MBA Screen Usability at 50% Brightness

Discussion in 'MacBook Air' started by johnhackworth, Aug 5, 2011.

  1. johnhackworth, Aug 5, 2011
    Last edited: Aug 5, 2011

    johnhackworth macrumors member

    Aug 5, 2011
    Hello everyone, long-time lurker, first-time poster.

    I'm currently deciding whether or not to replace my Alu MacBook Pro with a MacBook Air. To that end I went to my local Apple store to take a look and get an idea of whether I could live with the screen size of the 11".

    Anyway, I noticed that the screens on the demo machines all had the brightness set way up at maximum. When I knocked the brightness down to 50% the screens became (to me) far too dim to use without straining my eyes. This is important since in order to get reasonable battery life (esp from the 11") it seems that the brightness needs to be turned down. The perceived dimness of the display could be a consequence of the brightness of the environment - i.e. a brightly-lit Apple store or it could be that the screen is genuinely too dim at 50%. Therefore the question I'd ask is which is the most likely explanation?

    Also, if you own an Air do you find its screen usable at 50% in your home, on trains, on airplanes etc?
  2. DeusInvictus7 macrumors 68020

    Aug 13, 2008
    Kitchener, Ontario
    Testing brightness at the store isn't a good test because of how bright it is in the store. For normal indoor use, 50% works very well for me. I rarely feel the need to make it brighter, unless I'm outside during the day or if I'm watching a video clip or something. Otherwise, it stays at 50% or even lower. If I'm using it before bed, it's normally at 1 bar of brightness.
  3. Jaha527 macrumors newbie

    Aug 5, 2011
    I've been pondering the same dilemma. I'm going to use my prospective MBA almost entirely for university word processing, researching and browsing. I therefore don't want to buy the 11" only to find I can't put up with the size of the screen. I went into the Apple shop for a look that was so long and hard that I started annoying the Apple Shop assistants and the other customers. To no avail. I've not arrived at a conclusion.
  4. The Catalyst macrumors 6502

    Dec 4, 2009
    I usually run at 50% (give or take a notch) while I'm at home watching TV. Seems more than bright enough when your in a standard lit room, one or two lamps on. Only time I crank it up is if I'm somewhere bright and or out of the house.
  5. jclardy macrumors 68040


    Oct 6, 2008
    I am currently running at about 1/3 brightness on the 11" and it looks fine to me. I am in a room with no lights on but lit by windows and sunlight.

    I have only had it for one day, but I have found full brightness to be too bright.

    The Apple store isn't really a good testing environment as it is very bright in there.
  6. scupking macrumors 6502a

    Dec 14, 2010
    I can tell you this on my 2010 13" MBP I hardly ever go past 50% brightness other wise it gets to bright for me.
  7. bp1000 macrumors 65816

    Jul 7, 2011
    50% is perfect for a daylight lit room

    If the sun is beaming in 100% does the job and at night when its dark, even with a lamp on the very lowest brightness setting is perfect.

    The auto brightness ambient sensor does a brilliant job.

    Never found a situation where the screen hasn't been bright enough. Anything over 50% in an average room is too bright for my eyes.
  8. johnhackworth thread starter macrumors member

    Aug 5, 2011
    Thanks everyone. On reflection I think that anywhere which has lighting which requires me to crank up the brightness will also have power for the computer. Therefore I think that I'm likely to pick up an MBA - probably the 13". I think that the 11" may be a little small for my poor tired old eyes ;)
  9. KPOM macrumors G5

    Oct 23, 2010
    I'm on a plane right now (early morning flight). At 50% it's great even when there is some indirect sunlight. Most of the time it's been around 25%. BTW, I have the 11" i7, but I used to have a 13" Core 2 Duo model. I like the 11" better on planes, but you can't go wrong with either model.
  10. reputationZed macrumors 65816

    Mar 9, 2011
    34°55′42″N 80°44′41″W (34.
    Wirelessly posted (Mozilla/5.0 (iPhone; U; CPU iPhone OS 4_3_5 like Mac OS X; en-us) AppleWebKit/533.17.9 (KHTML, like Gecko) Version/5.0.2 Mobile/8L1 Safari/6533.18.5)

    I'm typically between 10% and 50% brightness, but I'm not using my MBA in overly bright environments.
  11. Kavrocks macrumors newbie

    May 12, 2011
    My brightness is currently 1 above being dark and I find it is very easy to see the screen.
  12. christophermdia macrumors 6502a


    Sep 28, 2008
    I use my MBA normally at 30% rare cases I use it above 50% but this is not common at all for me anyway....
  13. 3bs macrumors 603


    May 20, 2011
    Dublin, Ireland
    Yeah I'd say 50% would be bright enough. I never go much higher than that on my 11"
  14. onthecouchagain macrumors 604


    Mar 29, 2011
    Wow, I must be the only one that keeps the brightness pretty high. About 3 or so notches from max. I can't use it any lower.
  15. jackyyeow macrumors 6502

    Jul 5, 2011
    Depends on your room lighting. For regular florescence light tube in bed room, 5~6 bars of brightness is plenty, and that' about 40%~45%.
  16. amitdoc2b macrumors 6502a

    Feb 25, 2008
    I use it at full brightness, way too dim to be acceptable anywhere less than 5 notches from the max.. Ideally it should be 2 from the max or full brightness for me.
  17. clyde2801 macrumors 601


    Mar 6, 2008
    In the land of no hills and red dirt.
    If I turned mine all the way up, it would scorch my eyes and irradiate me...I'd be a blind George Hamilton after half an hour.
  18. 2IS macrumors 68030

    Jan 9, 2011
    Considering Apple stores are lit about as brightly as a the sun, testing it there hardly resembles real world usage unless you're going to use it outside in the sun most of the time.
  19. Abstract macrumors Penryn


    Dec 27, 2002
    Location Location Location
    I'm sitting in a dark room, and the brightness is at 30%.

    If I was sitting in a well-lit room, I'd probably use the laptop at 60% brightness.
  20. jclardy macrumors 68040


    Oct 6, 2008
    I used mine in the passenger seat of a car today. I could see everything fine on full brightness then and it was fairly sunny. That was the highest I have had to turn it up.

    Also, remember the 11" air has the highest pixel density of all Apple computers, so text at the same font size will be physically smaller on the screen compared to other machines.
  21. turbotoes macrumors regular

    Nov 24, 2010
    I just let the ambient light sensor do it's job, and it does it very well, IMO of course:)
  22. KnightWRX macrumors Pentium


    Jan 28, 2009
    Quebec, Canada
    That would work if the MBA had one. ;)

    Am I the only one that mostly uses the MBA at 1 notch of brightness ? (just above the screen being shut off ?).
  23. KPOM macrumors G5

    Oct 23, 2010
    There is one on the 2011s.
  24. fletch33 macrumors regular


    Dec 11, 2008
    Under a Rug
    using the new 11" with LG screen i keep it set at 5 of the 16 brightness settings which is well under 50% and it works great for most light conditions for me.
  25. johnhackworth thread starter macrumors member

    Aug 5, 2011
    Well, the die is cast. I've just ordered a 13" i7. Thanks for the input guys.

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