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August 20, 2009 1:00 PM   Subscribe

Macbook Pro display woes from a recent switcher: hardware or software? Will I be happy with Boot Camp? I'm starting to feel afraid...

I bought my first Mac and find the display giving me terrible eyestrain out of the box, and unusual blurriness at any other resolution. I found some evidence my trouble is an artifact of the way OSX handles fonts, and so was resigned to waiting for my educational copy of Windows and then using Boot Camp. However, I read recently that some people run into similar problems using Windows on a Mac, pointing to a driver problem. How can I test if something is defective? Will my issues go away if I switch the OS? The universal access options all function like awkward kludges. Is there anything else I can do to get this display usable for me? (I'm willing to consider almost anything at this point
posted by StrikeTheViol to Technology (9 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
OS X and Windows do render fonts differently, and there are pointless religious wars about which way is better. I'm a Mac guy, and I find that Windows fonts look weird, pixellated, and spidery, while Windows people report that Mac fonts look blurry.

You get used to the other platforms method pretty quickly.

And yes, switching OSs would of course change the font rendering method.
posted by yesno at 1:07 PM on August 20, 2009

Best answer: Try going into System Preferences -> Appearances and setting:

Font Smoothing Style: Standard - Best for CRT
Turn off text smoothing for font sizes *12* and smaller.

Even if you're not using a CRT.
posted by I EAT TAPAS at 1:08 PM on August 20, 2009

Here's a good link describing the differing approaches of Apple and Microsoft to on-screen font rendering.
posted by fatbird at 1:51 PM on August 20, 2009

Font Smoothing Style: Standard - Best for CRT
posted by fatllama at 1:58 PM on August 20, 2009

Try using shades to turn the brightness down?
posted by Lanark at 3:25 PM on August 20, 2009

>>How can I test if something is defective?

Your machine came with two gray discs in a sleeve. These can be used for reinstalling the OS, installing Boot Camp drivers in Windows, or running the Apple Hardware Test. Insert the first disc and restart your machine, holding down the D key when the chime sounds. More specific info may be in this KBase article "Using Apple Hardware Test".
posted by now i'm piste at 4:01 PM on August 20, 2009

I bought my first Mac and find the display giving me terrible eyestrain out of the box, and unusual blurriness at any other resolution.

If you set the resolution of the screen to anything other than the native resolution, it is going to be blurry. This is not unusual. I've never used a Windows machine, but I would be surprised if this were any different for any non-Apple laptop. My understanding is that it is an issue inherent in the technology of the LCD screens.

Is your MB Pro one of the 17" high resolution 1920x1200 screens? This screen is higher resolution than almost any screen you will find. It basically packs the same resolution as a typical 20" monitor onto the 17" screen. That means though that everything is smaller on the screen. I'm not sure there is any great solution to your problem. If you can return the computer and get a model with a lower resolution screen then it might work better for you. The 15-inch screen might work better for you. If there is an Apple store near you, you might want to check it out.

A pair of Gunnar Opticks eyeglasses might help. They slightly magnify the screen and are tinted to increase contrast, both of which reduce eyestrain caused by computer use.

I would try not to let this one issue prevent you from using Mac OS X.
posted by daser at 8:38 PM on August 20, 2009 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: just to be clear, it's a 15 incher...I had been using a Sony Vaio A690 before, which is an ultra high res display, set to a lower resolution, which I never had any issues viewing at lower resolution at all. I did very recently secure the option to return it, but before I waste $168, I want to see if I'm missing something, time for unboxing #3 tomorrow to give it one more shot.
posted by StrikeTheViol at 10:15 PM on August 20, 2009

Response by poster: I say caveat emptor to future Mac purchasers. I really would not want anyone else to go through the wrenchingly unpleasant experience I've had with this computer in this, and several other aspects.
posted by StrikeTheViol at 6:58 PM on August 26, 2009

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