Posted: June 25th, 2012 | Author: Patrick Thornton | Filed under: Podcasts | Tags: Apple, iOS 6, Macbook Pro, Microsoft Surface, OS 10.8, OS X Mountain Lion, Retina Display, WWDC 2012 | No Comments »
We analyze WWDC 2012 in depth.
We go over what we’re excited about with iOS 6 and OS X Mountain Lion and what we don’t quite understand.
We also discuss how the new MacBook Pro with Retina Display completely changes my computer plans for this summer. I had been planning on buying a 13-inch MacBook Air and 27-inch Thunderbolt Display for so long. But now?
We also discuss Microsoft Surface. Is this the first real iPad competitor?
Listen to this week’s show:
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Posted: June 21st, 2012 | Author: Patrick Thornton | Filed under: Main | Tags: Apple, eye strain, High DPI displays, Macbook Air, Macbook Pro, pixel density, Retina Display, Thunderbolt Display | 2 Comments »
I had previously wrote and talked my about my plans to get a 13-inch MacBook Air with a 27-inch Thunderbolt Display. It seemed like the perfect on-the-go and at-home setup I could think of. Then Apple released a high DPI laptop display.
High DPI (dots per inch) displays are the future of computing (Apple calls these Retina Displays). These displays are already taking over on cell phones and tablets. I wouldn’t recommend getting anything less than a cell phone with a least 300 DPI or a tablet with at least 250 DPI. Your eyes will thank you.
And so, why would I recommend going with a non-high DPI laptop now that one is available? The new MacBook Pro has 220 pixels per inch (PPI). The 13-inch MacBook AIr has 128. We’re not talking about remotely comparable experiences here (the farther away you use a computing display, the lower the PPI needed for a good experience, which is why cell phones really need a lot of pixels per inch).
Yet, I’m conflicted. I’d prefer something lighter than the MacBook Pro with Retina Display. The MacBook Air that I had my sights set on is about 1.5 lbs. lighter. That’s a big deal when you’re on the go a lot, and I will be traveling to school a few times a week and working from different locations with my laptop.
I also never saw myself seriously considering a 15-inch laptop. I find that 13-inch displays are the sweet spot. They work well in a desk or on the go. The 11-inch Air and similar laptops also make more sense to me as laptops than 15-inch ones do, but they really benefit from an external display for longer work sessions.
But that Retina Display. 220 pixels per inch. 2880 by 1880.
How could I go with anything but a high DPI display if I have the choice? Within two years, I would expect all Macs to ship with Retina Dislays. Within five years, the only way to get a non-high DPI display will be to buy a really bottom-of-the-barrel computer — something that I wouldn’t recommend for work purposes. Buying a non-Retina Display Mac is buying into the past.
I don’t think I could do that. I’ve suffered from eye strain for several years, and the high DPI displays on the latest iPad and the last two iPhones have made a real difference in my life.
My eyes became less fatigued. It’s easier for me to read, write and get work done. A lot of people will discover that their eyes feel a lot better when they start using displays with higher pixel densities.
Eye strain doesn’t just manifest itself with pain. Eyes train can cause chronic dry eyes, headaches, migraines and other physical issues. It can also cause you to must not want to work anymore.
It’s a serious issue.
As a person studying usability and computer interfaces, I’m torn between the increased usability of a higher DPI display and the increased usability of a lighter, smaller computer. And my back and shoulders would prefer the lighter laptop.
I expect it to be at least a year (more likely two) until we see Retina Displays in MacBook Airs do to the GPU and battery demands. We may see a 13-inch MacBook Pro before then, but that will still be a bit heavier than a MacBook Air. I need to buy a new computer this summer.
Obviously, I’m leaning heavily towards the MacBook Pro, despite it’s bigger size. But I haven’t made up my mind yet.
Note: It’s not the resolution that matters but rather the resolution / display size while also taking operating distance into account. Sitting on a couch, text is perfectly readable on an HDTV, but get up close and everything goes to hell.
That Thunderbolt Display is definitely not happening, however. There is no sense in spending $1,000 on a display that will be obsolete in a year or two and that will look out of place next to a high DPI laptop screen.
What are your thoughts? Will you be buying a non-high DPI display again? How big of a laptop would you buy?
Posted: June 15th, 2012 | Author: Patrick Thornton | Filed under: Notes | Tags: Macbook Pro, Retina Display | No Comments »
Joanna Stern on the new MacBook Pro with Retina Display:
After 20 minutes of using Apple’s new MacBook Pro with Retina Display, I switched back to my own six-month-old MacBook Pro to send an email. But when I looked at its screen, I thought my contact lenses had actually fallen out. For a second I was worried; everything on the screen looked less crisp and less bright. It’s not an old machine, but it was really as if an optometrist had switched my prescription, or I’d been forced to use my old glasses. Everything just seemed blurry by comparison.
Posted: June 15th, 2012 | Author: Patrick Thornton | Filed under: Main | Tags: Apple, Macbook Pro, Retina Display | No Comments »
Early reviews are in, and people are impressed with the new Retina Display Macbook Pro.
Some are falling in love.
But there are caveats, and these caveats won’t be solved that quickly. We’re in for a bumping ride to a high pixel density future for laptops and desktops.
The biggest and most glaring issue are all the applications and websites that are not Retina Display ready. As we have seen with watching standard definition content on a high definition TV, non-Retina content looks worse on the new Macbook Pro than it does on traditional displays. This leads people to purchase a top-of-the-line computer to get an inferior experience.
Applications like Word are significantly less usable on the new Macbook Pro. Here is an application built for writing, and it displays blurry, out-of-place text.
The applications and websites that are updated look gorgeous and are more usable. High pixel density displays are the future. Make no mistake about that.
Getting to the future is often a bumpy road. How long will it take applications and websites to be updated to support high pixel density displays? That’s the real issue that has to be cracked with the new Macbook Pro and future high pixel density displays like the Retina Display.
Commercial applications that are under going ongoing development should be updated quickly. Some already have been, and I would expect most applications that are sold in the Mac App Store to be updated by the end of the year, if not significantly sooner.
Many people use applications that are open source or that are no longer regularly updated. These applications may lag considerably behind other applications in getting updated. Unfortunately, applications that are no longer being developed will not be updated, leaving users to either put up with a worse user experience or to hopefully find a suitable replacement.
In the business world, we often put up with old applications and websites because they help us get our jobs done, and we don’t have suitable modern replacements. It is these tools that will hold back high pixel density computing the most.
The Web transition will take much longer and legacy websites will remain with low pixel densities indefinitely. HTML text will immediately look great, but photos, videos and art assets may look quite bad.
The new iPad has been out for months and has sold millions. It will sell tens of millions this year. Despite that fact, few websites have been optimized to display photos and art assets at a high pixel density.
This leads me to believe that the new Macbook Pro will not cause many websites to be updated with high resolution assets anytime soon. What will it take?
To get broad Web adoption, we’ll need more than Apple products to ship with high pixel density displays. Specifically, high pixel density Windows laptops would give Web designers and site owners the kick in the pants necessary to update their websites.
Windows 8 does come with support for displays with high pixel densities. While Android tablets aren’t selling that well (Kindle Fire and Nook Color excluded), if they get on the high pixel density display bandwagon, this will further push application and website developers to update their products.
Many reviewers are saying that the new Macbook Pro is the Mac to get. That may be the case, but keep in mind that you won’t be able to fully utilize its beautiful display for a few years. If you get the new Macbook Pro, you’ll have a front row seat to history, as we transition from a blurry, pixelated, anti-alised computing world to a crisp, rich, no compromise computing world.
New technology helps push us forward, but it can take time. This new computer is a landmark day in computing. We’re finally beginning to see displays that no longer look like we’re staring at a computer. What we see just looks real, living, breathing.
Don’t underestimate the usability benefits that these high resolution displays will give us. People will get less eyestrain, text will be easier to read and we’ll be able to display details that we’ve never been able to before.
This is a brave new world for computing. It’ll be a bumpy ride to get there, but in five years, our computing world will look so much better and clearer.