I moved to an 11″ MacBook Air in December from an older MacBook with a much larger 15″ screen. I was wary that the comparatively tiny 11″ display was going to be too much of a compromise and almost chose the 13″ instead. But three months down the line I love the baby MacBook.
So, I’ve been thinking about why the reality of using the 11″ MacBook Air has been so smooth and concluded that, without realising, our expectations for what’s an acceptable screen size have probably changed. Ten years ago you’d likely be using a 17″ or 19″ big old screen with your PC, probably running at 1024×768 pixel resolution which by today’s standards is chunky. It followed therefore that Windows XP vintage laptops ought to try to get as close as possible in screen size to their desk-bound counterparts, hence most laptops ten years ago ran with around 15″ screen sizes; small enough to be portable but not too small as to be unusable. So, the classic PC form factor singularly informed our baseline expectations about display sizes.
However today, mostly thanks to the rise of the smartphone, I suspect that our average screen size expectations have shrunk considerably.
Looking though the lens of a classic PC display size, an 11″ display instinctively feels like it ought to be a real compromise, but in an age where we’re happy to spend hours peering into tiny, high resolution smartphone displays – a high resolution 11″ screen turns out to be a perfect upsize.