MacBook Pro Low Screen Resolution

Discussion in 'MacBook Pro' started by darklich, Feb 3, 2010.

  1. darklich macrumors member

    Jan 31, 2010
    I'm trying to figure this one out. Given that the computer scales images to fit the resolution of the screen. Why does having a higher resolution screen matter? I mean I can play 1080p video on a 13 inch MBP and it still looks good.

    Why do people complain so much about how intolerable the low screen resolution is on the MBPs. Apple must have some kind of magic because images and video look great to me. Take a 13 inch MBP, would the same 1440x900 sized picture look that much better if the native resolution was 1440x900?

    If the quality loss is so noticeable how has Apple been able to get away with shipping the product?
  2. mgacam2 macrumors regular


    Jul 27, 2007
    It's not quite the same like a tv in the sense of quality but more the sense of desktop rel-estate.
  3. Ride9650 macrumors 6502

    Jun 29, 2007
    Its not about whether or not a particular screen can handle HD content but more about the experience.

    Full 1080p may look good on a 13" MBP, but it sure as heck won't fit natively on screen. You could shrink it of course but it'd be like watching a little portable tv at that point, assuming you want to be doing other things while watching your media.
  4. fs454 macrumors 68000

    Dec 7, 2007
    Los Angeles / Boston
    Alright, let me fire up Final Cut Pro and show you what it means for us to have a higher resolution display.

    The following pictures are quite large if you're viewing them on a 13" macbook pro so I'm going to direct link them and not have them inline.

    The setup:
    Final Cut Pro editing 1080p footage, 16 minute project.
    Here is Final Cut Pro in standard view, as seen at 1280x800, the resolution of the 13" Macbook/Macbook Pro. Notice the footage is displayed at 22%. Not big enough to work with.


    Now, here is that same screen, but with the screen res increased to 1920x1200. Final Cut Pro is taking up exactly 1280x800 pixels of space. Notice the screen real estate gained.


    Now let's expand Final Cut to use the space. We have many options from here. Here it is in the same configuration as was displayed on the 1280x800 shot. Notice IMMENSE amount of timeline workspace gained, as well as a bump in footage size to 33%.


    Finally, we arrive at how I work: in Two Up mode. This allows the both the preview and the play windows to be displayed at a decidedly massive 50% (100% being 1920x1080, basically the whole screen).


    As you can see, screen resolution is more about fitting more on the screen at one time, easing up your workflow and making things less cramped. It's a biiiig difference.
  5. Cali3350 macrumors regular

    Feb 16, 2009
    For a programmer resolution is everything. If I am programming and I am doing code on a 1280*800 display I can see maybe 25 lines of code at once. On a 1920*1080 screen I can upwards of 100. This makes a HUGE difference in productivity.

    Your thinking of resolution only in terms of image clarity. Resolution is also about how much you can fit on a screen. You can fit a hell of a lot more 12 font on a higher resolution than a lower on while maintaining perfect quality.
  6. darklich thread starter macrumors member

    Jan 31, 2010
    Nice job representing the difference. How has Apple gotten away with such low resolutions on a "pro" machine like the MBP? I remember they used to have higher resolutions, why go back? I understand the money factor, but I would imagine that they themselves like using the notebooks as well.

    Why can't Apple go with a "build to order" style of selling their products? That way if I need a MBP with an HD screen I can get one at a higher price and if I don't care then I can just get the base model.

    But there is the issue of portability when one is talking about a 13 inch screen. Would you want 1920x1080 in a 13 inch screen? You might need binoculars, right?
  7. fs454 macrumors 68000

    Dec 7, 2007
    Los Angeles / Boston
    I believe it's because Mac OS X does not scale well like *gulp* Windows does(to an extent).

    So while as you up the resolution, you can change some text to be larger, but a lot of it isn't changeable such as the top bar, so it just gets smaller as you go higher. I guess they don't want to alienate people who don't want to squint, but at the same time they're alienating the people who want high res screens. I'm hoping for 1920x1200 in the 15" as a BTO.

    Ultimate solution? Hope for OS X 10.7 to have a vector-based UI that scales beautifully to higher resolution displays.

    Just wanted to throw that in here, that what I said up there about having a vector-based UI to scale the OS seamlessly, which OS X lacks currently. Pray for 10.7.
  8. darklich thread starter macrumors member

    Jan 31, 2010
    That why, for me, Apple has to increase the resolution on the new MBPs. If they don't I'll probably go with the new Sony Z.
  9. Cali3350 macrumors regular

    Feb 16, 2009
    For a 13" screen that is a bit high, yes. Ideally a 13-14" laptop has a 1600*900 display and a 15-16" laptop has 1920*1080. That is pretty much the perfect resolution in my experience.
  10. darklich thread starter macrumors member

    Jan 31, 2010
    Then why doesn't Apple give us that option. There must be someone in Apple who uses a MBP and thinks to themselves, "It sure would be nice if this thing had a higher resolution screen". What's so complicated with offering an optional, better screen at a price? They used to have this and then it went away with the unibodies.
  11. kny3twalker macrumors 65816


    Oct 25, 2009

    That does not make sense unless you turned you 1920x1080 screen vertical and decreased the font size.

    1920x1080 only has 280 more pixels vertically, so if you have 25 lines at 1280x800, you would have only 33 lines at 1920x1080 and 28 lines at 1440x900 such as on the macbook pro 15".

    I have a external 1920x1200 monitor and while its great for viewing quite a bit more code than my 13" MacBook Pro, I have no problem using the Pro for programming on the go.
  12. Cali3350 macrumors regular

    Feb 16, 2009
    Yes, your right. I exaggerated, both out of ignorance and to make the point. Idea is sound.
  13. cluthz macrumors 68040


    Jun 15, 2004
    Am i the only one that think that 16:9 is uselss for anything ecept video and entertainment?
    4:3 was a much better format for typing and programming.
    My 12 inch Powerbook had 768 lines. A new 24 inch 16:9 screen has 1080 lines..
  14. aberrero macrumors 6502a

    Jan 12, 2010
    Yes you are.

    16:9 is perfect for viewing two documents side by side.

    It certainly doesn't hurt when watching movies either though.
  15. kasakka macrumors 68000

    Oct 25, 2008
    Exactly. This is why PC laptops running Win7 or Vista can have higher res displays. The UI can be scaled up. OSX Leopard had some support for this feature as well but it was pretty broken, which is why it was only available via command line. Snow Leopard doesn't have any options for it either so I guess it doesn't work yet.

    That's why you need to have displays that have a reasonable resolution. The 13" and 15" wouldn't be too bad with a small resolution bump but putting a 1920x1200 res display on the 13" would make everything absurdly small. I feel the current 17" at that resolution requires quite a bit of squinting.

    As for 16:9, I agree that it's not very useful for anything but video. 16:10 is a good compromise but 4:3 has benefits for form factor (would result in more square shaped computers) and due to the aspect ratio a 21" 4:3 display has about the same pixel size as a 24" 16:10 display.
  16. aberrero macrumors 6502a

    Jan 12, 2010
    wider screens are still the same size as 4:3 screens, even with the different aspect ratio.

    15" displays became 15.4" with 16:10 and then 15.6" with 16:9. Not in every case, but generally speaking, those are the standard sizes.
  17. kasakka macrumors 68000

    Oct 25, 2008
    The aspect ratio does make a difference though. I used to have both a 21.3" 1600x1200 and a 22" 1920x1200 display and the 21.3" had much larger pixels than the 22". Thus at the same screen size, to maintain the same pixel size, you need a bigger screen in 16:10 format if you want to match a 4:3.
  18. Thunder82 macrumors 6502

    Jul 16, 2008
    Chicago, IL
    Honestly? The 17" display is perfect in my eyes. I'd like to see 1440x900 in the 13" and 1680x1050 in the 15"

    1440x900 in the 15" is ridiculously low.. almost joke-worthy. It has the lowest PPI/DPI of any Apple product currently in production.. even the ipod nano! Check it out for yourself.
  19. Sander macrumors 6502

    Apr 24, 2008

    It was the one thing making me doubt whether I should buy a 15" MBP. I'm typing this on a Dell D830 which has a 15.4" 1920x1200 screen (lovely!). I asked the guys at TechRestore (who offer an "anti-glare" LCD replacement) whether they could fit in an alternative, hi-res LCD, but the response was that they didn't offer this service. Oh well. I would have gladly paid a premium for this option.
  20. reebzor macrumors 6502a


    Jul 18, 2008
    Philadelphia, PA
    I like a higher res for multitasking. Doing more than 1 or 2 things is pretty tough on my 13" screen. Once I plug into my 24" it makes things a lot easier.
  21. Spandexman macrumors regular

    Dec 5, 2009
    Forget that, I'm more pissed off about the lack of waterproofing! I don't know how they can get away with that on a "mac" machine! Don't even get me started on the lack of paper in this supposed "book"!
  22. zachplaysguitar macrumors 6502


    Aug 15, 2008
    Richmond, VA
    I find it hard to do anything serious on my 13 's screen now that I've been spoiled by my 23" 1920x1080. I can put two full size documents side by side and even better run Logic in a gigantic window so everything (mixer editor medi browser tracks) have enough room to do their thing. It all about portability when I'm not home which is why I got the 13.

    I'd like to see the 13's screen stretched to the edge to make it 14.1 and around 1440x900.
  23. kolax macrumors G3

    Mar 20, 2007
    Resolution Independence. Something Apple hasn't quite got round to implementing (fully). Basically, RI means that the user interface looks pretty much the same on a variation of Pixels Per Inch. So, the menu bar on a high resolution 15" panel wouldn't be really tiny and on a slightly lower resolution 15" panel it wouldn't be huge.

    I'm sure we'll see it in OS X 10.7.
  24. FRiC macrumors member

    Jun 26, 2009
    Same here. Before I got my MacBook I used a ThinkPad with a 14" 1400x1050 screen. I still miss that screen. I keep wanting to get the 15" MBP to get more resolution and matte screen again, but I don't want more weight...
  25. iThinkergoiMac macrumors 68030

    Jan 20, 2010
    Except the 27" iMac has a 108PPI display, and the 15" MBP has 110PPI. You're right that it's pretty low, but it's not the lowest. The other two iMacs are calculated to have even lower PPI.

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