When new is worse: MacBook Air 2012 screens

This is another guest post by my friend Tobi. —Jörn

It has been a few weeks since I bought a brand new Apple MacBook Air Mid 2012. As far as I tested it is a very solid piece of hardware. Nevertheless, there is one annoying point I want to show up within this post.

All began when I noticed a gray gradient starting in the lower region of the display close to where it ends. This gradient is well visible if the display is dimmed to around 4 points in the brightness settings and if you are looking at a white area in fullscreen mode. It is around 3-4mm thick. After I compared it with the MacBook Air 2010 of Jörn we found out that it only affects the MacBook Air 2012. So I called Apple Care and they told me that it shouldn’t be like this but to be sure I should go to an Apple Store.

So I went to the closest Apple Store and explained my concern. After the sales guy agreed, we compared it with the other MacBook Air 2012 in the store and found out that each of them has this issue. So I did some research investigation and as far as I cantell based on my personal experience and from what I found on the web, the quality of the panels in the MacBook Air of the current 2012 generation decreased compared to the MacBook Airs built in 2010.

There are three manufacturers supplying panels for the MacBook Air 2012. Here is a short break down of the facts:

Samsung: Best white and black levels, best contrast, best color gamut
LG: Best color accuracy but the colors appears to be washed out. This can be handled by the color settings
AUO: Used in the 11″ MacBook Air, but I couldn’t find any information about this panel.

To find out which panel you have type this into the terminal

ioreg -lw0 | grep IODisplayEDID | sed "/[^<]*</s///" | xxd -p -r | strings -6

The first to letters are relevant:

LT = Samsung

Unfortunately, all of those panels have the issue I described above – some more and some less visible (even the replacements). If you can’t life with it, don’t buy a MacBook Air 2012.

Some references: