Display Analysis Indoors

The glossy issues don't apply nearly as much indoors since you don't usually have a sun in your room, thus our focus turns to viewing angle. With the previous generation MacBook the poor viewing angle of the panel kept me from really recommending the notebook. You couldn't tilt the screen far back enough to get a good viewing angle with the laptop in a plane for example.

The first noticeable change is that you can tilt the screen back a lot more on the new MacBook and MacBook Pro, helping to alleviate some of the viewing angle issues on the MacBook (the Pro still uses a much better panel with significantly better viewing angle).

The old MacBook Pro (back) vs. the new Macbook Pro (front)

The old MacBook (back) vs. the new MacBook (front)

The new MacBook panel is definitely improved in general; while it's not perfect the LED backlight helps a ton. Here's a comparison between the new MacBook and the old one:

The new MacBook (right) doesn't look as washed out as the old MacBook (left)

The old MacBook (left) isn't as bright as the new MacBook (right)

Now here's an interesting comparison, let's look at the old MacBook vs. the old MacBook Pro:

The old MacBook Pro (left) vs. the old MacBook (right)

Straight on we see warmer colors on the MacBook Pro (left) but at this angle everything looks fine. At a more ridiculous angle you can get an amplified picture of the problem with the old MacBook:

The old MacBook Pro (left) vs. the old MacBook (right)

Both of these displays are at full brightness, but the MacBook (right) is hardly visible. This is clearly an extreme case but even at smaller angles you still notice a lot of washout on the old MacBook's display. Now let's do the same comparison with the new MBP and MacBook:

The new MacBook Pro (left) vs. the new MacBook (right)

Head on we see the same differences in panels, the MacBook Pro has much warmer colors than the MacBook. Let's see what happens if we go to a more extreme viewing angle though:

The new MacBook Pro (left) vs. the new MacBook (right)

The MacBook gets a bit darker but nothing near as bad as what we saw with the old MacBook, showing the sort of improvement that Apple has made this generation. The new MacBook finally has an acceptable display. While I wouldn't consider the old MacBook because of the display, the new one is improved enough that I'd actually be ok with it. I've written most of this review on the new MacBook and while the old one would've frustrated me by this point, the new one was just fine.

The MacBook Pro does offer some definite benefits in low light viewing however, let's take a look at black levels when watching a movie:

The new MacBook Pro (left) vs. the new MacBook (right)

Here everything looks ok, but let's go to a more extreme angle and cut the lights off:

The new MacBook Pro (left) vs. the new MacBook (right)

Both screens are quite visible in reality at a normal viewing angle, but the MacBook Pro is definitely better.

Oh No, It's Glossy My Biggest Gripe: No Standard SSDs


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  • plonk420 - Thursday, October 23, 2008 - link

    could anyone test this with the new (and even old) Mac Book Pro to test for CPU usage?


    h.264 high profile (QT supports this now, right?) level 4.1 720p60, fairlight/the black lotus's demo Only One Wish (2nd place at Intel's second demo compo) .. has some really handsome bitrate spikes :D ~mid 20s mbps spikes (but not as good as the 60mbit spikes in a 6 or 8mbit (average) encode of ASD's Antisize Matters)
  • michaelheath - Thursday, October 23, 2008 - link

    Having spoken to a few Apple developers I know, the reason for this oddity is Nvidia's software implementation for Mac OS 10.5. While the ideal situation was for them to be able to switch on the fly, the agreement between Apple and Nvidia to develop for the new MacBooks and MacBook Pros happened so quickly it left little time to create a proper application that would allow for this (think of how you had to restart your computer to turn SLI on or off: same slapdash type of programming).

    The hope is that quick-toggling between integrated and dedicated graphics will come with Mac OS 10.6 as it may be too large of an update to patch Mac OS 10.5. It also makes sense in this aspect as Mac OS 10.6 also includes OpenCL GPGPU algorithms, which Nvidia is already promoting and developing under their CUDA platform.
  • RDO CA - Thursday, October 23, 2008 - link

    On my Thinkpad T-400 with switchable graphics all that is needed to switch is to go to the taskbar icon and click switchable graphics and choose what you want and the screen goes dark for a second and thats it. Reply
  • cliffa3 - Thursday, October 23, 2008 - link

    I'll test it sometime this week, but on my Lenovo T61 it seems like I get much more life out of Ubuntu than I do Vista 64-bit. Could be a windows thing in general, not just something that OS X does better.

    How was the battery life comparison between XP and Vista?
  • PilgrimShadow - Thursday, October 23, 2008 - link

    Anyone know if the 9400M and 9600M appear in Vista's Device Manager? Reply
  • TallCoolOne - Thursday, October 23, 2008 - link

    I bought the new 2.0GHz MacBook last week as my first Mac and can say I'm not disappointed. The whole chassis feels as solid as, well, a block of aluminum! As Anand said, it feels like you get what you paid for. I actually like the multi-touch gestures, such as swiping with 3 fingers to flip pages and for back/forward when web browsing. I'd like to see iTunes also support that gesture. Two finger scolling is another great feature not mentioned in this article. What I don't like though is the stiffness of the mouse click. It takes far more pressure than any mouse and that required pressure is uneven in different areas of the trackpad. Pressing near the top requires more pressure than near the bottom. As for lack of standard SSD, Anand, perhaps you're a little too spoiled by that speed! I would not expect that as standard on even the fastest MacBook Pro at current prices. That is, unless you'd like to see the asking price for a MBP $500-600 more than it is now. Reply
  • vlado08 - Thursday, October 23, 2008 - link

    It is interesting was vista side panel running during the test. Also was this fresh install of vista os. If it was fresh then was the indeing enabled. Reply
  • vlado08 - Thursday, October 23, 2008 - link

    edit indeing - indexing Reply
  • jmpt2 - Thursday, October 23, 2008 - link

    Very interesting to read your conclusions about better power management in MacOS vs Vista. This matches my experiences running Vista on the BootCamp partition of my Core Duo MacBook, and is the first time I've seen this discussed anywhere on the web. I found that with a main battery in quite poor condition after two years constant use, it became impossible to use Vista on battery power for more than a minute without the battery deciding it was empty and putting the machine into sleep mode. Under MacOSX the system could still be used for 30min+ (light use) before the same thing happened.

    I'd come to the conclusion that Apple were deliberately playing games with the ACPI tables to confuse Vista's power management code and make their own OS look better. This seemed to be supported by the fact that Vista is unable to correctly detect the charging state on my MacBook - running on battery power it would always report "Connected to mains, not charging". Does it still work that way on the latest MacBooks? In any case, your data does seems to suggest the problem is a more general issue with Vista. Sounds like you should investigate further...

  • BZDTemp - Thursday, October 23, 2008 - link

    I wonder if OS X lasting longer on a battery can be transfered to the world of none portable?

    In other words say I run OS X on my daily, none laptop, work machine doing surfing, writing and perhaps listening to music(FLAC prefered over MP3) or even watching an episode of The Daily Show. Will this draw less power from the wall with a PC running OS X than with the same machine running Windows (and is there a difference between Windows versions). Also Linux should be included in the test.

    Imagine the perspective - with the whole green computing movement this could really make a difference not just in the server rooms.

    Please do check this out - this is not only interesting for us geeks but could make Anandtech something referred to by none-tech news media.

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