MacBook Air's Inferior Display Disappointing

Discussion in 'MacBook Air' started by Amasashi, Jun 22, 2012.

  1. Amasashi macrumors member

    May 17, 2010
    In all the extensive reviews I've read about the MacBook Air, the only thing they've ever mentioned about the display was that its resolution was higher than the 13" Pro's and text is crisper, and so deem the Air's display to be superior to the Pro's.

    None of them, however, even touch on the fact that the Air's color gamut is quite lacking when compared to the Pro's. Colors seem white and blown out with noticeable loss in fine detail, and it's not something that brightness or viewing angle can fix either.

    Is it just me and my eyes, or do other people notice this problem as well? If so, how do you guys deal with it? Or is it just not a big deal and something you get used to?

    I love the Air so much and totally want to get a 2012 MBA, but the display is really holding me back. Any input will be appreciated!
  2. aristobrat macrumors G5

    Oct 14, 2005
    AnandTech's review of the 2011 Air = 'The Display: Better than Most, Not as Good as the Pro'

    Was the display changed for the 12s? Also with the 11s, I thought there was some variance between the two different manufacturer panels. Samsung, and I forget who the other manufacturer was.
  3. Geekbabe macrumors 6502a


    Nov 20, 2011
    I was very happy with the Air's display... till I got an iPad 3. Truly, for a mobile device the screen on the Air isn't bad but a retina screen does blow it away.
  4. throAU macrumors 603


    Feb 13, 2012
    Perth, Western Australia
    I dealt with it by getting a macbook pro, the air is the GFs :D

    You get what you pay for. While the Air is still well made by PC standards, the screen was built down to a fairly cheap system price.

    To meet that price point, trade offs were made. The air's display is great compared to most laptops I've used. The Pro's is just better.
  5. palpatine macrumors 68040

    May 3, 2011
    It is what it is. I used to code on a timex sinclair 1000 with a decrepit 9" TV when I was a kid. I think I can manage with the Air :)

    The retina display on the iPad is wonderful, and I love reading on it, but looking at the Air isn't causing me physical distress or anything. It will come along when Apple figures it out.
  6. majordude macrumors 68020


    Apr 28, 2007
    What I keep seeing on here time and time again is people expecting all Mac products to be "professional grade." All it does is make those people look ignorant.

    It's like walking into Sears and complaining that the Craftsman tools hurt your hands after using them all day. You think the problem is with THEM. The problem is YOU. Professionals know about, and pay more for, Snap-On and MAC.

    The Air is priced so that everyone can afford it. The MacBook Pros (first, they are called "Pros") cost more, do more and aren't for everyone. To complain that they have different specs is silly. OF COURSE THEY DO!
  7. jmoore5196 macrumors 6502a


    May 19, 2009
    Midwest US
    I think the choice is actually pretty stark: Buy a Retina MBP and lug around a 4.5lb laptop, or buy a display to compensate for the lack of retina display on the MBA.

    The MBA is perfect for me when traveling. Problem is I'm hampered by the display - both size and resolution - when I'm hard down. The situation is exacerbated by the new iPad and the MBP-R showing us how good displays can be.

    I can live with the MBA as my only machine for work and travel, as long as I have a Thunderbolt display at home. I frankly don't want to lug around a still-too-heavy MBP-R ... if I had, I'd have uprooted by 15" MBP and been happy enough with it that I'd never have considered the Air.
  8. jimboutilier macrumors 6502a

    Nov 10, 2008
    Its all relative. The AIRs screen is better than the old MB's but perhaps not as good as some MBP's. Its among the best of anything at its price point. Other than color accuracy (an issue thats been widely discussed), its a very, very good screen most people have no trouble using all day long.

    If color accuracy is important you you it might not be a great choice and any of the PROs would likely be much better in that respect. If you want something small and light with a screen with great color fidelity you will have to do some digging (maybe Sony Vaio Z series).
  9. KPOM macrumors G5

    Oct 23, 2010
    Actually, a lot of the 2011 reviews did note that the Pro did have a higher color gamut, while the Air had a better resolution. The Air is intended as a consumer-grade notebook. They now have the Retina MacBook Pro for those who desire the best screens.

    It makes the biggest difference for photo editing. I think at this point, the best option is to determine your priorities. If you need the best screen, stick with the Pro, or consider the Retina MacBook Pro. If you need portability, get used to the Air's screen, as I don't see Apple changing it. They might introduce a Retina 13" Pro at some point, but I don't see Retina coming to the Air for at least 2 years, and even then it might not have the same color gamut.

    Anyway, there are two different LCD manufacturers who supply MacBook Air screens. Samsung is slightly higher quality, but LG is more common. The differences are relatively small, though. I suspect that Apple will be shifting more and more to LG (they make the Retina MacBook Pro display) and possibly Sharp as their battles with Samsung intensify.

    While it won't solve the color gamut issues, a hardware calibration can improve the saturation of the MacBook Air screen. Consider a Spyder3Pro or Spyder4Pro.
  10. comatose81 macrumors 6502a

    Dec 17, 2009
    This is just called "good business". Apple has to keep things in their bag of tricks to keep the money flowing in. Each year, they release small upgrades to convince people to upgrade/purchase. Next year may add the retina display. The year after that will add quad core. And so on...
  11. dcorban macrumors 6502a


    Oct 29, 2007
    This sounds like an LG panel. I don't see this with my Samsung. Your description fits my 2008 MacBook, but definitely not my 2012 Air.
  12. maplingstorie macrumors 6502

    Jan 25, 2009
    I agree. I had the LG for my 2011 and immediately returned. Thank goodness this year's 2012 I got the Samsung screen and loving it! The colours are so amazing, it hurts my eyes!


    You've got the LG screen. that's why.
  13. ZBoater macrumors G3


    Jul 2, 2007
    Sunny Florida
    Yeah, the color gamut is something that keeps me up at night sweating bullets... :rolleyes:
  14. tigres macrumors 68040


    Aug 31, 2007
    Land of the Free-Waiting for Term Limits
    I have no issues with the MBA display. It's my third MBA and they just keep making them better.
  15. urkel macrumors 68030

    Nov 3, 2008
    Well that's not fair at all. If an uninformed consumer ever asks an Apple Devotee about why Macs cost more then the answer is ALWAYS "because it's a premium computer made with superior parts" (and followed by a snotty analogy about BMWs and Hondas). So why should someone assuming superior quality be considered "ignorant" when superior quality has been the unpaid-Apple salesmans tag line For decades?

    Airs are NOT priced so "everyone can afford it". Base model is $1000 which only has 64GB storage which is ridiculous to non-Mac users, students or light computer users considering that in their world computers start at $350 with 8GB RAM and 500GB HDDs. The thing that makes it "worth it" is... (wait for it)... Professional Grade Hardware. SSD, a better processor and faster memory are benefits we recognize which is why we gladly buy our Macs, but for someone to not fully understand that the screen may not be that great is completely understandable.

    I use my Air for photo work on the road because the hardware Is just the right size. But when I get home I need to do some heavy color correction that I never had to do on my other MacBooks. That's not a slam because I LOVE my Air, that's simply learning and accepting where Apple skimped on quality.
  16. KPOM macrumors G5

    Oct 23, 2010
    Compared to other notebooks, the Airs have pretty decent screens. That's changing a bit now that ASUS and a few others are starting to get serious with Ultrabooks, but it is still pretty common for even 13" notebooks to have 1366x768 displays with low color gamut.
  17. Adamb10 macrumors member

    Dec 13, 2004
    I have a 15" MBP and a 13" air (with the LG screen) and after reading how bad the screen is I got worried but when the air arrived, I don't really notice a big difference in colors or screen quality. Yeah the MBP screen may be better but I didnt really notice it.
  18. mattopotamus macrumors G5


    Jun 12, 2012
    i honestly don't think it is as bad as last year...i experienced that. A simple color profile makes all of the difference.
  19. masterjedi73 macrumors 6502


    Jan 12, 2004
    I have a 2012 11" with an LG display. I haven't seen a Samsung, but I updated the color profile and definitely see the difference. It looks like a good screen to me, though.
  20. LeGacY X macrumors member

    LeGacY X

    Jul 26, 2008
    VA, USA
    While the colors may not be as good as my macbook pro, the higher pixel density does make for a pretty good viewing experience.
  21. Geekbabe, Jun 22, 2012
    Last edited: Jun 22, 2012

    Geekbabe macrumors 6502a


    Nov 20, 2011
    At the time I received my Air there was no retina screen to be had on any Mac. I did not say that I expected my Air to be of a "Professional" grade, what I did say is that after using the iPad 3 I find it's screen to be of a higher quality.

    I don't hate my Air but am now in the position of having to decide if I should sacrifice the slim form factor & upgrade to a retina pro or sit and wait, in hopes that Apple can work some magic & get a retina screen onto an Air in the future. Oh & I certainly wouldn't expect such a feat of engineering to come cheaply.

    I would like all of my devices to be truly light, mobile & to have amazing screens. An iPhone, an iPad & a MBA, all with Retina, uniform, consistant viewing quality across all my devices. Why is wanting that "ignorant"?
  22. Hichisky macrumors member

    Nov 5, 2010
    Someone needs to get some specs on the different displays Apple is putting into the Air. It seems some say that there is not a large difference, and others say there is.

    If we can get some people with a colorimeter to measure the color gamut, that would be a start in comparing the panels. I measured my AUO display (11" MBA) with a Spyder 4 to have 70% of sRGB. While it is not great, It is not terrible either.

    I would like to know where the LG and Samsung stand.
  23. torana355 macrumors 68030

    Dec 8, 2009
    Sydney, Australia
    Like others have said the Samsung display is great, the LG, not so much. You can fix the LG's color issue with a calibration. I have the Samsung display in my 2011 13" MBA and it is great except for the average viewing angles.
  24. chanyitian macrumors regular

    Jun 3, 2012
    The other manufacturer is LG. People say that Samsung's panel is better due to contrast and image sharpness.


    I agree. Apple products are supposed to be = superior quality. It is understandable that Apple users have high expectations. Based on my experience, Macbook Airs have great build quality and I will continue to expect products of good quality from Apple. You mentioned that you use the Air for photo work, do you think it can handle the workload?
  25. mitty macrumors regular

    May 21, 2010
    The display on my MBA is definitely worlds apart from my old 13" 2009 MBP. Apart from the higher resolution, it's a completely different experience. It's taking some getting used to, but I like it.

    Though I had the MBP for 3 years, somehow I have a feeling that if a retina version comes along, I won't have the MBA for that long. And hopefully by then 8GB of RAM will be standard so I don't have to wait a week for a BTO :)

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