MBP: 15" vs 17" actual screens different?

Discussion in 'MacBook Pro' started by mistamoni, Sep 9, 2009.

  1. mistamoni macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Sep 19, 2008
    #1
    Hello all,

    I am planning on finally taking the plunge from windows to Mac, and I thought I start with a new Macbook pro. Now before I ask my question, I must point out that I am a professional photographer, so getting certain things out of my screen is very important. I've been planning on purchasing a MBP for a week now, but I just can't make up my mind because of the screen.

    I am having problems deciding whether to get the 15" or the 17" version of it. Now before you say "Just get whatever one works better for you/ you like", I should point out that they can both work equally well for me. The bigger screen is nicer for presentation to my clients (my primary reason for getting it), and a bit better with the battery life. However, it is also quite large in terms of carrying it around. I would idealy like to pick up the 15" version since it is a bit smaller to carry around and fits better in bags. Since the specs are pretty identical to the 17", I don't really see a problem with getting it a bit smaller. It took me one week to figure out whether I wanted glossy or matte... and I finally opted for the matte version since the glossy can be distracting for viewing images.

    Now here is the problem I am getting, and I thought some of you experts can shed some light on this mystery. I went to the apple store today, and compared the 17" matte vs the 15" matte, side by side. I opened up iphoto, played the same slideshow, at the same exact time. Although the difference is subtle, it's still there when comparing. I noticed that in the 15" version, the colors had a slight yellowish cast, and the blacks were a bit duller (very slightly though). On the 17", I noticed that the colors didn't have that cast, and the blacks seem to be slightly darker... but again, very very subtle. So my first question is, does anyone know if the 17" MBP uses an entirely different screen vs the 15" version? I checked the color profile under settings, and both were set to the exact same settings, so I can't figure it out.

    Now the obvious choice here is the 17" right? Well, the other thing I noticed was that the 17" was almost stretching the images ever so slightly, so it can fit them on the monitor. I didn't check the resolution of those stock photos in iphoto, but my second question is... does anyone know if images get stretched in a slideshow (full screen) on the 17" mbp? Most of my files I show for slideshows are 800x600, or slightly larger at 2100x1400. So if anyone has a 17" and can verify the stretching issue, I would greatly appreciate it.

    I know these questions are pretty specific, but I would be grateful if someone can help me out.


    Oh, one last thing... I'm thinking of purchasing my mac from this link. The price seems cheaper, and I am guessing it's because it's the 1st round of the new generation... but does anyone know if there are any dis-advantages of the 1st round of MBP (from early 09 release)? If the new version has the improved screen, then it may be wise for me to invest a bit more and just get it directly from apple no?
     
  2. sab150 macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Jul 9, 2009
    #2
    well first of all, i have very limited knowledge on this.. but from what i have read all apple laptop screens are 6bit panels that use dithering to create a larger colour gamut, people have posted stuff like "no true professional would use a 6bit panel to do colour correct work" so i think the negligible differences between 15/17 would be the least of your worries! my advice would be to get an external monitor if you are doing any photography or graphics work... i think a 13/15"pro + 24" LED external (h-ips panel) can be had for the same sort of money (if not cheaper) than a 17"

    i had this dilemma a month ago, and the same setup has served me well! the combination of portability and power of the 13" is something that the 17" cant come close to! and if your ONLY doing photography then there is no major need for the dedicated gpu as i believe the ram and gigahertzy bit do most of the work! so getting one of the base models can save you extra £££ or ($$$)

    as for the differences in 17" i wouldnt have a clue!

    hope this helps!
     
  3. maflynn Moderator

    maflynn

    Staff Member

    Joined:
    May 3, 2009
    Location:
    Boston
    #3
    This could be due to some differences in the default calibration on the display or minor variances due to different display manufacturers.


    I have the 15" MBP and find that the size is great, its the perfect combination of size and portability. The 17" model seems to ungainly large.

    I'm not quite sure what you mean about stretching, but you can view images on both display at full res and then scroll up or down if needed.
     
  4. PDE macrumors 68020

    Joined:
    Nov 16, 2005
    #4
    Apple's laptops don't come well-calibrated out of the box. The difference you noticed is most likely a difference of calibration rather than screen quality. IN the past, Apple's laptops all had different quality screens, but with the current generation there is more consistency across the line. I think you can calibrate the 15 and 17 to be about equal in colour reproduction, so I wouldn't worry about that part.

    I've had a 17" and for me personally it was too big for comfortable portability, but that would depend on your mode of transportation I guess. If you were in New York City using public transportation, as I was, the extra size and weight of the 17" was very noticeable. If you're driving around all the time, perhaps the 17" model is a nice luxury. Maybe that's self-explanatory, but if you're carrying cameras and lenses, the extra pounds do count. The 15" MBPs are a good compromise IMO.
     
  5. theYipster macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Sep 9, 2009
    #5
    First things first -- while it was true that Apple used 6-bit displays in its notebooks for a long time, the unibody 17 inch MBP uses a true 8-bit display, and I think that the latest mid-2009 15 inch MBP also uses an 8-bit display. As a professional photographer, you may be interested in Rob Galbraith's latest roundup of Mac displays -- (http://www.robgalbraith.com/bins/multi_page.asp?cid=7-10041-10146) -- he has a lot of positive things to say about them.

    As a photographer myself, and as someone who just replaced an original 15 inch MBP with a 17 inch unibody MBP, I say go for the 17 inch and the higher screen resolution. While the 15 inch's resolution is fine when working in Photoshop, Capture NX, or really any program where the focus is on one image at a time, the 17 inch's 1920x1200 resolution makes a world of difference in image management / RAW editors programs such as Lightroom or Aperture where thumbnails strips and large panels take up a good deal of screen real-estate. If this is your only computer, I'd say the 17 inch, despite the extra size and weight, is well worth it. If this laptop is to supplement another computer at home or in a studio, then the extra size may be a luxury -- but if you do any editing out in the field, you'll appreciate the larger resolution.

    Compared to my original, calibrated MBP, the 17 inch screen is magnificient -- right out of the box colors are deeper and contrast is noticeably better, and I still haven't calibrated my new laptop. As with any monitor, desktop or laptop, I highly recommend you calibrate it. Most Apple Stores carry the Huey Pro or Colormonki, both of which will work fine. Just one thing to note when calibrating: Apple finally changed the OS X default gamma to match the rest of the world in Snow Leopard, so when calibrating, be sure to select a 2.2 gamma (if asked) instead of the older Mac default of 1.8.
     
  6. kasakka macrumors 68000

    Joined:
    Oct 25, 2008
    #6
    Do you have any evidence that it is actually a 8-bit panel? Even the article you linked says that you have to watch the display head on or else the color shifts. Poor viewing angle is a typical feature of a TN panel. Although the current ones are far better than the previous generation Macbooks, afaik they're still 6-bit TN panels.
     
  7. sab150 macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Jul 9, 2009
    #7

    that is not true at all! all current macbook pros use 6bit panels (with dithering) it is widely documented on the internet... :)

    http://forums.macnn.com/69/mac-notebooks/394160/mbp-13-6-bit-8-bit/

    http://forums.macrumors.com/archive/index.php/t-715296.html

    http://discussions.apple.com/thread.jspa?threadID=2068556&start=0&tstart=0

    http://www.luminous-landscape.com/forum/lofiversion/index.php/t36103.html








    and heres what started it all below!.. (dont just look at the pictures actually read, i think the guy actually wrote a blog aswell!) ha but like you said they get great reviews and are the best panels they have put out to date!

    http://www.brightsideofnews.com/new...macbook-pro-cant-show-millions-of-colors.aspx
     
  8. sab150 macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Jul 9, 2009
    #8
    i think your right, they use dithering to achieve the wider colour gamut.. still great panels though! even my 13" stands up well next to my h-ips panel!
     
  9. theYipster macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Sep 9, 2009
    #9
    I stand corrected then. Google the subject and you'll see references going both ways -- so I can't say with certainty that the 17 and 15 inch MBPs use 8-bit displays. There are 8-bit TN panels, and it is conceivable that 17 inch MBP uses one -- but it doesn't look like there is a definitive answer. In any case even 8-bit TN panels don't match the accuracy or color depth of 8-bit IPS panels, so it may not even matter. I have heard repeatedly that the 17 and 15 inch MBPs use 8-bit displays, but I have also seen long discussions on Mac's support forums stating otherwise.

    What is clear is that no laptop display from any company will match a $1000 NEC or Eizo monitor for color accuracy. Nearly all (if not all) laptops use TN displays, so the question becomes whether the Mac is good enough without an expensive secondary monitor that specializes in color accuracy. The only laptop on the market (at least in the US) that can boast better color accuracy at this time is the Dell Studio XPS with the RGB LED display, but even that is likely to use a TN panel with dithering.

    The better question is -- does it matter? The idea that any serious professional photographer will have a NEC or Eizo costing thousands for serious editing work is silly. Sure they're the best of the best in terms of accuracy, but their market is tiny and you can bet that thousands upon thousands of professional photographers use their Mac displays without worry, and most professional editing houses I've seen are stacked with 24 and 30 inch Cinema displays and Dell UltraSharp IPS panels.
     
  10. maflynn Moderator

    maflynn

    Staff Member

    Joined:
    May 3, 2009
    Location:
    Boston
    #10
    unfortunately, apple uses 6bit displays so any image that has millions of colors has to be dithered. I'm a little disappointed in this, given the fact that I bought a so called "pro" machine. I understand that most if not all laptops use 6bit displays but that doesn't make life any easier.

    Lucky for me, I generally work off an external display so that largely mitigates the problem - at least when I'm not traveling.
     
  11. sab150 macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Jul 9, 2009
    #11
    apple refuse to comment (which means they are 6bit as they would be pushing the fact as a selling point) ha

    but everything i have found on the subject points to 6bit.. this is where the 24" led comes into its own (or even the older ones for that matter!) SO many people have called it expensive and blah blah but it uses 100% top quality parts from what i have seen inside and out ( i have had 4) and the only thing that lets it down would be quality control in the manufacturing process!

    the glassy debate is a whole other issue, but i would highly recommend getting an external.. glassy or otherwise ..or even go for a cheaper 15/13" and put the rest towards it
     
  12. emcham macrumors member

    Joined:
    Jun 29, 2009
    #12
    i am in the arts as well and use a matte 15" macbook pro combined with a external display. originally i was hell bent on the 17", but after working on it for a while i returned it. the 15" is great on the road, and when i work, i spread the windows out over my external display. if you are doing a lot of editing nothing beats an external display!
     
  13. mistamoni thread starter macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Sep 19, 2008
    #13
    Hmm... that is quite interesting to hear. Thank you all for your input into this matter. I have also heard that the MBP were 6bit, so it was a bit disappointing considering the cost of these machines. However, I guess when actually viewing the images, it's not really noticeable unless you compare it with an external monitor. I currently do all my editing on a PC desktop and a dell 2408WFP monitor. Though it's not the "serious pro" line monitor, I've calibrated it well, and it produces great results for my files as well as my prints.

    After hearing all of the discussion, I may just opt for the 15" version since it has pretty much the same specs, but will be easier to carry around. I was thinking that the 17" version had a better screen, so I would have paid extra to get that. If they are both the same screen, then it makes more sense to just get the more portable option. My main purpose for this notebook is for presentation to clients of their images, and for editing images on the road. Other than that, most of my major editing will be done on my home desktop. I may pick up an LED display in the future to accompany it though, since they are quite nice. Thank you all again for your input.

    One last thing, has anyone purchased a mac from Macmall.com? I'm planning to buy it from there (since it's a few hundred dollars cheaper), so I was just curious to know if anyone had an experience with them.
     

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