The 11.6” Samsung display panel in my Air evaluation unit is actually the same one I had on my last MacBook Air, though the one before that had an LG panel. This is all based on the panel supply lottery, and while it’s been alleged that the Samsung is a superior quality panel in terms of contrast and viewing angles, I honestly can’t say there’s too much of a difference overall between the two. I’ve never had them side-by-side, and color calibration can certainly skew visual perception significantly, so let’s just say that your mileage may vary. If you don’t like the panel you get, take it back and try another one—Apple Stores seem to cater to discerning customers (or they have with me).

Pixel Density Comparison Obviously, given our familiarity with the Air 11”, there’s nothing surprising here with the 2013 edition. It’s roughly the same as the last few we’ve had, beyond standard panel to panel variations. Contrast ratio and color reproduction are pretty decent, as they were before, and viewing angles are solid by the standards of TN panels. This is still the best 11.6” TN panel I think I’ve come across, but it’s been eclipsed many times over by the 1080p IPS 11.6” panels that are shipping in basically any higher-end 11.6” Ultrabook these days.

LCD Analysis—Contrast

LCD Analysis—White

LCD Analysis—Black This is probably the biggest issue that I have with the 11” Air. The 11.6” 1366x768 TN panel was industry standard when the first Air 11” hit the market, and the panel quality was actually pretty decent. The display size, pixel density, and aspect ratio each specifically aren’t bad on their own, but the combination results in a pretty unsatisfying viewing experience in this day and age. I’ve never liked the 1366x768 resolution for notebook displays, regardless of panel size; the lack of vertical pixels just kills it for me. Even 1280x800 in the 13” MacBook Pro (non-Retina) is better. I don’t mind 16:9 as an aspect ratio, even at this size, but I just want more pixels. That’s really the biggest part of what makes the 13” so much more usable, the 1440x900 display in that also won’t blow you away in terms of dot pitch or even visually when compared to the Retina MacBook Pro or a modern Ultrabook, but it offers a much more pleasant experience than this 11.6” panel.

 
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  • chrnochime - Friday, August 9, 2013 - link

    Bezel size the same as the Vaio Pro. Sticking point is TN panel.1195-1050=145. 145/1195= 0.1213, or 12.13%, NOT 25%. Nice math genius. Reply
  • chrnochime - Friday, August 9, 2013 - link

    And you're comparing a FP body with a CF body. Amazing. Reply
  • name99 - Saturday, August 10, 2013 - link

    The bezel will go, and the screen size MAY increase to use up the extra space, when the retina displays are ready. Until that point, it makes no sense to make the change.

    This is one of (of course far from the only) the reasons Apple makes a profit --- they don't screw around with pointless modifications to something that works. You see a similar pattern in the way they have reused and repurposed the A5 CPU across their iOS line.

    Compare with the Asian companies, which change chassis and internal components every three months. They never get a chance to perfect anything, they're wasting money on constant retooling and driver writing, and if you get a buggy device, it's kindof random whether the bug will ever be fixed or not.
    Reply
  • IanCutress - Friday, August 9, 2013 - link

    1.3 GHz DC 256GB 13" MBA is £1139. Vaio Pro 13 with battery slice, 1.8 GHz, 256GB, 1080p, 8gb RAM, £1130, and if I go into a shop, 3% discount. That's the challenge. Reply
  • abazigal - Friday, August 9, 2013 - link

    MBA comes with OSX and access to the apple ecosystem, plus iLife suite and a host of other useful software features. Apple also tends to have better after-sales service.

    For me, I have learnt that specs alone don't always paint the full, complete picture.
    Reply
  • ananduser - Friday, August 9, 2013 - link

    You can add the downside to that as well. It doesn't come with W8 and last time I checked, a win license is not cheap. That and the relatively poor bootcamp performance(half the battery). Reply
  • ESC2000 - Saturday, August 10, 2013 - link

    Um for a lot of people the fact that it comes with OSX is a downside. I've been considering a Mac but I'd have to bootcamp Windows because my firm requires Windows, like pretty much every large company/firm, and I dislike OSX regardless of my job's requirements. That means i'd have to pay extra for a windows license.

    It is true that similarly-specced Windows machines cost about the same (although I doubt we would see such a crappy screen being passed off as premium) but those OEMs are also paying for the windows license. The bottom line is Macs are overpriced. There is a reason they have $150 billion in the bank.

    Every time I start thinking about buying an apple product and I look into what they offer, I always come away feeling like I would be ripped off if I bought it: either it is overpriced or some corner was cut, like the terrible air screen this year, or it lacks some software feature (in the case of the ios).

    I have no idea what iLife is but I hope it is worth all that extra money.
    Reply
  • andykins - Saturday, August 10, 2013 - link

    Argument about cost of Windows is moot. Developing your own OS is neither cheap nor easy. Reply
  • teiglin - Friday, August 9, 2013 - link

    That 1130 is with VAT? I guess UK is getting even better sales than here--that config currently runs $1680 less $100 rebate, before sales tax. So for me, that'd be a little over $1700 after cashing the rebate.

    Anyway, definitely the vaio, or wait for rMBP. 1440x900 may not be as awful as 1366x768 but why in god's name would you be willing to suffer a TN panel in 2013? And the vaio is freakishly light; that extra .6lbs is really easy to feel when you're holding the thing.
    Reply
  • 8steve8 - Friday, August 9, 2013 - link

    I'm a MBA 13 has well owner who has been disappointed with the 11 for years now... 16:9 is a terrible aspect ratio for this kind of system, also this system has a huge bezel relative to its size, I'd love the mba11 formfactor with a 12.5 16:10 screen with a tiny bezel. Reply

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