Word (and other "non-retina" apps) and poor display on rMBP

Discussion in 'MacBook Pro' started by notyourattorney, Jun 29, 2012.

  1. notyourattorney macrumors newbie

    Jan 10, 2007
    Obviously there has been quite a lot of discussion about scaling and "fuzziness" on the rMBP. One simple evaluation I have not seen (although I admit I could have missed) is comparing text display at true native, unscaled 2880x1440 and "scaled" resolutions. The results are interesting.

    Using Word, and setting the rMBP at 2880x1800, 12 point Times New Roman looks perfect. Tiny, but perfect. Zooming in (using Word's zoom feature) 200% and it still looks perfect, and a more reasonable size. Zoom in 400%, still perfect.

    But, when I switch to "Best for Retina" 1440x900, (and set Word zoom back at 100%) that same text is fuzzy. Not at all "unusable" as some hysterics have claimed here and elsewhere--indeed only marginally worse than on my 13" Macbook Air. It really only looks bad because I've been using the retina Mac. Regardless, it is CLEARLY worse than the same text, on the same application, when the Mac is at 2880x1800.

    I am not a graphics person (hence my interest in text display) so I have not been able to capture screenshots and produce a graphic that I think will show this on other computers. But the difference is stark.

    This seems odd. Apple's scaling magic degrades an image that Word is perfectly capable of displaying.

    One takeaway is that if you work in Word a lot (and I expect this is true in Pages and many other "non-retina" apps) and don't mind the tiny UI, native res and zoom brings retina performance to these apps. I also want to emphasize that the "fuzzy" display in "best" resolution really is usable, although obviously not what we are buying a $2500 laptop for.

    Still, it is surprising to me (and I don't pretend to have any technical understanding) that a 4:1 pixel change in resolution can't recreate the smooth text that Word is capable of displaying.
  2. leman macrumors 604

    Oct 14, 2008
    I don't know any technical details about Word, but is it possible that it simply uses a different text rendering engine than the native Cocoa? If so, it may just be unaware that it actually has to render using larger resolution, since the logical resolution of the display is still 1440x900.

    Did you try starting Word under 'Open in low resolution' settings (right-click in Finder)?
  3. notyourattorney thread starter macrumors newbie

    Jan 10, 2007
    That option is permanently checked, as far as I can tell.

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