The Retina Effect

Discussion in 'MacBook Air' started by Cattywampus_, Apr 5, 2015.

  1. Cattywampus_ macrumors 6502a

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    Apr 19, 2006
    #1
    So I like many of you have been indulged over the last few years in pixel heaven with iPhones, iPads and now MacBooks and even iMacs all coming with stunning high PPI screens.

    There is no question that when you sit in front of a screen that doesn't have a PPI to qualify as a retina screen, it is glaringly noticeable.

    I bought myself a new 2014 MacBook Air 11-inch on eBay the other day which should be with me on Tuesday, and the one thing that is bugging me big time is the screen and the fact that it is not a retina screen.

    I actually owned an 11-Inch MBA a 2-3 years ago (which I sold a few months later for lack of use),?this was at a time when I think only my iPhone 4 or 5 was the only device that had a retina screen, my 17-inch MBP (oh how I miss that laptop :() and Hackintosh display being standard PPI.

    But now, my iPhone 6, iPad Air and rMBP are all retina and my Hackintosh desktop rarely gets used, so when I use the MBA, it is going to be hugely noticeable.

    I had absolutely no I interest in buying another MBA until that damn rMB was announced, and it was then I realised how much I wanted an ultra portable laptop once again, regardless of how much usage it would get. But when they announced the pricing for the new rMB, over £1000 for the base model? Well that ruled that one out immediately.

    And so I managed to pick up a new, sealed 2014 MBA 11-inch for £540, nearly half the price, but with half a screen too!

    Now I fully expect the screen clarity, especially on text, to be no where near as good as a retina screen, but to those who use the model MBA I have ordered and who use other retina screens, is it hard adjusting back to the "old ways" of looking at a screen? I have read conflicting reviews and comments, some saying the screen is the worst Apple notebook screen ever to those saying it's the best.

    I was also reading this article: http://www.cultofmac.com/168509/why...ion-of-those-new-retina-display-macs-feature/

    In this article it says, and I a paraphrasing, that the MBA is already around 87% qualified as a retina screen, based on some calculations.

    I also believe that as noticeable as it will be when initially using the MBA after using a retina screen, eventually the eyes wi adjust and it won't really be an issue after ten minutes.

    Thoughts?

    Ps. I am still really buzzing about getting the MBA by the way :) I know this sounds like I am saying I think it'll be crap before I've even got it in my hands.
     
  2. xylitol macrumors regular

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    #2
    I don't mind the resolution so much. What is far more noticeable to me is that the screen is not an IPS panel, and I find myself constantly adjusting the angle of the display and/or my posture.
     
  3. redheeler macrumors 603

    redheeler

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    Oct 17, 2014
    #3
    I bought my first rMBP in August 2012 and have since never been able to go back.

    Similarly to my 4 year old 2010 iMac, the Air uses an outdated TN panel which makes things worse besides the lower pixel density. The colors are a bit more washed-out and the viewing angles not quite as good. Whenever I switch to the 2010 iMac I notice both the difference in display quality and pixel density.

    You get used to it after using it for a while, and for me the display is tolerable, but if you frequently switch back and forth between a rMBP and a MBA the difference will continue to be noticeable. Not to mention that Yosemite is a Retina-minded OS so if you're used to using it on Retina it will never look quite the same.
     
  4. newellj macrumors 601

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    #4
    YMMV but I find a huge difference even though I wish it were not so. I have owned and sold or returned three MBAs, 2x 11" and one 13". The most recent was an 11" last month. I truly love the 11" MBA, but the display is a deal-breaker. For me, the display is so bad that there just isn't a price at which I can put up with it, and I can put a dollar figure on that for you. The price difference between the 11" I just returned and and the rMB that I'm going to try to "replace" it with is $550. So, with another YMMV thrown in, that's how much a retina display is worth.

    ----------

    I emphatically agree with this. Color accuracy, gamut and viewing angle are the problem, not display res.
     
  5. Cattywampus_ thread starter macrumors 6502a

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    #5
    Ok so that's 3-for-3 not in favour :-/

    Anything I am going to say is gonna sound like I am trying to defend a product that I've bought but not got in my hands yet and am worried I bought a dud...

    But these screens must be perfectly useable? I mean they're still making the MBA so Apple can have had so many complaints otherwise they'd have changed the panel by now?
     
  6. xylitol macrumors regular

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    #6
    Yes, it's perfectly usable and a good panel as far as TNs go. And I knew very well the downside before I bought my MBA.
     
  7. zhenya macrumors 603

    zhenya

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    Jan 6, 2005
    #7
    The MBA is the budget laptop of the line. That paired with its extreme portability is what makes it so popular. As even you admit, price was the primary motivator in your purchase. There is no doubt you will notice the screen difference. The question is whether you'll notice that or the money in your wallet more.

    I know many people really just wanted a retina screen on the existing Air, but realize that would have also driven up the price, thus making the Air less appealing vs. the 13" rMBP.
     
  8. newellj macrumors 601

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    #8
    The other factor in Apple's decision not to retinize the MBA is probably battery life, which is a major selling point for the 13". Without some significant redesign to get a bigger battery into the MBA (probably not possible without some external changes), battery life would have taken a big hit. :(
     
  9. Rigby macrumors 601

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    #9
    There are Windows laptops with similar battery capacities as the MBA and QHD displays that still get good battery life. High-DPI displays have improved in energy efficiency since Apple's Retina was introduced (supposedly the display in the new Macbook is 30% more efficient than the older Retina displays).

    Personally, I think the differences are a bit overblown. There is no question that the Retina displays look nicer, but I find the display in my 11" MBA perfectly usable and have no problem going back to it when I need a highly portable computer. It doesn't take 10 minutes to adjust either. :p
     
  10. newellj macrumors 601

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    #10
    It's great that it works for other people. As I mentioned earlier, for me it is unusable at any price. :(
     
  11. Ulenspiegel macrumors 68020

    Ulenspiegel

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  12. thejadedmonkey macrumors 604

    thejadedmonkey

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    #12
    I bounce between a retina MBP, an even higher-DPI Dell, and old school MBP and PC. I never have any issues, or even really notice.
     
  13. SusanK macrumors 68000

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    Oct 9, 2012
    #13
    Love my MBA. No issues at all with the screen. Retina is ok if a computer meets other needs and the retina is there. Lack of connectivity and price on rMB rules it out for me. Personal preference.

    Enjoy your new MBA!
     
  14. ckeck macrumors 6502a

    ckeck

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    #14
    I usually cannot stand having anything but the "top of the line" (stupid mentality), but I don't know what it is, I love the 13" MBA screen. Sure the pixel density isn't quite there, but I've come to love it and honestly, the fact that the Air has higher usable resolution than the 13" Pro is a big plus.

    Sure I can scale the 13" Pro, but I've tried this about 3-4 times on every generation and I cannot stand the screen lag, particularly in scaled mode. You also lose some of those "crisp" text benefits when you start scaling.

    I actually didn't even know the Airs had a TN panel, that should say something.

    Back to my initial point, I've never kept a single Mac for more than a year or so since ~2006, but the 2013 MBA I've had since it came out to now. Thinking about getting a 2015, but still MBA after just having tried another rMBP 13.

    Skylake 15 rMBPs might be a different story, but for now I'm loving my Air. That and far less stress on the CPU/GPU having to push all those pixels. One of my last issues with retina today is that the horsepower to run them properly isn't quite here yet.
     
  15. bnmcj1 macrumors 6502

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    Apr 13, 2014
    #15
    I bought the air because it isn't retina. Can't stand ips backlight bleeding, bad black levels and slow panels. Also retina computers lag. Even the 5K iMac. The smoothness with a TN panel and lower pixel density is better for me until retina technology is ready.
     
  16. motrek macrumors 68020

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    #16
    They're absolutely usable. As soon as you start doing actual work on the computer it's completely fine. If you just sit there and stare at the screen and think about how much you dislike it, that's when the problems start.
     
  17. David58117 macrumors 65816

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    Jan 24, 2013
    #17
    I have a 2014 15" retina as well as an 2014 11" air.

    The screen difference is definitely noticeable, but I do think it's kind of overblown..

    I will say - either search online for a good color profile, or adjust it yourself - the default one is very washed out.
     
  18. Cattywampus_ thread starter macrumors 6502a

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    #18
    Glad to see some positive remarks here. Has set my mind at ease.

    Tuesday just can't come fast enough now!
     
  19. dmitrivich macrumors member

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    #19
    LOL.

    This is true.
     
  20. Dr Charter macrumors 6502

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    Oklahoma
    #20
    I was in a similar situation. I have a 15" rMBP at home that I just love to use. This replaced a 2011 11" Air that I loved but the retina screen drew me in. I sold the Air but always regretted it. The rMBP, while portable, was a bit of a pain to lug around in a bag filled with books and papers (I'm an English professor). I was initially excited about the rMB but I use a thunderbolt dock at work and (probably foolishly) invested in Thunderbolt drives, not to mention all the thunderbolt dongles I already own. USB-C is a no go for me at the moment.

    I'll probably get a retina MacBook eventually but for now I just picked up a 2015 11" Air. I've been using it for two weeks and jumping back and forth between it and my rMBP has not been an issue. Obviously I prefer the retina screen but the convenience of an ultra-portable, powerful laptop is worth the tradeoff for me at work. I don't think you'll be disappointed.
     
  21. Mcdevidr macrumors 6502a

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    #21
    Yea I have been getting hyped up about the rMacbook but I just can't justify the price. I'm a music masters student. I had a chance to get a brand new 2015 11.6 base model for 730 shipped. That's a lot of savings that I can use to pay off credit cards. I Suppose I'll get a macbook once they drop in price.
     
  22. Dr Charter macrumors 6502

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    #22
    I'm sure this comparison has been made but the launch of this new MacBook parallels the launch of the original Air almost exactly. It was more expensive than most other MacBooks (around $1800 I think with a ridiculously expensive SSD upgrade). It was a showcase of new design and technology. I wanted one but stuck with my white MacBook. This time I'm sticking with the Air but will be excited to switch to the rMB after a refresh or two.
     
  23. Cattywampus_, Apr 10, 2015
    Last edited: Apr 10, 2015

    Cattywampus_ thread starter macrumors 6502a

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    #23
    The Retina Effect

    Just thought I would leave some comments on the 2014 Macbook Air that I bought on eBay last week and my thoughts regarding retina vs. the standard PPI Macbook Air screen.

    I have to say that while you don't get that amazing crispness of the next like you get with retina, the text is perfectly legible and is far crisper than say my 24" Dell u2410 connected to my Hackintosh.

    The one thing that did take some time for my eyes to adjust to was the resolution.

    Up until a year a go I had a 17-inch MBP with a resolution of 1920x1200. I had 7 years with that laptop. Then when I got my 15-inch rMBP, running at a resolution of 1440x900, everything seemed massive. Text was larger, menus, cursors... all were rendered on screen larger (I am sure there is a technical name for what I am talking about). Having spent a year with my rMBP and then using the Macbook Air @ 1366x768... everything seems so small and cramped.

    After using the Macbook Air for half an hour or so, you do soon forget about it and your eyes adapt. And I am sure my eyes will get used to bouncing between the different screens.

    So my verdict on the Macbook Air screen after being spoiled with retina screens:

    The Macbook Air screen is a perfectly acceptable screen, rendering text that is easily legible without the need to increase font size. The brightness is more than acceptable also. From what I had read both in reviews and from forum posts about the screen I was expecting something of a train wreck. But I was pleasantly surprised.

    It is a real shame that the MacBook Air line up is unlikely to ever get the retina screens, and I can understand Apples reasoning behind this if the new MacBook is to be the replacement for that range of products.

    Firstly and most obviously, the high PPI retina screen in the new MacBook will look great, but maybe something that has been overlooked is the aspect ratio of the new MacBook.

    On the 11-inch MacBook Air, unless you either make the dock very tiny or set it to not display at all unless hovered on, you lose a substantial percentage of your usable vertical screen estate. The new MacBook, with its 16:10 aspect ratio will give the user that extra bit of vertical screen estate, something that would make the 11-inch Macbook Air tons better.

    I would love to hope that Apple next year would keep the Macbook Air family but update them to use the same screens as the new MacBook. They can be thicker with extra ports, extra performance power, but with all the benefits of the updated screens. I doubt it will happen, but we can dream.

    I love the idea of the new retina MacBook. There is no denying that it looks great. I think the new keyboard will become standard across all of Apples notebooks. People may have reservations about key travel and the size and spacing of the keys, but I believe Apple will have spent considerable resources ensuring that the new keyboard is one that can be used for even the fastest of touch typists given some period of adjustment.

    I also love the new trackpad and again I believe that to be something that will be standard on all notebooks. One less moving part is always a good thing (provided the haptic motor stands up).

    When I think about the size and weight of the new MacBook and then I pick up the Macbook Air 11-inch, I don't really see why they needed to make it any thinner. I think Apple has an unhealthy obsession with making things thinner just because they can. Regarding the weight; I don't personally carry a laptop around all day and I may be totally wrong, but I fail to see how the weight that has been shed would really make any difference. I am sure there will be those who disagree. In my eyes though Apple have stripped a notebook of ports in favour of making it unnecessarily smaller and lighter.

    Then there is the performance. The Core-M might well be a capable CPU, but again I feel like they have sacrificed performance just so they can spout off about how thin and light it is.

    The new MacBook starts at £1049... If I could have picked either a free new Macbook Air or the new MacBook, without doubt I would have the new MacBook. But I just paid £520 for a brand new base config 2014 MacBook Air. Less than half the price. I do not believe for one second that the extra to buy the MacBook is remotely worth it.

    Apple are obviously targeting this first revision at fan boys and what I would imagine to be a very unique, small niche group of users. It is a notebook that is jack of all trades, but the master of none; a glorified iPad with a keyboard.

    I do though believe that in 2-3 years time when the new MacBook has matured, it is going to be one hell of a product.
     
  24. Rigby macrumors 601

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    #24
    Just as a tip: I moved the dock to the left side on my 11" MBA. Frees up vertical space. ;)
     
  25. Cattywampus_ thread starter macrumors 6502a

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    #25

    I considered this, but the dock on the side just don't work for me. Have tried it in the past and could never get used to it.

    I have it tiny at the moment, small enough so I can just about make out notification badges. I may have to use it will dock hiding turned on though.
     

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