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.

CPU Performance The iPad Question
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  • 4me2poopon - Tuesday, August 20, 2013 - link

    Agree with this.
  • solipsism - Friday, August 9, 2013 - link

    The netbook arose from the cheap x86 Atom CPUs. Everything about netbooks was cheap. Just the CPU in these machines cost more than most netbooks.
  • darwinosx - Friday, August 9, 2013 - link

    You A) didn't read the article, b) don't know what a netbook was, c) are an idiot.
  • name99 - Saturday, August 10, 2013 - link

    And you say the same thing about cars? People who buy a Tesla or Lexus or Mercedes are idiots because, heck, I can buy a Versa or a Kia for way less?
    Hell, why are people so stupid as to want to live in their own houses --- all you need is one third of a room you share with two other guys, in an apartment fitting eight people.

    The point of money, after all, is not to buy things that make you happy, it's to accumulate the largest pile of treasure to sit on until the day you die...
  • phillyry - Saturday, August 10, 2013 - link

    It's not a netbook.

    It's Haswell, not Atom.
  • ex2bot - Tuesday, August 13, 2013 - link


  • ds1817 - Tuesday, August 13, 2013 - link

    Don't feel too sorry for them; if they're buying apple they probably have cash to spare. To make a point other have -- Apple products are, as a general rule, very well made. The MBP I bought in 2006 for $1800 is still chugging along just fine 7+ years later. In that same time, a friend of mine had gone through 2 HP laptops. He recently bought himself a Retina MBP, even though he detests OSX and installed Windows 7.

    The Core Duo processor is plenty powerful for word processing, web-browising and excel, which is all I use it for nowadays. I have no plans to get another laptop until this one completely gives up the ghost.
  • pippyfleur - Thursday, October 31, 2013 - link

    okay well I've been looking up laptops and this pretty much has the best battery life etc. for a portable laptop i can find. hp and acer are apparently more unreliable and have really high malfunction rates, and then the asus is not that portable and quite expensive anyway?
    any suggestions as to what the solution to not 'throw my cash around' there is? genuine question i would rather not spend $1100AUD
  • KoolAidMan1 - Wednesday, August 14, 2013 - link

    Are you for real? What an incredibly ignorant comment, even for the usual tech message board stupidity
  • solipsism - Friday, August 9, 2013 - link

    I'm waiting for Retina (and getting rid of that archaic looking aluminium ring around the display), as well. I hope it arrives next year. I wasn't hopefully that the power saving of Haswell and the 5xxx iGPU would be enough to make it a reasonable inclusion this year.

    Once the technical aspects are feasible for this ultraportable then there is still cost to worry about since these are Apple's least expensive machines. I don't think it's likely for the iPad mini to be Retina this year for similar reasons.

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