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Old 07-10-2009, 03:46 AM   #1
Rob Williams
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Default MacBook Pro 13" Can't Display Millions of Colors - Or Can it?

From our front-page news:
Although I appreciate a quality display when I see one, I'm far from being a guru on the subject, so I'm absolutely stumped regarding recent news that the MacBook Pro 13" model can't display millions of colors as promised, but rather only a few hundred thousand. In a blog post made by icon designer Louie Mantia, he claims that though he believed the 13" MacBook Pro would feature an 8-bit panel like the larger models, it in fact comes equipped with only a 6-bit panel.

Louie sold his 17" last-gen MacBook Pro for something a little more portable, but was burned with this realization. After putting in some extensive effort to get a response from Apple, it couldn't be done, so whether or not he found a dud, or if all such notebooks include a 6-bit panel, is unknown. To cloud the situation even further, professional photographer Rob Galbraith recently posted an article praising the new MacBook Pro line-up's incredible panel quality, including the 13" variant.

So what is it? Do all 13" MacBook Pro's include a 6-bit panel? And for that matter, do most notebook displays include 6-bit panels? Do even the larger MacBook Pro's include 8-bit panels? The situation seems so utterly confusing, and in looking around the web, everyone's opinion on the matter seems to conflict with one another. It's not helping that Apple's keeping so tight-lipped either, but it's no real surprise.

Perhaps the most mind-boggling question would have to be... who on earth would want to do design work on a 13" monitor?! Either way, if you're in the market for a new notebook, especially the 13" MacBook Pro, be sure to do some extensive research before a purchase to make sure you are getting what you're expecting.


A few days later, I get a phone call from Apple, letting me know that Apple Engineering has declined to disclose this information. Excuse me? Declined? I just purchased your product and all I want is for you to verify the specs that you advertise. It should not be that difficult to do. But apparently, it is. A few years ago, a few individuals started a class-action lawsuit against Apple for advertising millions of colors with their 6bit displays. Unfortunately, they needed a “class” for a class-action lawsuit, and not enough people cared/noticed. The matter was settled out of court.

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Old 07-11-2009, 05:37 PM   #2
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Rob Williams View Post
he believed the 13" MacBook Pro would feature an 8-bit panel like the larger models, it in fact comes equipped with only a 6-bit panel.
Ummm... unless I'm missing something big here...
you're only going to get 64 discrete colors from 6 bits
( 2 ^ 6 == 2 x 2 x 2 x 2 x 2 x 2 == 64)

8 Bits is only going to give you 256 colors.

Now if you are talking about 6 bits per crystal which is 18 bits per pixel ...
well that's a different story ... 2 ^ 18 == 262144.

Still hardly millions...
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Old 07-11-2009, 08:39 PM   #3
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Rob's definitely referring to the panel type here. Most cheap LCDs are 6-bit displays, and use "dithering" to simulate the color depth of an 8-bit display. Honestly if Apple is using 6-bit LCD displays in their laptops then I'd find that surprising, and it hurts the arguement that users are getting a "better quality" laptop when forking out the extra cash for an Apple brand laptop.

There's a good explanation of 6 vs 8 bits on this page: http://compreviews.about.com/od/mult...a/LCDColor.htm I am not sure how common 8-bit displays are in laptops, I think they are rare at best but I'm going to need to dig a bit.

Edit: Done some digging... figured out LG and Samsung both make the displays in the XPS laptops, and some of them are still being used in Alienware laptops. They are all 6-bit LCDs, even the good quality 17.1" 1920x1200 panels. Best I can tell "rare" is to strong a word, I don't think anyone puts 8-bit panels in laptops. And Apple's "declining" to comment pretty much confirms they don't use them either.
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Old 07-13-2009, 05:07 PM   #4
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I called them 6-bit as that's what they are being referred to as, although it would be helpful to call them by what they really are: 18-bit. If the MacBooks were using 64-color displays, I think we would have had an uproar far sooner ;-)

Interesting URL Kougar... I find it neat that slower monitors are the ones with the improved depth, I wouldn't have figured that. Of course, from a specs perspective, professional monitors do tend to look lackluster (400:1 contrasts, 200cd/m2 brightness, etc).

As for 8-bit notebook panels, that's what I'm wondering. But the original blog article acted like he knew that the higher-end MacBook Pros did indeed use 8-bit panels, so what's the story? Are the panels themselves still 6-bit, but better-quality so the colors look improved even though the depth is the same? So confusing.
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