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Why is 1440 x 900 "Best" for the Retina Screen per Apple?

42391 Views 33 Replies Latest reply: Feb 15, 2014 5:22 PM by alanchrishughes RSS
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GTCA Level 1 Level 1 (15 points)
Currently Being Moderated
Jun 15, 2012 2:00 PM

Okay, in the System Preferences folder you can set the new MBP-R screen to one of the following settings with the description Apple provides by going to the System Preferences folder, then choosing "Displays", then unselecting the default "Best for Retina display" button by choosing instead the, "scaled" button.  When you do that, you get the following choices with warnings on four of the five choices (for a screen shot see the link below):

 

1024 x 640,  Larger Text, "Using a scaled resolution may effect performance."

1280 x 800, "Using a scaled resolution may effect performance."

1440 x 900, Best (Retina)

1680 x 1050 "Using a scaled resolution may effect performance."

1920 x 1200. More space, "Using a scaled resolution may effect performance."

 

There is no option for native 2880 x 1800 as presumably the text would be so tiny.

 

My question is, why does Apple call the 1440 x 900, "Best (Retina)"?  What is best about it, why do only the other four have the scaled resolution warning since they all five are scaled are they not?  Peformance concerns aside, can't I have confidence that all resolutions will be crisp as all are scaled as none are actually native (2880 x 1880)?

 

Then, Anand Tech has an article on how Apple handles this scaling, and they say,

 

"Retina MBP ships in a pixel doubled configuration. You get the effective desktop resolution of the standard 15-inch MacBook Pro's 1440 x 900 panel, but with four physical pixels driving every single pixel represented on the screen. This configuration is the best looking, . . ." 

 

And they note the other resolutions have the potential to suffer performance and picture quality loss compared to the "Best" setting in the middle.  But they just say this quality drop "can" happen, not that it "will" happen.

http://www.anandtech.com/show/5996/how-the-retina-display-macbook-pro-handles-sc aling

 

Can someone explain why this middle setting is inherently "Best", is it because the native resolution is divisible by this setting (2880 divisible by 1440; and 1800 divisible by 900)?  And why does Anand Tech say there might be a quality impact in the other four?  When would quality be compromised, when wouldn't it?

 

Thanks!

MacBook Pro
  • Kappy Level 10 Level 10 (221,010 points)

    That is the screen's "native" resolution. All other resolutions involve the use of software to generate.

  • Kappy Level 10 Level 10 (221,010 points)

    There are several articles around you can search for that explain exactly how the different resolutions are produced based on the screen's native resolution. I recall that to produce the 2880 x 1800 screen the display software uses pixel doubling (creating a pixel in software based on one that is hardware.) This is in a way how some printers that have, say, 300 dpi real resolution can produce images with 600 dpi resolution.

  • Bimmer 7 Series Level 6 Level 6 (10,265 points)

    Hey Kappy what's up?

     

    I'm about to take the plunge on the new MBP - Retina.

     

    Loaded to the max, 2.7GHz, 16GB and 768GB for a total of $4123.90 (taxes included).

     

    Your opinion, should I go ahead or wait for the next version that might have ironed out the bugs?

     

    Cheers...

  • Kappy Level 10 Level 10 (221,010 points)

    Beats me! I've always stepped up to the latest and greatest by being the first on my block. I bought the first Intel MBP, the first Mac Pro, the first unibody MBP, the first 11" MBA, the first 2006 iMac, the first iPod and iPod Touch, the first iPad. Need I say more? I must say that I've been very lucky that I've never had problems with any of them. I've sold the 2006 MBP and 2010 MBA. The iMac was a give-away to a friend who managed almost a year before it died. The 2006 MBP now belongs to two Spanish girls and is still working. The rest of them I either still have or have donated.

     

    I would go for that Retina model but I've already got too many notebook computers that i don't use, so it's hard to justify except for fooling around. I've got my eye on something to replace my Mac Pro because it can't run Mountain Lion.

     

    But I'd love to see yours when it arrives!

  • Bimmer 7 Series Level 6 Level 6 (10,265 points)

    Sure.....Estimated shippent for mine is by the end of July.

     

    Will let you play with it for a day and see if it is worth the $4K i paid.

  • Kappy Level 10 Level 10 (221,010 points)

    That's way too generous. I'll be happy just to see it in action. I'm guessing you're going to love it especially between Thursday and Monday.

     

    I'm guessing you paid for it in less than an hour this past week.

  • Bimmer 7 Series Level 6 Level 6 (10,265 points)

    Bought it 2 hours ago.

     

    Won't be using it on Thursday to Monday.  I don't think it's sailboat friendly (might get wet).

  • Kappy Level 10 Level 10 (221,010 points)

    Oh my. It's going to be a "work" computer.

  • FatMac\>MacPro Level 4 Level 4 (2,065 points)

    GTCA wrote:

     

    ...Peformance concerns aside, can't I have confidence that all resolutions will be crisp as all are scaled as none are actually native (2880 x 1880)?

     

    Then, Anand Tech has an article on how Apple handles this scaling, and they say,

     

    "Retina MBP ships in a pixel doubled configuration. You get the effective desktop resolution of the standard 15-inch MacBook Pro's 1440 x 900 panel, but with four physical pixels driving every single pixel represented on the screen. This configuration is the best looking, . . ." 

     

    ...Can someone explain why this middle setting is inherently "Best"...

     

    Thanks!

    I think the fundamental advantage of rendering at one to one (native resolution) is that each pixel of what's being rendered gets one physical pixel devoted to it on the screen. Any other lesser resolution will require that a combination of physical pixels be forced to represent  one image pixel in either the vertical or horizontal direction or both even though not quite lining up with the image pixel, thus resulting in some fuzziness around the edges;  the only exception (on the MBP Retina Display) would be four pixels neatly taking the place of one image pixel both vertically and horizontally. In one sense the image isn't being scaled per se by software; rather, the monitor is just making a four pixel square represent each one square pixel of the image being rendered, giving a perfect fit.

     

    And a perfect fit can pay off, whether one to one or four to one. A companion Anand Tech article described a Windows 8 Boot Camp installation using all 2880x1880 pixels with a screen shot pretty much one to one. While the text on the web page shown is pretty small, enhancing contrast made it readable, and I suspect it's much sharper in real life. Now that's a lot of screen real-estate.

  • SoldOnMac Level 1 Level 1 (35 points)

    BTW, it seems the early answer to native 2880x1800 is SwitchResX.

  • Patrick123 Level 1 Level 1 (20 points)

    GTCA,

    Glad you made this post.

     

    I was in the Albany, NY store earlier this week and I was looking at the Retina MBP and something didn't look right.  I opened up Photoshop and created a blank 1600x1200 image and surprisingly (at the time), it had to be viewed at 50% to see all of it.

     

    I went in to Displays thinking that it was not set to 2880x1800.  To make a long story short, I figured out that the display is really running at 1440x900 and utilized the extra resolution for font/image rendering...which is exactly how 'Retina' displays work on the iPhone/iPad.

     

    It would be nice to see it run at the native resolution and still get the benefits of the font/image rendering.  That way, I could see text/menus the way they are now, but still see my 1600x1200 image completely at 100%.

     

    The analogy under Windows would be where I have my screen (4:3) set to 1600x1200, but then I pick large fonts so I can comfortably read text.  I still get the benefit of extra resolution in various apps in that case.

     

    Not sure if that can be done here.

     

    Regards, Patrick

  • FatMac\>MacPro Level 4 Level 4 (2,065 points)

    Patrick123 wrote:

     

    ...The analogy under Windows would be where I have my screen (4:3) set to 1600x1200, but then I pick large fonts so I can comfortably read text.  I still get the benefit of extra resolution in various apps in that case.

     

    Not sure if that can be done here.

     

    Regards, Patrick

    Actually, it looks like it can, sort of. This MacWorld review http://www.macworld.com/article/1167286/macbook_pro_with_retina_display_redefine s_the_concept_of_a_pro_laptop.html describes successfully running Windows in Parallels at the Retina Display's real native resolution, and as mentioned above, Windows 8 in Boot Camp does too. So using the larger font option would give the best of both worlds, at least in Windows.

  • joshcali Level 1 Level 1 (0 points)

    GTCA wrote:

     

    Can someone explain why this middle setting is inherently "Best", is it because the native resolution is divisible by this setting (2880 divisible by 1440; and 1800 divisible by 900)?  And why does Anand Tech say there might be a quality impact in the other four?  When would quality be compromised, when wouldn't it?

     

    Thanks!

     

     

     

    Basically the native resolution of the retina display is 2880x1800.

    so if you're using 1440x900 then everything is perfect (which is why apple recommends it). Every pixel can be mapped to 2 pixels of the retina display, and everything is sharp.

     

     

    for other resolutions,


    Every single (clear) pixel, gets blurred with it's neighbors, or displaced and doubled, changing the size and shape of the displayed images.

     

    Imagine two grids. One is 2x2 (4 pixels total). The other is 3x3.
    Now if you scale up the 2x2 to the 3x3, you'd think you'd be ok, because the 3x3 is bigger, but what do you do with the middle pixel? Which corner's color does it get?

     

    if you choose any of the 4 original pixels, you distort the image, so the only choice is a blurred mix of all 4 colors. It's a mess.

     

    This is what happens when apple tries to display a 1920x1200 resolution desktop on a 2880x1800 resolution screen.

     

    It *****.

     

     

     

    As a photographer all I can say is...

    no thanks.

     

    I'm waiting for a 17" macbook pro with a decent native resolution, or it's time for another brand of computer.

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