lighting. It was perfect when it arrived and for a while but until recently it has started changing.

    different areas of the screen is brighter that other parts vertically from top to bottom.

    so it seems to be an lcd issue on the apple laptops as well.
  19. boobooyah macrumors newbie

    Sep 19, 2007

    Just to clear something up, the 17" is indeed faster than the 15"...up to 11% faster.

    yay for the 17"!!
  20. macjonny1 macrumors 6502a


    Jan 10, 2006
    Hmmmm......I think that you misread my post. It said "I have seen lots" and you read that as "most." Big difference there. I would agree that "most" people that bought a 15" like it. I have personally read "lots" of posts in different threads of people who wished that they had bought the bigger screen. My only point was that I haven't seen a post from a 17" screen owner with regrets. Just an observation...
  21. Smurfed macrumors regular

    Apr 2, 2007
    Yeah I was about to point this out also, even though the 15" and 17" both have the same 256mb nVidia 8600M GT...

    The 17" clocks up higher than the 15"

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