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New Poll: What's the ideal size of a laptop screen for you? Laptop Macs
Since I was able to get a MacBook Pro retina last week (you can read my thoughts about it on my blog), I've switched my laptop, for the first time in more than four years, from a 13" to a 15". (My last two laptops were 13" MacBook Airs.)

Discussions about the correct size for a laptop display can be a hostile as those between, say, emacs and vi users. I've noticed especially that many people I know prefer the 11" MacBook Air, whereas for my aging eyes, that display is too small.

So, this seemed like a good question for a poll. Feel free to add any comments you have on the poll page, explaining why your preferred laptop size is the Right Size. Vote in the poll.
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New Poll: What's the ideal size of a laptop screen for you?
Authored by: MtnBiker on Jul 09, '12 09:05:39AM

13". The bigger the better, but I mostly use my laptop for reading at the breakfast table and a larger one would be unwieldily. If it were my sole computer, I'd have to rethink my choice. And I haven't tried an iPad, but don't relish the idea of typing on one and I'm typing this at the breakfast table.

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Hermosa Beach, CA USA



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New Poll: What's the ideal size of a laptop screen for you?
Authored by: EPunisher1 on Jul 09, '12 11:48:46AM

Recently switched from a 2007 MacBook Pro 15.4" to a 2009 13.3" MacBook Pro (simply because I was able to sell my '07 and picked this new one for $350 on Craigslist" and I have to say I already miss the 2.1" difference. I'm liking the portability of this laptop, but when it comes to screen real estate, you don't realize how much you use/love it, till you don't have it. Currently using this one till I finish saving up for the MBP with Retina Display.



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New Poll: What's the ideal size of a laptop screen for you?
Authored by: daybrother on Jul 09, '12 06:35:41PM

I switched out the 13" screen on my Wallstreet for the 14" one and it made a world of difference. I do have to say the tiny 13" powerbook I had for a few years was fantastic for portablility and I became quite used to its size. I kept it even after I picked up a 15" aluminum. I'm on my second 17" MBP now and I would hate to ever have to go back. I was disinhearted when Apple announced the end of the line. I hope there will be a frankenstein large screen Macbook in the future.



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New Poll: What's the ideal size of a laptop screen for you?
Authored by: daybrother on Jul 10, '12 04:28:03PM
"I do have to say the tiny 13" powerbook I had for a few years was fantastic for portablility..." I meant of course the tiny short lived 12" powerbook G4.

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New Poll: What's the ideal size of a laptop screen for you?
Authored by: barryjaylevine on Jul 09, '12 07:03:44PM

13" MacBook Air is good size for traveling although I usually take my iPad, as well. I don't -mind- using the on-screen keyboard but I wouldn't use it for any serious writing. If Apple would make a larger iPad (14" and same proportion as current 10" model), I'd buy that.

Perhaps the 15" Air will be interesting but, frankly, 15" and larger MacBooks are awfully expensive when compared to 27" iMacs (a 2011 Core i7 version is sitting on my desk and that's my primary machine).

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Two things in this world aren't overrated: MacOSX and Lemon Meringue Pie.



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New Poll: What's the ideal size of a laptop screen for you?
Authored by: Milliways2 on Jul 10, '12 05:30:20AM

I chose a 13" Macbook Pro for its size, weight and portability (and elegant design - but that applies to the whole range).

At times I would prefer a bigger screen, but my previous experience (with Windows notebooks) is that I rarely traveled with them because they were too unwieldy.

The ideal size for portability is an A4 folder i.e. just a bit larger than an A4 sheet.

The iPad is great for reading documents but too small for serious work.

On serious work - the major problem is aspect ratio. Widescreen displays maybe OK if you want to watch movies, but not for anything else. I am more constrained by the screen height than anything else. I would prefer a 4:3 ratio.



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New Poll: What's the ideal size of a laptop screen for you?
Authored by: traveldawg on Jul 10, '12 06:52:31AM

When I worked, I traveled weekly. A 17" HP I was provided with was too heavy, and cumbersome; it was no more than a luggable and was difficult to use in many mobile settings. When I traveled with a 15" ThinkPad it was fine but still a 13" would have been OK.

I'm retired now and have had 2 13" MacBook Pros. Every time I get a new MacBook I look at a bigger screen but end up at 13". The portability and ease of "laptop" use in any environment is key, especially in my RV. At home I use a 24" monitor at my desk if I need something bigger.




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It's not the size it's how you resolve it!
Authored by: gabester on Jul 10, '12 08:27:53AM

I agree that this is, up to a point, resolution dependent. I wouldn't even waste my time with a 17" screen that only does 1366x768. I don't mind carrying around a 5 pound laptop at all, so the 15" sweet spot is my current pick, technically - esp. with the prospect of a super high-res display like those on the rMBP. But if you gave me 1080P res on a 13" or 11" I'd be quite happy with a lighter load. So far, my eyes haven't deteriorated to the point where I can't see those tiny details (I actually run my Mail.app in just about the smallest window size it will take and use the built-in scaling factor hint from here to see everything at 80%.)
g=



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New Poll: What's the ideal size of a laptop screen for you?
Authored by: ringokarma on Jul 10, '12 09:16:47AM

In the museum world, the ideal size for viewing any square or rectangular image is two times the diagonal from the eye. Closer and we have to move our eyes from right to left to take the image in; farther away and our brains have to filter out peripheral visual information. That's a standard, and like all standards it's approximate. I prefer 15-inch laptops ...



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New Poll: What's the ideal size of a laptop screen for you?
Authored by: purduejim on Jul 10, '12 09:42:35AM

I am with excarnate on this as far as the larger size. Of the recently existing sizes, I want the 17" and I am very disappointed Apple has not updated that. I have had one for years. But I would give a much larger one a try and it seems to me the lighter and thinner laptops get the more opportunities there are for a 21 or 27" or bigger.



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New Poll: What's the ideal size of a laptop screen for you?
Authored by: Blamanche on Jul 11, '12 03:07:10AM

I find that the display size also affects the case size. At 6'3", anything smaller than a 15" is no longer a "laptop" because it falls between my legs. The case sizes have actually gotten smaller and lighter. This is one of the many reasons I'm disappointed with my 13" MBA, other than build quality. It is so light that you have to be careful or it could tumble as the ratio between the weight of the bottom to the weight of the top has decreased greatly. When I had the 13" MacBook it seemed to workout in terms of portability but I now wish that I had gotten the 15" MBP. I think that the new 15" MBPs probably travel as easily as my old MacBook. Needless to say my vote was for the 15" screen. I have the iPad for everything else.



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Recently changed my mind about this
Authored by: escowles on Jul 11, '12 08:00:46AM

I hadn't used a laptop much in the last 10 years, and had always used 2 displays on my desktop. I recently had to use a laptop and got an 11" MBA, planning on getting an external display, keyboard, etc. to replicate my desktop experience as much as possible.

I didn't have the right adapter for the display I had access to, so I went a while without the external display, and was surprised to find that after a few days to adjust, it really wasn't a problem. I didn't mind using the builtin keyboard either.

An external mouse, on the other hand, was absolutely essential. I hate trackpads (and every other laptop pointing device I've ever used).



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New Poll: What's the ideal size of a laptop screen for you?
Authored by: hibbelig on Jul 12, '12 01:25:15PM

I feel a laptop is not good for working, the screen is too low so I have to look down. So what I do is to connect an external monitor that is the right height. And the external monitor will be rather bigger, of course.

Interestingly enough, I can't stand having two screens, one on the left and one on the right. But I can stand two screens, one above and one below. Which is just perfect for the laptop: I put the laptop in front of me and the monitor is behind the laptop, a little raised, so that the bottom of the external monitor is just above the top edge of the laptop display. And I'm typing this on the awesome MBP keyboard. And I'm using the awesome touchpad.

So 13'' is just perfect for me. Small enough to take everywhere. Small enough so that the external monitor fits above it. Large enough so that I get enough horsepower for an affordable price. It's perfect.



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New Poll: What's the ideal size of a laptop screen for you?
Authored by: Cattus Thraex on Jul 17, '12 04:43:56AM

A better question would be ‘what is the best ratio display size/portability/ease of use’. For my aging eyes, like yours, 11 in is indeed a small display, 13 is the current one I use, 15 in would be better and 17 in still better, unfortunately I like portable machines, therefore ‘the bigger the display the less comfortable carrying it’. I have had all the possible displays, 13 in still is the best ratio size/portability/ease of use. A very light notebook at 15 in would be ideal, though, e.g. a 15 in Air.



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New Poll: What's the ideal size of a laptop screen for you?
Authored by: dvoran on Jul 17, '12 05:54:28AM

Until I purchased the new MBPro-Retina my preference was the smaller 13" screen on the MBAir primarily for portability. But even here I was always feeling squished and using multiple spaces when I didn't have other larger screens to connect to. The new machine now is beginning to hit the right spot between portability and productivity.

Ideal? Something the size of the MBAir with fold out or pull-out screens on either side to give one 3 13" screens with the whole thing weight less than 3 lbs. Or better yet something that would project the screens on either side and above the keyboard onto the surface around the keyboard.

While I'm dreaming ... when are we going to see the MBPro with iPad-like touch screen?



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New Poll: What's the ideal size of a laptop screen for you?
Authored by: Sherewshevsky on Jul 17, '12 08:12:36AM

I voted for 17-inch, but prefer a 21-inch laptop so I can do my publication design work better when I travel. I'll happily deal with the extra weight.



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New Poll: What's the ideal size of a laptop screen for you?
Authored by: jdds on Jul 17, '12 08:47:12AM

15" is good, 17" is best. I have a 2011 17" MBP. I think Apple will reintroduce the 17" in time. We'll see. Using spreadsheets and MS Project Server (remote login to PC) - this requires max real estate. Also great to see 2 full text pages side by side - 15" and 17" can do that. The less scrolling the better. My nearsighted vision hasn't changed so font size is not an issue for me. Weight is always reducing on Apple laptops and my laptop bag has other weights in it as well that I could eliminate but choose not to (28-40 oz water bottle, wads of paper, occasional packed lunch, snax). 3 hour total daily commute in trains and buses, online the whole time working. Smartphones are a real game changer - great for email and IM when on my feet and no longer have to crack open the laptop for everything (iPhone 4S is my first smartphone).



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New Poll: What's the ideal size of a laptop screen for you?
Authored by: Mystakill on Jul 17, '12 10:08:23AM

As a developer on the go, the larger the display the better. It makes working with code, database, and graphics much, much easier than constantly scrolling around on a too-small display. My last three laptops have all had high-resolution 17" matte displays (glare washes out tiny text very easily).

I'm hoping that a new 17" RMBP is forthcoming, and that it's just a matter of waiting larger Retina display yields. Regardless, I'm still disappointed with Apple's non-announcement regarding 17" MBPs, as well as its decision to not even both with a processor-bumped version of the existing 17" model.

Without user-upgradeable RAM, there's no way I could justify the cost of a 15" RMBP. MBPs are already priced at a premium, but the RMBP is exorbitantly so. I'd be more than willing to forgo an extra mm or three in thickness to get a user-accessible RAM slot, which would also provide additional room for a bigger battery to boot.



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New Poll: What's the ideal size of a laptop screen for you?
Authored by: mcbakewl on Jul 18, '12 02:07:55AM

As a photographer, teacher, web designer, and Mac consultant, I'm firmly in the 17" camp. Didn't used to be, and actually came here only in early 2009 when that was the only size Macbook Pro with a matte-screen option, but I have never looked back.

I travel a lot too, mostly between Santa Barbara and a remote village in Northern Thailand, where having the larger screen for a minimum of extra weight in transit is a choice I'll gladly made every time.

I also know a number of professionals -- executives, doctors, and financial types -- who use 17" laptops as their primary machines, although many of those are not Macs. Everything medical -- patients' records, X-rays, and lab reports in spreadsheet format -- is online these days, and for many users whose work includes frequent access to detailed images or extensive spreadsheets the larger size is well worth the weight, even though most PC laptops make even the heftiest MacBook Pros seem svelte.

It's also worth noting that, unlike salesmen and students and folks who like to carry their computers to coffee shops, few professionals ever lug laptops of any size any farther than between their desks and cars, and even that rarely more often than once each morning and evening.

Photographers, videographers, and other visually oriented professionals such as architects and realtors, tend to favor 17" laptops as well. The difference is a bit like that between tabloid and broadsheet in newspapers, in that each lends itself to discrete capabilities which tend to appeal to different audiences.

It's not all about resolution and weight. Size matters in terms of other ergonomics, like viewing distances and side to side viewing angles that don't feel too much like a horse wearing blinders.

That said, it does seem logical that for a technology so new as the retina displays, 15" may already be pushing the envelope, and I could well understand Apple choosing to suspend production of their flagship 17" until it can offer an effectively higher resolution than its newer and next physically smaller sibling. I do look forward to that, and will meanwhile remain pleased to have snagged one the last of the fully matte-screen 17" MacBook Pros.

At 132 ppi it's no slouch in the resolution department either. 1920 x 1200 provides a virtual 24" display in a machine that's significantly more portable than my old 15" WallStreet, or even my PowerBook 180 -- with its then state of the art 9.8" grayscale display at 72 ppi. And I can modify this as much as I like. Already it has 16GB RAM and a bigger and faster hard drive. Next might be SSD.

Peripherally, I'm also glad to have the compact iPhone 4S, which already seems huge compared to my previous Nokias, Samsungs, and LG's. Part of why the Palm beat out the Newton was its shirt-pocket size, which then became the model for the Blackberry and every other PDA clone. Bottom line is that size matters, at both ends of the spectrum.



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New Poll: What's the ideal size of a laptop screen for you?
Authored by: Lawrence E Moore on Jul 18, '12 07:45:35AM

My 74-year-old eyes need all the screen real estate they can get. Crowding more pixels into a smaller screen does not help. I need larger-sized type and hence a larger screen to view a substantial part of a document on screen without undue scrolling back and forth. So I prefer at least 15- or 17-inch screens for my laptop. Weight is not an issue since I travel little and may use an iPad when I do.

As the baby-boomers age, there will be a sharp increase in the number of users who need bigger fonts. It is important that one be able to easily increase font size when reading an email or web page. This is a major lack of iBooks on the iPad. I find that I zoom to a larger font (cmd-+) on most web pages on my laptop.



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