Is the Screen on the 11" too Small?

Discussion in 'MacBook Air' started by darkserith, Nov 20, 2010.

  1. darkserith macrumors newbie

    May 13, 2010
    I've been considering getting the macbook air for some time now. However, i'm not really sure if i should buy the 11 inch or the 13 inch, mainly because of the screen size.

    I've been concerned as to whether the 11 inch screen is too small.

    I've seen many reviews, but most focus on the screen's color quality rather than the screen size itself. For example, they usually don't give an opinion as to whether the screen is too small so as to severely strain ones eyes..

    Give me some advice. For 11" inch owners, how is the screen size? How many hours can you go without feeling "eye strain"? And is this "eye strain" for older people whose eyes have already worn out? Because i'm a college student ( 20 yrs old),.
  2. alust2013 macrumors 601


    Feb 6, 2010
    On the fence
    The issue there is one of personal preference. I would say if this is a main computer, go 13", otherwise the 11" might be a better choice. The pixel density is probably fairly similar between the two models, maybe a bit higher on the 11", but I would take a look at each model before you buy.
  3. mikeBCpro5 macrumors newbie

    Oct 13, 2009
    If only there was a place you could go to find out...

    The ******* APPLE Store! I mean seriously OP, come on.
  4. MikhailT macrumors 601

    Nov 12, 2007
    Do you have an Apple Store nearby? I'd recommend checking them out in person. I work on the MBA 10-12 hours a day, the eye strain won't be a problem till the last two hours when you're generally tired. It's not as small as you would think. You're 20 years old, you can hack the 11" MBA all day but do check it out in Apple store or go on campus and find somebody with an MBA.
  5. MikhailT macrumors 601

    Nov 12, 2007
    Dude, not everybody have an Apple store nearby.
  6. darkserith thread starter macrumors newbie

    May 13, 2010
    I've seen it in real life already, at my campus bookstore.

    However, i dont think that playing with it for 15 mins or so would give me any real-world experience/ opinion on it.

    I'd much rather have the opinion of those who have it full time and use it quite often..for that would most likely be my case
  7. hcho3 macrumors 68030

    May 13, 2010
    11 inch is too small for me to be considered as my primary laptop. I use my 2010 MBA as primary laptop. I did look at 11 inch, but it was a lot smaller in my eyes. I need to do my work and school work in my computer.

    11 inch MBA is smaller, but it is not any thinner than 13 inch laptop.

    In the end, 13 inch laptop will be my replacement for my MBP or even imac.

    However, I would certainly consider 11 inch in the future to replace my iPad.

    I was so willing to get iPad 2 to replace my iPad next year, but I am not going to be buying another iPad....
    Not for a while. I will just get 11.6 MBA. Right now, it has too many compromises for me to use compare to 13 inch.

    At the end, it's up to your personal use.
  8. Apple OC macrumors 68040

    Apple OC

    Oct 14, 2010
    let me get my glasses sonny boy ... yes it is too small for my worn out eyes :cool:
  9. snorkelman macrumors 6502a


    Oct 25, 2010
    do you need the extra portability and weight saving the 11" offers over the 13?

    if you dont and its a straight toss up between the two, then I'd go for the 13 and gain the larger screen
  10. ReallyBigFeet macrumors 68030


    Apr 15, 2010
    For web surfing or general writing, I think its fine. For watching movies, its great. For doing slide revisions in PowerPoint, I hated the thing. It reminded me of using my Dell Mini with the squashed screen resolution.

    Its cute...I'll give it that. But the 13" screen is more to my liking as the PPI makes is almost identical to the screen on my 15" Hi-Res.
  11. dmelgar macrumors 68000

    Apr 29, 2005
    The pixel density is about the same between the 11 and 13. Much higher than the 13" MBP. The end result is that text isn't much bigger on the 13 than the 11. You could argue eye strain on either. If the text is uncomfortably small, you can up the font size in each application. Safari and Chrome have a minimum font size setting which is very helpful. I don't think its an age thing, rather its more about how good your eyesight is and/or how comfortable your glasses are.

    Give that the text size isn't different between the two, the more significant difference is the physical size of the screen. The 11 is obviously smaller than the 13, but the aspect ratio is also different. The 11 16:9 vs 16:10 of the 13". This means if feels more squished vertically than the 13. Making the font bigger means fewer lines on the screen. Depends on what you do to determine how big a problem that is. Working on documents with lots of vertical content can become tedious. Things like images, tall websites, application UI layouts, etc.

    I haven't been able to decide, I used an 11 for two weeks and felt that I was having to work around the limited vertical space. However, now that I've gone back to my 13" MBP, i really miss the portability, and not just weight, but the small footprint of the 11 MBA.

    The 11 has lots of other limitations compared to the 13, but they all turned out to be non issues for me. The display size for me is the only real issue.
  12. Abyssgh0st macrumors 68000


    Jan 12, 2009
    No. It's not. The resolution on this thing really makes up for the 'small size.' I come to a 21.5" iMac and a 24" ACD and it really does not feel odd transitioning to my 11" MBA.
  13. southnc macrumors member

    Mar 12, 2010
    If your into watching movies on a flight or into video, then you will notice a difference in the 13" display (which is equivalent in resolution to the Macbook Pro 15!).

    At home, though, there should be little difference; you can hook either of them up to a large, external HD monitor for a nice big display.
  14. celo48 macrumors 6502a

    Apr 9, 2010
  15. SiskoKid macrumors 6502

    Jul 12, 2008
    I saw so many posts about how some people felt the screen was too small, but I went ahead and bought the 11" Ultimate anyway. I think the screen's not too small at all. In fact, I feel the screen's kind of a perfect size. I have an iPad as well, which actually has a smaller screen, and I felt the MBA's screen looks great.

    The only time where I think things might be a little small if when a program may look cluttered. Photoshop looks and works great so no problem there. But After Effects and Final Cut Pro, which btw work surprisingly well on the machine, since there are so many panels for those programs, they do feel a little cramped but are still completely usable.

    But I think the screen's pretty awesome! I totally recommend it :D
  16. potentpotable macrumors regular


    Oct 22, 2010
    Maybe it's cause I have 20/20 vision, but I have no idea what this "eye strain" people talk about is.

    I spend easily 15-20 hours a day on the computer, and the MBA is my primary and only machine.

    I've never gotten headaches or pain in my eyes from staring at the screen, except maybe when I wake up and it's still dark out and the screen turns on and it's momentarily blinding.

    Eye strain is a myth...for young college kids anyway.
  17. jdavtz macrumors 6502a

    Aug 22, 2005
    I think the 11-inch model is fine.

    I was set on buying the 13-inch one, but obviously wanted to play with both in store before committing to it, and after about 15 minutes using the 11-inch one, I wasn't noticing the screen size at all.

    My eyesight is good, so having slightly smaller text etc. compared to my old Macbook isn't a problem, and in fact I prefer it all a bit smaller and sharper. I can fit almost exactly the same amount of "stuff" on the 1366x768 screen (with dock on right hand side) as I could with the 1280x800 Macbook (see attached screenshot).

    So I ended up buying the 11-inch model, and I love it. It's significantly more portable (for me) than the 13-inch one would have been, the screen is lovely to work with.

    I'm not convinced about the whole eyestrain argument - the 13-inch screen will have text just-as-small as the 11-inch screen (+/- a tiny bit, I know the ppi isn't exactly the same).

    I don't think (although I'm not an optometrist nor an ophthalmologist) that screen size per se should give you eyestrain -- after all, no one complains about getting eyestrain from reading a novel printed on 6-inch paper.

    Attached Files:

  18. jimboutilier macrumors 6502a

    Nov 10, 2008
    I've been using 13.3" MB/MBP/MBA as my primary computers for quite a few years and was comfortable with that size and density. The density of the new 13.3 MBA worried me as did the size and density of the new 11.6" MBA as my eyesight is not very good and I spend a lot of time on the computer.

    I took a quick look at both the new MBAs in a Bestbuy, and as was the case with you, they looked ok in the store. The text was definitely smaller but very bright and crisp and clear. The 11.6" had much greater appeal for me as I travel a lot and it just felt so much smaller and lighter.

    This is such a personal thing, no one else can really decide for you. In my case I ordered a loaded 11.6 knowing if it did not suit me after a couple weeks I could likely exchange it for a loaded 13.3, with a restocking fee being unlikely (but possible) given the upgrade.

    As it turns out the 11.6 is a wonderful machine for me and I'm very pleased with it but everyone may have their own set of unique needs and preferences.
  19. aloshka macrumors 65816

    Aug 30, 2009
    Have a mac pro at home with two monitors, really needed a portable machine. Couldn't decide between 13 and 11 like you. Just came home with the 11. Will be traveling with it, so I'll write when I get back with 3 full days of usage on just the air.

    I'm thinking it's ok, because I already feel comfortable on it.
  20. Bakari45 macrumors regular

    Jun 17, 2010
    If the Air was my main computer, I‘d definitely go with the 13”, but since it’s not, I don't mind my 11” because I‘m not using it all the time, and I like the portability of the smaller machine. Also consider the type of work you’ll be doing on the Air. Will it involve lots of open applications? Will you need to switch between them a lot? The extra few inches does make a difference.
  21. Ronnoco macrumors 68030


    Oct 16, 2007
    United States of America
    Love my 11" Ultimate...the screen is gorgeous and the entire form factor (especially the 16x9 display) is perfect for everything I need it to do...
    This is the nicest (not the most powerful but certainly powerful enough for a secondary computer) computer I've ever owned (and I've owned many) and definitely the most fun to use...
  22. bowlerman625 macrumors 68020


    Jun 17, 2009
    Chicago, IL area
  23. aloshka macrumors 65816

    Aug 30, 2009
    So I've been using the 11 for about an hour now, and thinking about the 13. It's beautiful, but does feel a little bit cramped. Now I REALLY can't decide!!
  24. Superdry macrumors newbie


    Jan 16, 2011
    Midlands, England
    Its great!

    I regularly flick back and forth from my 27" iMac and 11" air. The 11" screen is ideal for sofa surfin' etc.

    My last laptop was a 13" MBP and I have had no issues adjusting to the 11" hi res screen. Hope you enjoy it :cool:
  25. St. G macrumors member

    Nov 29, 2010
    There are two potential issues with a small screen: desktop real estate/space and the size of displayed items/text. As one goes up, the other goes down.

    The 11.6" MBA has really great desktop space. Essentially as much as the 13" MBP, though 16:9 instead of 16:10. WAY better than any other netbook I've seen.

    Because of the relatively high resolution, text and images are, by default, smaller than they would be on a similarly-spec'd larger screen. It's not a problem for me, but if it DOES bother you, many/most programs will allow you to adjust the display size.

    So is it too small? I say no.

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