MacBook Air for prolonged use?

Discussion in 'MacBook Air' started by md550, Oct 2, 2014.

  1. md550, Oct 2, 2014
    Last edited: Oct 2, 2014

    md550 macrumors newbie

    Dec 22, 2012
    Hi all,

    Apologies in advance for the long post.

    Currently I have an Early 2013 15" Retina MacBook Pro. 95% of the time it's connected to an external monitor (which is either a Thunderbolt Display or a 20" Samsung 206BW).

    A few weeks ago I was using my laptop's display for several hours at a time. After this I noticed that I began to feel extremely ill (i.e. headache, nausea). I have now concluded that I can use the Retina display for short time periods, but I'm definitely noticing that longer sessions make me ill. I do have an iPhone 5 and this doesn't make me ill, so I'm assuming it has something to do with the size of the screen.

    I am looking at purchasing a 13" MacBook Air (i7, 8GB, 512GB SSD) as it isn't always possible for me to use an external display. Although I understand that this model may be End-of-Life soon, the ironic thing is I wouldn't want a Retina display in this case. I also have a certain Windows application that doesn't scale to the Retina display properly, and so this is another reason for wanting the non-Retina display. The only thing I am concerned about is other updates (i.e. CPU, design). Is it safe to assume that this model won't receive any further incremental updates for at least 6 months?

    What I'm also wondering is how the MacBook Air's display compares to the external monitors I have been using. I've seen that the Thunderbolt Display PPI is ~109 and the PPI for the Samsung monitor is ~99 PPI, so I am hoping I will be satisfied with the Air's 128 PPI? (from and I have used the Air's screen for a few minutes in-store, but I didn't really get a good indication of how it compares to my other screens.

    I'm hoping someone will be able to assist me here. Thanks very much.
  2. mad3inch1na macrumors 6502a

    Oct 21, 2013
    Don't take my word for these solutions, as I don't have any formal medical degree, but these may fix your nausea issues. You may want to consider getting up and taking a 3 minute break every hour. Many of my friends who are going far-sighted start to feel dizzy and naucious while looking at objects that are up close. Consider getting reading glasses if you are having issues reading small text up close. You may not get naucious while using the iPhone because you aren't using it for extended periods of time.

    As for the MBA display, it is worse than the rMBP display in quite a few ways. It has poor viewing angles, so colors can get distorted as you move. The lower PPI and smaller display may make it even harder on your eyes, and the color accuracy is worse. I don't know if it would help with your specific case, but I would be surprised if it did. Apple has a two-week return policy, so you could always return a MBA within that time frame if it doesn't solve your nausea issues. There is a good chance that the MBA will get a complete overhaul in the next 6 months as well.

  3. capathy21 macrumors 65816


    Jun 16, 2014
    Houston, Texas
    I kind of understand how the retina makes you feel. It doesn't make me feel ill, but the best way I can describe it is it is almost too crisp and strong after a while of viewing. I am currently trying out an Air after using a 13 inch retina pro for about 3 months. It has been rather rough getting used to the lower quality display (color accuracy, viewing angles, general text clarity) but I would say I am getting used to it.

    You mentioned a comparison between the MBA and a good external monitor. I was actually comparing my MBA to my work monitor today (work monitor is a 20 inch widescreen monitor 1600x1000 or so display). As far as ppi goes, text seemed to be a little bit clearer on the MBA. Color accuracy was a little better on the external monitor. It isn't bad on the MBA, but it's a TN panel.

    This being said, I cannot express how awesome the Macbook Air is outside of it's meh display. The battery life is amazing. The form factor is perfect. The tapered front means it lays flat against the desk and I do not have an indent on my wrists from typing. It is lightweight. It runs as cool as a cucumber compared to the pro. In fact, I currently have chrome, safari, calendar, mail, and a couple of other things open while streaming ESPN radio and there is literally not a single part of the machine including the bottom that is even warm to the touch. My pro would be considerably warm at this point. It is the little things like this that are making me really love the Air. The display is definitely its weakest feature but it isn't bad, it's just not a retina.

    As far as a refresh of this model I would bet that the Early 2014 is the last MacBook Air as we know it. Many are anticipating a 12 inch retina Air to come along early to mid 2015. If you aren't looking for retina, you should go ahead and get the current model.

    In fact, the Apple refurb store has the maxed out 13 inch 2013 model for 1409. The 2013 and 2014 Macbook Air is virtually the same machine.
  4. kage207 macrumors 6502a

    Jul 23, 2008
    You need to get up and move around more often. I work for an hour and take a 5 minute break. Work for another hour and take a 30 minute break. I repeat this process all day.

    Honestly, it helps doing this to help keep focused and actually increases productivity. Just whatever you do, get up and do something for at least 15minutes of that 30 minute break.

    Also, I use an external monitor (and internal to MBA) and I actually work on my computer for about 14 hours a day. I wish I had a rMBP.
  5. md550 thread starter macrumors newbie

    Dec 22, 2012
    Thanks very much for the replies everyone.

    I still haven't decided whether I should purchase the Air. For now I can try giving my eyes a break every so often and see if it helps.

    The battery life of the Air really appeals to me too - I was using my laptop the other day for a 1.5 hour online conference (video and sound over WiFi) and the battery dropped from 92% to about 10%. I did have my iPhone charging off my laptop at the same time, but I'm guessing the Air's battery would last a lot longer than this.
  6. ABC5S Suspended


    Sep 10, 2013
    Retina is suppose to be better for the eyes and at least it does for me, but my eyes do need a rest from time to time or they begin to get blurry. I also have to dim the screen a bit more and not have it cranked up, which hurts more than when having it set a bit lower. May wish to try this.

    My next notebook will be the 15 inch over the 13 because of my aging eyes with retina. We are all different and I know how difficult it is to get advise that is all over the place for you, but maybe you need to see if its your eyes, glasses if any being used, lighting, and font size. Good luck
  7. md550 thread starter macrumors newbie

    Dec 22, 2012
    Thanks very much for the information. For some reason I have found that I still prefer the non-Retina screen. I think it may be because the Retina screen appears 'fake' to me (I don't really know any other way to describe it). I'm wondering if anyone else has the same opinion?
  8. Dweez macrumors 65816


    Jun 13, 2011
    Down by the river
  9. iososx macrumors 6502a


    Aug 23, 2014
    I have a current 13" MBA, and a current 15" MBPR. They are both simply terrific. I thrive on choice and variety, these two fill my needs perfectly.

    My distinct preference is the retina display, and yet the lower resolution MBA works out fine. Neither presents the slightest issue like eye strain. Given that I work for hours upon hours on end, that speaks well for these Macs.
  10. great high wolf macrumors regular

    great high wolf

    Jan 30, 2006
    Might it be worth trying f.lux to see if the colour temperature of the display is what's throwing you off?
  11. scaredpoet macrumors 604


    Apr 6, 2007
    FYI: The 2013/2014 MBA is not going to be "end of life" soon. End of Life means so support or updates. They may stop making it sometime the middle of next year (a new MBA is unlikely on Thursday) but warranty and AppleCare support will continue for three years past the last day they sell them, very likely including OS X updates. So you should be fine if you get one.

    The successor model is likely to be a retina display.

    You may want to give Apple some feedback regarding what you're experiencing too. If the display is causing you nausea, they need to know this from everyone that's experiencing that symptom.

    Very likely at this point that we won't see an MBA refresh for another 3-6 months, and again, there will be support from Apple for three years after that. Get Applecare if you want to be sure.

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