MacBook Pro Retina display only slightly less glossy

MacBook Pro Retina display only slightly less glossy

Summary: Apple claims that the new Retina MacBook Pro has a 4:1 reduction in glare, but one expert thinks that it's closer a 25 percent reduction. Does it really matter?

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Apple's MacBook Pro Retina display is (a little bit) less glossy - Jason O'Grady

While I previously concluded that iOS 6 stole the show at WWDC, Apple's announcement of the Retina display MacBook Pro is definitely a close second. While I abandoned my MacBook Pro when the second generation MacBook Air arrived on the scene, this is the only MacBook Pro since that's genuinely tempted me to go Pro again.

The fuss, of course is all the about the pixels. It's the first time that Apple's used its previously iOS-only Retina display in a larger-format OS X device. Shipping the world's highest resolution notebook display is a brilliant move on Apple's part because like it tempted me, it's sure to tempt many Mac users away from the less-expensive MacBook Air and toward the (presumably) higher-margin MacBook Pro.

One aspect of the MBP Retina display that piqued my interest is Apple's claim that it has 75 percent less reflection than previous MBP displays. Not being a fan of Apple's switch to high-gloss displays, I always opt for the "anti-glare" option whenever available -- even when Apple charges a premium for it.

The problem is that even though one could interpret Apple's statement as saying that the new Retina MBP has an anti-glare screen, they'd be wrong. Dr. Raymond M. Soneira, President of DisplayMate Technologies Corporation refutes Apple's claim and notes that it's more like "a 25 percent reduction to 75 percent Reflectance."

Soneira has been studying Apple's screen reflectance (translation:glare) since 2004 and all of his Mobile Shoot-Out articles include lab measurements of total and mirror reflections from displays. While he's glad that Apple is making glare (or lack thereof) a marketing issue, it appears that Apple is cooking the books a little when it comes to actual results.

According to Apple the MacBook Pro Retina display doesn't have a separate pane of glass over it with an air gap (like the new iPad 3 does) which effectively lowers the screen reflectance (like it does on the iPhone 4). Just not as much as Apple would have you believe.

Anecdotal evidence from users in the Apple discussion forums appears to concur. The Retina display is less glossy that the previous MBP model, but has more glare than the prior incarnations anti-glare screen.

The good news is that at 220 Pixels Per Inch (PPI) a person with 20/20 vision won't resolve the individual pixels on the display as long as their viewing distance is at least 15.6 inches, which meets Apple's criterion for a "Retina" display. Although Soneira notes that 220 PPI isn't even close to resolution of an actual human retina, which is about twice as high.

I believe that the Retina display will eventually trickle down into the the MacBook Air (and all Macs for that matter) so I'm willing to stay with the MacBook Air for now -- besides it saves me some weight in my backpack and keeps some weight in my wallet.

Does the Retina MBP tempt you?

Topics: Apple, CXO, Data Centers, Enterprise Software, Software

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14 comments
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  • Anecdotal evidence, being what it is, goes both ways.

    I viewed the new MacBook Pro's retina display at my local Apple store a few days ago.

    The images were stunning (I looked over the demo images on the installed iPhoto app).

    The glare, any glare, under the store's lighting was not noticeable by me. However, I do have the iPad third generation and I have noticed that smudges are not consciously noticeable when viewing images on that display. They are noticeable only when the display is turned off.

    I suspect the same effect occurring with the new MacBook Pro Retina display. Turned on, a viewer would perceive little - if any - glare effects. Turned off, that viewer would notice glare or reflective images on the display glass.
    kenosha77a
  • wow,I also want to have a look

    wow,I also want to have a look. the Retina display will eventually trickle down into the the MacBook Air ,this is Inevitable.huh,I also hope share something with others.


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  • Re: Retina MBP first

    I went and looked at it today. It's an absolutely gorgeous display. In fact, I was able to give others on my FB feed some perspective by using the macro mode on my phone to take a photo very close to the screen. Even at this close distance pixelation was extremely minimal when photographed.

    Unfortunately, the thing is still a pizza box appliance. Now that it's more dense, it feels even heavier, even though it obviously is not. As a fellow Air user, a combination of the 220PPI display WITH the Air's size would be the ultimate machine. Of course, Apple couldn't pump up the Air to that level right from the outset, as few would opt for the more expensive MBP. The MBP is the "showcase" for Retina on PCs, and the Airs will hopefully follow within the next year. What happens to the 13 inch MBP at that point will be interesting to see.
    Playdrv4me
    • pizza box?

      I can understand when people called the first 17" models pizza boxes, but this thing is so tiny... its thinner, less wide, and not as deep as the old 15" model and weighs as much as the old 13" model. I find the size fantastic and very portable... and yes I do own one, I'm posting this from it.
      doh123
      • Hmm

        That's weird, I don't see your extra pixels.
        ex2bot
  • Having seen them side by side, it is much more than 25% reduction.

    Raymond I guessing and not measuring. Visually, it seems 50-75% less.
    Bruizer
    • me too

      I have some older Macbook Pros, and this is MUCH less glossy... it is nice. Maybe too many people are comparing it to the Macbook Air which was already less glossy.
      doh123
  • Apple claims that the new Retina MacBook Pro has a 4:1 reduction

    Is this a "dumb blonde" joke? 4:1 reduction or 25% reduction? This "expert" must not be a math expert, or he went to a different school than me. Granted, it was a long time ago (for me) & they had not introduced the "new" math, but the way I see it, 4:1 = .25 (or 25%)
    So then, if Apple claims 4:1, the "expert" would be right on the money at 25% !
    retmico
    • Maybe not so new maths

      Am guessing it means a reduction of 4:1 as in the reduction is 25% of the original (good), rather than a reduction of 25% which would lead to 75% of the original (not so good).
      Gavin Shaddick
      • Oops!

        That should be:

        Am guessing it means a reduction of 4:1 as in the reduction results in glare that it 25% of the original (good), rather than a reduction of 25% which would lead to 75% of the original (not so good).
        Gavin Shaddick
  • It does matter.

    I have an older 17-inch, non-glare Mac portable that I use all day. I write music on it and need the larger screen size (which Apple has dropped from the new line) - smaller screens are not usable at all. If you have a glare screen it is extremely fatiguing for use beyond a few minutes and you quickly lose the concentration needed to write music. I have tried non-glare protective covers on my iPhone and iPad and have not yet found one that really works. Luckily my portable is fast enough to avoid the "decrease resolution" warnings during music playback but I have been with Apple long enough to have a stack of no-longer supported computers in my closet and wonder how long I will get support for my current model (2.6 GHz Intel Core Duo).
    LARRY BOOHER
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  • Whatever the amount of reduction it is both discernible and significant

    While I didn't measure the amount of glare reduction on the new MBP's I have been using previous glossy screened MBP's and I will relate my observations:

    The reduction is easily discernible. I think that the reduction in reflections would have to be more than 15% or so for this to be possible.

    The reduction is significant. In other words: I like it, want it, and it would make a difference in my user experience.
    davidlfoster