The retina display is like beer goggles. It makes things that usually look bad look better, but it also makes things that used to look okay look worse
– Dwayne on the Retina Display (2014)
Text looks clearer, sites using high resolution graphics look crisper, viewing photos and movies looks like you’re looking at them on a jewel encrusted high definition television and saving parentless orphans from a burning orphanage, these are some of the things the Retina Display offers.
As a front-end developer I am staring at Sublime Text Editor, Google Chrome and a Terminal window pretty much all day long. The Retina Display without sounding like someone who has drunk the Apple kool-aid TOO much, everything feels much better to look at.
Having said that, other than the way it makes me feel, it could all be in my head or perhaps some part of my brain trying to validate the almost $2000 purchase I made buying this MacBook Pro instead of putting it towards a house deposit…
But when things go wrong…
Not everything is rainbows and diamond covered candy, the Retina Display has a tendency to make some things look atrocious.
Case in point: I built a site for a client a while back (who I won’t name or link to) who only had low resolution images that they requested scale up within a container, I told them they needed better resolution images or it would look horrible. They said they would update them later, they never did update them.
Looking at the site on my Windows PC non-fancy monitor, it looked fine, but you could even notice the artifact on that screen, so then I checked on the Retina Display.
It burns, it burns. Make it stop.
– Dwayne looking at a client website with low resolution images on a retina display, 2014
I thought the graphics looked bad, but the Retina Display makes them look REALLY bad and I don’t just mean a little bit noticeable, a lot noticeable. In-fact, I sent them another email after writing this because it looks that bad, it makes me sick to my stomach.
The little things
When using a Retina Display, screenshots you take on your Mac are double the size they would be on a non Retina Display. A Retina Display at full brightness will burn your retinas out, literally. The bumped up pixel value means things are more vivid and brighter which can be harsh on the eyes if you don’t turn down the brightness a little.
These are very much first world problems and with any new technology comes its teething problems. I see the value in Retina Displays and in the not too distant future, high resolution displays will be the new norm. But for now, they’re more a gimmick and really only featured on higher-end notebooks.