PowerBook Screen Brightness Compared (Updated 4x)

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Date: Sunday, April 3rd, 2005, 22:36
Category: Hardware, PowerBook G4

The objective of this article is to compare PowerBook screen brightness to other notebook LCDs. I’d like to turn this into an across-the-board comparison on brightness, with your help. Read More…


The objective of this article is to compare PowerBook screen brightness to other notebook LCDs. I’d like to turn this into an across-the-board comparison on brightness, with your help. Please email us your experiences.

While reading about the PowerBook artifacts issue, I thought I would mention something I noticed regarding display brightness. I had a PowerBook 17-inch next to my work issued Thinkpad T42. On maximum brightness the Thinkpad was noticeably brighter than the Powerbook on maximum brightness. I looked at an iMac and it too seemed a bit dim on maximum brightness.
What gives?
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Personally, I don’t think brightness matters that much. People who think they need their brightness cranked up don’t realize that they also significantly reduce the life span of their display in the process. Lots of non-mac LCD users don’t bother to turn their brightness down when they aren’t using it. These crappy machines that non-mac users use (like Thinkpads) don’t have things so innovative as ambient light sensors.
Personally, I think it’s smart that Apple doesn’t opt to compete with all these other manufacturers and meet the same expectations their customers demand. Often times, less is more, as is the case here and I commend Apple for it.
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bought my 15″/1.67/combo at the beginning of February; compared to my Pismo, the new ‘book is only about 2/3 the brightness even at the highest settings. I’m currently using a modified d65 setup that has better color/gamma than the standard(which is a bit too cold for my taste)but it’s still definitely lacking in overall brightness. on the other hand i have yet to experience the dots or lines i keep reading about…
Pismo – G3/500 1GB/20GB/10.2.8
AlBook – G4/1.67 512MB/80GB/10.3.7
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After a certain point, how much can brightness matter? Sure, it’s intimidating to see a whole room of laptops in a lecture hall being brighter than my old 400 MHz Ti G4. But, hey, let’s get over it. How much brightness do you need? I would like a little more, but what I have fits my needs nicely. I will upgrade, but do I need to wear sunglasses to read this page? Even with my old and dimmer screen, I turn the brightness down. It’s easier on the eyes, and that level of brightness, about that of a white sheet of paper under the existing lighting, is best with which to just print performance, for those of us who spend hours at the screen and need accurate print proofs.
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My 15.2″ PowerBook’s screen is very bright–I sometimes turn it down even when it’s not dark.
17″ ‘Books I have seen are noticeably less bright than the 15″–but not by much. It wouldn’t bother me.
Both, however, outshine the 12″ screens. (I haven’t seen the latest 12″ revision to see if that’s improved.) I’d get a 12″ next time if it had a brighter screen, lit keys, and the top GPU option available.
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I would consider my PowerBook G4 867 to have a decent brightness when considered in relation to other or previously-owned laptops. But plug in my 20″ Cinema Display next to it and the difference is so dramatic as to be disappointing; while expected for a laptop vs. stand-alone monitor, the discrepancy is amazing.
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My brand new 1.67GHz 17″ PowerBook is stunning. I absolutely love it and it’s at least 50% brighter than my older 1GHz 17″ was. It’s also about 25% brighter than the HP 17″ Laptop that i own, which was outdoing my old PowerBook.
That said, most new(er?) PC laptops are going with that XBrite technology for their displays, which I think accounts for most of it. At work, we have a couple of Sony (500-series VAIOs I think?) and their displays blast away ANY other laptop in terms of sheer brightness and quality.
However, the bigger question for me is: is the XBrite technology used on a lot of new PC laptops worth the hassle in terms of color correctness? or do they maintain color correctness well?
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I keep my 1 GHz TiBook next to my ThinkPad A21p and the ThinkPad brightness is significantly brighter as well–and always has been.
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I have had a bunch of Apple laptops; ‘Lombard’ PB G3, 12″ PB G4 Al, 15″ PB G4 Al, and my main machine, 800mhz G4 iBook. I also have a Toshiba 15.4″ widescreen Pentium M laptop that is 6 months old. The Toshiba has the brightest, richest, sharpest screen I’ve ever seen in a laptop. Of course, the big bummer called Windows XP makes this screen wasted. I wish I could have the Mac guts and software with the Toshiba screen.
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I have a 17″ PB, 1.33MHz. Overall I find the screen brightness more than adequate EXCEPT when outside in bright light. Maybe no laptop can handle outside conditions in the middle of the day, but I imagine all the ThinkPads that my work uses would do a better job than my PB in such circumstances.
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I think it would be difficult to do a true comparative analysis of why a given PowerBook screen brightness seems lower compared to another computer laptop or screen. And here’s why – I once asked an Apple Genius guy why my 17″ PowerBook screen brightness seemed so dim compared to most of the other computer screens I was noticing in the Apple store (at the time they had a brand new 30″ Apple Display and the screen colors seemed so rich and bright, the brightness nearly hurt your eyes. Yet, in contrast, my own 17″ PowerBook screen looked extremely dull and darkish in the store, so much so, you’d swear there must be something wrong with it). Anyway, the Genius Guy answer was that “any newer screens will always appear brighter than older screens, not only because they’re brand new but also because they incorporate the latest advances in technology. He said it is normal that the screen on an older computer will not match the richness and brightness of all the latest screens. Therefore if this is true, I can only say that if a person is trying to choose the brightest screen in deciding what to buy, it’s not about buying a specific model that makes the colors appear so bright, rather it’s more about buying something brand new and something which incorporates the latest technology.
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Since I’ve been shopping for an LCD HD TV/monitor I’ve become sensitive to contrast ratio and lumens. Where are those parameters for laptop screens?
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Sometimes I’m saddened and disheartened when I listen to the party line apologist attitude toward Apple. In my long experience with the company I find that they make really good software and, since the return of Steve Jobs and the joyous death of the Performas, pretty darn good computers as well. But come on. Anyone who has used a laptop computer under even normal office overhead fluorescence should understand the desire for a little more brightness at times from their displays. My 1ghz Tibook does okay, but not as good as much cheaper laptops of its day. To say “I’m glad to have a dimmer screen” is just nonsense. I think we can all understand the concept of screen brightness to battery life ratio. We don’t need an inferior display to help us out. Apple has cut corners on these displays for years now. Particularly on the PowerBook line, I don’t see a valid excuse for this.
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i have a 1 GHz tibook, and a thinkpad T42, and the screen is the first noticeable difference. i always think my PB display is turned down, but no, it just pales in comparison. unless you live in a cave, brightness matters. working in bright rooms or outdoors with the PowerBook is impossible. the display is only one of the noticeable quality differences in my two laptops, and unless apple wows me with a G5 book by the time this one dies, they’ve lost me as a customer.
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My 17″ PowerBook (2005) has a much nicer, brighter screen than my 2 month old Acer Travelmate 8100. The travelmate doesn’t have XBright, but it does have a “super bright” screen according to Acer. Also, I have not had any artifacts on my screen at all, but I do hear the hard drive clunk at times. Seems normal.
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As a true “road warrior”, I occasionally need to whip out my (rev.A) PowerBook 12″ to look up something or do some typing in a car. Although each generation of iBook/PowerBook I buy (every 2-3 yrs.) is brighter than the last, I’m still waiting for a screen that I can see well on a sunny day (turning and shielding it as best as I can makes it barely visible). My new HP iPaq (4700), on the other hand, is plenty bright. (Apples & oranges comparison, of course.) Otherwise, I’m perfectly happy with its brightness, and it’s 2 years old now.

How do you feel about your PowerBook’s brightness compared to other notebooks? Drop us a line and we’ll update the story …

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