The Display: Just as Good

Apple's MacBook Pro lineup is all about consistency. In everything from aesthetics to the keyboard, you really just have to pick your desired screen size and go from there.

That means the 13-inch MacBook Pro has the same keyboard as the 15 and 17-inch models. In other words, you get the best chiclet keyboard on the market. It's great for anyone who wants to do a lot of typing. Like the rest of the Pro lineup, the keyboard is backlit. You can turn off the backlight as well as control its brightness.

The aspect ratio is an Apple-standard 16:10 with a comfortable but slightly old-lady 1280 x 800 resolution. There is no matte screen option, so outdoor use in direct sunlight will be a problem. Indoors however, the display looks great.

In terms of brightness, color gamut and contrast ratio there's virtually no difference between the 13-inch display and the 15-inch high resolution matte display we reviewed a couple of months ago. It's not the best panel we've ever seen, but a clear step above what you find in average netbooks/notebooks.

The MacBook Pro displays can get very bright. They need to in order to make the glossy display usable outside, but indoors and in the shade the brightness is enough to suit anyone's needs.

The black level is reasonable but nothing spectacular, thanks to the bright whitepoint the resulting contrast ratio is pretty solid:

Given Apple's focus on creative professionals the color accuracy of the 13-inch's panel is excellent. And despite the lower price tag, you give up nothing compared to the 15-inch panel.

Color gamut is also impressive, again not the best we've seen but way better than the majority of laptops on the market. And again, identical to the 15-inch MacBook Pro.

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  • oldbriones - Wednesday, June 09, 2010 - link

    Glaringly missing in display evaluation is any mention of the viewing angle. Anandtech probably knows that the supposedly "Pro" models have cheap TN LCD type thus resulting in crappy viewing angles. I expect Anandtech to educate its readers about availability of better screens so that manufacturers will respond to the market demand. Reply
  • Zok - Wednesday, June 09, 2010 - link

    Good point, but when was the last time you've seen a laptop not sporting a TN LCD? Reply
  • Penti - Wednesday, June 09, 2010 - link

    Only tablet-PCs don't and they are only on IPS-based tech since recently and in smaller sizes, as far as I'm aware of there is no 15" low power laptop panel in existence or being manufactured. They can't use something that aren't manufactured, and a display like that isn't in the catalogs of the Korean and Taiwanese panel manufacturers and are frankly out of most of theirs capability. Many of them simply don't make any IPS screens at all. Haven't seen PVA panels in those sizes and power envelope or anywhere near.

    IPS screens in devices like iPad was unheard of before LG put one together for Apple and hard to imagine. As netbooks and low cost devices use TN panels and e-readers use reflective technology.

    Every photoguy knows the macbooks screens aren't worth a shit and that they need a calibrated external screen for referencing and work. So I hope it doesn't come as a surprise to anybody. The MBP screens aren't worse then any others. But it's still pretty useless for a lot of things. Any way that's what the review of monitors is for. They have done more detailed reviews of laptop screens too, but they only confirm that they are horrible. I'm pretty sure also that the screens for high-end tablet PCs isn't that good when it comes to color accuracy their usage is for viewing angles. And that isn't everything.
    Reply
  • Penti - Wednesday, June 09, 2010 - link

    And when I say based on IPS (IPS-based) I mean AFFS panels. They exist for up to 14". They are actually 262k color panels, while they have good viewing angles though. LG haven't invented a unique macbook screen yet. Reply
  • BlendMe - Wednesday, June 09, 2010 - link

    Now that Apple is shipping the iPad and iPhone 4 with IPS panels it might not take to long till they move the tech up to their MacBook line. The iMac already have it but they're not power limited like laptops. Reply
  • ksherman - Wednesday, June 09, 2010 - link

    "Every photoguy knows the macbooks screens aren't worth a shit..."

    That all depends. if you shoot in AdobeRGB, yeah you would be left wanting. I shoot almost exclusively in sRGB because that's what everyone seems to want anyway. As such, near 80% coverage of the AdobeRGB spectrum works just fine.

    The bigger problem is an uncalibrated display. Calibrate the display and it will get you close enough in almost ever situation.

    Of course though, it always depends on your medium/use for the pictures. I shoot for newspapers. They compress the details right out of the pictures online and the half-tone process kills and color correction or detail anyway.

    If I shot for a magazine, it might be a different story. I'd have a lot more money and probably wouldn't be editing and transmitting from my car more often than not.

    Anyway, I love my (first gen) unibody 15" MacBook Pro, but I'm lusting after the matte high-res display and awesome battery life.
    Reply
  • bji - Wednesday, June 09, 2010 - link

    What an interesting job you must have compared to those of us who sit in front of a computer in a cubicle all day ... Reply
  • rpottol - Monday, June 14, 2010 - link

    IPS were dropped from the Thinkpads because they could no longer be obtained in the quantities that they needed them, Apple would need them in far greater quantities (given that they were only on a few high end Thinkpads, as opposed to what apple ships).

    We may long after them, but for now, we are stuck with the cast offs from the TV market.
    Reply
  • oldbriones - Thursday, June 10, 2010 - link

    It was only a few years ago (granted that is a long time in tech-years) that there were beautiful high quality IPS LCD options on laptops such as IBM/Lenovo T43, T60, etc. Lately most consumers got seduced into cheap but seriously compromised (display-wise) machines, and then suffer afterward searching for that elusive head and body tilt to view the movie at. Then again, many people probably don't even know what they are missing. Reply
  • Stokestack - Thursday, June 10, 2010 - link

    The asinine glossy screen is a much bigger defect. What is with Apple's continued ignorance on this matter? I'm using a MacBook Pro with a glossy screen right now, and it is abysmal in ALL lighting conditions. From a pitch-dark room to a sunny office.

    To charge extra for a matte option on the other two MBPs is bad enough, but then they don't even offer it on the computer that's most likely to leave the house and be used in a variety of lighting. There's no excuse, because the size of the computer has nothing to do with this feature.

    Sad.
    Reply

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