MBA screen compared to MBP- how much different?

Discussion in 'MacBook Air' started by mopppish, Sep 6, 2011.

  1. mopppish macrumors 6502

    Nov 27, 2005
    Just got an 11" MBA.
    I haven't checked the panel manufacturer, because I just don't care.
    I've been using a 15" high res antiglare 2010 MBP for the last year though.
    The Air's screen is noticeably warmer/dingier and does not get as bright. I usually use the Pro at maybe 50% brightness while I'm riding the Air's at 80% before I'm comfortable.
    I do not expect the Air's display to be up to the quality of the Pro, but I'm wondering- how much different should it really be?
    I recall comparing the 2010 MBP to my old 2006 MBP when I first got it, and I remember the difference in whiteness and brightness being stunning. Maybe I just need to get used to a lesser screen?
    I'm not the type to be pissed about a "warm" screen, but if my Air's should be very near the quality of the Pro, then maybe I need to exchange.
    Let me know what you think. Thanks!
  2. erasr macrumors 6502

    Sep 18, 2007
    Ah my current favourite trending topic :p

    I have a good eye for display quality and this is my opinion:

    - Better contrast
    - Better resolution (compared to 13")
    - Better whites and blacks (check out full brightness, it's startling)
    - Less reflection

    - Much better colours

    The winner? The MB PRO. Why? Because for me, colours are everything. I love nothing more than a vibrant screen. Although for a lot of people, those Air positives will make up for lack of colour and more.
  3. NutsNGum macrumors 68030


    Jul 30, 2010
    Glasgow, Scotland
    You've probably got a Samsung panel then. The LG is eye-gougingly bright.
  4. mopppish thread starter macrumors 6502

    Nov 27, 2005
    Haha. Yeah, sorry.
    I hate to add to the chorus.
    I actually don't mind the quality of the screen, or the fact that it seems warmer. In fact, it reminds me of my pre-unibody MBP, which never seemed bad to me until I got the high res antiglare unibody (which was like "wow").
    I would just prefer to be able to run the screen at lower brightness settings to save battery. As it is, this Air is never "eye gougingly" bright.
    At max brightness, it's only mildly uncomfortable. At 2-3 notches below, it looks good, but by 6 down, it's dim and kind of dirty.
    I've already spent several hours installing applications and moving a big music library, so my desire to exchange this unit in the uncertain hopes that the next screen will have the potential for eye gouging brightness is low. Just wanted to hear some there stories.
  5. Adidas Addict macrumors 65816

    Adidas Addict

    Sep 9, 2008
    The screen is the worst thing about the MBA, if you're used to a MBP screen. Like said above, colours count a lot, closely followed by viewing angles and these are 2 areas where the MBA sucks big time. No point having good resolution when the screen is cheap and looks it.
  6. mopppish thread starter macrumors 6502

    Nov 27, 2005
    Wasn't the screen fantastic on the first Air's?
    I wonder if they've gone with lesser screens on the new ones since the first ones were so expensive that they were luxury items, but the new ones are now cheaper and have become the entry level machines.
  7. erasr macrumors 6502

    Sep 18, 2007
    Actually my LG MBA has better viewing angles than my Pro. It's the colours that suck!

    NutsNGum, I have an LG screen, I think it is very well errr 'lit', but that also gives better whites imo. It's weird, I think LG must use stronger back lighting or something. So therefore, the Samsungs are more yellowy and duller.
  8. Maziar macrumors 6502

    May 22, 2010
    I also have a LG panel and I'm quite happy with it.(I played a little with the MBP 17" before)
    Anandtech did a good review on MBA's scree(LG vs Samsung vs MBP screen)
    "Based on these numbers alone I don't see any reason to believe that the LG panel in the new MacBook Air is any worse than the Samsung panel. However I do believe that there may be an explanation for the perceived inferior quality of the LG panel. The LG panel exhibits vertical color/contrast shift more readily than the Samsung panel."

    I personally prefered the extra resolution of MBA 13"(vs MBP 13"),so I went for it
  9. kazmac macrumors 603


    Mar 24, 2010
    On the silver scream

    I always wondered why I can't tolerate the 11" MBA's brightness. Thanks for clarifying.
  10. mopppish thread starter macrumors 6502

    Nov 27, 2005
    This is interesting, because even the highest brightness on mine is just barely too bright.
  11. erasr macrumors 6502

    Sep 18, 2007

    Great link and report.

    LG is barely BARELY inferior to the Samsung model, I know that for sure. Just viewing angles.

    It's the overall lack of colour gamut and pixel density on all Airs which affects the quality and eye strain thing!
  12. coldmack macrumors 6502

    Dec 26, 2008
    I think that depends on which Pro you are comparing to. If the 13in model sure the Air reflects less, but compare to the 15in and 17in with the matte option then reflection is more.
  13. ZBoater macrumors G3


    Jul 2, 2007
    Sunny Florida
    Lack of colour? I didn't know the MBA screens came in black and white? :rolleyes:

    This color difference is overblown. Most people won't notice and won't care. What percentage of people, really, are going to find the MBA 'lacking colour' (in the sense I think you meant it)? Photographers? Graphics artists? And even then I've read countless posts of people claiming to be in these professions saying they make due with their MBAs just fine.

    Perspective. It's a wonderful thing. :D
  14. coldmack macrumors 6502

    Dec 26, 2008
    MBA has a way lower color gamut of about 47%, while the MBP has it closer to 78%. I have never been in front/next to an Intel Mac(rightly so), but from the far distances that I have viewed them one could easily tell the MBP had better color at all viewing angles.
  15. jackyyeow macrumors 6502

    Jul 5, 2011
    My direct comparison confirm this, the Samsung will never get to the extent that it'll hurt the eyes on full brightness. But the LG did. Great if you use it a lot when outdoor.

    Regarding the battery saving thing, I think it depends on how bright the backlight is. Say, LG at 2~3 notched lower from right, and Samsung on full brightness, so they look equal, I think both are consuming more or less the same battery life.

    By the way, try to go to and turn the brightness all the way up and see if you see some flashing effect on the green background.
  16. mopppish thread starter macrumors 6502

    Nov 27, 2005
    Hell yeah I do. Jesus!
    What is that? I've noticed that effect on the lagom site, so I expected that I would see it, but that's some weird **** right there.
  17. jackyyeow macrumors 6502

    Jul 5, 2011
    Uh, then I'd be REALLY interesting to know which display model you have. Hmm. It flashes as if my MBA's display is those old huge CRT monitor at 50hz refresh rate. Mine is LG and it flashes, and many Samsung panel owners reported that they don't see any.

    By the way, it's pretty much off topic and I don't think anyone should be too worry about it, as 99.9% of the website does not use this kind of background.
  18. Azathoth macrumors 6502a

    Sep 16, 2009
    Just got my MBA13 (Samsung panel) and been comparing it to my MBP15 2010 (HR AG) LG panel.

    My MBP2010 brightness has never been great - I estimate 250-300nits. The MBA13 is about the same, which is borne out by the measurements of Engadget and Anandtech. The 13" LG screen appears to be brighter than the Samsung.

    Looking at the ICC profiles that I created with the Spyder3 I can see the gamut of the MBA13 is much less then the MBP , and indeed the colors look muted.

    Viewing angles of my MBA13 are quite good.

    Overall I would be less confident doing photoeditting on the MBA13 - the reduced gamut definitely effects things and no amount of calibration will fix this. No problem driving an external display, of course.

    What is the target audience? If it's general public, then a reduced gamut screen might be an advantage - no point to edit pictures that are only viewable in their full glory on a NEC Spectraview...
  19. mopppish thread starter macrumors 6502

    Nov 27, 2005
    Goddammit. Buying Apple products can be such a pain sometimes. Stupid OCD and design expectations.
    OK, so my work MBP screen is brighter, whiter, and does not flicker. Which makes sense since it cost twice as much.
    The 11" MBA flickers on those examples, is warmer (though not awful), and needs to be at 80-100% brightness. Otherwise, seems fine. No dead pixels. No nasty bleeding or other anomalies.
    Are these reasonable compromises in an 11", cheaper screen?
    Is that flicker normal for certain screens? Should I just let it go?
    The Air has no other flaws, not heat problems, etc.
  20. bill-p macrumors 68000

    Jul 23, 2011
    Well, just to chime in... since I have both a 2010 MBP 13" and a 2010 MBA 13" with me right now... and I have compared the MBA side by side to a 2011 model already.

    Between the 2010 models, both the MBP and MBA look virtually the same. There is no difference between the two, and colors look equally vibrant on both. The max brightness on the Air is brighter, though. I can barely see the Pro's screen under direct light, however, the Air is perfectly legible under sunlight, and it's even brighter than my iPhone 4's screen. Pro's max brightness is about 10-11 bars of the Air, and Air's max is 16 bars.

    Between the 2010 and 2011 models of the Air, however, there is a very noticeable difference. Both screens being Samsung screens (I checked this via Terminal), you'd expect them to be the same, but no. The 2011 screen is noticeably washed out, not as vibrant, and obviously not as bright.

    So I'd agree with the notion that the 2011 Air lineup does have an issue with display quality.

    Also, just a note, that background in the is supposed to flicker. It's a white and green checkerboard pattern all over. Regardless of what screen is used, it'll flicker while being scrolled because the alternative patterns are being rendered on top of each other over and over. I have tried it on both the Macbook Air and Pro, and even on a Cinema Display. Same flicker result while scrolling.
  21. jackyyeow macrumors 6502

    Jul 5, 2011
    LG display flicker without scrolling. ;)
  22. phyzics101 macrumors regular


    Jul 13, 2009

    I agree 100%
  23. bill-p macrumors 68000

    Jul 23, 2011
    The store model I just tested the site with doesn't. But to clarify, the store has a 2010 LG model.
  24. jackyyeow macrumors 6502

    Jul 5, 2011
    Did you turn the brightness at least 50% and up? The flicker will not show on lower brightness level. Interesting if you did turn the brightness up as most store has bright lightings.
  25. bill-p macrumors 68000

    Jul 23, 2011
    All store displays were at max brightness by default, but I did check to make sure.

    Just to clarify, the store had one of each model, but only one of them had an LG display: 2010 11" LG, 2011 11" Samsung, 2010 13" Samsung, and 2011 13" Samsung.

    And the 2010 11" LG model looked virtually the same as the 2011 MBP 13" next to it. The only MBP that stood out was the 2011 MBP 15", which also trumped the two iMacs next to it in terms of color vibrance and depth.

    Didn't bother checking display model on the MBP since I thought that would be moot.

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