Retina Display: Feature or Gimmick?

Discussion in 'MacBook Pro' started by eba, Jun 19, 2012.

  1. eba macrumors regular

    Mar 14, 2007
    Heresy, I know.

    Like most folks here, I was excited about the release of the new Retina Display MBP. But having now seen the new machine in the flesh, I can't help but wonder if the Retina Display really adds as much as it takes away, at least at this point.

    Yes, some text and graphics look awesome. But other text and graphics look worse. For every item that looks better, there seems to be another that looks worse. Speaking with your head - not your heart - is the Retina Display really much more than a wash at this point?

    And, yes, the resolution scaling is nice. But there seems to be a fairly noticeable lag at the higher end of the scale. And while some say the Mountain Lion OS may alleviate some of this, it remains to be seen whether that is so.

    I just keep asking myself whether the Retina Display, at least at this point in its development, really adds all that much in a day-to-day sense. Are we liking this mostly because we really, really want to like it?

    Like others, I haunted my local Apple store for days after the release but could never find a new RMBP in stock. I then ordered online, but Apple lost my order. So I'm starting to wonder if maybe karma isn't doing me a favor for once. Maybe I should wait a bit?
  2. Fynd macrumors 6502

    Aug 11, 2010
    It depends on what you plan on using it for, honestly.

    The new iPad was much the same way on release. I use mine to read more than anything so it was a huge improvement and it was easy to look over the issues.

    With the MBP, I'll likewise spend the majority of my time reading (news/blogs/email/etc) or editing photos so it's easy to look over the issues.
  3. Chupa Chupa macrumors G5

    Chupa Chupa

    Jul 16, 2002
    Sword sharp text is never a "gimmick." Never. Graphics on non-updated 3rd party apps can look worse -- because THEY haven't been updated. But that was also an issue when Retina came to the iPhone and then the iPad. That will get fixed in the coming months as devs catch up.

    So, no, it's not a gimmick, but some people are not born "early adopters," and the RMBP is definitely not for them.
  4. pedrothedagger macrumors newbie

    Jun 19, 2012
    It's nice. If it's not a major feature for you, you may not want it, but rather than looking at what's lost by the switch to retina, I'd see that as what's lost by a thinner notebook form factor.

    There's nothing preventing Apple engineering-wise from putting the retina display on the standard form factor. I'm pretty sure, given how they've launched them, that they are using it as a feature to entice people to the new form factor, which they think will get them more comfortable with the idea of a MacBook Pro without an optical drive, or user servicable parts.

    I picked one up from Best Buy and absolutely love it, but I could see how it might not be ideal for some people. I'd say get the old form factor if you don't care about the Retina display, but I wouldn't be surprised if the old form factor goes away after a while.
  5. eba thread starter macrumors regular

    Mar 14, 2007
    Agreed. But not all text on the RMBP is "sword sharp." Text in Office apps, for example, is muddier.

    The new display giveth, but also taketh away.


    That's definitely a plus. I agree that the new form factor is great. We'll likely see it across the board soon.
  6. iEnvy macrumors 65816


    Jun 25, 2010
    After seeing it personally in the store, its definitely a feature. Once the software support comes, it'll justify the screen more. Like the posts above though, the form factor could steal the show. I was really impressed looking at it. The speed of the machine is great too.
  7. Hidendra macrumors member

    May 19, 2008
    I don't see it as a retina display (marketing term), but an IPS display with an impressive resolution for its size. So definitely a feature ;)
  8. Mr. Retrofire, Jun 19, 2012
    Last edited: Jun 19, 2012

    Mr. Retrofire macrumors 603

    Mr. Retrofire

    Mar 2, 2010
    The retina display makes sense on the iPhone, iPod touch and iPad, because these devices have a very small screen and people use them for notes, twitter or other text based services. I do not see, that retina screens are necessary in MBPs or standalone displays. They are useful in certain areas. Many companies do not need a retina display to make money. Microsoft did not need retina displays to earn billions. Adobe did not need retina displays to earn billions. I can continue with this list. I'm sure many Mac users "need" such a display, but not for serious work.

    We already know that more megapixels do not increase the quality of digital pictures, at least not in 99 percent of the cameras. Yes, i know Hasselblads and other brands have high resolution sensors (40+ megapixels), but they cost 10000 US$, 20000 US$ and more.

    We know also, that more GHz do not mean, that the machine is faster.

    And i'm sure we know soon, that more pixels on a display are also not always better.
  9. ashua macrumors newbie

    Jun 14, 2012
    I use my mbp for all the above uses as well. Not sure what you are trying to imply with this?
  10. Mr. Retrofire macrumors 603

    Mr. Retrofire

    Mar 2, 2010
    I did not imply anything, because i do not know what you mean. "above uses"-right. Do you mean twitter, serious work or what? :confused:
  11. Chupa Chupa macrumors G5

    Chupa Chupa

    Jul 16, 2002
    You should have read my entire post... 3rd party stuff has to catch up, just like it did w/ the iPhone and iPad when they went Retina. In the mean time you can adjust the resolution when using Office and then zoom in and text looks OK. It's a work around, yes, which is what early adopters are use to. The RMBP isn't for non-early adopters, absolutely. That's different from it being a gimmick, like say 3DTV.
  12. icanboogie macrumors regular


    Nov 12, 2008
    I think that reading really really sharp text online, like here on macrumors, alone is already worth the retina.

    This is the area where I personally profit the most – not only because I spent much of the time in front of the computer with reading web text, but also because i think it is much more stressful on the eye than watching movies or pictures (at lower resolutions). Sharp text is like birthday for the eyes, every day.

    Emails and PDFs already are great, too, and all major word processing software will be updated in near future.

    I think this RMBP is, much more than its predecessors, also a fantastic reading device - and that's not a gimmick IMHO.
  13. KohPhiPhi macrumors 6502a

    Feb 9, 2011
    I fundamentally agree with this.

    - Retina is awesome in mobile devices with small screens that are held close to your face.
    - Retina is not needed in full-size laptop/desktops that are used at almost half a meter away from your face.
  14. MacBird macrumors 6502a

    Apr 1, 2010
    I'm not questioning your argument and crisp fonts are definitely nice, especially on very small screens such as iPhone and iPad but would you really say that there is less eye strain on a Retina MBP compared with the older 1440x900 model? I'm reading all day on my computer and I never got the impression that the way fonts look are responsible for eye strain.

    As for 'all major word processing programs will be updated in the near future', I hope your guess is correct. Apple might update their programs soon but it took MS almost a year to include full screen.

    I talked with photographer friends of mine and we independently ordered and later canceled the new MBPs after seeing them in a store because of the upscaling which makes it impossible to judge critical sharpness of images posted online, at least at the moment.

    Don't get me wrong, the specs and design are great and who would not love an IPS display. I might reconsider at some point, but right now I will stick with my unibody MBP.
  15. beamer8912 macrumors 65816

    May 30, 2009
    I think the success of the retina iPhone and iPad are enough of an example for the demand for retina. It's not ONLY for videophiles and media editing. The average consumer wants it too and uses it plenty.
  16. Randomoneh, Jun 19, 2012
    Last edited: Jun 19, 2012

    Randomoneh macrumors regular


    Nov 28, 2011
    Provided that content is matching hi-res display's resolution, higher resolution (angular resolution, that is, since distance is involved) is always better, up to about 400 pixels per degree of FoV.

    However, increase in quality is not linear, meaning when you go from 300 ppd [pixels per degree] to 400 ppd - gain will be smaller than going from 30 ppd to 120 ppd.

    Matter of diminishing returns, but returns nonetheless.

    As for camera sensor resolution, you might be mixing some fruits here.
  17. eba thread starter macrumors regular

    Mar 14, 2007
    I want it too. My question, though, is whether it makes sense to want it.

    Apart from web-browsing, I'm not hearing any clear-cut advantages for the RD. And there are some clear disadvantages (i.e., Office apps and photo editing).
  18. Prodo123 macrumors 68020


    Nov 18, 2010
    iPhone & iPod Touch - feature. Phone screens are so small and held so close that the retina screen makes a big difference.

    iPad - feature. If you're reading an ebook for a long time, your eyes get tired from the low resolution panel. Also, the screen is held close so you can notice the difference. The biggest factor here however is the difference in color gamut, where the new iPad has 100% sRGB color representation. Therefore colors are more accurate and the display in itself looks much more gorgeous.

    MacBook Pro - gimmick. The laptop is held a couple feet from your face. Much further than an iPad. At that distance, with the 1680x1050 display (128ppi), it already is at a retina resolution. Your eyes cannot tell apart the pixels. Not only that, the new display has a lower color gamut that the hi-res matte and glossy, which is very important for professionals. the horsepower and battery needed to power such a display could be used to drive a 1680x1050 display for a much better experience and with a much longer battery life.
  19. Randomoneh, Jun 19, 2012
    Last edited: Jun 20, 2012

    Randomoneh macrumors regular


    Nov 28, 2011
    So what?

    At 2 ft distance angular resolution is 95 pixels per degree. It can go all the way up to 400 ppd after which you will see no improvement.

    Not seeing pixel grid ≠ image quality can't be better.
  20. nuckinfutz macrumors 603


    Jul 3, 2002
    Middle Earth
    Indecipherable pixels are an advantage for anything displayed on the screen. Text and images.

    I'm not sure how someone really argues in the negative. I don't use MS Office so I don't give a **** that their text sucks. That's on Microsoft.

    Now I'm not discounting that Retina may not be ideal for a given person and their individual usage cases by higher resolution is kind of a big deal across the wide range of users.

    But even without the hirez the new RBMP display is IPS which means 178 degrees off axis viewing and better contrast and color saturation.
  21. CausticPuppy macrumors 65816

    May 1, 2012
    That's only because some apps haven't been updated yet. Same problem with the iPad3 - in fact there are still many (most) sites that don't have retina graphics, and look a bit blurry. Oh well.

    But saying it's a gimmick is like saying 32-bit color is a gimmick when we're all used to 256-color VGA.

    In a few years, sooner rather than later probably, everything will be "retina" display. And we will all forget what pixels are.
  22. eba thread starter macrumors regular

    Mar 14, 2007
    Except, of course, when it looks worse.

    As in....

    The consensus seems to be that the RD always looks better (except when it doesn't).


    Perhaps "gimmick" is too strong a word. I don't mean to imply that it's just a marketing ploy with no real utility.

    I'm just asking whether, at this time, in its current implementation, it's really worth all the hoopla. And it just seems to me that it carries - at the moment - as many compromises as improvements.

    I assume that will change over time. But now is now.
  23. beamer8912 macrumors 65816

    May 30, 2009
    Then wait. But it won't be long until all that is updated. Similar to all the apps on the app store. Albeit, those didn't look quite so bad before being updated. Things will slowly transition, and the standard will soon be set. For now, it's only been a week.
  24. Randomoneh macrumors regular


    Nov 28, 2011
    For smaller devices, about 10 years. You wouldn't believe how slow things are moving. Yes, currently, we are witnessing a step up, but I'm afraid things might slow down very fast.

    Content has to match the resolution!

    Read again.

    "Provided that content is matching hi-res display's resolution, higher resolution (angular resolution, that is, since distance is involved) is always better, up to about 400 pixels per degree of FoV."
  25. eba thread starter macrumors regular

    Mar 14, 2007
    I think we're saying the same thing.


    There's the rub.

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