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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  • Calin - Friday, October 24, 2008 - link

    What about testing power use under XP I mean
    XP compares more favourably to Mac OS (or anything else) than Vista, and I wanted to know if that excessive power use is Vista-only, or if it does appear on Windows XP too
  • strikeback03 - Thursday, October 23, 2008 - link

    Or some version of Linux? Reply
  • wilkinb - Wednesday, October 22, 2008 - link

    yeh I agree the diff will be how the OS is set to manage each device etc etc...

    On my Sony laptop i get around 2 hours on high performance and a bit over 5 hours on battery saving...

    The results they posted dont really tell us much other then a bootcamp vista install isnt as good as an osx install at managing power on apple laptop... amazing right?

    I am sure if i dont use the Sony install and tool/drviers etc I will also get less battery life on my laptop. So the question would be do you think apple put more effort into power management on their OSX install then they did for Vista?
  • JarredWalton - Wednesday, October 22, 2008 - link

    Let me just say that I've tried testing various power saver setting under Vista on several notebooks (see review on Friday) and I just can't get anywhere near 5 hours of battery life. Sure, the CPUs are a bit higher spec on some of the notebooks, but as one example a 12.1" laptop with 55 Whr battery, 320GB 5400RPM HDD, 4GB RAM, LED backlighting, and P8400 pulls an "amazing" 138 minutes of DVD playback and 142 minutes of web surfing... though it does manage 261 minutes when sitting idle at the desktop.

    As best I can tell, the CPU and HDD just don't seem to be entering sleep modes much if at all, unless the system is 100% idle. Even then, 261 minutes idle battery life doesn't compare favorably to the MacBook pulling 286 minutes of web surfing.

    How big is the Sony battery, if I may ask? (Just for reference, take Voltage * mAhr to get Whr.) What sort of CPU, GPU, HDD, RAM does it use? What we need to see to prove it's possible is a Vista laptop with a 20W TDP CPU, 2GB RAM, 5400 RPM HDD, and 13.3" LED backlit LCD that can still get close to five hours of battery life with a 55 Whr battery. If you think you have one, get the manufacturer to send me one for review! :)
  • Spivonious - Thursday, October 23, 2008 - link

    Are you guys turning off the Vista indexer and SuperFetch? Those two things would run the harddrives pretty constantly on a fresh install, which would definitely drag down battery life. Reply
  • JarredWalton - Thursday, October 23, 2008 - link

    Do normal users disable SuperFetch? I've disabled indexing as much as I know how, since I don't use it, but SuperFetch is part of Vista. Besides, it shouldn't run on battery power (and neither should indexing). Reply
  • Spivonious - Friday, October 24, 2008 - link

    If you want to actually test Vista battery life, install the OS and use it for a week before testing the battery life. I agree with the other poster that both the indexer and SuperFetch are great features, but they do spin the harddrive when the computer is idle until the index is built and SuperFetch learns what you use most often.

    Spinning harddrive = lower battery life

    Comparing battery life between Vista and OS X is like comparing the time it takes to eat a pomegranate and an apple.
  • headbox - Saturday, October 25, 2008 - link

    no, battery tests let people know how long they can use their computer without plugging it in.

    You're not comprehending the article- the PC laptops are also being tested at idle, just sitting there doing nothing. If Vista is going to spend that entire time "superfetching" nothing, that's a problem.
  • jonmcc33 - Thursday, October 23, 2008 - link

    No, normal users do not disable SuperFetch. That's just bad tweaking advice, as much as turning Indexing off is as well. Both are amazing features added to Vista.

    I tested a Latitude D630 (2.6GHz Core 2 Duo Penryn, 2GB RAM) with Vista Business and a 9-cell 85WHr battery. Life was over 5 hours.
  • JarredWalton - Thursday, October 23, 2008 - link

    I wouldn't be surprised if there's just some glitch on many of the laptops that's keeping battery life down, but until some manufacturer can deliver Vista with 55 Whr and 5 hours (give or take) battery life I remain skeptical. Users shouldn't have to hack their laptop in any way to get the increased battery life; it should just work properly out of the box. You know, like the MacBooks with OS X. Reply

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