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View Full Version : Macbook Pro unibody 17" compared to 15" ?



sundance
29th March 2009, 02:29 PM
I have been using a Macbook Pro 15" (LED 2.2 Ghz) for the last 18 months and would like to upgrade to a new unibody design.

The question is whether it should be the 15" or 17". I have read some reviews and would appreciate anyone's feedback who may have recently gone through a similar decision process.

Some criteria I'm considering:
- how noticeable is the 500g difference in weight
- speaker sound quality
- is the 17" display resolution more usable for design applications
- battery life

thanks.

iCarllovesapple
29th March 2009, 03:24 PM
17" is the ultimate notebook... Grab that if it's feasible. When you buy it, request Matte - It is more suitable for a photographer..

iCameron
29th March 2009, 03:34 PM
I have been using a Macbook Pro 15" (LED 2.2 Ghz) for the last 18 months and would like to upgrade to a new unibody design.

The question is whether it should be the 15" or 17". I have read some reviews and would appreciate anyone's feedback who may have recently gone through a similar decision process.

Some criteria I'm considering:
- how noticeable is the 500g difference in weight
- speaker sound quality
- is the 17" display resolution more usable for design applications
- battery life

thanks.

- how noticeable is the 500g difference in weight

Not at all, i lug around a 17" MBP and some other crap atleast 4hrs a day, but then.. im a fairly big person, but it's defiantly worth the trade off.

I can really only justify this because im a fairly large person, and have no problems with it, however my mother... whom is smaller has alot of trouble using the laptop, and carrying it around for extended periods..

Why not get your current laptop bag, add some weights, and heavy items and carry it around like you usually would. The problem you'll also have with a bigger laptop is it tends to be alittle more awkward carrying it around.

- speaker sound quality

I think the MBP 17" has 2 vs. 1... So i assume it would be better?

- is the 17" display resolution more usable for design applications

Yes! and the high resolution 1900x1200 is absolutely amazing, makes it a great laptop and is great for working with images, as the screen is still big while having a high resolution

- battery life

I don't know about the new Unibody's... but the battery life has got to be better, if you can... try slapping in a SSD to save battery and get some more proformance... (Oh, wait... shit... You can't do that anymore).. I think Apple offer a CTO SSD. It's way worth it, and since external drives are ultra-cheap and portable... why not?

Keljian
29th March 2009, 03:47 PM
So,
I recently got a 15" macbook pro (am typing on it at the moment)

I like the 15 over the 17 because of the sheer size of the 17. Sound wise they are very similar (I was surprised at the volume)

The big differences however are:
- the battery (new non-user replaceable battery in the 17 that is nearly double the capacity thus 7 hours worth of use compared to the 15 which has a user replaceable battery and about 5 hours worth of use)
- The screen size. (17 vs 15)
- the 1k price difference.

I personally prefer the 15 as I think it is a bit more portable. That said, the 17 is still pretty thin. As the other user up there said, it's a matter of what you think you can carry.. as a laptop is a portable computer.

Dubhousing
29th March 2009, 06:16 PM
I recently downgraded from a 17" to a unibody 15"

In a nutshell I regret it.

The screen glare from the glossy screen is horrible (I have to use an external monitor for almost everything) and I wish I'd waited 2 extra months for the new 17" with a matte screen. Seriously thinking of getting a screen replacement from the US.

Having said that the new graphics card is pretty amazing and the battery life is excellent. And the 15" is more convenient for travel.

Just my tuppence worth.

new2mac
29th March 2009, 06:55 PM
Great timing, i was just debating this myself!

Pretty much sold on the 17 with matte screen, 7200rpm hd, will upgrade the RAM when that's feasibly affordable.
Is there a major performance boast with the 2.93 ghz processor?

Back2Bedlam
29th March 2009, 07:00 PM
The crux of the matter, are you going to be portable with it? Or is it going to sit on a desk?

If the latter, buy the 15.4 and get an external display (with the savings) if your going to use it a lot whilst on the move, then the 17, however, if it's occasionally going to be used out and about, i'd still get the first preference.

new2mac
29th March 2009, 07:14 PM
For me I currently have a gen 1 17"
And it's heavy - yes.
But I move around between four locations so the extra screen space and grunt is the selling point.
Just for pure bliss i have a 30" ACD in my home office.
So really I see it as a portable desktop.

To be fair though it's a no go flying economy class :o

dche5390
29th March 2009, 08:33 PM
I had a previous 17" MBP. Loved it to bits despite having a glossy display. All 1920x1200 of awesomeness. I sold it not because of its weight, but rather, the size. Way too bulky to be transporting it around on a daily basis.

The 15" is much more portable. I miss my Air.

The antiglare option on the new 17" model looks stunning. Not sure if its actually antiglare but it still looks bright and attention grabbing. Past generations of matte screens where dull and boring in my opinion.

NeoRicen
30th March 2009, 03:50 PM
The antiglare option on the new 17" model looks stunning. Not sure if its actually antiglare but it still looks bright and attention grabbing. Past generations of matte screens where dull and boring in my opinion.
Have you seen it next to a glossy? Saw them today in the Apple Store, so much more dull and lifeless than the glossy. Can't see why people love them so much.

Abaddon
30th March 2009, 04:02 PM
I've just purchased the 17'' unibody and been playing with it for about 3 weeks. Great machine and I would highly recommend it. For me it was a case of buying the best laptop I could afford, because I intend to own it for a while. I went the 17" because I wanted the best resolution without having to rely on an external screen.

As far as weight is concerned, it's a surprisingly light machine. For me it's basically a desktop replacement, so I don't lug it about too much (though it doesn't always stay on the desk), and I have no trouble carrying it around when I do. (To put it in context, it's replaced a 3 year old dell 15'' laptop, and it feels about 1/2 as light).

The screen is fantastic, one of the first things that struck me about the machine. It was definitely a WOW factor. I purchased the glossy version - I don't do any sort of work where reflection is a problem - and although in certain light conditions it can be a little glary - in most cases I don't notice reflections at all. However I know most who do design application prefer non-glossy versions, so take that into consideration.

As far as speaker quality is concerned, it's one of the better speakers I've had in a notebook - still not exactly hi-fi material, but better than average.

Battery life so far is pretty good although I haven't had anywhere near the 8 hours claimed. I've averaged about 5 hours when using the 9400 GPU and about 3 hours with the 9600 - not doing anything too taxing, other than video watching and conversion.

So, so far I don't regret my purchase. It certainly meets my needs.

Hope this helps.

new2mac
30th March 2009, 07:42 PM
I ordered a 17" today.
Did look at the 15" which is super sexy...
however being accustomed to the bigger screen already i felt I'd regret the step down in realestate.
ordered; anti-glare, 7200rpm HD and 2.93ghz processor.
Thought I'd up the RAM later.

Very happy :)

simonm
4th May 2009, 12:51 PM
For those getting a 17" unibody and worried about the glossy display, I think there's a product you can get which is a removable matte coating (kind of like a screen protector on the iPhone). This could be a good option if you want the ability to revert back to the glossy display.

I plan to get the 17" when I have the cash (or enough credit on my card). For me it's all about screen real estate. I used to daily carry my 17" to work and didn't think it was a problem at all.

dekco
4th May 2009, 01:03 PM
the difference between the 17" and 15" is marginal. 500g in weight, an extra couple of inch in size, pretty much same thickness.

if you are using the speakers, the 17" is much nicer. I was personally using a (dont shoot me!) asus 15", moved to a 17" MBP. A big jump in specs and size, but believe it or not, the size and weight is pretty much the same. So all along i was being ripped off, due to the weight and size of my windows laptop. believe me, once you go to 17" you will never step back to 15" :p

end of the day, go to the shop, pick it up, try it out, and see how you go.

Cybix
4th May 2009, 01:08 PM
The internal long-life battery and FullHD resolution is more than enough reason to get the 17". I'm getting excited just typing about it. heh

dekco
4th May 2009, 01:14 PM
if thats the case, wait til you actually get it :p

simonm
4th May 2009, 02:55 PM
Apparently, if you order the 17" with a matte finish Apple just fits an older-style LED display to the unibody! Talk about a mis-match! This just looks wrong! Definitely the sleek glossy for me.

http://farm4.static.flickr.com/3341/3330655037_f5e5833d8f.jpg

macaholic
4th May 2009, 03:10 PM
... Definitely the sleek glossy for me.


Yes, I would just love the reflection of all the office fluoro lights on-screen.

/trolling.

EDIT: I have the 17" with anti-glare screen and love it.
Clear, bright, and perfect (IMHO).

dekco
4th May 2009, 03:13 PM
that is 100% correct. doesnt quite sit right. But im starting to think, why not put a anti reflective coating on the glass before assembly. On most watches, the crystal is UV coated with a anti reflective cost, cant see why not Apple not taking up this process. Or could it be that it has a negative impact to the "green" status.

simonm
4th May 2009, 03:34 PM
Remember reading this forum over at <the competition> a while ago. This guy seems pretty happy with one of the anti-glare films. May not be as good as true matte but at least it's a cheap and reversable option.

Before 'n' after

http://lh4.ggpht.com/_OWIWOLHrlB0/SUbUwPvpW_I/AAAAAAAAAjQ/gN64ajzOswU/s720/PICT0085.JPG
http://lh4.ggpht.com/_OWIWOLHrlB0/SUbUwJ8xBQI/AAAAAAAAAjg/EGBNxrj-PQM/s720/PICT0088.JPG

dekco
4th May 2009, 03:44 PM
that actually looks decent.

macaholic
4th May 2009, 04:05 PM
Remember reading this forum over at <the competition> a while ago. This guy seems pretty happy with one of the anti-glare films. May not be as good as true matte but at least it's a cheap and reversable option.

Mactalk has no competitors.

Link please. (A friend wants to apply anti-glare film to his iMac.)

pengu
4th May 2009, 09:27 PM
I read somewhere that the 17" matte screen is a better panel than the standard 17" glossy screen? Anyone got info on this?

edit:

by 'better' i don't mean less glare etc, i mean the LCD panel itself is better quality (TN vs IPS, etc)

dekco
4th May 2009, 11:52 PM
from what i hear, that is not true. of course, i would like someone to be able to cement this

iCarllovesapple
5th May 2009, 12:28 AM
From what I've heard the matte option for the 17" Is better, because the tint around the 15" and the glossy 17" affects the iSight. It adds a tint to the video. This is coming from a professional video editor. (She doesn't shoot professional videos with her iSight obviously, but when she puts videos on Youtube, she sometimes uses the iSight.) She is now using her old Silver MBP. Obviously, if your not going to be shotting a lot with your MBP the glossy will be fine. Otherwise the 17" Matte is the way to go! :) Either way, they are both work horses!

Phase
5th May 2009, 02:16 AM
from what i hear, that is not true. of course, i would like someone to be able to cement this

It'd be pretty simple to find out.

Just get a control of 10 glossy screen 17"

and 10 Matte 17" owners.

Fire up the colour system profile.

If there's a matching code across both, then no, they're the same panel, and the glass element is the 'gloss' factor.

samuelowens
5th May 2009, 02:00 PM
I think the matte screen in the 17" is a Samsung panel, whereas the glossy one is an LG. I don't know whether both are TNs though.

simonm
5th May 2009, 02:20 PM
lol, somewhere on AppleInsider forums...


Mactalk has no competitors.

Link please. (A friend wants to apply anti-glare film to his iMac.)

gehenna
5th May 2009, 02:36 PM
I've got the glossy display and I have no problems with glare. The screen is bright enough itself to combat any possible glare on the screen. I get no issues at all with office lighting, and I'm sitting with my back to a giant window with the sun beaming in (albeit without warmth) right now have no glare problems.

I think the glare factor is overstated, I'd much rather have this display than a matte one. I use the MacBook outside loads too, at cafe's etc. Nope - can't fault the glossy display.

iCarllovesapple
6th May 2009, 12:28 AM
I've got the glossy display and I have no problems with glare. The screen is bright enough itself to combat any possible glare on the screen. I get no issues at all with office lighting, and I'm sitting with my back to a giant window with the sun beaming in (albeit without warmth) right now have no glare problems.

I think the glare factor is overstated, I'd much rather have this display than a matte one. I use the MacBook outside loads too, at cafe's etc. Nope - can't fault the glossy display.

The glare factor is most certainly not overstated. I am sorry, but I have used glossy displays all my life on laptops. And let me tell you the Macbook Pro (15") has a horrible glare. I was watching Desperate Housewives with 1 light on in my room on my Macbook Pro 15". All I saw was the stupid reflection of the keyboard, and my head on the bezel. It is very annoying. -- That is only my opinion. Every one's is different. The glossy display isn't so bad that I would trade it for the 17" Matte.
Carl :)

pengu
6th May 2009, 12:36 AM
let me tell you the Macbook Pro (15") has a horrible glare.

The glossy display isn't so bad that I would trade it for the 17" Matte.

please pick a side of the argument and stick to it :p

dekco
6th May 2009, 11:06 AM
ROFL!

gehenna
6th May 2009, 11:08 AM
Yeah well I'll stick to my guns on this one, I've got no issues with glossy display. I'm sitting in a bright office full of fluro lighting right now, and i've got very little to moan about - except that my 2nd display is a crappy Dell matte that looks terrible in terms of picture quality when sitting next to my MB

samuelowens
6th May 2009, 11:08 AM
please pick a side of the argument and stick to it :p

But there are two separate arguments there:

1. Glossy screen = rubbish
2. Glossy 15" > Matte 17" (i.e. a 15" that is glossy is still better than a 17" that isn't)

pengu
7th May 2009, 02:54 AM
For those getting a 17" unibody and worried about the glossy display, I think there's a product you can get which is a removable matte coating (kind of like a screen protector on the iPhone). This could be a good option if you want the ability to revert back to the glossy display.

RadTech are releasing this soon:
K-JcyOKAsNY

pengu
7th May 2009, 02:56 AM
But there are two separate arguments there:

1. Glossy screen = rubbish
2. Glossy 15" > Matte 17" (i.e. a 15" that is glossy is still better than a 17" that isn't)

hang on. So you're saying that a Glossy screen is bad, but that a higher res, bigger screen that is NOT glossy, is worse.

Do you know the meaning of the word contradiction?

samuelowens
7th May 2009, 08:19 AM
I'm merely pointing out that iCarllovesapple expressed HIS preferences in the following (non-contradictory) manner:

[15" Matte >] 15" Glossy > 17" Matte [> 17" glossy presumably]

Personally, as I'll get another couple of years out of my old faithful matte CD MBP, I'm waiting to see how the 17" MBP's sealed battery goes before I make the leap.

pengu
7th May 2009, 03:18 PM
But if the 15" matte is better than the 15" glossy, why would the 15" glossy be better tham the 17" matte?

iCarllovesapple
7th May 2009, 06:03 PM
Sorry @pengu - I didn't realize people were not allowed to change their opinions!

pengu
7th May 2009, 06:07 PM
You can change your opinion.

Im just confused by this concept of "matte is better than glossy is better than matte".

samuelowens
7th May 2009, 06:43 PM
But if the 15" matte is better than the 15" glossy, why would the 15" glossy be better tham the 17" matte?

Because iCarllovesapple prefers a 15" laptop to a 17" model?

simonm
8th May 2009, 05:29 PM
I've been reading a lot of reports about people being unhappy with uneven brightness or light leakage in the 17" matte screens. Does anyone have one and what are you opinions? I looked for light leakage on the 17" glossy and couldn't see anything...perfectly black with a black background.

iCarllovesapple
10th May 2009, 08:21 PM
Wait until the next refresh of MBP insides comes out. It should be in September/October. Everything will be OK then. By OK, I mean the screen issues usually are fixed by the 2nd batch :)

simonm
26th May 2009, 02:25 AM
I noticed this problem on my older 17" Core Duo MacBook Pro, so I don't think it's a new issue that's only just appeared. It was a great laptop but I always thought the contrast was quite bad (most noticeable when watching DVDs). I checked out the 17" glossy in an Apple Store and was blown away by the contrast improvement. Unfortunately it's difficult to compare the gloss and matte screens as Apple don't have any matte screens in the shop.

I've ordered a 17" standard config with glossy and I think I'll be happy with it. If the gloss really bothers me that much I can always sell and buy again with matte but I've got a feeling I won't. Please don't flame me iCarl, you've made your anti-gloss position quite clear!

Look forward to reporting back as soon as I receive my new baby!


Wait until the next refresh of MBP insides comes out. It should be in September/October. Everything will be OK then. By OK, I mean the screen issues usually are fixed by the 2nd batch :)

dekco
26th May 2009, 11:16 AM
was at nextbyte the other day, and i suspect the second revisions are out already, since the 15" mbp was listed as a mbp 5,2 (can anyone confirm; mac idiot here!)

pengu
26th May 2009, 11:18 AM
the Apple store at Chadstone has a matte 17" display model next to the "regular" 17".

iCarllovesapple
26th May 2009, 10:07 PM
Please don't flame me iCarl, you've made your anti-gloss position quite clear!

I won't flame you, though your arrogance sure does deserve it. :cool:

pengu
26th May 2009, 10:17 PM
I won't flame you, though your arrogance sure does deserve it. :cool:

liking a different kind of screen is arrogant?

Wow. if that post doesn't get moderated I'll buy a monkey, make it wear a hat, and then eat the monkey, and the hat. or possibly just complain.