Was the old Macbook Air screen THAT bad?

otherguy5

macrumors member
Original poster
Feb 2, 2015
64
6
I'm currently using the early 2014 model. I think it works fine for my needs (although I am planning to upgrade). All I do is surf the net, read, write docs, watch and listen to content. But watching some of these tech reviews on YouTube, one would think that the screen resolution was horrible on this lol. I personally don't notice the pixels. No doubt the new screens are better on the new one, but is there really that much of a huge difference? Are the screen really that terrible on this old thing?
 
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redheeler

macrumors 604
Oct 17, 2014
7,659
7,486
For someone used to Retina displays, it's pretty bad. Not just the resolution, but the colors aren't as vibrant, and the viewing angles are poor by comparison as well.

Unsurprising given the age of the display in the pre-Retina Air. Hasn't been updated since Steve Jobs introduced the fourth release of the MacBook Air in 2010.
 

otherguy5

macrumors member
Original poster
Feb 2, 2015
64
6
I guess I'm just used to it for my needs, but I'm looking forward to getting the updated one (still undecided whether I should go for the new Air or the Macbook Pro 2017 - no TP).
 

raqball

macrumors 68020
Sep 11, 2016
2,079
9,274
If you are use to the old Air screen then it won't bother you but after using a Retina display for a short period of time, it will....

To my eyes, the old Air screen is terrible....
 
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Howard2k

macrumors 68030
Mar 10, 2016
2,900
2,158
I'm currently using the early 2014 model. I think it works fine for my needs (although I am planning to upgrade). All I do is surf the net, read, write docs, watch and listen to content. But watching some of these tech reviews on YouTube, one would think that the screen resolution was horrible on this lol. I personally don't notice the pixels. No doubt the new screens are better on the new one, but is there really that much of a huge difference? Are the screen really that terrible on this old thing?

I use an old MBA style screen for my work laptop. Yeah my retina screen is way better, but the non-retina screens are completely usable. I know some people complain that their "eyes hurt" etc., but computers used to have screens like this, and people were able to use them without coming to web forums and complaining about sore eyes.

pb500cga.jpg
 

QCassidy352

macrumors G4
Mar 20, 2003
10,959
3,551
Bay Area
It’s all relative. Millions of people use them every day with no problem. All of us used worse screens than that not all that long ago (CRTs and such). But compared to a good Retina display, the difference is pretty striking.
 

New_Mac_Smell

macrumors 68000
Oct 17, 2016
1,928
1,546
Shanghai
Of course the old screens are entirely usable and unless you're sat next to a better screen, won't be noticeable. Today however better screens are available at no penalty to the computer. As in if you put say a 4K OLED then you'd expect a significant hit to the battery, I'd take the older screen over that as it's a computer not a TV to me. However, if you can put something better without sacrificing performance or battery then it's a win-win.

For the price point however, $999 is tough to fork out for the lower screen, but the Airs were meant for very light portable work such as writing or general document editing, not creating content. So they are fine...
 
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AlliFlowers

Contributor
Jan 1, 2011
4,483
11,911
L.A. (Lower Alabama)
I guess I'm just used to it for my needs, but I'm looking forward to getting the updated one (still undecided whether I should go for the new Air or the Macbook Pro 2017 - no TP).
Honestly, if that's all you're using your Mac for, you might want to consider just moving to an iPad. The only reason I still have my Mac is because I manage a few websites that I can't control from iOS.
 
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Audit13

macrumors 603
Apr 19, 2017
5,295
1,341
Toronto, Ontario, Canada
I use both my Late 2013 13" MBP at home and Air when travelling. The screen on the Air is fine for short-term use. If I'm going to be staring at it for hours, I use my MBP.
 

Pugly

macrumors 6502
Jun 7, 2016
261
204
Yes... but it doesn't matter. Retina isn't a big deal, but it really could have used a nice IPS at the same resolution... at the least to get better viewing angles. It's functional and only looks terrible if you compare it to retina screens.

It gets much better with the right calibration.

I have an 11" with an LG panel.
 

Anonymous Freak

macrumors 603
Dec 12, 2002
5,237
588
Cascadia
If you're not used to a Retina display, it's fine. Great, even. My wife loves her 2014 MacBook Air.

But once you've used a Retina display, there is no going back.

One slightly worrying thing is that the "default effective resolution" has gone down. The old MBA (still sold as the $999 option) has a resolution of 1440 by 900. The new one is 2560-by-1600, which at standard 2x Retina resolution, "looks like" 1280 by 800. So if you use the default Retina resolution, you "lose screen real estate" compared to the non-Retina MBA. Yes, you can run it at "looks like 1440 by 900," but there will be a performance penalty, and it won't look quite as nice as a real 2880 by 1800 operating at "looks like 1440 by 900" would.
 

ckeck

macrumors 6502a
Jul 29, 2005
711
62
Texas
No, it's not that bad at all.

Surprisingly, I enjoy going back and working on my older Air sometimes. The machine is fast, light and the battery life is/was amazing.

Technically, the retina screens are "better", but as someone who is usually nitpicky about these things, I was very surprised at how much it never bothered me.
 
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Bazza1

macrumors regular
May 16, 2017
148
113
Toronto, Canada
Remember when Steve pulled the Air out of an envelope? And Apple bragged about their screens? And the fanboys oohed and ahhh'd about them? Yeah, like worse than the ones on last year's Air? It's like that - but it's now time to encourage everyone to pay a premium price for a screen - which, while lovely - will be supplanted soon enough by something Even Better!
Sure the retina is nice - and there will always be the Macolytes who *need* the Next Big Thing, but for 98% of the stuff I (most?) do on an Air, the screen is just fine - and it's not worth the hike in price. Gonna suggest the same for that army of coffee shop Air users out there, too.
 

torana355

macrumors 68040
Dec 8, 2009
3,508
2,519
Sydney, Australia
I have a 2011 MBA, the resolution isn't great but its not the biggest issue, its the washed out colours and **** contrast ratio along with horrible viewing angles. The rest of the machine is awesome and has been so reliable, to bad Apple can't even make a reliable laptop anymore :(
 

oldmacs

macrumors 601
Sep 14, 2010
4,490
6,155
Australia
I have a 2012 non Retina Pro - unsure if the screen is the same or not. It honestly doesn't bother me. I have a retina iPad and iPhone + regularly use Retina Macs, but always fine to go back to this screen.
 
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