Next-gen MacBook Pro to shine brighter with new backlight tech

Posted:
in Future Apple Hardware edited January 2014
A forthcoming update to Apple's MacBook Pro line will usher in a generation of more vibrant and uniformly-colored notebook displays thanks to some new underlying backlight technology, AppleInsider has learned.



Confirming an earlier but widely discounted report from Taiwan-based DigiTimes, faithful industry sources say the new pro-oriented systems will mark the start of a gradual transition away from cold cathode fluorescent backlights (CCFLs) and towards LED backlights for the Mac maker.



Thus far, those sources say Apple has agreed to implement the LED technology only within a revision to its 15-inch MacBook Pro due sometime in the second quarter of this year. A broader expansion to the 17-inch model and across the company's 13-inch consumer line, though inevitable, reportedly remains under consideration.



While pricer than CCFLs, LED technology is more efficient at distributing lighting evenly across the entire display surface and offers an increase in color saturation. According to a white paper from Cree, a backlight solutions provider expected to provide its LED technology to Apple, LED-based backlights also consume less power, run cooler, and last longer than CCFLs.



For end users, the new technology translates into improved notebook battery life and displays that will maintain their initial levels of brightness longer into their respective life-cycles. Come this spring, LED-lit displays will also deliver a more vivid canvas for the various software user interface enhancements and animation techniques that will be included with Mac OS X Leopard.



Advancements in notebook technology and price/performance have played an essential role in the resurgence of Apple's Mac personal computer line over the last several years. And it comes as little surprise that they would receive the royal treatment ahead of other company offerings, such as the iconic iMac. By the end of of last year, MacBook and MacBook Pro systems accounted for roughly 35 percent more unit sales than the Cupertino-based firm's numerous desktop PC models.







Apple said it sold 969,000 thousand notebook systems during the three-month period ending December, a 65 percent increase over the same period last year. And although it missed the majestic 1 million mark by just a hair, it broke ground by achieving one of the most sought-after buyer habits by PC manufacturers: upsells to premium models.



During its fiscal December quarter conference call with analysts and investors this past Wednesday, Apple said it witnessed a sharp uptick in sales of the professional MacBook Pro systems during the holiday season, as many customers with sights originally set on a consumer-oriented 13-inch MacBook wound up "buying up the line" to the 15-inch models. Sales of the higher margin systems bled through in the company's notebook revenues, which rose nearly 80 percent from the year-ago period to $1.45 billion.



The trend bodes well for Apple leading into the new year, as published reports say one of its primary objectives is to push sales of its 15-inch notebook systems harder than it did in 2006. Preparations for the push have already been set in motion: the company has signed Foxconn Electronics, the now infamous builder of iPod digital music players, as a third contract notebook manufacturer.



Apple's emphasis on breakthroughs for the MacBook Pro line will also signal a veritable about-face in the company's marketing approach for 2007, which began with the seemingly ironic dismissal of the Mac's importance at the recent Macworld conference in San Francisco two weeks ago.
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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 101
    dhagan4755dhagan4755 Posts: 2,150member
    This is great news. I can't wait!
  • Reply 2 of 101
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by AppleInsider View Post


    A forthcoming update to Apple's MacBook Pro line will usher in a generation of more vibrant and uniformly-colored notebook displays thanks to some new underlying backlight technology, AppleInsider has learned.



    While pricer than CCFLs, LED technology is more efficient at distributing lighting evenly across the entire display surface and offers an increase in color saturation. According to a white paper from Cree, a backlight solutions provider expected to provide its LED technology to Apple, LED-based backlights also consume less power, run cooler, and last longer than CCFLs.



    For end users, the new technology translates into improved notebook battery life and displays that will maintain their initial levels of brightness longer into their respective life-cycles. Come this spring, LED-lit displays will also deliver a more vivid canvas for the various software user interface enhancements and animation techniques that will be included with Mac OS X Leopard.



    1) I had no idea that CCFLs got dimmer over time. I guess I've noticed that my Powerbook isn't quite as bright as it used to be, but I thought I was just getting excited to get a new computer!



    2) I've been thinking about the possibility that one day, iSight cameras might be somehow integrated into the screen itself, to allow for eye-contact during chats. Eye contact is the one thing that remains to be worked out before we've really achieved Spaceballs communication status.



    Are there any engineers out there? Is this a possibility, ever?



    3) To what extent should we expect the battery life to improve with LED backlighting?



    I think I may just wait for this revision before I get a new notebook.
  • Reply 3 of 101
    noelosnoelos Posts: 103member
    Quote:

    Foxconn Electronics, the now infamous builder of iPod digital music players



    Why are they infamous? What have they done that's so awful?



    http://www.m-w.com/cgi-bin/dictionary?infamous



    Sorry, it's a pet gripe of mine how often that word is misused where something like "famous" is probably intended.
  • Reply 4 of 101
    addaboxaddabox Posts: 12,660member
    LEDs are the future of illumination. They use less power and last for freaking ever, plus they are far less susceptible to mechanical damage than most other lighting tech.



    As volume continues to ramp up the cost will come down, and then it's LED light bulbs for your house (you can get them already but not cheap).
  • Reply 5 of 101
    moochmooch Posts: 113member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by noelos View Post


    Why are they infamous? What have they done that's so awful?



    http://www.m-w.com/cgi-bin/dictionary?infamous



    Sorry, it's a pet gripe of mine how often that word is misused where something like "famous" is probably intended.



    They're probably referring to the poor-working-conditions scandal a while back. I think "infamous" is an appropriate word in this case.
  • Reply 6 of 101
    kasperkasper Posts: 941member, administrator
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by noelos View Post


    Why are they infamous? What have they done that's so awful?



    http://www.m-w.com/cgi-bin/dictionary?infamous



    Sorry, it's a pet gripe of mine how often that word is misused where something like "famous" is probably intended.



    http://www.appleinsider.com/article.php?id=1822



    -K
  • Reply 7 of 101
    netdognetdog Posts: 244member
    Quote:



    Da management can consider itself not only vindicated, but even deserving of an apology from Senor Noelos.
  • Reply 8 of 101
    wtfkwtfk Posts: 47member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by netdog View Post


    Da management can consider itself not only vindicated, but even deserving of an apology from Senor Noelos.



    Weren't the allegations largely shown to be BS?
  • Reply 9 of 101
    jeffdmjeffdm Posts: 12,946member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by wtfk View Post


    Weren't the allegations largely shown to be BS?



    More like a stretch. They weren't working slave labor hours but they were still violating the region's overtime laws.
  • Reply 10 of 101
    jeffdmjeffdm Posts: 12,946member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by CoolHandPete View Post


    1) I had no idea that CCFLs got dimmer over time. I guess I've noticed that my Powerbook isn't quite as bright as it used to be, but I thought I was just getting excited to get a new computer!



    Like CRTs, plasmas and any florescent design, they use phosphors to make light, which fade over time. Fluorescents are also very hard to dim without something going wrong, whereas LEDs can be dimmed as much as you like. Maybe it will allow people to get their 1000 ft*l penis extension/"feature"/line-item, while I'll just turn my display down to much more reasonable levels that won't cause sunburn and retinal damage.
  • Reply 11 of 101
    chromoschromos Posts: 189member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by CoolHandPete View Post


    2) I've been thinking about the possibility that one day, iSight cameras might be somehow integrated into the screen itself, to allow for eye-contact during chats. Eye contact is the one thing that remains to be worked out before we've really achieved Spaceballs communication status.



    Are there any engineers out there? Is this a possibility, ever?



    Apple received a patent early last year on such an idea: integrated sensing display.
  • Reply 12 of 101
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by chromos View Post


    Apple received a patent early last year on such an idea: integrated sensing display.



    Unbelievable! How in the world would such a technology work?



    Imagine when web-chatting and web videos, etc. can let users look directly at the screen, instead of at the camera.



    I vote for this as my #1 feature for the upcoming MBP.
  • Reply 13 of 101
    boogabooga Posts: 1,077member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by addabox View Post


    LEDs are the future of illumination. They use less power and last for freaking ever, plus they are far less susceptible to mechanical damage than most other lighting tech.



    As volume continues to ramp up the cost will come down, and then it's LED light bulbs for your house (you can get them already but not cheap).



    Current technology LEDs use about 1/4 the power of fluorescent, or 1/10 the power of incandescent light for the same brightness. However, white-light LEDs also use a phosphor that will probably eventually fade over time (they are essentially blue LEDs that make the phosphor glow white). In addition, the newer generation of LEDs just coming on the market are a lot cheaper to produce but don't last nearly as long (perhaps 10x incandescent, but not "forever" like old-style LEDs).



    So the trend is for LEDs to get much cheaper to produce in exchange for sacrificing a little of their lifetime, but not their efficiency.
  • Reply 14 of 101
    chromoschromos Posts: 189member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by CoolHandPete View Post


    Unbelievable! How in the world would such a technology work?



    Imagine when web-chatting and web videos, etc. can let users look directly at the screen, instead of at the camera.



    I vote for this as my #1 feature for the upcoming MBP.



    My guess is that such technology would make economic sense at first only for very small LCDs, ergo, the iPhone might see it first. (in a year or two)
  • Reply 15 of 101
    I just want to point out that the reason people have been buying more pro notebooks recently has nothing to do with them "buying up the line". It is common knowledge that many professional users were waiting until closer to the Adobe updates to upgrade their hardware. Now that the software is coming out for the Intel chips many people are buying the macbookpro. This is clear as day.
  • Reply 16 of 101
    There has been some research and work done on producing a near-100% efficiency white OLED backlight. I don't think it will be ready for commercial stuff very soon, but plain-old white LEDs should be able to provide a substantially more efficient backlight than the current CCFL technology.



    This is good, because backlight actually makes a big contribution towards battery drain. I'd estimate that the 15" MBP expends more than 12W to drive the backlight at a reasonable setting.
  • Reply 17 of 101
    solipsismsolipsism Posts: 25,726member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by noelos View Post


    Why are they infamous? What have they done that's so awful?



    http://www.m-w.com/cgi-bin/dictionary?infamous



    Sorry, it's a pet gripe of mine how often that word is misused where something like "famous" is probably intended.



    Lucky: “One hundred thousand pesos to come to Santa Poco, put on show, stop. The infamous El Guapo.”

    Dusty: “What does that mean? Infamous?”

    Ned: “Ah, Dusty! Infamous is when you're more than famous! This guy El Guapo is not just famous, he's IN-famous!”

    Lucky: “A hundred thousand pesos to do a personal appearance with this guy El Guapo, who is probably the biggest actor to ever come out of Mexico!”

    Dusty: “Wow, the IN-famous? IN-famous?”






    Quote:
    Originally Posted by wealjays View Post


    I just want to point out that the reason people have been buying more pro notebooks recently has nothing to do with them "buying up the line". It is common knowledge that many professional users were waiting until closer to the Adobe updates to upgrade their hardware. Now that the software is coming out for the Intel chips many people are buying the macbookpro. This is clear as day.



    I do not doubt that there are some Mac users waiting for Intel versions of software before moving to an Intel-based Mac, but there is no possible way that the increasingly high unit sales of MBPs are from that many people waiting for CS3 to arrive.
  • Reply 18 of 101
    bwhalerbwhaler Posts: 260member
    Not coming in the flagship 17"? Seems utterly silly to me.



    Either way, this is good news. No, great news.



    The screens on the pro line are pittiful. Uneven colors and backlighting. They are the worst in the industry, especially at this price...
  • Reply 19 of 101
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Splinemodel View Post


    There has been some research and work done on producing a near-100% efficiency white OLED backlight. I don't think it will be ready for commercial stuff very soon, but plain-old white LEDs should be able to provide a substantially more efficient backlight than the current CCFL technology.



    This is good, because backlight actually makes a big contribution towards battery drain. I'd estimate that the 15" MBP expends more than 12W to drive the backlight at a reasonable setting.



    In the "white paper" linked in the article, supposedly the current (2nd gen) LEDs are 12 percent more efficient than CCFL - with higher efficiency expected soon. Even though the battery life may not be so much longer than current models, the brightness improvement should make the switch worthwhile.



    Do you think the price point will remain the same?
  • Reply 20 of 101
    dhagan4755dhagan4755 Posts: 2,150member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by BWhaler View Post


    Not coming in the flagship 17"? Seems utterly silly to me.



    Either way, this is good news. No, great news.



    The screens on the pro line are pittiful. Uneven colors and backlighting. They are the worst in the industry, especially at this price...



    You're right. Some are less bad than others. It's really a crap shoot. I think that they would have to do the 17-inch along with the 15-inch. That would seem wrong to just do one, and have it totally outclass the upscale model. Then again, I think some of the reasons for the problems with Apple's notebook displays is that they are using a mid-resolution screen, and not a full-blown 1920x1200 display. According to some reports that I have read, there are at least two LCD manufacturers of the displays, and further, the displays don't exactly fit right in the enclosure causing like leakage.



    Now this could all have to do with Apple's lack of a design overhaul, which may be in store with the next update. The fact of the matter is the next MacBook Pro will probably ship with Leopard because it needs the new OS for the resolution independence.
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