Retina screen WORSE than non-retina?

Discussion in 'MacBook Pro' started by Panini, Jun 24, 2012.

  1. Panini, Jun 24, 2012
    Last edited: Jun 25, 2012

    Panini macrumors regular

    Jun 12, 2012
    Palo Alto, CA
    I'm hearing a lot of talk about the Retina display looking poorer than the non-retina (1440x900) displays when displaying non-retina content.

    Theoretically, shouldn't the Retina display (2880x1800) displaying 1440x900 content be the same, if not better (IPS) than a non-retina display (1440x900 native) since it's essentially just pixel doubling (4px = 1px)?

    What I'm looking for:

    -Opinions from people who have actually seen the two in person and can confirm any difference (or lack thereof) between the two when both are running at 1440x900 or when displaying 1440x900 content.

    -If the display is indeed worse on the Retina, then why it is (because it should theoretically be identical or superior - not inferior).

    EDIT: I had already considered the fact that the difference may be purely psychological (when comparing retina content to non-retina content) but I heard otherwise which is why I'm curious.
  2. jshbckr macrumors 6502

    Apr 20, 2007
    Minneapolis, MN
    What are you asking? The image of the retina is incredible. Much better than non-retina. As far as "performing worse", maybe you're confusing screen performance with system performance. A lot of people are saying that it's slightly more taxing on the CPU and GPU to run the image on the retina display.
  3. Panini thread starter macrumors regular

    Jun 12, 2012
    Palo Alto, CA
    I mean if both displays are running in 1440x900, that the Retina display shouldn't look worse than the display with a native resolution of 1440x900 since it is just pixel doubling.

    I don't know if the above is the problem, or if the issue I hear about is when individual elements are rendered at 1440x900 resolution on a Retina display, but I would like someone to elaborate on the differences between the two.

    Basically, is there ANY downside to the Retina display when compared to the non-retina counterpart?
  4. Runt888 macrumors 6502a

    Nov 17, 2008
    The problem is that "non-optimized" content looks horrible when compared to "optimized" content. Non-optimized meaning apps that haven't been updated with higher res images, or do their own text rendering, etc. People see that on the retina display and think that it's worse than the non-retina display, when really everything on the non-retina display looks "terrible."
  5. maratus macrumors 6502a


    Jun 12, 2009

    Actually, to me it seems that pixelation on a Retina display is more apparent with pixel doubling compared to native 1440x900 resolution on a regular MBP. Maybe it's partially related to the sub-pixel rendering on the native 1440x900 screen vs. retina (I'm not sure if 2x scaled text and interface are rendered with sub pixels here)

    But regardless of possible aforementioned issue it's somewhat easy to see squares when each dot is displayed by 4 pixels instead of one pixel. That single pixel physically isn't a sharp square by design and therefore 1-to-1 image is more blurry, but 4 pixels acting like one will create a sharp square that's easy to distinguish and the final image will look sharper but more pixelated.

    But all this only applies to a Retina-incompatible application. OS itself and Retina-aware apps are just another story and they look fabulous!
  6. shansoft macrumors 6502

    Apr 24, 2011
    No, it will look worse no matter what....

    Double the pixel means you are blurring the original image by stretching it out.

    It's quite easy to notice too. Just look at the New iPad running iPad 2 apps, or iPhone 4.....

    I have seen it myself, and that is why I choose to stick with the legacy MBP......
  7. Born2bwild macrumors member


    Mar 18, 2012
    If on "best for retina" option, then the non-optimized text look the same as they would on a normal 1440*900 display.
  8. boto macrumors 6502


    Jun 4, 2012
    I own a rMBP and it's fabulous. The quality of the display is definitely crisp and brighter compared to the non-retinas, but the only negative part of owning one is the many softwares that don't support this beautiful display. Everything is either blurry or jagged which ruins experience. If the iMac were to even receive a retina display, I'm sure it would only increase the display size to the 3k mark and increase ppi to name it retina quality (Due to manufacturer costs and graphics reliability). They will just offer scaling options like the rMBP to proportion everything, although I doubt a retina iMac will come this year at the very least.
  9. 7even macrumors 6502a

    Jan 11, 2008
    Nope. Use the rMBP for 5 minutes then switch back to a non-retina screen. You suddenly become aware of every single pixel on the normal screen. Everything looks fuzzy. No joke :cool:
  10. wundram macrumors member

    Nov 21, 2009
    Some of the legacy apps are render text with the 2x2 pixel blocks, and still trying to use sub-pixel rendering, which obviously doesn't work in this case. So you get really ugly looking colored edges to the text. Here is a little screen grab from Mathematica 8. (Because this is from a retina, the image appears twice as big here as it does on the retina screen.)


    You can fix this by disabling sub pixel font smoothing (clear type) in the system preferences.
  11. Blue604 macrumors regular

    Mar 6, 2012
    it's true!
  12. leman macrumors G3

    Oct 14, 2008
    After inspecting the RMBP in person I think I now understand what the main 'problem' with non-retina content is. For example, the pictures in a web browser indeed look slightly blurry. However, in reality they look exactly the same as on the non-retina screen - its just that you only notice the blurriness in comparison with the extremely crisp HiDPI text rendering besides the image. This is also very visible in some PDFs, where header text is displayed as bitmap while rest of the text is vector-based. Bottomline: the problem is mixing the HiDPI content with non-high DPI (i.e. pixel-doubled) content - the later will always look blurry in comparison just because the HiDPI one is so much more detailed. This effect diminishes when you increase the resolution, as expected.

    The same effect is present on the iPhone4 and probably the retina iPad btw.
  13. DrJohnZoidberg macrumors member

    Mar 16, 2012
    No, and yes.

    The blurring is a temporary situation confined to applications that have not yet been made Retina-capable. This will be fixed.

    Yes, the Retina screen has fractionally - probably imperceptibly - worse color accuracy and a reduced color-gamut (about 7% less) compared with the HiRes non-Retina screen of the cMBP. It took Anand to point this out [link], but we should probably have guessed there was a regression because Apple like to trumpet every advancement (and they were suspiciously quiet about gamut and accuracy). It still has a good color gamut, just not as good as the HiRes cMBP, and this will be irrelevant to 90% of potential rMBP owners.
  14. imladris, Jun 25, 2012
    Last edited: Jun 25, 2012

    imladris macrumors member

    Aug 3, 2011
    Also see this thread, where the exact same thing is discussed. To me it is interesting to see how many people are so sure of why (or why not) the "retina screen is worse than non-retina [at the "best" scaling setting, for content not optimized for retina]", but have completely different explanations. It is apparently not an easy topic to discuss.
  15. mac jones macrumors 68040

    Apr 6, 2006
    Yikes. The tone of this forum now is negative.

    The mind boggles :eek:
  16. Panini thread starter macrumors regular

    Jun 12, 2012
    Palo Alto, CA
    I hope that this is what people are referring to as being inferior on the retina display.

    Thanks, I'll read through that.

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