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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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