Is the retina display easier on the eyes?

han_del

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Original poster
May 13, 2016
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A main factor in trying to decide between Macbook Air and the new Macbook is the retina display on the latter, which everybody raves about. I've never owned a retina Macbook, and my question is whether it is easier on the eyes when you're reading. That alone would make me choose the Macbook.
 

BeyondtheTech

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Jun 20, 2007
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I don't know if it's "easier" on the eyes, but I can tell you is just "nicer." Especially when it comes to a MacBook, you will learn to appreciate the additional real estate.
 
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mjs402

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Oct 24, 2013
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A main factor in trying to decide between Macbook Air and the new Macbook is the retina display on the latter, which everybody raves about. I've never owned a retina Macbook, and my question is whether it is easier on the eyes when you're reading. That alone would make me choose the Macbook.
I read on my iPad Pro and my 12-inch MacBook all the time. I then attempt to read from a colleagues MacBook Air and it looks just awful. Blocky and distorted. Colours look bland, font is obviously not crisp. Personally, I would choose the MacBook 12-inch over the Air. While the 13-inch Air is usable (the 11 inch is a piece of garbage on a whole different category), there is no excuse to own/produce that screen in 2016.
 
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DadofThree

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Apr 13, 2010
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A main factor in trying to decide between Macbook Air and the new Macbook is the retina display on the latter, which everybody raves about. I've never owned a retina Macbook, and my question is whether it is easier on the eyes when you're reading. That alone would make me choose the Macbook.
I find it to be a big difference, personally. I've found it difficult to use other screens having had a retina screen on both my phone and macbook for a while now. The sharpness seems to cause less eye strain for me, anyway.
 
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Harthag

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Jun 20, 2009
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Having recently posted in the Air forum on here raving about my renewed love for the Air, I can say that retina is much easier on the eyes and overall clarity / sharpness is much better because of the high DPI scaling. Yesterday I finally gave the MB a chance in store and was able to set up the apps I typically use on a store model (which have been updated for HiDPI since I sold my MBP), left, returned half an hour later to exchange my Air for the MB. I didn't give it a second thought. IPS technology also helps with clarity and uniformity. On the Air even though the screen is only 13" there is still noticeable gamma shift and text on screen is noticeably different at top of screen vs bottom, because it has a TN display. Also the Air display is grainier than the MB and MBP retina. That can also cause some eye fatigue. For me it was annoying but I was fine with it.

I don't think it is worth it to drop $1000 on a laptop with a TN screen in 2016. Not that it is worth it to drop $1300 on a laptop with only 1 USB-C port and Core M either...but I never plug anything else into my laptops anyway. I spent a year telling myself no way would I ever buy a MB retina, and then I finally gave it a chance. I was so wrong.

You should visit an Apple store or another shop that sells both the Air and MB and decide. If they have both side by side you'll see the difference immediately.
 
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jclardy

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Oct 6, 2008
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A main factor in trying to decide between Macbook Air and the new Macbook is the retina display on the latter, which everybody raves about. I've never owned a retina Macbook, and my question is whether it is easier on the eyes when you're reading. That alone would make me choose the Macbook.
Well when comparing to the Air you should consider a couple of things (I'm not sure which you are comparing it to so I'll do both)
- 11" Air is a 16:9 display versus 16:10 on the 12" Macbook (or the 13" Air) - so less vertical space on the 11
- Air's use TN panels versus IPS in the new Macbook. That means better color accuracy, better viewing angles, better black levels, better saturation, etc. Basically a whole lot better.
- The 12" macbook can be set to be scaled to the same display space as the 13" Air (1440x900)

IMO the only reason to buy an Air is if you want a full size USB port and SD card slot. It is just such an old an outdated design now especially considering the screen and trackpad.
 

iSheep5S

macrumors 6502a
Jun 4, 2013
554
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Scotland
As someone that is sensitive to eye strain i have no issues with the Macbook Air. I switch between an iPad Pro 12.9 and the Air at various points in the day with no issues.

If i was starting again with the Macbook? If i could cope with a 12" laptop the rMB would get consideration but i'd probably get the rMBP (again) due to dongle prices and the fact unless i get a 2015 rMB the rMB is the expensive option.
 

han_del

macrumors newbie
Original poster
May 13, 2016
12
5
My eyes start burning when I look at a computer screen too long, which doesn't happen when I read a book. I think this is why there are so many products coming out now that project the UI onto a surface. At least, I hope it's better on the eyes. If retina eases the eyestrain even a little it's worth it.
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Well when comparing to the Air you should consider a couple of things (I'm not sure which you are comparing it to so I'll do both)
- 11" Air is a 16:9 display versus 16:10 on the 12" Macbook (or the 13" Air) - so less vertical space on the 11
- Air's use TN panels versus IPS in the new Macbook. That means better color accuracy, better viewing angles, better black levels, better saturation, etc. Basically a whole lot better.
- The 12" macbook can be set to be scaled to the same display space as the 13" Air (1440x900)

IMO the only reason to buy an Air is if you want a full size USB port and SD card slot. It is just such an old an outdated design now especially considering the screen and trackpad.
The 12" Macbook screen is the same size as the 13" Airs? Sounds good.
 
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boltjames

macrumors 601
May 2, 2010
4,416
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A main factor in trying to decide between Macbook Air and the new Macbook is the retina display on the latter, which everybody raves about. I've never owned a retina Macbook, and my question is whether it is easier on the eyes when you're reading. That alone would make me choose the Macbook.
Two ways to answer this question:

Clarity: Hands-down, the Retina display is off the charts, so clear and crisp, colors are perfect, it's like 2004 when you saw an HDTV for the first time, you'll be blown away.

Strain: I find the Retina has nothing to do with eye strain but the 12" screen does. The secret formula of real estate/font size/viewing distance is specific to each individual, to me this is the biggest factor in the buying process. Go to an Apple Store, spend a solid 30 minutes with an RMB set to your liking, and make sure you can see it clearly with the proper font size at a proper viewing distance. This isn't an insignificant part of the buying process.

BJ
 
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SteveJUAE

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Aug 14, 2015
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Two ways to answer this question:

Clarity: Hands-down, the Retina display is off the charts, so clear and crisp, colors are perfect, it's like 2004 when you saw an HDTV for the first time, you'll be blown away.

Strain: I find the Retina has nothing to do with eye strain but the 12" screen does. The secret formula of real estate/font size/viewing distance is specific to each individual, to me this is the biggest factor in the buying process. Go to an Apple Store, spend a solid 30 minutes with an RMB set to your liking, and make sure you can see it clearly with the proper font size at a proper viewing distance. This isn't an insignificant part of the buying process.

BJ
BJ do not forget we have many more options under windows to adjust appearances of menus, icons etc I think they are much more restricted in OSX as Apple have preset scaling options picked for them is my understanding so they do not get to max out if you have eyes of a hawk for example :)
 
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Queen6

macrumors G3
BJ do not forget we have many more options under windows to adjust appearances of menus, icons etc I think they are much more restricted in OSX as Apple have preset scaling options picked for them is my understanding so they do not get to max out if you have eyes of a hawk for example :)
With third party App`s you can access many more resolution options with OS X, same applies to the look of the UI, although Windows in general is far more flexible in this respect.

Q-6
 
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SteveJUAE

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Aug 14, 2015
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With third party App`s you can access many more resolution options with OS X, same applies to the look of the UI, although Windows in general is far more flexible in this respect.

Q-6
Thanks :)

Odd it's not natively in OSX to take full advantage of the retina display.

I went through the cleartype text the other day it was like an optical exam :D
 

izzyfanto

macrumors regular
Nov 22, 2011
233
102
I don't think it is worth it to drop $1000 on a laptop with a TN screen in 2016. Not that it is worth it to drop $1300 on a laptop with only 1 USB-C port and Core M either...but I never plug anything else into my laptops anyway. I spent a year telling myself no way would I ever buy a MB retina, and then I finally gave it a chance. I was so wrong.
I feel ya, I wish it was cheaper but I am willing to pay extra for the hardware and software Apple provides, not to mention the customer service and warranty. So among the Apple choices, I came to the conclusion that I really appreciated the rMB portability and screen quality, whereas the MBA and the MBP didn't have both of those, only either or.
 

Admiral

macrumors regular
Mar 14, 2015
228
658
I don't think it is worth it to drop $1000 on a laptop with a TN screen in 2016. Not that it is worth it to drop $1300 on a laptop with only 1 USB-C port and Core M either...but I never plug anything else into my laptops anyway. I spent a year telling myself no way would I ever buy a MB retina, and then I finally gave it a chance. I was so wrong.
A couple weeks from now you'll be declaring there's no way that anyone should use a computer that has a fan in it in 2016 either. Honestly I don't know how we ever could stand it.
 
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han_del

macrumors newbie
Original poster
May 13, 2016
12
5
Two ways to answer this question:

Clarity: Hands-down, the Retina display is off the charts, so clear and crisp, colors are perfect, it's like 2004 when you saw an HDTV for the first time, you'll be blown away.

Strain: I find the Retina has nothing to do with eye strain but the 12" screen does. The secret formula of real estate/font size/viewing distance is specific to each individual, to me this is the biggest factor in the buying process. Go to an Apple Store, spend a solid 30 minutes with an RMB set to your liking, and make sure you can see it clearly with the proper font size at a proper viewing distance. This isn't an insignificant part of the buying process.

BJ
Took your advice and went down to the Apple Store. No longer considering the retina Macbook. What I really want is a 13" Air with a retina screen. I did some typing on the rMB. Keys are very crisp. I typed quite well on it, but they are hard on the fingertips. If I typed for an hour or more on that thing the tips of my fingers would start to hurt. By the way, my white unibody white plastic mid-2010 Macbook (the very last white MB released) seems to have a better display than the 13" Air. Believe it or not, I'm still extremely happy with my 2010 Macbook. Visiting the Apple Store only made me appreciate it all the more. For now, I think I will wait to see if 13" Air with a Retina screen gets released. People speculate that Apple intends to replace the Air with the new MacBook. I hope not. At least, I hope they don't use the same keyboard. The rMB struck me as a great machine to travel with, but not for long writing sessions.
 

boltjames

macrumors 601
May 2, 2010
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Took your advice and went down to the Apple Store. No longer considering the retina Macbook. What I really want is a 13" Air with a retina screen. I did some typing on the rMB. Keys are very crisp. I typed quite well on it, but they are hard on the fingertips. If I typed for an hour or more on that thing the tips of my fingers would start to hurt. By the way, my white unibody white plastic mid-2010 Macbook (the very last white MB released) seems to have a better display than the 13" Air. Believe it or not, I'm still extremely happy with my 2010 Macbook. Visiting the Apple Store only made me appreciate it all the more. For now, I think I will wait to see if 13" Air with a Retina screen gets released. People speculate that Apple intends to replace the Air with the new MacBook. I hope not. At least, I hope they don't use the same keyboard. The rMB struck me as a great machine to travel with, but not for long writing sessions.
Glad the advice helped, there is no point in buying a 12" screen if you can't experience it comfortably. Great thing about Apple Stores is that you can sit and experience any notebook for 30 minutes or more and make a very informed buying decision.

BJ
 
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RUGGLES99

macrumors 6502
Feb 9, 2015
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Thank you for the answers. It sounds like it is better to go with retina.
The longer I have my RMB. I find my eyes are being strained. It may be that the screen is too small and the resolution is way too high. It can have a "searing" effect.
 
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