Thunderbolt display too high res for my wife

Discussion in 'Mac Accessories' started by schaibaa, Dec 28, 2012.

  1. schaibaa macrumors newbie

    Apr 17, 2012
    Hello everyone,

    I got my wife a new rMBP and thunderbolt display for Christmas. The retina display looks great, and she's enjoying everything - however most things on the TBD are simply too small.

    We've tried non-native resolutions but the quality is lower than we'd like. I understand that technically there's no problem to solve here, but are there any suggestions? This seems like a perfect way for the technology built in to the rMBP (pixel manipulation) to help out here.

  2. MisterKeeks macrumors 68000


    Nov 15, 2012
    If it was Retina and 2x the resolution, things would be exactly the same size.
  3. Ccrew macrumors 68020

    Feb 28, 2011
    Buy her glasses? :)

    Trade her in for a younger model as an upgrade?
  4. tredstone macrumors regular

    Aug 25, 2010
    Set the TBD to run at 1280x720 HiDPI mode... A pseudo-retina display at a size your wife might find more reasonable.
  5. sammich macrumors 601


    Sep 26, 2006
  6. MCAsan macrumors 601


    Jul 9, 2012
    Leave the resolution alone and on any screen where she wants to zoom in (effectively enlarge the fonts) hit Command, Option, and the + keys. To zoom back out...use the combo with - key instead of the + key.
  7. Weaselboy Moderator


    Staff Member

    Jan 23, 2005
    There is no pixel manipulation equivalent in the TBD to fix this. Is it primarily text that is too small for her? You might be able to address that on an app by app basis.

    For example, I use the Safari extension Quickstyle to display a larger font on some sites. You can set it up to make all sites show a larger font if you like.
  8. potatis macrumors 6502a


    Dec 9, 2006
    Or sell the TBD and find a used 24" ACD instead.
    It's 95ppi instead of 110ppi on the TBD.
  9. Fishrrman macrumors G5


    Feb 20, 2009
    Like your wife, I also find today's "high resolution" displays difficult to view at their native resolutions. The younger posters to this forum simply cannot comprehend why we older folks complain about such things -- but someday most of them will understand.

    My suggestion for you and your wife:
    Consider buying one of the "medium-resolution" large displays. By "med-rez", I mean a display that measures 27" diagonally, but still has the -resolution- of a 24" display (1920 x 1080):

    The example above is an IPS display with a pixel size of .311 -- the individual pixels are considerably larger than those on the Thunderbolt display.

    Yes, this means a lower resolution and the youngsters reading this reply will complain that "it looks grainy" to them. But it will look clear and readable to your wife at the native resolution.

    The price on the Dell monitor above is very reasonable, as well.

    My only complaint with it is that it's a "glossy" style display (edge-to-edge glass). I prefer "matte" displays, as there is less glare. But isn't the Thunderbolt display "glossy", as well?
  10. KylePowers macrumors 68000


    Mar 5, 2011
    Move the monitor closer to her.

    Alternatively, move her chair closer to the monitor.

    That may sound facetious... but seriously, have you tried that?

  11. RMo macrumors 65816


    Aug 7, 2007
    Iowa, USA
    Like others have said, your best bet is to get a different monitor whose native resolution matches the pixel density you (or she, I guess) find comfortable to read.

    But I don't think I understand the other part of your post (pixel manipulation?). Apple's "retina" displays are effectively twice the resolution in both dimensions. Normally, this would make everything appear half the size while enabling you to fit twice as much on the display.* But instead, when using a Retina display, OS X (and iOS) effectively double the size of text (making it look sharper since you shouldn't be able to see individual pixels any longer) and using hi/double-resolution images if the app as provided them (in which case it should also look better) or just automatically scaling the normal-resolution ones up to twice the size (in which case it will look effectively the same as it would on an ordinary display).

    So if your display, such as the TB display, is not Retina, there's really nothing that can be done. If Apple made a Retina TB display, you could probably get away with changing it to a "non-native" resolution between the normal and fullest density Retina setting, but I haven't tried this personally so I'm not sure how it would turn out. I suspect it would at least be better than running an ordinary monitor and non-native resolution since with greater pixel density you're less likely to see blurring and whatnot if the pixels don't line up exactly after scaling. But of course it doesn't matter with the external display since you can't do this with the current hardware.

    *Actually, I'm not sure that's mathematically correct since the total number of pixels is the horizontal times vertical resolution and doubling both does not double the total number but actually does more depending on the aspect ratio, but it still makes sense intuitively to think of it the simpler way.
  12. NMF macrumors 6502a


    Oct 27, 2011
    Is this actually possible?
  13. tredstone macrumors regular

    Aug 25, 2010
    Yes. It's not natively enabled in OSX but there's a few apps in the app store that can 'unlock' the option in settings. The Air Display program (free) that's used to broadcast a second screen to ipads can also enable it. 1280x720 obviously isn't the same usable space as native panel res on a 27", but it's not far off from the resolution of a 13" mb pro and the HiDPI makes it extremely crisp.
  14. octatonic macrumors regular


    Mar 23, 2010
    You need to upgrade.

    Wife 2.0 will be less problematic and you will get another 18 months out of her, according to Moore's Law.
  15. MeFromHere macrumors 6502

    Oct 11, 2012
    I don't personally know how/if this works, but I bookmarked the thread in case I need to try it when my new iMac arrives:

    This supposedly enables additional screen options.
  16. schaibaa thread starter macrumors newbie

    Apr 17, 2012

    Yeah the idea would be running the monitor at native resolution but have the GPU do the scaling.
  17. pbmagnet4 macrumors regular

    Jan 25, 2009
    This worked flawlessly on my TB display. I still enjoy the way I had it more but this is a great alternative to those who are vision impaired and still want a stunning resolution.
  18. calderone macrumors 68040


    Aug 28, 2009
    This does not work with a Retina MBP.
  19. tredstone macrumors regular

    Aug 25, 2010
    Huh? The rMBP has HiDPI enabled as the default resolution.
  20. calderone macrumors 68040


    Aug 28, 2009
    For an external display of course.
  21. yensteel, Jan 1, 2013
    Last edited: Jan 1, 2013

    yensteel macrumors regular

    Aug 17, 2009
    Fishrrman, that's a very good suggestion! There's certainly a demand for lower resolution but quality displays, and it's good that it's being fulfilled with this.

    Schaibaa, try out the hdpi mode and let us know if it works :). The older 24 inch apple display may be also a good choice, since the pixel density is lower than the 27 inch version.

    Like Rmo said, retina displays does make alternative resolutions feel more crisp, since the pixel blockiness is less noticeable. For the retina display of the MacBook pros, it looked fine when it's in a non-native resolution. However, it may be a long while until apple would even consider adding that upgrade for the external display.

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