MBA11 vs MBP13 - my thoughts on the screen as a primary machine

Discussion in 'MacBook Air' started by adnoh, Jul 30, 2011.

  1. adnoh, Jul 30, 2011
    Last edited: Jul 30, 2011

    adnoh macrumors 6502a


    Nov 14, 2010
    I was in my local apple store on Thursday and had the chance to do a side by side comparison of a MBA11 and MBP13.

    The reason I wanted to do this comparison is because I am thinking of buying the MBA11 to replace my 2010 uMB and Ipad. However I am concerned that the 11.6" screen and high resolution will not be good for me.

    I used the MBA11 for around 20 mins going to websites such as BBC news, macumors, Groupon, Anandtech and Bloomberg. I found that the text was too small in the base case and I had to view every webpage zoomed in (after 1 press of zoom it was fine). I then used a MBP13 for around 10 minutes and the resolution felt huge for that screen. Although the text was larger and easier to read I had adjusted to the small MBA11.

    I then put both side by side to compare the size of text. The MBA had 1 press of zoom and the MBP and none. I was shocked to find that in this setup the text size was in fact comparable. Looking at the same website and text I could not tell the difference. Also since the MBA has a wider screen, when zoomed in it filled the empty space at the sides whilst not extending the webpage out - which meant all I had to do was vertical scroll.

    I was little surprised by this. To me there was no compromise in web browsing as webpages were the same size on both machines. Obviously, with the MBA i had to scroll a little bit more but the text was very readable. I was pleased I found some use for that extra wide real estate.

    With the MBA I also launched the IWork equivalent of MS word and Excel and I found I could zoom in no problem.

    However, thats not the complete picture. There are some programs where the text cannot be altered so easily. Itunes is a perfect example where all the text on the left hand side was very small and when browsing music/apps the text was very very small. I think staring at this for a long time will give me a headache make my eyes sore.

    I hope this helps anyone thinking of going from the MBP13 to the MBA11. I am still in two minds as to what to do and clearly not convinced the 11 inch screen would cut it as my primary machine. Finally, I dont NEED portability. I travel with my MB once every 3-4 weeks and its fine. A lot of people say keep the 13" as your primary machine but Im not using my ipad anymore and my 13" MB just feels too big. The MBA would replace my ipad as a sofa surfing buddy and full fledged laptop. Is this silly? Have I been hypnotised by the MBA11 and now im itching like a crackhead for one?

    Any thoughts?
  2. KnightWRX macrumors Pentium


    Jan 28, 2009
    Quebec, Canada
    It's silly to think 135 ppi is unreadable. Wear your glasses.
  3. Moccasin macrumors 6502a


    Mar 21, 2011
    Newcastle, UK
    I have no problem using my 2010 11" MBA as my main machine - the mac rumors layout doesn't even fill the whole of the window width wise (even with the Firefox sidebar) so could increase further without the need for horizontal scrolling.

    If I was using multiple windows etc then it would be an issue, but I rarely do that anyway.
  4. MRU Suspended


    Aug 23, 2005
    Personal preference. There is no right or wrong. Apple make laptops in those different sizes because of that fact.

    11.6" = ideal for some, not for others.
    13" = ideal for some, not for others.
    15.4" = ideal for some, not for others.
    17" = ideal for some, not for others.

    Your opinion on why the 13" suits you is entirely subjective, and those reasons for people agreeing or disagreeing likewise. You are all correct, buy the laptop with the screen size which suits you and be happy - you don't have to justify your decision on a forum ;)

    Hence mission control and desktop spaces. All your open windows don't have to reside on one screen ;)
  5. antster94 macrumors 6502a


    May 2, 2010
    London, UK
    what about a MBA 13"? then you get the larger size and the higher ppi.
  6. Moccasin macrumors 6502a


    Mar 21, 2011
    Newcastle, UK
    Yep use Expose a bit but would get an external screen or buy a desktop if I found myself using multiple open windows all the time. That's the same for any laptop unless the minor windows are small enough
  7. OSMac macrumors 65816

    Jun 14, 2010
    I agree the UI is often small on the Air.

    Windows 7 is ahead of OSX Lion as it allows for a simple UI dpi adjustment.
    The only way to do similar in Lion is to decrease the resolution leaving everything somewhat blurry.

    Past versions of OSX had a system wide terminal command that no longer works in Lion.

    Like you said with some parts of itunes , I've noticed the same issue in the App store as well, fonts smaller than i'd like.

    If you connect to a 1080p HDTV and try to use Lion from across the room at full resolution its even more difficult .
  8. SaintsMac macrumors 6502a

    Jun 13, 2009
    I just bought a 11.6 MBA to replace my MBP and iPad. It is working perfectly for me so far.

    The display is fine for me but I wish the battery life was a little longer.
  9. KnightWRX macrumors Pentium


    Jan 28, 2009
    Quebec, Canada
    The MBA 13" is actually a bit lower in PPI than the 11". 127 to 135.

    However, it doesn't make the fonts larger, the screen inches mean nothing, it's all in the resolution (PPI). Some people have just been too used to Apple's very low PPI screens until now. I can't stand Fischer Price sized fonts myself, even the MBA 13" is barely good enough. I'd rather have 1680x1050 myself on a 13" screen, as a minimum.
  10. adnoh thread starter macrumors 6502a


    Nov 14, 2010
    I already have a 13 MB and the whole point of the MBA11 is to replace my main machine and sofa surfer at the same time. Having the MBA13 wont really do that for me due to its larger size.

    If only the font in itunes etc could be enlarged.....

    My glasses are on.
  11. meistervu macrumors 65816

    Jul 24, 2008
    I bought both the 11" and the 13" and return one

    I learned a few things: (1) I could not arrived at the right choice for me even after playing with both extensively at the Apple Store, and (2) my impression of sizes were wrong on a couple of different levels.

    My first trip to the Apple stored, I almost ignored the 11" because I never liked the x768 resolution that I have used in the past (Windows though; FullScreen apps are more usable). I played a lot with the 13" and decided that it would work for me.

    But when I got home I thought about my MacPro (a tower, not a MBP) and its 24" screen and a thought occurred to me: why not get a 11". I could always connect it to my 24", and it's tiny for travel. And perhaps I can get used to the smaller screen with its x768 resolution. After all, we are talking about just 133 pixel height. It's such a neat form factor if I can get used to it.

    So the next day I came back to the store, played with the 11" and decided to give it a try. Well, a day later I loved the machine, but found myself looking for more vertical pixels. I am a software developer by the way.

    So I went back and exchanged mine for a 13". What a difference the small increase in size made. Mind you I have used a 17" 1920x1200 in the past, and a 1680x1050, but the 13" 1440x900 is just about perfect for full screen app (or maximized app). You don't have to worry about resizing to arrange multiple apps on the same screen. And the size increase over the 11" is significant to me that I don't feel that I need more resolution on my lap.

    But the biggest surprise of all is that I actually prefer the feel of the 13" on my lap. It feels more stable, and there is more room on the trackpad. The 13" is so small and light any way that I don't mind the extra size and weight over the 11". As a matter of fact, I have trouble find a good standard sleeve or bag for the 13": it's too small and flop around in bags that made for a typical 13". So, to me the size increase of the 13" over the 11" is no compromise.

    Another thing I realized that I was wrong about was my assumption that since I have a desktop with a 24", it's OK to go with a smaller 11" MBA. You see, as I use my MBA a lot on my lap, the desktop with a 24" play no role in making the 11" screen any bigger. It's not like I have a set of large size wrenches and getting smaller set to compliments the large set is the right thing to do. It doesn't work like that with computers.
  12. KylePowers macrumors 68000


    Mar 5, 2011
    I've been having similar thoughts (27" iMac owner)... and this statement will probably make me go 13" over the 11".
  13. alecgold macrumors 65816


    Oct 11, 2007
    I have à 13" 2010 and am going 11" 2011. I travel a lot, at least once a week but often three times a week and sometimes everyday. But I intend to couple the 11" to a thunderbolt display. That way I have a huge laptop when I'm using multiple apps, sheets and documents but I have a super portable when I'm on the go (I usually just take notes when I'm interviewing clients, so the smaller laptop even makes less of a barrier between client and me.)
    Odd how needs can be different :)
  14. LightOnAHill macrumors regular

    Jun 26, 2010
    My new 11" is my primary machine, and I love the screen. It's far better than other ultraportables I've used over the years, and when I'm in documents I zoom in cause the high ppi makes the text look nice, and in this forum, i only zoomed the text, and left the layout and graphics the same, and it looks nice.

    I didn't have to zoom the text, but I did cause I could.

    To me, having my computer with me all the time is paramount, so it is literally with me all the time. The 11" therefore was perfect.

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