February 26, 2011

∴ The Switch, Screen Size

I did a brief comparison of Kelly's 13-inch MacBook Pro display to my Thinkpad 12-incher this morning. I should note that my Thinkpad is one of the last laptops manufactured with a standard, 4x3 (non-widescreen) display. That's one of the reasons I like it. Result: I re-learned that knowing a thing isn't the same as seeing it live. Also: widescreen format (16x9, 16x10) displays are largely a waste of pixels for everything other than movies.

Computer displays are measured in the same way as television screens: diagonally. In the US, the measurement is taken of viewable screen space only, whereas in Canada it includes the little bit tucked under the bezel. That's the thin plastic border that runs around the edge of the display. This is an important fact because the US and Canadian markets share manufactured parts, so the measurement you see on the box must always include at least one number labeled "viewable," or both the viewable and total numbers. Always go by the viewable metric.

Knowing that while thinking through how an 11-inch widescreen LCD will compare to a standard 12-inch, I expected them to be roughly the same, just horizontally stretched. It turns out that the 12-inch display is equally tall compared to a 13-inch widescreen display, meaning that the 13-inch MacBook Air or Pro will be very close to what I'm using now (plus more horizontal real estate). The 11-inch would be a step down in size, and even though it's still a beautiful Apple-quality display, it's still going to be smaller. That's because we use computers vertically for just about everything other than movies. And there will be fewer vertical inches on the 11-inch model.

So the 11-inch MacBook Air is out of the running.